Review: FIRE AND FURY by Michael Wolff

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.” — Donald Trump
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
Henry Holt & Co, 2018

3 out of 5 stars ★★★☆☆

From a publishing perspective, Trump condoning a book so publicly is the best publicity. The book was a runaway success, the publication date was pushed up a week, and it was an instant NY Times bestseller. Also, it is important to see the publisher push back against Trump and support the first amendment. As the book, and his numerous tweets, prove, Trump is reactionary and does not consider consequences to his actions.

(Also, a style note: I hate calling him “president” because he’s the least qualified, most un-presidential person I’ve ever seen.)

Author Michael Wolff has certainly rode this wave of success. A writer for The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today, Wolff has also written biographies of Rupert Murdoch and an inside looks of Old and New Media. His connections to Murdoch and journalists at Fox News, have led to this inside look inside the White House. A bit of research and critical thinking after finishing the book makes it obvious that the major source of this book is Steve Bannon (*shudders*) (*removes one star from rating*).

But another disturbing piece of information is that there are quite a few factual inaccuracies, check PolitiFact, CNBC, Washington PostForbes. Even if the facts that are incorrect are small (mixing up dates or names), it makes one question the accuracy of bigger claims. (*removes another star from the rating*)

So with those things in mind, here are my reactions to the book:

1. The best part of the book is the writing. It is salacious, gossipy, fun and entertaining. You will be shocked and in awe throughout the whole narrative. It’s supposed to be a page turner, which sometimes make you forget that maybe what you’re reading isn’t entirely true. Also, you’ve heard about the cheeseburger/late night call life of the president, but there’s so much more that gets at why the staff are so dysfunctional.

2. Fun Fact: The dysfunction of the staff is directly related to the fact that they did not expect to win the election–even Trump was expecting to lose. When they arrived in the White House, a power vacuum of control was created, Steve Bannon, Jared and Ivanka, and Reince Priebus were all fighting for the president’s attention. (And at this point, we can see that Jarvanka won that war.)

3. Trumps decision making comes down to his “gut” and no one has control of him in the office–WTFFFF.

“In truth, he was often neither fully aware of the nature of what he had said nor fully cognizant of why there should be a passionate reaction to it. As often as not, he surprised himself. “What did I say?” he would ask after getting severe blowback.”

“But not only didn’t he read, he didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking. And he trusted his own expertise—no matter how paltry or irrelevant—more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention.”

And once John Kelly is hired as Chief of Staff:

“But overriding the management of the harrowing West Wing dysfunction, Kelly’s success–or even relevance, as he was informed by almost anyone who was in a position to offer him an opinion–depended on rising to the central challenge of his job, which was how to manage Trump. Or, actually, how to live with not managing him. His desires, needs, and impulses had to exist–necessarily had to exist–outside the organizational structure. Trump was the one variable that, in management terms, simply could not be controlled. he was like a recalcitrant two-year-old. If you tried to control him, it would only have the opposite effect. In this, then, the manager had to most firmly manage his own expectations.”

4. No less than four people are allegedly going to take this “political clout” and use it to run for President, including Ivanka (followed by Jared), Nikki Haley, and Steve Bannon. What possess them to think working for a Trump White House would lead to favorability and success at a presidential run is beyond me.

“How those who work for the White House rationalize working there: “There was, of course, a higher rationale: the White House needed normal, sane, logical, adult professionals. To a person, these pros saw themselves bringing positive attributes–rational minds, analytic powers, significant professional experience–to a situation sorely lacking those things. They were doing their bit to make things more normal and, therefore, more stable. They were bulwarks, or saw themselves that way, against chaos, impulsiveness, and stupidity. They were less Trump supporters than an antidote to Trump.”

5. Wolff’s talk show appearances have all suggested that if we read between the lines we’ll find an affair between Trump and a White House staff member. This is most certainly a selling tactic. Also, it feels gross to speculate because with all the problems in the White House, a personal affair seems like too much. We just got past Stormy Daniels, we know that he is a cheater.  I feel like as a woman, it’s not for me to judge the woman, but hold Trump accountable for his behavior.

At the end of the day, there are a few things we can all agree on: censoring books is wrong, Trump is an idiot; he is not stable enough to be president, he’s a horrible example of America and American values, he is impulsive, and has no concept of consequence. His leadership is laughable. His presidency is a joke.

Final thought (from Steve Bannon!?):

“Steve Bannon was telling people he thought there was a 33.33 percent chance that the Mueller investigation would lead to the impeachment of the president, a 33.3 percent chance that Trump would resign, perhaps in the wake of a threat by the cabinet to act on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment (by which the cabinet can remove the president in the event of his incapacitation), and a 33.3 percent chance that he would limp to the end of his term. In any event, there would certainly not be a second term, or even an attempted one.”

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