The book written by Donald Trump’s niece is the latest addition to a lengthy list of damaging books written by Trump’s detractors. But Trump’s own actions and reactions may have a far greater role in his undoing than a bunch of blockbuster exposés.
Few things can afford us the guilty pleasure of unearthing other people’s salacious family stories. Particularly if they are packed with dramatic details involving obnoxious granddads, wily uncles, and estranged youngsters, all part of a plot bubbling with public rows, dirty secrets, deceit, disputed wills, and lawsuits. Let the central characters be actual well-known people and the juice is doubled. And even more so when one of the arch villains of the story is none other than the President of the United States.
That’s exactly the case with the explosive new memoir by Mary Trump – niece of U.S. President Donald Trump – titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man”. Though Miss Trump’s book is set to be published on July 14, copies leaked to U.S. media organizations have revealed it as a tell-all book divulging family secrets and making known unsavoury truths about the world’s most powerful man.
Washing Dirty Linen
Mary Trump’s book, tragic and entertaining all at once, is like a key to the Trump family cupboard filled, as it were, with rotting old skeletons. Scandalous revelations abound, as do acerbic allegations against not just Donald Trump himself, but also his father, the Trump family patriarch Mr. Fred Trump Sr.
According to Miss Trump, daughter of the President’s older brother Fred Trump Jr., Trump handsomely paid a friend to write the SAT for him when he was applying to college. This is just one of the many allegations validating her claim of Trump practicing “cheating as a way of life.”
Miss Trump also writes that Fred Trump Sr. bullied and ridiculed her father Fred Trump Jr., which influenced Donald Trump to treat his older brother the same way. Fred Trump Jr. wasn’t keen on joining the family real-estate business and became a pilot who died due to an alcoholism-induced heart attack in 1981, aged 42. She also alleges that no-one from the Trump family was present at the hospital on the night that Fred Trump Jr. died.
Accusing her grandfather Fred Trump Sr. of destroying his children, Miss Trump calls him a “sociopath” for whom “softness was unthinkable” and who led Donald Trump to adopt insensitivity and aggressive behaviour to disguise his own insecurities. She pins the blame for the family dysfunction on Fred Trump Sr.
A trained clinical psychologist with a doctorate in the subject, Miss Trump describes her uncle’s mental health, diagnosing him with multiple psychological disorders. According to Miss Trump, Donald Trump meets all nine criteria of clinical narcissism and is besieged by insecurities for which his ego needs constant boosting. She also believes he may be afflicted by antisocial personality disorder as exhibited by traits such as arrogance, criminal behaviour, and lack of regard for others. Among the other mental disorders she thinks he might suffer from are a learning disability, a sleep disorder, and dependent personality disorder.
Significantly, Miss Trump reveals herself as the source for the tax documents which formed the basis for New York Times’ 14, 000-word, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative article about Donald Trump’s tax evasion.
One Tell-All after Another
Much to the chagrin of the White House, Too Much and Never Enough comes hot on the heels of another tell-all book, namely John Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened”. Like Miss Trump’s book, Mr. Bolton’s book generated massive public frenzy in the run-up to its release, not least due to its sensational revelations regarding President Trump. Just as the Trump family has sued to block the publication of Miss Trump’s book, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to prevent the publication of Bolton’s book.
Much like Too Much and Never Enough, Mr. Bolton’s book was a savage indictment of Donald Trump, characterizing him as a man unfit for office. In his book, John Bolton – former National Security Adviser – pulled no punches, alleging that Donald Trump wanted China’s help to win re-election; that he offered personal favours to dictators, that he nearly quit NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 2018, and that he believed invading Venezuela would be “cool”. There were other startling details to compound Trump’s embarrassment. Bolton described his former boss as power-hungry and utterly ignorant – a man unaware that the U.K was a nuclear power, or that Finland wasn’t part of Russia.
However these haven’t been the only tell-all books ladling out generous scoops – pun intended – of terrifying Trumpian tales in recent years. In 2018, American author and journalist Michael Wolff’s devastating exposé Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House painted Trump as a deranged megalomaniac disparaged by White House staff. The same author in 2019 brought out Siege: Trump Under Fire, another blistering portrayal of Trump and his coterie. The buzz is also getting louder about the bombshell tell-all penned by Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, likely to be released this September.
Watch: Michael Wolff discussing his exposé Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Will it, Won’t it?
So, could a damning book sink Trump, or at least aid his fall?
Well, to begin with, the Mary Trump book is a wee bit different from the ones written by skulking journalists and sulking ex-Trump inner circle members. Part family memoir and part psychoanalysis of the Trump family, Too Much and Never Enough comes from the unique vantage point of a Trump family member and a trained psychologist. So it not just offers a frightful portrait of a man as viewed by someone who grew up seeing him up-close, but warns us of the dangers of the noxious phenomenon that is Trump by likening the country to a macrocosm of her weird, dysfunctional family.
But the uncle in question is no ordinary uncle either. He won the 2016 elections despite all that awful publicity generated by the Access Hollywood tape. The three and half years of his Presidency too have seen him weather a slew of scandals including the Mueller report and subsequent prosecutions and incarcerations of associates, reports of extramarital affairs and hush money payments to mistresses, even an impeachment trial for an alleged attempt to seek electoral assistance from Ukraine. Clearly, for his base, the carapace of his fizz and froth persona is still unscathed.
Two things about Miss Trump’s book, though, could bruise Trump more badly than the book itself. Firstly, in trying to block the book’s publication, Trump – in his puerile vindictiveness – has inadvertently ended up drawing more attention to it, and made an oblique admission of his guilt. Left to itself, the book may not have created a national flutter since it would be read almost exclusively by people who despise Trump anyway.
Secondly, for an already scatterbrained President, the book brings yet more fodder for distraction. Elections are less than four months away, Trump is trailing Joe Biden in key states, and health, economic and social crises are showing no signs of loosening their vice-like grip on the country. An anti-niece invective hobbling a fuzzy campaign – shaped not so much by a vision but by anti-Biden, anti-immigrant, and anti-China rhetoric – at this stage may not be very useful after all.
Taking Down Donald
In her book, Miss Trump confesses how deeply troubled she felt by the havoc her uncle’s policies were wreaking and how her conscience pricked her to contact and help the New York Times reporter access the Trump family’s financial documents. She writes, “It wasn’t enough for me to volunteer at an organization helping Syrian refugees; I had to take Donald down.”
Except that if he is indeed “taken down” this November, due credit should be given to Uncle Donald himself and not his niece or any other best-selling author. For once, even the President’s worst detractors wouldn’t mind giving him a little pat on the back.