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Friday, January 5, 2018

Two books, one POTUS

Insiders on the unlikely election upset
Two books penned by folks with access to the White House in the early days of the Trump administration have begun to fly off book shelves and online stores.

Each paints a picture of, at least in the early transitional weeks and months, a top-level staff surrounding the President that, while intelligent and talented, was seriously flawed and certainly not functioning as a team.

Sitting in the #8 slot (with a bullet) on the current New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller book list is "Let Trump Be Trump" by Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

Released today, "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff is sure to quickly enter and rise towards the top of that list as well. The two books deal with the same subject matter - Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

Lewandowski and Bossie were two of Trump's most intimate campaign advisors as he captured first the Republican nomination and then won the general election in 2016. Their respect and admiration for the man, at least as a candidate and as a leader, appears to be beyond doubt, as revealed in this snippet from their tome:
"...Donald J. Trump is the greatest big-game player in American political history. Period. There is no second. None. Not in modern times. No one is even close. If you disagree, show us someone who has never run for office before, and watch him become the leader of the free world in spite of the media, some of the Republican establishment, and the Democratic Party all being against him. We'll argue with you any day of the week."
There was volatility in the early months of the Trump administration as top officials came and went with alarming regularity. This was with the notable exception of the fiercely loyal Kellyanne Conway, who always had the trust of the President.
"In the coming months, we would watch as the fundamental flaw in the Trump White House made it shake and crumble, until the whole thing split in two with the American people watching. First out  of the White House was General Mike Flynn, followed by Katie Walsh and shortly thereafter Sean Spicer. They were followed closely by Reince Preibus. Sebastian Gorka has left...We watched Anthony Scaramucci flame out...and now, (Steve) Bannon, too, is gone."


But as Lewandowski and Bossie point out, that volatility was mostly a by-product of a man who was not a politician, who was not used to putting together a political team, being suddenly thrust into such a role.
"He's not, nor will he ever be, a politician in the traditional sense of that word. And he is not someone who goes back on his word. For Donald Trump loyalty is the currency of the realm, and nothing hurts him deeper than when someone he trusts is disloyal."
Wolff is a columnist and author who, thanks to a series of pro-Trump pieces during the campaign, was able to gain the confidence of enough staffers that he could frequently camp out in the West Wing during the first year of the Trump presidency.

The liberal news media have been parading Wolff out for interviews at any opportunity, as his book paints the President in a far less favorable light. This is, as we have all learned by now, in lock-step with their own anti-Trump agenda.




Wolff puts his own spin on the very first days of the Trump team in a piece for New York magazine released to accompany the book just two days ago:
"Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said (Deputy Chief of Staff Katie) Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”"
Unlike the Lewandowski/Bossie book, which is a first-hand account of the campaign from two men who were actually working inside and having daily conversations with Trump, the Wolff book is largely his opinion of what was happening during the first year of the administration. This opinion was allegedly drawn from conversations that Wolff claims to have had with staffers.




It's important to note what that Tweet by Benjy Sarlin of NBC News (no friends of Trump) says is contained in the introduction to Wolff's book. "Many of the accounts...are baldly untrue" and "In other instances I have...settled on a version of events I believe to be true."

Whether predisposed to be defenders of President Trump or not, numerous folks have come out publicly charging that Wolff's credibility is open to challenge. Some believe that allowing him any access to the White House was representative of the old "fox in a hen house" analogy.

In a "Fourth Estate" piece on Thursday for Politico, Jack Shafer opined:
"Wolff’s penetration of the White House presents two equally damning conclusions about Trump - that he’s too much of an egoist to care who might be loitering around the White House, gathering string on him, and that he’s too incurious about the world to spot a potential danger to his presidency."
As pointed out by Kieran Corcoran of Business Insider, sources cited by Wolff in his book have come out publicly and "disputed claims made made about them." These include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

As Lewandowski and Bossie point out, President Trump is not a typical politician. In fact, that was one of his major selling points to the Republican voters who handed him a surprisingly easy primary victory, and who swarmed to the polls in November of 2016.

Though he has built an enviable business empire, Trump has learned the hard way that building a political administrative team can be far more difficult. Just as he had to do at times in his role as a boss in business, Trump has found that he is going to have to fire people, or otherwise ease them out.



When it becomes clear that certain folks are not acting in the best interests of his team, in forwarding his agenda, they have to go. When this becomes obvious, Trump is unafraid to act. Both of these books make that clear.

Now, which book are you going to purchase and read, if not both? That is likely to be driven by your own already formed opinion of the President.

If you are positively disposed to the man and his policies and/or are interested in a history lesson on the inside story of an outsider rising to the highest office in the land, then you will add "Let Trump Be Trump" to your book shelf.

If you are in the camp that feels he is an abomination to the office and the nation, then "Fire and Fury" will be on your nightstand.

One thing is sure, no matter what your opinion of the President. In his first year in office, Trump has accomplished or is pushing forward the exact agenda on which he ran.

Rolling back numerous Obama-era policies and programs, reducing burdensome regulation, re-directing the courts back towards Constitutional originalists. Leading the fight on tax reform, directing tougher immigration policies and actions.

Despite the high-level staff turnovers, the Trump agenda continues to march forward. The man himself is the one indispensable piece to the puzzle. He is the unquestioned leader of what has quickly proven to be a winning team.

Trump is to this administration and its agenda what, as Lewandowski and Bossie compare him, Tom Brady is to the New England Patriots. Other pieces may come and go over time, but as long as Brady is leading them, the Pats are a Super Bowl contender. The analogy to this White House works well.



Me? I'm much more a history fan. I enjoy reading actual insider accounts of real events told by folks who were present when they happened, such as Lewandowski and Bossie. I am not at all a fan of gossipy sensationalism of the type released by Wolff.

These are not the first books written about Trump or his rise to the presidency. They will certainly not be the last. Two books, one POTUS, and more for supporters and detractors alike to digest regarding the most fascinating person to ever hold the office of President of the United States.

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