Thursday, 4 January 2018

larceny, mind loss and misdirection (with buttons)

I've been reading some of the preview sections of that Michael Wolff book about Trump. It's been in the news, particularly because of the Bannon quotes, although it doesn't officially get published until next week.

It's an entertaining read, because however accurate it is (or not), there's interesting moments, like the whole expectation within the Trump camp that they would lose and that the electioneering was really a way to propel other media agendas.

Then we get the top-up money required from Trump to run his campaign. Bannon asks for $50m and Trump provides $10m, which he is insistent and quick to recoup once the funds have been raised.

Wolff compares the early days of the presidency with the well-known movie The Producers. Make something bad but then be wrong-footed when it is successful.

There's some great one liners too. "Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul". Ann Coulter telling him, "You can't just hire your children."

Then there's the efficient but perplexed Katie Walsh as deputy chief of staff at a White House devoid of an up-and-down structure. A childish figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. Not task-based so much as response-oriented, to whatever the boss was currently thinking about - often whimsically from the 6am Fox broadcasts.

That's where this book rings true. Trump doesn't process information in any conventional sense. He appears not to read. Not even skim. Some believe him to be no more than semi-­literate.

Some say he gathers most of his information from television, but then they also say he eats a lot of fast food and worries about being poisoned via his toothpaste. There's a lot to unscramble. And through it all his ego uncompromisingly trusts his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant.

Maybe it explains his lashing out with gut instincts, often starting with policy announced on twitter? Yet despite a reduced linguistic sophistication, and impaired impulse control, there's still a snake oil salesman in there somewhere. A 'Don the Con' use of misdirection, to hide something else. Today's disbanding of the voter fraud investigation is a case in point.

No doubt the book will be derided as fake news or trashy tabloid and maybe lawyers will get involved. The author may have exaggerated too. We won't know, although the narrative I've seen seems to fit rather well against broad perceptions of what has been happening.

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