The House of Laughter

The best promotion for the book “Fire and Fury” is comes from President Donald Trump himself.

As the wolf implied by his surname, Michael Wolff prowled around the White House corridors, with his ear trained on the discussions and quarrels of Trump’s main advisers and/or family members, and he set out to narrate the story of what promised to be a bizarre administration. The outcome is the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which has led to long lines of customers, coming out in the middle of snowstorms, a landslide of downloads of the electronic version and a massive avalanche of WhatsApp messages with pirated PDF downloads of the book.

The best promotion for the book comes from President Trump himself, not only as a result of his frustrated attempt to halt its publication, but with his conceited fixation on corroborating quite a few of the accusations inside the book by tweeting a long post stating that he is a genius, and that any insinuation about his deranged mental stability or missing intelligence is fake news. He who excuses himself, accuses himself, because, in fact, no formal opinion about his delirium or irrationality has yet been drafted. But the general feeling is that in Washington, there is a prevalent and growing inclination to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for the removal of the president from office in the case of proven mental or physical incapacity.

Wolff’s book is a juicy vade mecum* worthy of a psychiatry course. Or else it’s an account that went beyond 100 days to become a portrait of a year inside the House of Laughter: a madhouse where the arrival of an outsider and his improvised team of advisers at an estate that is inconvenient for him in many respects, surrounded by maximum security protocols, and the epicenter of the place where the political powers of the world’s most powerful nation converge. Paragraph by paragraph, the book confirms our suspicions: Trump dislikes getting advice from anyone; he pounces on his own conclusions, which can change at the drop of a hat. He is deeply inconvenienced by having to live far away from his home of 30 years, far from the legion of followers and flatterers who saw him in his Manhattan tower on a daily basis, and far, at least symbolically, from the business world where he succeeded despite his cyclic bankruptcies.

According to Wolff, not even Trump himself was serious about the possibility of winning the election, and Wolff’s book confirms that we are facing an incredible reality show script that failed in the screen world and became a painful reality. In its pages, one can see the hastily assembled mechanisms used to improvise the operation of the White House and its daily routine. You can see the wounded first lady, the son-in-law, Jared Kushner, an uneasy adviser, the daughter, Ivanka, who plans on becoming the next president, a roundtable of expendable advisers, and the Steve Bannon’s arrival at the apex of power.

More than half of the book could be thought of as a landscape painting depicting how the U.S. gradually became a “Bannon” republic. From the first executive order signed by Trump regarding immigration, Bannon, the leader of the most rancid nationalism and recalcitrant populism, appeared to dominate the will of the president, portrayed by Wolff as a septuagenarian child who in reality just wants approval, the subservience of every possible lower government official, and who wants to expend a minimum of effort. He is a boss who demands obedience, while at the same time, he is the child striving for constant fatherly approval, a loner mesmerized by junk food and the television as an oracle, and a businessman who doesn’t need to read a single page of the dull reports he receives, someone who either delegates decisions or chooses to act on his instincts.

Judging from the Russian conspiracy and its heinous implications, from military leadership to the legislative tangle, from the tense relationship with the Republican Party and the round of collaborators who are constantly facing imminent resignation, Trump’s White House is the madhouse that those who endorse his genius expected. A clown who boasts about his success in dollars, television and votes precisely represents the ideal for millions of functional ignoramuses who inhale all that fantasy. The worst revelation about the stroll through the House of Laughter is that the state of things is rather pitiful.

*Editor’s note: Vade mecum is a Latin phrase used to describe a reference book such as a manual or guidebook kept constantly at hand for consultation.

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