Originally written Jan. 10, 2019
Michael Wolff’s expose on the Trump presidency, titled “Fire and Fury” seeks to capture the oddity of America’s most infamous president. Based on an eighteen-month observation and interview period, the novel alleges both outrageous and obvious claims – that Trump never intended to be president, that he is both stupid and narcissistic, that he may indeed have conspired with Russia, and that seemingly no one in the White House believes he is suited to be president.
Wolff, who makes little effort to hide his contempt for Trump, outlines that from the start, no one in the Trump campaign had any real political experience, which led to one of the most outlandish campaigns America has ever seen, characterized by Trump’s careless remarks, scathing Tweets, his remarkable lack of understanding regarding the U.S. constitution, and outside-the-box policy points (such as “Build the Wall”). For these reasons, and many others, political pundits across the world did not take the candidate seriously. However, for those inside the campaign, this was never seen as an issue because according to Wolff, Trump never intended to be president at all. Wolff concluded that Trump’s bid for the presidency was a ploy to gain traction before launching his own T.V. network. Not only did he not expect to win his campaign, but he did not want to win. Beyond interviews with those inside the Trump’s circle, Wolff uses events to follow this belief to its logical conclusion. For example, he explains that Melania, who quite clearly hates being in the public eye, kept such a low profile during the campaign because Trump promised he would not win and the unwanted attention would soon pass. According to Wolff, Melania cried election night – “and not of joy.” He also argues that Trump’s claim that the election was rigged provided the perfect case for him to lose the presidency in martyrdom fashion before moving his brand into the T.V. world. He writes, “Donald Trump and his tiny band of campaign warriors were ready to lose with fire and fury. They were not ready to win.” Wolff also attempts to understand the inexplicable Trump persona. The results of his year-long interviewing and observation process, leave him to argue that Trump is a crude and simple narcissist with little depth as a human being. He is the way he is and there is no point in trying to change or understand his operations. Rather, Wolff alleges that those closest to him spend their time managing Trump, almost like adult-babysitters, if you will. When referring to Trump’s old friend and former Fox T.V. mogul’s view of the president, Wolff writes, “He was simply “Donald” – as though nothing more needed to be said.” Trump’s unnatural sense of self satisfaction is what allowed him to become president, even when he ran with the intention of losing, argues Wolff. He explains the transition of a man who ran to lose, to a man who believes he should be the president, with these simple lines, “There was, in the space of little more an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a quite horrified trump. But still to come was the final transformation: suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be and was wholly capable of being the president of the United States.”