The Fire and Fury book

I’ve quickly read Fire and Fury, the book that at least the media is talking about.

The author is clairvoyant in that he can see inside the heads of other people. He writes with 100 percent confidence that Donald Trump wanted to lose the 2016 election and was upset that he won. The author, an American man, is able to get inside the head of a Slovenian woman:

He admired her looks—often, awkwardly for her, in the presence of others. She was, he told people proudly and without irony, a “trophy wife.” And while he may not have quite shared his life with her, he gladly shared the spoils of it. “A happy wife is a happy life,” he said, echoing a popular rich-man truism.

How does he know what was awkward for Melania if he is not clairvoyant? Separately, a Google search for “happy wife happy life” reveals no association with income level.

Trump is accused of a lot of bad behavior, but nearly always without any source cited. This information also comes from clairvoyance?

The author doesn’t seem to have done a lot of research. He writes that “no president before Trump and few politicians ever have come out of the real estate business”. Yet George Washington made his money in real estate (see previous blog post and history.org (“Most of this wealth can be traced to Washington’s success as a land speculator, an enterprise that grew out of his early career as land surveyor.”)).

The author expresses confidence that “Trump colluded with the Russians to win the election” because unnamed “friends” of Trump supposedly believed this.

One source of a lot of stuff in the book is Steve Bannon, but there don’t seem to be any quotes, e.g., “Bannon described Trump as a simple machine. The On switch was full of flattery, the Off switch full of calumny.” What did Bannon actually say?

The author seldom explains where he was and how he got access to the few actual quotes. For example:

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

Was the author sitting with Donald Trump on a speaker phone? Sitting with Rupert Murdoch?

Since there aren’t really enough quotes to fill up a book-length manuscript, the author resorts to quoting hearsay:

“Mr. Trump said he’s never once listened to a whole Obama speech,” said one of the young people authoritatively.
“They’re so boring,” said another.

What have we learned from this? Trump actually said that he never listened to a full Barack Obama speech? The unnamed young staffer quoted thought that Trump might have said it? What?

Continuing the theme of the author’s ability to see inside others’ heads… “Jared Kushner at thirty-six prided himself on his ability to get along with older men. … Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. … Trump found the White House, an old building with only sporadic upkeep and piecemeal renovations—as well as a famous roach and rodent problem—to be vexing and even a little scary. … [after nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court] Trump would shortly not remember when he had ever wanted anyone but Gorsuch.”

How does this guy know what another person does and does not remember?

The author goes back in time to judge Fred Trump:

Jews and Israel were a curious Trump subtext. Trump’s brutish father was an often vocal anti-Semite. In the split in New York real estate between the Jews and non-Jews, the Trumps were clearly on the lesser side. The Jews were white shoe, and Donald Trump, even more than his father, was perceived as a vulgarian

If Fred Trump was a brute, why didn’t his wife sue him under New York family law and live comfortably and brute-free on at least half of the assets Fred Trump had accumulated? In the age of on-demand unilateral and profitable divorce, why would a rational woman remain married to a “brute” from 1936 until the brute’s death in 1999? The author and the publisher (Macmillan) don’t seem able to check facts with Wikipedia, which describes a white-shoe firm as one that excludes Jews.

Donald Trump is a bad husband:

An absentee father for his first four children, Trump was even more absent for his fifth, Barron, his son with Melania. … He was a notorious womanizer, and during the campaign became possibly the world’s most famous masher. While nobody would ever say Trump was sensitive when it came to women, he had many views about how to get along with them, including a theory he discussed with friends about how the more years between an older man and a younger woman, the less the younger woman took an older man’s cheating personally.

Notorious among whom? Which friends? If Donald Trump is so bad, why doesn’t Melania go down to the New York divorce courthouse and cash in? The author says that she doesn’t enjoy the publicity and attention of being First Lady. So if Donald Trump is a bad husband and being First Lady has no value, why wouldn’t an intelligent person such as Melania avail herself of our country’s no-fault divorce laws and become rich and “independent” (cashing checks every month from Donald would be the source of the “independence,” of course!)? These apparent logical contradictions are never addressed.

The author also doesn’t explain how a multi-billionaire who is purportedly a “notorious womanizer” has kept everything so quiet. Trump has been worth an average of roughly $ 3 billion for the past 10 years. If he is able to spend 4 percent of his wealth annually, that’s $ 120 million per year or $ 328,767 per day. Are there women who could be persuaded to have sex in exchange for something that $ 328,767 would buy? If not in New York then somewhere reachable by personal Boeing 757? Before the Hollywood Cleansing made the news, we had data such as “20 women slept with me to get promotion” (The Sun) from a supermarket assistant manager. That’s in one supermarket and he was only the assistant manager. The Trump Organization is listed by Wikipedia as having 22,450 employees, roughly half of whom are presumably women, and Trump was the top manager and final decision-maker. If Trump’s priority were womanizing, as the author suggests, why have we not heard about a sex-for-promotion situation (e.g., from a disgruntled employee who was passed over) within the Trump Organization? A billionaire “notorious womanizer” in the cameraphone era has left no evidence of his fun times? Why wasn’t compromising content being generated on a daily basis for the past 16 years since the Sanyo SCP-5300 was introduced?

There is virtually nothing in the book about the substantive work of the President. If you want to know why the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare was unsuccessful while the corporate tax rate cut did go through, this book won’t be helpful.

Bottom line: The book is spectacularly dull unless perhaps you know these Washington insiders personally and want to know what has been anonymously said about some of them. My opinion of Macmillan was diminished by the readily apparent sloppiness of the work.

Related:

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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