Donald Trump and Uncle Jake: Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” is a game changer. (Trump probably suffers from the onset of frontotemporal dementia)

Thomas Wood
9 min readAug 15, 2018


(THREAD — 55 TWEETS) Donald Trump and Uncle Jake
Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” is a game changer.

1/ There are many reasons to read Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” but the biggest one is that it makes an incontrovertible case that Trump.Is.Not.Well.

2/ Nobody can read this book from start to finish and deny this — except maybe those who would continue to support Trump even if he shot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue.

3/ The reason why the book is so powerful — and it is POWERFUL — is that it very successfully combines a history of the first year of the Trump presidency with mind-blowing,

4/ insiderish observations and reports of what people in the West Wing were doing and saying when WE were seeing and hearing the same things in the PUBLIC realm.

5/ Let me give an example or two.

6/ Remember Trump’s very off-the-wall speech to the CIA at Langley on Jan 21, the day after his inauguration?

7/ Wolff devotes 2–3 pages of the book to a slightly abridged transcript of this talk. The speech is truly WEIRD — which is exactly the way it struck you and me at the time.

8/ (For those who don’t yet have the book, here’s a link to a transcript of the complete Langley speech.

Trump CIA speech transcriptTrump and Pence visited the CIA headquarters on Saturday, the day after inauguration. Pence introduced the president


9/ I must say that, on rereading the speech in “Fire and Fury,” I am particularly gobsmacked by the parting remark at the end of the talk about the columns in the building’s lobby —

10/ exactly the kind of remark you might expect from an old guy who had seen better days in the real estate and construction business, before he became “eccentric” and things went south in his head.

11/ But the cray cray character of the speech is greatly heightened IN THE BOOK, because you have the context of what was going on with West Wing staffers and with Trump on that day.

12/ Another example.

13/ Towards the end of the book, in the Epilogue (p. 308 of the Kindle edition), Wolff reports that staffers were concerned that “Trump’s rambling and his alarming repetition (the same sentences delivered with the same expressions minutes apart) had significantly increased…”

14/ That was in SEPTEMBER of last year, about 4 months ago.

15/ Now fast forward to Trump’s rambling incoherence in an interview he gave Michael Schmidt (NYT) on DEC 30 at Mar-a-Lago, where in the space of a 30-minute interview he referred to “collusion” 16 times:

Excerpts From Trump’s Interview With The TimesPresident Trump discussed a range of issues with The New York Times, including the Russia inquiry, the tax overhaul and China, at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

16/ “Fire and Fury” reminds me of the François Truffaut 1973 New Wave film “Day for Night” (La Nuit américaine), which is both a movie and a movie within a movie — that is, it is ALSO a movie about MAKING the movie.

17/ “Day for Night” alternates between the main story and vignettes about the crew-members and the director, and their romances, affairs, and daily trials and tribulations when they are making the movie.

18/ But “Fire and Fury” is even weirder than “Day for Night.” If I had to draw a comparison, it would be like watching François Truffaut make a movie like “Day for Night” with the crew of, say, Monty Python or Mel Brooks.

19/ Which brings me to Uncle Jake.

20/ As Wolff shows beyond any shadow of a doubt, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with Trump. It’s as if you have a beyond-eccentric Uncle Jake who shows up at the Thanksgiving Dinner party every year, and every year he’s a little bit worse,

21/ so eventually the family has to meet privately when Uncle Jake isn’t there to decide what it must do about him (assisted living? meds? if the family can afford it, round-the-clock nursing care or visiting nurses?).

22/ Of course, many psychiatrists and neurologists have been telling us about their concerns about our own national Uncle Jake for some time.

23/ Psychiatrists in particular have done so with considerable reluctance, given the explosive political nature of the matter, and because there is a professional ethic in psychiatry against “armchair” diagnosing and “psychologizing.” (It’s called the Goldwater Rule.)

24/ But the barrier to such discussions on the part of many mental health professionals is going to be a lot lower after “Fire and Fury,” which is going to force a much more forthright national discussion about Trump’s manifest unfitness for office.

25/ One of the best discussions I’ve seen on the matter is an article by Vernon Fox, M.D., a brain injury specialist,

26/ who suggests that Trump has FTD (frontotemporal dementia) — or if he doesn’t have that neurological disease, that he is at least behaving like he has it.

I think Trump should be tested for a degenerative brain disease — STATPresident Trump slurred his words this week, and many speculated he was having a stroke. As a physician, I don’t think a stroke was behind the slurred words. But having evaluated the remarkable behav…

27/ But RTWT.

