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What speed read of new White House book reveals
The juicy gems have (mostly) been tweeted out. The insults of President Donald Trump by his White House advisers have largely been revealed. The late-night comedians have chimed in. So now that Michael Wolff’s bombshell account of the Trump White House “Fire and Fury” is available to purchase, despite Trump’s threats to stop it, what will you get from reading it? (Hardcover list price: $30.00.)
There’s plenty of gossip here that didn’t rise to the level of Top-10 lists and might still be new. The book is a smoothly written tour of the early days of Trump’s White House, highlighted by behind-the-scenes details of what was happening while things happened. Remember that first travel ban? We watch Trump gloat over the fallout to Morning Joe and Mika (who doesn’t eat fish) during a visit to the White House. That infamous “wire tapping” tweet? Wolff shows us Trump calling chief of staff Reince Priebus afterward and holding his phone up to the television so Priebus could hear.
The book also includes more minor episodes that already seem insignificant, in addition to a sometimes exhausting block-quoting of Trump’s public comments. The rhetoric is as rambling and nonsensical as you might remember it.
The more lasting worth of the book may be Wolff’s emperor-has-no-clothes depiction of an anarchic White House. It’s a place that was set up to fail with the dueling and leaking power centers of Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and son-in-law Jared Kushner. It’s a battlefield with shifting but always enduring fronts (as Wolff has Henry Kissinger putting it at one point, “a war between the Jews and the non-Jews”).
Behind it all, of course, is a “semiliterate” president, who just wants “to be liked,” devouring vanilla ice cream and calling up gossipy New York friends in the evenings, not giving much expert consideration to anything from nuclear war to firing then-FBI Director James Comey. In Wolff’s telling, there is no high-level chess match that Trump is playing. The president has no idea what he’s doing. And he’s not going to change, no matter who is chief of staff.
Wolff ends the book with Bannon resurgent despite being fired last year, looking ahead to a populist Republican Party beyond Trump, who Bannon, by the way, thinks won’t get to term two.
Readers may beg to differ about Trump’s prospects, and time will tell which character in Wolff’s book is less enduring. But regarding the day-to-day functioning of Trump, you’ve been warned. As if you hadn’t been already.
Follow the Mooch
The raging East Coast storm Thursday incentivized more daytime television viewing for the last on the snow totals and more opportunities to witness the return of Long Island’s very own snow-job expert, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci.
Scaramucci was unavoidable as he made the rounds of network and cable news shows to defend President Donald Trump against the stunning claims in the new book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. He also got in some knocks against his old nemesis, Steve Bannon, who is the source for many of the book’s unflattering anecdotes about the president.
The Mooch, who last summer blew up his own run as White House communications director in just 11 days because of an interview with The New Yorker magazine about Bannon, seemed to be auditioning to get back into Trump’s good graces. “I don’t think any of those people think the president’s an idiot, dumb or dope . . . You cannot be dumb to win the presidency. You know he’s not dumb, I know he’s not dumb,” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
Whether Scaramucci can find his way back into the White House is unknown, but his return to the spotlight is sure to juice ticket sales for a fundraiser featuring “The Mooch” as guest speaker on Jan. 31 that is being held by the Manhattan GOP. Tickets are $500 each, and you will learn the location of the dinner after your check is cashed, giving Mooch the same aura of mystery as Bannon, when he spoke at Lee Zeldin’s recent fundraiser in the city.
NY GOP on the hunt
When the state’s Republican chairs meet in Albany on Monday, the first order of business will be to find a gubernatorial candidate to run against Andrew M. Cuomo. So far, they have been coming up empty.
Business adviser Harry Wilson has decided not to challenge Cuomo, who is seeking a third term. And on Thursday, the New York GOP’s other strong contender, Marc Molinaro, the county executive of Dutchess who filed in October for a campaign account with the state Board of Elections, took a pass.
But if you think running someone against Cuomo is a problem, the New York GOP is finding it even more difficult to mount a strong run against Kirsten Gillibrand for the U.S. Senate. So far, the only person making the introductory rounds is Chele Chiavacci Farley, the party’s state finance chair who is a managing director of Mistral Capital International.
Farley appears to be the choice of state Republican chair Ed Cox. He arranged for Farley to join him, Suffolk chair John Jay LaValle and Nassau chair Joseph Mondello in July as part of the welcoming committee when President Donald Trump landed at MacArthur Airport in July in advance of his speech to law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College.