Journalists routinely undertake assignments that are rife with risk. Some choose to report from war zones, others cover riots, some photogs click through the most perilous places in the world, some paparazzi chase Kim Kardashian. In my case, I decided to begin the New Year by entering the dangerous territory of Donald Trump’s latest book: Crippled America, How To Make America Great Again.
Surely this book can’t be ghost-written? Another author could never get into the spirit with which The Donald haunts the political process in this American Presidential election cycle.
Books like this one mark the US election season like rats in the New York subway system. We’ve had Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices; Ted Cruz’s A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America; Bernie Sanders’ Outsider in the White House (though I’d personally opt for the Trump 2016: Off-Color Coloring Book). Even Bobby Jindal had his tome, American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic (though he soon joined the ranks of those forgotten choices). The books combine autobiography and agenda and deliver a sort of genre that can be called Memofesto.
I decided to read The Donald’s book to try and figure out what makes him tick off people.
I discovered you didn’t actually need to read the text to get his ideas, you could just scan the headlines, like Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors, or The Energy Debate: A Lot Of Hot Air. The slim volume contains less than 170 pages of his politics, but does feature a 17-page long About The Author section that begins with “Donald J Trump is the very definition of the American success story…” That spills through the text and context of Crippled America, however lame most of the material may be.
“But there’s nobody like me. Nobody,” Trump writes, in a style that this book is steeped in. It’s littered with one-liners (though hardly humorous), that run from “This has to stop” and “I know how to fix it” to “Winning matters” and “We don’t have time to waste on being politically correct”. As with the opening of this paragraph, sometimes he actually stretches the argument to an entire line and a word, as in “I have proven everybody wrong. EVERYBODY!” Reading between the lines, this self-described Ernest Hemingway of Twitter could have tweeted this book.
To be fair, Trump isn’t short of quoting from strategic thinkers when it comes to policy. For instance, he delves deep to deliver: “‘Iron Mike’ Tyson, the famous fighter, once explained his philosophy, saying, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’.” Perhaps, it’s that source of inspiration that has The Donald chewing the ear off his audience.
He offers plenty of insight too: “I don’t mind being attacked. I use the media the way the media uses me — to attract attention.”
Other than pointing out that he’s rich (“I’m the only billionaire ever to run”), his other priority appears to be to ensure everyone knows he’s famous. Just about the only time he refers to Hillary Clinton directly is when he notes that he’s the only other person to have been named to ABC’s Barbara Walters special The Most Fascinating People.
A self-described man of wisdom recently stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine.” Oh wait, that was Trump, himself, on Muslim immigration into the United States. But then, he has outlasted all the outrage. The media maelstrom fits him like a bespoke suit, as he makes clear: “I’m a businessman with a brand to sell. When was the last time you saw a sign hanging outside a pizzeria claiming “The fourth best pizza in the world”?!. Teflon Don tantrums along.
At one point in this book, The Donald proclaims: “This mess calls for leadership in the worst way.” Given his record so far, maybe that’s exactly what he’s offering.
Anirudh Bhattacharyya is a Toronto-based commentator on American affairs. The views expressed are personal.