There is so much wrong in Michael Wolff's book. It is false that White House aide Stephen Miller knew nothing about immigration and was not sharp on public policy. Miller is actually deeply into public policy and the weeds on policy. One need not know him well to figure that out. But Wolff's book suggests he knew little and had to google how to draft an executive order at Steve Bannon's behest.
It is also totally not true that Donald Trump did not know who John Boehner was. They had played golf together repeatedly and had meetings together repeatedly before the election. Wolff writes that Donald Trump told Roger Ailes that Trump did not know who John Boehner was.
There are lots of anecdotes like these in the book. They are small stories that are absolutely and provably false. Others are absolutely true and have other witnesses to them. Wolff himself has a history of embellishment and writing with gusto in a sensationalized style. Who knows what is actually true in the book. He even says he let multiple people describe events to him and they given completely contradictory accounts. But that's the point.
Most of what Wolff writes in this book comes from recorded conversations with people, particularly Steve Bannon. Miller may be a policy wonk, but Bannon wanted him thought of as an idiot. The President could be freaking Leonardo Da Vinci, but Bannon wanted him thought of as an idiot. Ivanka Trump? Idiot. Jared Kushner? Idiot. Donald Trump, Jr.? Idiot. Sean Spicer? Idiot.
And those who were not portrayed as idiots were portrayed in other unflattering ways. Roger Ailes? Old guard, outmoded, and time to move on. Rupert Murdoch? Old guard, outmoded, and time to move on. Reince Priebus? Overwhelmed. On and on it goes.
This is the truth of this book. The White House was a chaotic place to work, and "Sloppy Steve " presided over it all. The embellishments and lies appear not to be primarily Michael Wolff's but Steve Bannon's. Bannon seemingly wants to portray a world where he is puppet master, and we are all puppets living in his world. He wants to be the Machiavelli he is not. He cannot work with the quiet conviction of being right. He must make sure we all know he is right and he is power.
Which means he is not.
Truth be told, when you are that dependent on other people, not the company you work for, but other people, for even your own private security , you probably do need to bring in someone to be your stenographer against others. You probably do need to puff yourself up at the expense of others so they ignore the Mercer branded collar and dog leash and ignore President Trump is walking you and all you really get to do is pee on fire hydrants.
That's the real truth of Michael Wolff's book. It paints a picture of those around the President as unflattering and back biting. Some, more than Bannon, aid in this with their own quotes. But a lot of it is Steve Bannon revealing himself by puffing himself up and badly treating others.
But there's another truth to Michael Wolff's book. It turns out there is no master plan. There is no grand strategy. The daily chaos is not a distraction from the main event so they can sneak things through. It is the main event and the things that get through are exceptions, not rules. That then must leave us with a very disturbing truth about the Trump Administration. As conservatives applaud a number of conservative measures that have advanced and some solid judicial picks, we still ultimately have a man-child for President who eats cheeseburgers in bed while yelling at the TV between tweets and, while claiming to hire only the best men, hired "Sloppy Steve ", Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and more.
We have an administration that can handle the basics, if barely, in normal times. But an administration needs a leader during crisis and our republic chose a man who has never been called to lead in a crisis and does not seem capable of doing it. Bannon, we can gather, assumed for himself a mantle of leadership voters did not give him, and now he is out in the cold. Should something wicked this way come, we will meet a crisis of leadership we have never had as a nation and it will not be pretty.