If you’re in higher ed and are trying to ignore Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, you shouldn’t.
Did you like the new tax on endowments? How about the general isolationist talk that is making it difficult to recruit that undeniable college cash cow—the foreign student? How about his Justice Department’s attack on affirmative action.
All are Trumpian policies that wouldn’t exist if he weren’t there.
And what about the anti-intellectualism that Trump represent? The man is a non-reader who probably relied on second-hand accounts from obsequious aides about the book. He may not know how bad it paints him.
Wherever you are in higher ed, as an administrator, teacher or student, you owe it to yourself to read the book.
We’re all in this Trump fantasy together, which is why Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is much more than what the president insists is a “fake book.”
The unimpeachable fact that Wolff’s fly-on-the wall tale reveals is that Trump ran for glory, not for the good of the country, democracy or his love of the office of the presidency.
According to Wolff’s book:
“His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. ‘I can be the most famous man in the world,’ he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.
‘This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,’ he told Ailes a week before the election. ‘I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.'”
This inside, perspective by a veteran journalist who was allowed access to the White House is what makes it so difficult for Trump to rebut. Wolff’s book isn’t fiction It’s an act of journalism by someone’s whose been a journalist longer than Trump’s been a politician. Wolff says he has more than 200 taped on-the record interviews. There may be other “not for attribution” quotes on background, but the anonymity provides candor and truth. This is journalistic practice. Until those quoted recant, the statements and opinions hold.
And Steve Bannon’s statement of regret days after publication doesn’t really count. For example, Bannon can’t walk back saying the president had “lost it,” while describing Trump’s mental acuity. Bannon can’t take back describing the president as a “big warm hearted monkey.”
In fact, compared to other senior staffers who called Trump a “f—ing moron,” or “idiot,” Bannon’s “monkey” quote is one of the nicer things said about Trump, according to Wolff’s book.
But if I were a monkey, I’d be offended.
The derision among the staff is genuinely upsetting. The book reveals how senior staffers on the inside know that they are not dealing with a “stable genius,” a phrase Trump proclaimed about himself over the weekend.
But all of them understood what Trump’s real desire was–to run for fun, get famous, and build the Trump corporate brand—not the United States. The unimpeachable fact of the book is that Trump is the man who wouldn’t be president.
But then, darn it, he was.
And then everyone was shocked. Even Trump.
On November 8, 2016, when the man who bankrupted two casinos couldn’t manage to lose the way he wanted, Wolff wrote: “Don. Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he called him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania, to whom Donald Trump had made his solemn guarantee, was in tears, and not of joy.”
And that’s the reveal, this administration can’t keep covered up.
Fire and Fury exposes and confirms what everyone has thought. And explains why 2017 was such a disaster.
The Trump Administration’s problems stem from starting out as a sham.
The real shame is that the reality TV star matched up with an electorate that was equally cynical. Or maybe they weren’t smart enough to look through the façade that Wolff’s book deftly strips down.
A cynical electorate empowered by a non-reading, uninterested leader? Sounds like a problem that only educators can fix.
Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. He writes for the civil rights organization AALDEF at http://www.aaldef.org/blog