To say the release of this book caused a furore would be an understatement. Trump threatened to sue if it was published. The publishers responded by bringing forward the publication date, and the media the world over was fixated for a good 48 hours.
Wolff’s “fly on the wall” report claims to tell the inside story of the tumultuous first year of the Trump administration. The book focuses on the rollercoaster of power politics that dominated year one of the presidency, and that has continued since. In the months following the publication, one of the key figures the book focuses on — alt-right racist Steve Bannon — was sacked as White House chief strategist, in part due to Wolff’s allegations. Rex Tillerson — who the book reports as labelling Trump “a fucking moron” – has also been removed as secretary of state. From page one, the book is clear that chaos is central to the Trump regime.
Given that we’ve all heard the rumours: that Trump has early onset dementia; that he never thought he’d win the election; that Bannon will one day run for president — is there any point in actually reading the thing?
The book does vividly reveal the fundamental divisions facing Trump’s White House. The New York set of Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn — also since removed as economic adviser — are shown to be constantly clashing with the brash and bigoted Bannon. This isn’t just about personalities. It represents the contradiction Trump has in satisfying his right wing base while keeping big business happy. These are the fractures in the ruling class that a mass movement against Trump can utilize.
Doubts about the validity of sources and truth of the rumours aside, the real flaw is that Wolff doesn’t give attention to the fundamental problems or impact of Trump’s White House. The portrayal of Trump as a bumbling idiot who is a butt of many jokes may be true, but it somewhat dilutes the danger he and his ilk pose. Liberals have used the book to poke fun at Trump’s mental distress, in the hope it takes away attention from their lack of a strategy to oppose him. This is a man whose policies have emboldened neo-Nazis, racists and bigots across the globe. As Bannon’s recent visit to the fascist Front National in France demonstrates, those behind the Trump regime should not be caricatured or underestimated.
Ultimately, Fire and Fury is a small glimpse into the upper circles of the rotten and filthy system that has let Trump rise to the top. Anyone reading it will come away with no doubt that the establishment stinks. Moreover, the popularity of the book is an indication that millions of people around the world despise Trump. That is a good thing, but we have to do more than call Trump names and poke fun at him. The key, which the book misses, lies in the resistance to racism, sexism and everything he represents.