Saturday, December 3, 2016

TrumpNation by Timothy L. O'Brien

Tim O'Brien restored my sense of humor. I was belly-laughing by the end of this book. O'Brien was sued by the Donald over the reporting in this book, twice, but if anything, O'Brien makes the Donald look bombastic rather than purposely evil. At first I was disconcerted by O'Brien's breezy style, but by the middle of this book I understood that the style matched the subject matter. I started laughing when O’Brien tells us about the fight headlined daily in the New York papers between developer Trump and Mayor Koch in the 1980s. I even got to the point where I was thinking, like Trump’s wives, “That’s just Donald. He does it to everybody.” He is a braggart and a smooth-talking operator. Everyone knows he is lying, but because no one takes him seriously, what he says doesn’t matter.

But that’s all over now. Now people must take him seriously, and it is difficult to change early impressions. The only thing we do know is that among the powerful, nearly everyone is waiting for him to trip up and hang himself. No one, except perhaps Giuliani, has any loyalty to this guy. After all, Trump has insulted them, lorded over them, sued them even. He won the election, yes, but if he blows it, they will dump him faster than Brutus stabbed Caesar.

Now, to this book. It was initially published in October of 2005, long before politicos around the nation were speaking of him the same breath as Bush, Romney, and Obama. Their worlds did not overlap. A second edition of the book was published June 2016 with a new Introduction (described here in the Washington Post) which should give you some idea of O’Brien’s writing style and attitudes towards the Don.

The thing that I began to warm to in O’Brien’s telling is that this is actually funny. Donald is a gad-dang charlatan, for cripes' sake. Everyone knows that, especially the dour-faced Republicans who opposed him during the campaign. And they are all lawyers. Donald has so much objectionable, actionable, lying behaviors behind--and presumably ahead--of him that they can take him down at any time they decide to put their little minds to the task. It just depends how long they can keep him on their leash. This has nothing to do with “popular opinion.” That pleasantry will go right out the window when the politicos decide enough is enough. Brutus and Caesar.

Anyway, this book is a hoot. I first read David Cay Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump which allowed me to relax into this more casual history. Both books have great stories about Trump in conflict with one powerful billionaire after another. I particularly liked the story about Trump so admiring the Plaza Hotel that he bought it despite its flaws at a price which began to suck his wallet dry.
"This isn’t just a building, it’s the ultimate work of art," Donald said of his hotel. "I was in love with it…I tore myself up to get the Plaza."
It’s nice to know there is some sentiment in the guy, even if it is only for a building and not for the blond bombshells he married to amuse himself and dazzle us. Somewhere along the time O’Brien recalls the testimony from Steve Wynn, Las Vegas developer, discussing Trump(1) do I begin to see that Trump’s election is a fluke, and that he is hanging again by his toenails to this high bar he has managed, by luck and bravado, to scale. But there isn’t much underneath him, and it is just a matter of time before the Washington establishment declares “This emperor has NO clothes!”

Endlessly amusing if one can detach the real-world implications of Donald Trump as President of the United States, this book should be required reading for those too distressed to listen to news since the election. It is a reality inoculation to stave off despair. We knew we had a lot of work to do to repair the political system. Now we have no choice. It is not a question of “if” or “when.” The answer will have to be “now.” Be prepared to become involved.

(1)Steve Wynn on Donald Trump:
"No sane or rational guy would respond to Trump," Wynn responded. "His statements to people like you, whether they concern us or our projects, or our motivations, or his own reality, or his own future, or his own present, you have seen over the years have no relation to truth or fact. And if you need me to remind you that, we’re both in trouble. He’s a fool."
Turns out Steve Wynn is classified in an Esquire report as Trump's "friend." It seems Trump is a more reasonable man in person.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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