I mean, of course, the new Michael Wolff book, Fire and Fury.
With his customary cogency, Eugene Robinson writes,
One year into the Trump presidency, we effectively do not have a presidency at all.
As McConnell noted in frustration Wednesday, he can’t orchestrate passage of an immigration bill unless he knows what Trump is willing to sign. Likewise, Ryan can’t pass spending legislation unless he knows what Trump will and will not accept. But the president has no fixed positions. His word is completely unreliable. How are congressional leaders supposed to do their jobs?
With that thought in mind, why should you read the new book? Haven’t you heard it all from the talking heads?
Well, of course you have heard a lot of it from the talking heads. But when you read the book, the focus falls away from the anecdotes and the big picture comes clear.
There are dozens and dozens of cognitive biases. I’ve got ‘em. You’ve got ‘em. Everybody’s got ‘em. But here’s the difference between Donald Trump, on the one hand, and many of the rest of us, on the other hand. Particularly that portion of the “rest of us” whose job it is or was to bring judgment to bear on difficult and important questions—in medicine, in law, in government, and so on. We know we’ve got cognitive biases, and we can at least try to compensate for those biases with reason and with objective information.
Trump has cognitive biases of the most egregious nature, but is entirely innocent of any discernment about his mental sgtate. Lacking that discernment, he is helpless to correct for his biases.
As Wolff explains, with illustrations, Trump does not take in information through the written word.
He cannot reliably distinguish between truth and fiction.
He cannot relate cause to effect.
And he believes, falsely, that others, or at least most others, think like him. He thinks, for example, that referring to Africa as comprised of “shithole countries” will actually increase his standing with the public.
As Wolff lays out, Trump “knows” a limited set of things, all of which are false. But, as to those matters, which he thinks he knows, he clings tenaciously to his illusions and is impervious to any contrary empirical information or logic.
As to a vast array of other matters, Trump has no intellectual curiosity at all, and no sense of duty to try at least to learn the relevant facts. As to these things, he is perennially at the mercy of whoever spoke to him last.
You know all this already. Reading Fire and Fury will help you get your head around it.
As Eugene Robinson says, we are functioning without a chief executive and commander-in-chief. It’s a kind of mad experiment.
But on a lighter note, check out
I remain of the view that we should just line up the middle aged tooties outside the Lincoln Bedroom, grease their palms with silver, and let them keep him occupied.