Posted : 2018-01-12 16:20
Updated : 2018-01-12 19:15

'Fire and Fury' essential to comprehend US politics

By Choi Yearn-hong

I love Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," an instant bombshell book in the United States, the most current American political book on President Donald Trump, his family and his associates inside and outside the White House.

I chose this book for my political science course, American Government 101. The 151-year-old publisher Henry Holt has never had as great a success as with this book. Trump denied that any interviews or access to the White House staff were granted, but all 200 interviews, including with Trump, have been quoted in the audio book just released.

The key interviewee Steve Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network. A key architect of the Trump victory in the 2016 presidential election, he was appointed as the chief strategist in the Trump White House, and then fired. He designed Trump's first 100 days as president. Wolff was lucky to have Bannon's rise and fall for this book. Without Bannon's accounts of Trump and his children and his close associates, this could not have reached its status as the fastest-selling book in the publisher's history.

Almost everything written in the book is already known to the public, but it confirms all the rumors as true, even though some critics say this book is a sensational half-backed truth written in tabloid style. Of course, the words uttered and written in the book are interpreted by the author. This kind of book cannot be scientific. Each sentence does not need to be proven and verified by the interviewees.

Trump people in the White House do not read a memo of more than one page. They just read Trump's tweets. Bannon was the only one who read memos longer than one page. This may be exaggerated, but Trump does not read. He only listens and watches Fox and Friends and tweets in response to Fox and Friends. What do you expect from the Trump White House?

Wolff claims that "100 percent of people around the president question his intelligence and fitness for office." That may be exaggerated. However, everyone surrounding Trump may know in their hearts that Trump is not intelligent and is not fit for office.

Most probably, Trump himself knows it. He knew that he was an unelectable president during the campaign period and an un-presidential president after the inauguration, accidentally elected by an antiquated electoral system. He himself was once critical of that system.

One chapter is devoted to the Election Day; the scene and mood of the Trump people. Wolff sketched all their pursuits after the Election Day, not in the White House. Trump and his campaign staff tried to take advantage of finding other jobs using their campaign experience. Two campaign managers and key staff members were kicked out during the campaign period. Trump believed that the campaign managers were not competent enough to lead the campaign, and never believed his own weaknesses and faults.

The final campaign team lost hope when Billy Bush revealed Trump's words about his relationships with women, that all women liked to be touched and groped by him, such a famous and rich man. This statement was very convincingly fatal to their campaign. On the last day, FBI director James Comey rescued him when he opened Hillary Clinton's email server. Anyway, many competent men and women did not join the campaign due to Trump's supposedly unelectable character.

Bannon said a meeting of Trump's children and campaign manager Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York after the election victory was "treasonous and unpatriotic" for basically money-laundering. Bannon's words will be very critical information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation team.

Trump immediately attacked Wolff's book as fake. He does not remember his meeting with Wolff during his presidential campaign and Wolff's article, "Donald Trump Conversation: Politics Dark Heart is Having the Best Time Anyone's Ever Had," in the Hollywood Reporter in June 2016.

This article was Wolff's stepping stone to the White House after the Trump inauguration. Trump's shouting is not a surprise at all to me and many people. But I question his mental fitness. He may not remember things that have happened not long ago. His mental fitness was first brought up by a Yale psychiatrist. Ronald Reagan was much older than Trump. Reagan's mental illness was revealed much later after he retired from the White House. Trump is just entering his second year in the White House.

Since the Trump inauguration, the stock market has been booming with record-breaking highs and the war with ISIS has been subdued. That must be credited to him. However, his character and mental fitness to run the United States of America are serious matters in predicting his future in the White House. Reckless deregulation and massive military intervention in the Middle East may herald a rising stock market and subduing the war. However, the soundness of all presidential policymaking is to be seen.

Wolff made it clear that he "inserted his moral right" into the book. His moral right as a writer is his fair interpretation of 200 interviews conducted for the book. That insertion is desirable and justice-as-fairness. He also made it clear that "Fire and Fury," the title of the book, came from Trump's response to North Korean nuclear and missile programs. I recommend this book to all those who are interested in American politics.

Choi Yearn-hong is a political scientist who retired after a long teaching career in the U.S. and Korea.

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