Thursday, November 17, 2016

Know Your Enemy

The Ironic Cherry reads...

Trump Revealed
by Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher

In its wisdom, The Charleston County Library acquired Trump Revealed one week before the election.  I was first on the waiting list, but happy to see that they had at least ordered several copies.  It is an easy read.  As it turns out, there is absolutely nothing about Donald Trump that is complicated.  But it was still hard for me to swallow, so I paced myself at thirty pages a day, after which I still felt I needed a shower.

Then came election day, and I decided to set it aside, and finish it after a few days, when the need was no longer so pressing.  As if.

Please, please, please read this book.  It is written by two Washington Post journalists, with the contributions of many more Post writers.  Each took a topic from Trump's life and thoroughly researched it.  So we have good insights and information on Trump's father, Fred, and his immigration to America through his real estate career.  Donald at his side, learning the family business, and then to military academy, and then branching off into his own career.

Though we have learned a great deal of Trump history over the past year and a half there is detail in this book that adds much important information, both in understanding the personality and in all the controversies we have heard about.

It was Donald Trump's father that went through the Depression, but Trump retains that penny-pinching need to accrue ever greater wealth that we associate with survivors of that depression.  The authors describe the Spy Magazine prank in which they sent celebrities checks for miniscule amounts to see who would cash them -- Trump cashed a check for 13 cents.  On a grander scale, it explains his lack of charitable giving, and his use of Trump Foundation funds for personal acquisitions.

On the other hand, while he is truly cheap, Trump has a strong need to be perceived as "rich."  He has sued publications for asserting that he is not as wealthy as he claims.  His denials of help from his father are vehement, and false.

Which leads to his lies.  And Donald Trump is a compulsive liar.  He lies even when he has nothing to gain from it.  He lies unflinchingly when he senses opportunity, either to win someone over or knock someone down.

The authors describe an aspect of Trump's manipulation of people that I found particularly interesting and clarifying.  If he perceives someone as threatening to him (and yes, we all know about his thin skin), he will attack.  Attack with insults, threats and lawsuits.  But quite often, after some time has passed, he will reach out to that person, complimenting him for example on what a talented individual he is, and inviting him to partner with him.

We look on in puzzled horror as Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and all the other spineless members of the republican party have caved.  Trump has perfected this type of manipulation in his life in business, and weak-kneed politicians who are concerned only with self-preservation are proving to be easily sucked in.

He is NOT smart, but he has the narcissistic fine tuning of the successful bully that picks up weaknesses, twists arguments, throws his weight around, pits people against each other to his advantage, and when the time is right, uses sweet talk to seal the deal.

I am watching the manipulations with members of Congress unfold, and while it is not rocket science, Trump's tactics work.

Our liberal defenders need to understand what is happening.  And we need to understand as well, because we are the ones who will be in a position to explain to other Americans what is happening.  The better to defend ourselves from the onslaught of the what Paul Ryan yesterday gleefully referred to as the unified republican party.

So please make time to read this important book...

...even if you can only stomach a few pages at a time.  And even if you have to set it face down -- as I did -- when you aren't reading.

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