These book summaries are designed as captures for what I’ve read, and aren’t necessarily great standalone resources for those who have not read the book. Their purpose is to ensure that I capture what I learn from any given text, so as to avoid realizing years later that I have no idea what it was about or how I benefited from it.
I bought the book Friday night and read it on Saturday. What I got from it wasn’t any particular smoking gun or revelation, like proof that Trump is a traitor or anything like that. Quite the opposite.
What I liked about it wasn’t any information or facts about events, but rather how those events took place. I like understanding personality and power dynamics in strange environments, which I would definitely consider the current White House to be.
In fact, if anything it showed me beyond a doubt what I already believed, which is that that Trump isn’t evil in the planned, Mr. Burns type of way. Instead he’s just a perpetually insecure man who fundamentally just wants people to like and respect him.
Keeping with my everyone is multiple people theory, I’m sure Trump is a nice, charming, funny guy at times. And I’m sure he’s done really nice things for people just for the sake of doing it. The problem is that he’s also extremely self-centered, vindictive, petty, and seemingly impervious to knowledge and wisdom.
Worst of all though—for being, say, an ice cream truck operator, or a school principal, or the leader of the free world—is that he appears to have the trifecta of stupidity:
- Doesn’t know much.
- Doesn’t know he doesn’t know much.
- Doesn’t trust people who actually do know things.
It’s like Stage 4 Dunning-Kruger.
What I found much more interesting was understanding the Bannon / Kushner / Ivanka dynamics, and seeing how all these actual powerhouses and experts like Kelly and Tillerson, responded to being disrespected by an actual bonafide idiot.
It seems there was a lot of gaslighting going on. Where people were basically looking at each other constantly, wondering if they were in a Black Mirror episode, and then wondering if they were somehow misjudging him. Like maybe he was a genius and they just weren’t smart enough to see it.
I got no bias from the book. So either it was super clean in that respect or he was quite skilled in hiding it. I suspect the former, since I didn’t end up with really any conclusions other than the fact that the entire situation is a black comedy dumpster fire.
I did learn a couple of interesting things, I suppose. Like the fact that I should have seen before and felt dumb for not realizing: the other reason the Republicans are letting him stay is because he’ll sign anything they put in front of him.
I thought they were letting him stay because they needed to have a good story for why he failed, to avoid the democrats having an “I told you so” that keeps them in office until 2030.
But it’s more tactical than that. He’s a signature pen for them, and they like that.
Anyway, I enjoyed it as something of an exploration of psychology. It didn’t read like a tabloid to me because it wasn’t about revelations. It was more about understanding strange human dynamics. Like watching liquids act strangely in space.
[ Find my other book summaries here. ]