“Man of Confidence,” Maggie Haberman’s book on Trump: a review

Decisive fantasy – his big line was “You’re fired!” – It added to his political appeal, but that was also false. Haberman has reported on numerous occasions when Trump lacked the courage to fire employees face to face. At one point, he tried to lure Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide, Nick Ayres, to become his chief of staff — but only if Ayres agreed to tell the incumbent, General John Kelly, that Trump wanted him gone. Iris refused to play. So Trump resorted to the old New York way, backstabbing, rumor-mongering and humiliation, to get Kelly to resign. Trump “Enjoy the chaos [his staff] They fight with each other,” Haberman writes.

There were two other important lessons in New York. One is that the press—particularly tabloids, television news, and, later, social media—can be inundated with rude performance art. Trump managed to get mad His divorce from his first wife, Ivana, At war between rival columnists Liz Smith and Cindy Adams. Haberman wrote that he played tabloids like an organ: The divorce was on the front page of the Daily News for 12 consecutive days, “a car wreck where victims repeatedly tried to hurt themselves more rather than accept medical help.” Trump eventually realized that he could use his raw, external dissatisfaction to fuel the public’s underlying anger against the correct political arrogance of the established media. When he shouted, “False news,” they believed him. During the 2016 presidential campaign, I constantly interviewed people who loved Trump because he “looks like us.” And somehow, in the miracle of the sale, the way Trump supporters saw him became identical to the way he hoped to be seen.

I was astonished by this. He said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they still support him. But the relationship was symbiotic and subtle. One of Haberman’s many services in “Man of Trust” is outlining the process by which Trump came to his nefarious positions—such as the ugly notion that Barack Obama was not born here, and the insinuation that most immigrants coming across the South border were violent criminals. Not only did he divulge these ideas; He was prompted by the reactions of his strongest supporters. Even his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border came about gradually: only when he began to see it as a crowd-pleasing building project—such as his triumphant restoration of Wollman Rink in New York—did the idea achieve a high profile in his campaign showcase. It became clear, as Haberman made her case, that Trump was not just an eccentric, lucky ninkomopop, but a genius—though not particularly “stable”—when it comes to reading the media terrain of the digital age.

Perhaps the last lesson in New York was the most important: He learned how to stay one step ahead of the mayor. This was, and still is, his greatest skill. There were many ways to do this. The political influence was the most obvious. Trump made generous campaign donations to Giuliani and old Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. They, in turn, did not come under investigation despite a strong whiff of misfortune emanating from his dealings with mafia-controlled construction syndicates and casino criminals. (Later, Haberman wrote, Trump accepted a $20 million Super PAC contribution from billionaire Sheldon Adelson to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.)

Trump understood that the best defense was, at times, to be an offense. Publisher Malcolm Forbes threatened a closed gay man if he published a negative story. Threatened claiming left and right. Sometimes he loses: his companies go bankrupt; He settled a fraud case with the Securities and Exchange Commission; Pay a variety of frivolous fines. But he always manages to muddy the waters when he loses, claiming victory or threatening more lawsuits.

Most importantly, he developed a very accurate sense of what traffic could withstand. He knew he could stress out his lawyers and the small businessmen who were his subcontractors. “Do you know how much publicity these people get for being a client?” And despite all this neglect for the rest of his life, he spread the words with the accuracy of a litigant – even if they seemed to the contrary. Just think of his ‘perfect’ phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She was, in fact, a master class in veiled intimidation: “The United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.” Just think of his instructions to the Proud Boys, a “Stand Back and Stand by” mixed mix. Just think about his January 6 speech: He never said directly, “Go down to the Capitol and try to overthrow the government.” He always gave himself room to duck and cover.

We can hope that Trump is an aberration and not an avatar, but it’s probably delusional. He has created a brutal new standard of American politics, and has made a terrible impact on our democracy. Maggie Haberman was there for it all. The story you tell is unbearably painful because Trump’s success is a reflection of our national failure to take ourselves seriously. We will be very lucky, if our downfall is not proven.

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