Michael Wolff has written a book to shake America to its foundations, a brutal expos of an administration filled with fear and dysfunction
Amid the daily din of Donald Trumps White House comes Fire and Fury, Michael Wolffs tell-all, just in time for the first anniversary of the Trump inaugural. Like the burn book in the movie Mean Girls, Fire and Fury contains a toxic tale that singes all.
In Wolffs telling, Trump World is cacophonous and dysfunctional. Trump and those who work for him come across as all too happy to share, while loyalty is almost wholly absent from their landscape.
Trump purportedly mocks his own sons intellectual shortcomings and derides Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, as a suck-up. Melania Trump, the presidents third wife, cries in sorrow on election night over her husbands electoral college win. Steve Bannon, Trumps former senior adviser, pummels Jared and Ivanka, AKA Javanka, for their incredible lightness of being.
As to be expected, Bannon takes no prisoners and speaks with the loudest voice. He brands the now infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that was attended by a passel of Russians, Don Jr, Kushner and Paul Manafort, Trumps then campaign manager who is now under indictment, as treasonous, unpatriotic and bad shit.
Bannon also sees special counsel Robert Mueller tightening his noose around the Oval Office. Im pretty good at coming up with solutions, Wolff quotes Bannon as saying. I came up with a solution for his broken-dick campaign in a day, but I dont see this. I dont see a plan for getting through.
To his credit, Wolff catches the parallels between Bannon and Trump: If Trump is incapable of sounding like a president, Bannon had matched him; he was incapable of sounding like a presidential aide.
Trumps circle of friends, family and acquaintances are depicted as no less unsparing in their criticisms of the president. According to Wolff, Rupert Murdoch called Trump a fucking idiot after the two men ended a phone call. Given the pending Fox-Disney deal, Murdoch may be wishing Fire and Fury dropped a few months later.
Sean Hannity, Trumps staunchest ally on television, is audibly disturbed by Trumps failure to offer condolences to the widow of Roger Ailes, Hannitys former boss at Fox News. Hannity is caught saying: What the fuck is wrong with him?
In a similar vein, Tom Barrack, a 30-year Trump buddy, allegedly observed: Hes not only crazy hes stupid.
For the record, Barrack who denied making that statement after the first excerpts of the book were published chaired Trumps inaugural, was according to Wolff considered for White House chief of staff, and brought Manafort into the campaign.
Even Javanka piles on. Upset by his father-in-laws indecision over Americas response to Syrias use of chemical weapons, Kushner complains that the president just doesnt get it. As for Ivanka, she is reported to have mocked her fathers hair.
Fire and Fury also captures the ethno-religious tensions that have apparently marred Trumps White House. Wolff quotes Henry Kissingers take on the feud between Kushner and Bannon as a war between the Jews and non-Jews. Here, Kissinger and Wolff likely overstate. But the backdrop of Pepe the Frog as a constant campaign meme, coupled with David Duke and white nationalist Richard Spencers man-crushes on Trump, leave the reader wondering.
Wolffs access to Trump and his inner circle is evident. At the outset, Wolff writes of how he sat down with Trump in his Beverly Hills home, while Kushner and Trump aides Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski milled about. Likewise, the quotes obviously bespeak knowledge and close proximity.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump represented a movement, and that fact deserved greater elucidation by Wolff. Said differently, among Fire and Furys shortcomings are its failure to adequately explain how Trump arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and its insufficient appreciation for the bond forged by Trump and his base. In that sense, the book lacks the connective tissue present in Devils Bargain, Joshua Greens take on the Trump campaign and the first few months of the presidency.
Clearly, Fire and Fury has set off a storm that has left its share of casualties. By Wednesday night, Bannon was on a political respirator and his role as keeper of the Trumpist flame was no more.