Friday, 19 January 2018

Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff Review


“This thing is so fucked up” 
- Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

Fire and fury certainly describes the response to Michael Wolff’s latest book - this thing is a runaway bestseller! It’s a shame then to report that the content is much less incendiary or compelling than some might hope - underwhelming even, like Trump’s first year as President. 

Though it is accurately a tell-all account about the inside goings-on in Trump’s White House, little - if any - information will surprise anyone who follows politics, but particularly Trump’s first year. Y’all ready for this? Trump is portrayed as a bloviating no-nothing blowhard, breathtakingly underqualified for his current role. He neither possesses the skills, knowledge, experience, temperament, nor the capacity or desire to learn and understand what he must to fulfil even some aspects of being president. Astonishingly, his political positions still remain vague and reactionary, so he has no direction and has accomplished little in his time in office. He’s thin-skinned, vain, lazy, undiplomatic, unlikeable, spiteful, an extraordinarily poor manager, childish, and an all-round buffoon. 

… and? I mean, is anyone gasping with surprise at any of that? Even people who don’t pay any attention to politics know that this is the general impression of Trump. What part of this character portrait is so damning Trump would try to censor it? Everyone’s already aware of this! Aside from quoting Trump and his flunkies to underline the above, all Wolff does is reinforce the image of Trump as the Idiot-in-Chief. 

Wolff then turns his attention to recounting profiles of the rest of Trump’s ever-changing administration, who are, again unsurprisingly, as moronic, incapable and insidious as they seem. Steve Bannon in particular comes off as the most despicable - easily the scummiest addition to the White House since Dick fucking Cheney (to use his full name). Ivanka and Jared Kushner are as useless, vapid and shallow as they appear, as do any number of clownish characters of the past year from Sean Spicer to Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci. 

The book is poorly written in an unnecessarily complicated style. Wolff writes absurdly overlong compound sentences I had to re-read at least a couple times to understand what he was saying - usually something quite basic. As you might expect for a book that was rushed to publication, typos abound throughout - I didn’t keep count but I noticed dozens which only highlights the overall impression of the writing’s sloppiness.

I don’t know anything about Michael Wolff but I had hoped he would take an objective-as-possible position with regards the material - nope! His left-wing bias shines through numerous times, making it that much harder to take any of the reporting seriously. He mischaracterized Gamergate as “a precursor alt-right movement that coalesced around an antipathy toward, and harassment of, women working in the online gaming industry”. I won’t deny some of that happened but there’s no mention of the dispute largely centring around the ethics of the gaming press. 

Wolff mentions those racist idiots wandering around with tiki torches - but fails to identify the equally appalling behaviour of their left-wing equivalents, Antifa and Black Lives Matter, which would provide context for and explain why Trump said there was blame on both sides. As it is, Trump comes off looking like a Klan sympathiser - Wolff’s intention, I’m sure. No context is provided to the infamous travel ban and how a similar policy already existed under Obama. And, while I firmly believe in climate change, smug sentences like this: “When the climate-change-denying president woke up on another springlike morning, 77 degrees in the middle of winter...” add nothing to the discussion. 

A half-assed quasi-narrative emerges in the second half of the book involving yet more dreary in-fighting between Bannon and Ivanka/Jared (which unfortunately features heavily in nearly every chapter) and Bannon’s laughably-deluded plans for his own presidency in 2020. It’s an attempt by Wolff to give this meandering crap the semblance of form and it’s unconvincing and forced. 
That’s basically the book in a nutshell. A tedious, uninteresting and unenlightening recounting of Trump’s first year in office while mirthlessly pointing and poking fun at him and his personnel. To anyone who’s been paying attention this past year, there’s nothing here worth reading that you won’t already know or be aware of, and, given Wolff’s left-leaning position, it’s just a book-length exercise in confirmation bias for liberal readers who share his worldview. 

It’s really overhyped. I have no idea why Trump got his knickers in such a twist trying to stop its publication - is he that stupid that he’s unaware of the Streisand Effect?! The answer, of course, is yes, he is that stupid. Far too fragile too. He’s overreacted like this before when, back in February 2017, the New York Times printed an inside-the-White-House story that had Trump wandering around in the wee hours in a bathrobe, unable to work the light switches. Flipping out over looking silly? Yeah, he really is that pathetic as his latest outburst over this book’s publication showed again. Unless he was desperate to block his daughter’s description of how his famous hair is constructed (you’ll have to provide your own sick bag for this next paragraph): 

“An absolutely clean pate - a contained island after scalp reduction surgery - surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men - the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.”

The book’s title is a reference to Trump’s braggadocious statement to the fat turd with the second worst haircut in the world, Kim Jong-Un: “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.” But a more suitable quote, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, better describes this book: “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 

It doesn’t cover everything but Fire and Fury provides a fairly decent overview of Trump: Year One. That said, if you’re already overly familiar with the subject, Michael Wolff has scant new information to offer up besides inane gossip. It reads exactly like the opportunistic, tabloid-esque piece it is, tossed out to capitalise on the world’s continuing fascination with Trump. I wouldn’t bother with it, or at least, if you’re interested in it, don’t waste your Christmas vouchers on a copy and wait for it to appear in the library instead. As ever, if you really want to see the inside of Trump’s White House, check out the open sewer that is Trump’s Twitter feed!

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