'Fire and Fury': Snorting Schadenfreude, with a Lace of Existential Dread
My darlings, I don’t know what you did this weekend, but I had my face super-glued to a kindle, devouring Michael Wolff’s already-infamous fly-on-the-wall take on the Trump White House.
And I’m not going to ruminate too much on the jaw-dropping vignettes that you’ve no doubt already read, or perused on Twitter. In fact, if you want the juiciest bits but don’t feel like reading the entire thing, give the book excerpt printed in New York Magazine a go - hell, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already inhaled it.
Already, there are many criticisms of the book, and of Wolff. But many journalists, while calling out sourcing issues or questioning motives, are describing elements of the book that, in the words of Axios, “ring unambiguously true.”
So here are my top three takeaways from my weekend read:
Trump is a misogynist. And handlers are enabling and manipulating Trump’s misogyny. To this you may exclaim “No shit, Sherlock,” but it must be noted, again and again. Wolff described Trump’s binary approach to women: he surrounds himself with “office wives” or young women to serve him, “in particular, women who self-selected themselves as tolerated of or oblivious to or amused by or steeled against his casual misogyny and constant sexual subtext - which was somehow, incongruously and often jarringly, matched with paternal regard…” Trump negs women to keep them at his beck and call, praising them one moment and insulting them the next. And if you’re not on his side, you’re a “cunt” - yes, a crude term Wolff quotes the president assigning to a top law enforcement official. At one point, Wolff describes how one of the president’s circle of unofficial advisors told him that “the DOJ… was filled with women who hated him.”
This administration’s hatred of knowledge and expertise flows from the head. At one point, Wolff writes about how proud Trump is of “never going to class, never buying a textbook, never taking a note.” How Trump dismissively refers to anyone who dares presents arguments and details as “professor.” How Trump “didn’t read. He didn’t really skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist.”
This book seems to have been rushed out the door, as my non-professional editing eye caught duplicated statements and paragraph, a couple of spelling typos, and found the entire last third hard to follow, with a weirdly literary ending. Still, it was a goddamned speed read, and I couldn’t put it down.