I’ve been putting it off for a while, but I started reading Crippled America a few days ago. A few things stand out already:
1. Crippled America has no index. I’m a lot more discomfited by this fact than I should be.
2. Instead, three pages at the end of the book are a summary of Trump’s “Personal Financials,” with a Summary of Net Worth. Pages 177-190, immediately following, are a biography of Trump. Following that is a two-and-a-half-page list of “some of the properties owned and/or developed and managed or licensed by Donald J. Trump and The Trump Organization,” including corporate aircrafts.
3. Additionally, the middle glossy photo section contains 11 photos of Trump properties, including Trump National Doral, Miami, Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Trump Tower adjoining Tiffany’s in New York, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, etc. (There are also family photos and a picture of Trump and Reagan shaking hands at the White House—but they pale in comparison).
4. Unlike any of the other books I’ve read so far, this book is explicitly a mid-run book: Trump talks about the early days of the campaign, including his infamous announcement and the Megyn Kelly feud. He also says that this book is a blueprint of what he would do in office, and is neatly divided into subjects—more like Rand Paul’s book than any other so far.
This comes across as first glance as unbearably narcissistic. 14 pages, in glowing third-person prose? Spending almost your entire glossy photo section and three pages at the end of your book on your many properties?
But the more I think about it, the smarter it is. Trump released this book in the middle of his campaign cycle, with the most intense spotlights of opposition research shining on his competitors’ backgrounds. Trump claims that political experience doesn’t matter, or that it actually discredits your ability to get real things done, and the media and the circular firing squad of the Republican field is doing a good job at bearing out his point. But he’s not claiming that all experience is meaningless.
We’ve talked about the tactility of books before, and how they serve as a concrete, tangible anchor for the candidate’s presence in the reader’s life. Trump’s book is not only a physical representation of the candidate, but in his harping on his buildings he presents the reader with concrete, tactile accomplishments that do the same thing. The Trump Towers around the world are real things that people will be visually familiar with from some of the biggest cities in the world. Skyscrapers are one of the greatest expressions of pure industrialist masculinity. In comparison, the intangible things that career politicians accomplish seem like weak excuses. No “I collaborated with Senator X on issue Y,” no “My state passed a watered-down version of Z bill,” certainly no “My Grandfather Washed Dishes to Send Me To College,”—just
“Look upon my works ye Mighty, and despair!”
Like the rest of the Trump campaign, I am amused, annoyed, and grudgingly respectful. We’ll see where the rest of the book goes.
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