Writing 2018-01-21

Book Notes – Fire and Fury, Chapter 2

Fire and Fury is a book written by “journalist” Michael Wolff and is a partially fictional account of the events that occurred in the first few months of the Donald Trump administration. This is the third of a series of write-ups of notes that I have taken while reading the book.

Chapter 2: Trump Tower

According to Wolff, Murdoch isn’t the only one dismissive of Trump. It appears most, or maybe all, billionaires that knew him were as well. Murdoch was on good terms with Jared Kushner, though. One of the problems seems to have been that Trump is basically a salesman. He needs to work his way into a position where he’s the perceived alpha dog. He needs his ego stroked. He sucked up to people who could benefit him and insulted anyone who didn’t or couldn’t. A good example was the Russia Dossier. The news on the document broke just before his first press conference. Trump immediately went into attack mode. In his mind, he won. Everyone should love him because he won and he won because he is a winner… and everyone loves winners.

People were taking his bulldog attitude in stride, for the most part. Various individuals and groups were signing on to the new administration because they thought they could make it work. Many were also simply taken in by Donald Trump’s tactics. He could be very charming in person. In addition, he had that salesman’s optimism. Nothing was going to get him down or get in his way. It was what made him relentless.

In what might be a case of self-brainwashing, many felt that he won, therefore he must have some value to him. It was only after some time with him that they discovered that he truly knew nothing about virtually anything. Donald Trump had somehow developed into a living fictional character. There was no there there. He had no ability to plan, prioritize, organize or even make basic links between cause and effect. Trump’s desire to gain Putin’s favor was creating the perception of collusion and no one seemed able to get him to understand how one was causing the other. He offered people jobs on the spot without knowing them or knowing anything about the positions he was offering. He seemed to believe he was elected because of his conflicts, not in spite of them.

People tried to justify the vacuousness or perhaps re-imagine him as fitting some other mold. Those who knew him for years knew who he was, though. He was just a self-centered amoral bastard. Someone who liked breaking the rules and getting away with it. Someone who only cared about himself.

The first big internal crisis was assigning a Chief of Staff. Trump wanted someone who would basically take care of everything for him. He didn’t want to change his catered life. His sons were investigating the idea of creating two power structures; one that would let Donald be Donald and the other where they would handle the day-to-day operations.

Trump’s first pick for Chief of Staff bowed out due to financial conflicts. This made Trump go to pick number two, which was Jared Kushner. Anne Coulter of all people actually pulled Donald aside and told him that this kind of nepotism simply wasn’t going to be allowed. It took some people putting pressure on him, but Donald Trump finally agreed not to make Jared his Chief of Staff. This immediately opened the door for a lot of infighting over who it would be. Bannon was floated as an option, but no one was having it. Reince Priebus became the most viable choice. This was largely because he was a safe choice. This might have also been the first sign of his downfall. He simply never dealt with someone like Trump before and was completely bewildered by the man.

I really love the description of how completely out-of-touch Trump is. The most believable part to me is his “salesman’s optimism”. Having worked for salespeople and in businesses that had salespeople as high-ranking figures, I can vouch for their general nature. I’ve consistently seen Trump as a salesman on steroids because of this. While a lot of people where accusing him of racism and sexism and leaving it at that, I was pondering how much came from him and how much was pandering to his base.

Salespeople are opportunists. They do whatever they can to make the sale and many put their ego into their efforts. They gain your trust and look down on you for giving it. If you don’t give your trust, they get insulted. I think that ego and lack of scruples combined with that opportunism makes Trump more dangerous than the garden-variety racist or sexist. There’s no predicting what he would do to gain an upper hand.

About the author

Erik Hentell: I started out in theater before moving to graphic design. I eventually moved into web design while trying to expand my knowledge on software development. I currently work for a media company helping with their digital assets such as source code archives and ebooks.