28/ Trump, of course, is widely regarded as being pretty stupid. When Americans are asked for the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe Trump, two Quinnipiac polls have shown that the word that comes up most frequently is “idiot.”

QU Poll Release DetailAmerican Voters Have Few Kind Words For Trump, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Expel Moore If He Wins, Voters Say Almost 2–1

29/ It is already perfectly clear to LOTS of Americans that Trump is NOT smart — much less a genius, much less a STABLE genius, which is what he claims to be.

30/ But what we are dealing with here is not just the fact that Trump is not smart enough to be president.

31/ If you have had any experience talking with a person who, as the expression goes, is “mentally challenged,” you quickly realize that all you have to do to carry on a decent conversation with the person

32/ is lower your expectations about the ability of the person to understand complicated matters.

33/ But there is never a question whether the person you are talking to is in contact with reality, or whether you are actually *communicating with that person.*

34/ The most disturbing thing about Trump that one gets from “Fire and Fury” is that Trump is NOT like this.

35/ Trump talks non-stop, does not listen, quickly gets bored, drifts off topic, and seems to give every indication of being disconnected from the person he is talking to — just like Uncle Jake.

36/ Consider James Comey as a witness. Comey (partly to cover his ass) wrote detailed memos after each of his private encounters with Trump and also told friends about those meetings.

37/ Most of the public attention has been given to Comey’s memorializing the impression he had that Trump was asking him to deep-six the Russia investigations and to go easy on Flynn — which would, of course, amount to obstruction of justice, which is a criminal matter.

38/ Much less attention has been given to Comey’s impression that Trump is not “normal.”

‘Enough Was Enough’: How Festering Anger at Comey Ended in His FiringPresident Trump returned from a weekend away determined to act after months of growing frustration with the F.B.I. director, according to people close to the president.

39/ Tony Schwartz, who got to know Trump well in the late 1980s when he was the ghostwriter for Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” has recently raised the same alarm.

40/ Yesterday Schwartz tweeted

Tony Schwartz on Twitter“The fundamental insights in Michael Wolff’s book are 100 per cent consistent with my experience of Trump. Anyone who spends 15 minutes with Trump knows this to be true.”

41/ And even more ominously

Tony Schwartz on Twitter“Trump has moved to a level of irrationality and delusion that go far beyond anything I observed while writing “The Art of the Deal.” And he was deeply irrational and deluded back then.”

42/ Wolff himself is not a political writer. He started the book project looking at it as a human interest story. But he became alarmed when he saw, at first-hand, that Trump truly was unfit for the office of president,

43/ and that everyone — EVERYONE — he spoke to (off the record) in the West Wing agreed with this assessment.

44/ This puts the nation very much at risk, and the Republicans in an impossible position.

45/ On the one hand, Republicans will take a huge hit politically (especially with their base) if they participate either in a move to impeach Trump or in a 25th Amendment move to remove him from the presidency on the grounds that he is unfit for the job.

46/ On the other hand, if Republicans DON’T act to do either of these things, they will be decimated in 2018 and 2020.

47/ Wolff said in his “Meet the Press” interview yesterday that he would have been quite happy if it had turned out the other way, and if he could have written a book saying (against all the odds) that the Trump administration would be successful.

Wolff: 25th Amendment is discussed in the White House every dayAuthor Michael Wolff appears exclusively on Meet the Press to talk about his “alarming” observations from reporting his new book “Fire and Fury”

48/ But as he said in that interview, that is definitely NOT the story. Things are even worse than he or anyone else might have imagined, and this administration will NOT be successful.

49/ Wolff is surely right about this, so Republicans who hope to temporize on the matter will be held accountable eventually. You were THERE and knew everything that we now know, voters will say, and you DID NOTHING?

50/ Do not believe for a moment the critics who are trying to discredit and dismiss this book.

51/ When the history of this administration is written — as such histories inevitably are — by people like Robert Caro (The Years of Lyndon Johnson) or David Halberstam (The Best of the Brightest), Wolff’s book will be a top-of-the-shelf, indispensable source.

52/ Trust me on this, if you haven’t read the book yourself. And if you haven’t read it, buy it and read it.

53/ I see that Wikileaks has uploaded a copy of the book, and that it can be downloaded as a pirated copy now for nothing.

54/ But I don’t recommended this. Wolff and Henry Holt (a division of Macmillan) deserve better than this for their good work.

55/ The book is available (Kindle edition) on Amazon for $14.99 here END



Thomas Wood

The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac