Matt Taibbi provides a Cliff Nortes version of Michael Wolff’s book …

… so that you don’t have to spend your time wading through it.

Before he delves into the details, he gives us the gist:

1) Trump has almost no ideological convictions and is motivated almost entirely by the classic narcissistic value equation, i.e. how much praise or scorn he gets on a second-to-second basis, from whom, and why. Had he not run as a Republican – and in particular won on a platform scripted by ap nationalist true believer like Bannon – he might very well by now have been pushed into a completely different kind of presidency. Trump wants so badly to be liked that, especially with the influence of Kushner and Ivanka, he might easily have allowed his White House to drift back toward his original politics, which (as New Yorkers and furious conservatives alike will clearly remember) was once squarely in the Bob Rubin rich-guy sort-of Democrat mold.

2) However, as Bannon points out in the book – correctly – Trump by now is so firmly entrenched in the consciousness of America’s intellectual elite as a villain that he will never be accepted by that crowd. The constant battering Trump gets from the press, especially, ensures that he will continue to lash out at them, forcing him continually to tack back to the only people who still like him – Bannon’s angry-man followers. This despite the fact that what Trump clearly craves is, instead, the approval of members of his own class.

3) The result is an insane paradox of an America led by a doomed and trapped psyche. This is a president who in another era might have been confined to the impact of an ordinary bad commander-in-chief (we’ve had many), i.e., sedated and/or scripted in public, and kept on the golf course the rest of the time while the empire runs on the dreary autopilot of donors, P.R. flacks and military advisers.

Instead, we get a leader whose most dangerous moments come during his ever-expanding calendar of hyper-tweeting downtime (incidentally, is anything more certain than the term “executive time” replacing “taking my talents to South beach” as this generation’s euphemism for masturbation?). All those crazed Trump tweets guarantee an endless cycle of paranoia and rebuke – and a permanently paralyzed White House.

Meanwhile Samantha Bee discusses some of the important news that people might have missed because they were reading the book.


  1. jaxkayaker says

    After Trump at one point had a good meeting with Schumer and Pelosi and Bill Maher made the point that he gets along with them because he perceives himself as being one of them, namely part of the urbane and urban (but not “urban”) crowd, as opposed to much of the Republican base, rank and file and leadership, which is distinctly more culturally rural. I definitely wondered if Trump were to be accepted personally and encouraged by the more liberal individuals, using a more carrot, less stick approach, if we couldn’t get better outcomes out of him. Of course, the Republicans aren’t going to just sit by and let that happen.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    a more carrot, less stick approach

    Good luck getting the left to even understand what that means, much less apply it. The ascendancy of Trump is at least as attributable to the incompetence of the left as it is the venality of the right.

    On a side topic: the current nonsense regarding Trumps “affair” with a porn star, one Stormy Daniels. Let’s assume for a moment that it did occur. Surely one of the benefits of having billions is you can pay attractive professionals to have sex with you, and keep quiet about it afterwards. From the details alleged, there was no “affair”. There was a business transaction involving consensual sexual contact between adults -- just the once, it seems. The terms of that contract included confidentiality. There’s been no suggestion that Trump’s “encounter” with Daniels/Clifford was other than consensual. On that basis -- why is it a story? If anything, it comes across as WAY more ethical that what Clinton was getting up to in the Oval Office with M. Lewinsky. The prudishness of the USAian public is the only thing making this noteworthy in any way. There’s so much else to have a go at Trump for. Personally I’m convinced the main reason it’s in the media is it gives them an excuse to print pictures of the woman in question. And to quote forgotten 80s British sitcom satire of the tabloid newspaper business -- “Tits sell newspapers. And fortunately for us, they also buy them.”

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