Books About Donald J. Trump and Other Literary Legacies

BOOKS ABOUT DONALD J. TRUMP AND OTHER LITERARY LEGACIES

“A biography, is a detailed description of a person’s life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person’s experience of these life events,” Wikipedia

By T.K. McNeil

Write It All Down

Trump rarely reads and has been writing his memoir on his Twitter feed.

Trump rarely reads and is writing his memoir on his Twitter feed, 240 characters at a time

We live in an age of documentation. The word “biography” did not enter the English lexicon until relatively recently. We now have the ability to create personalized literature 240 characters at a time.  I’m sure a book about Donald Trump will someday be written based on his Twitter feed.  Before this age of technology however, a person had to be somewhat well-known  before anyone would think to write, or read, a book about them. One group that has almost always been in this category are U.S. presidents.

Once In The Ground

For much of American history, a president could count on being at least out of office before the ink began to fly. Some of the former leaders with the most pages dedicated to them being those who are long dead. Once in the ground, presidents become easy targets for writers and historians to delve into every aspect of their life and career from multiple angles. It’s always easier once someone is dead to dig about in their personal correspondence and investigate rumor and innuendo, and talk to people who shared time with the president.

Give It A Little Time

Before the 21st century most presidents were not written about until after death

Before the 21st century most presidents were not written about until after death

The explanation of course is due to the importance of each presidency to the history of the Republic and the politics of the time. Furthermore, once a president passes he is no longer available to explain himself and the effects of his actions are much more clear through the lens of time.

Paradigm Shift

In the early 1990’s, there was a bit of a shift in presidential biographies. The main outlets for written presidential accounts shifted from after-the-fact books and biographies to the minute-by-minute style of newspaper articles written as books at the time of their presidency. There have been many such books written about Donald J. Trump. Some writers are just trying to figure out what is going on, while others are tell-all’s by former insiders. One of the books written about Donald Trump, specifically his rise to power in 2016, actually being called, “How the Hell Did This Happen?” A bit more surprising is the fact that it was written by self-described “Republican” P. J. O’Rourke.

Actually Number One

There are so many books being written I have had to get an assistant reader

There are so many books being written about Trump I have had to get an assistant reader

For all Trump’s bluster about his achievements and profound faculties, many of them delusional, there is one area in which the current president holds the crown. There are more books about Donald Trump in the third year of his first term than any other living, let alone sitting president, in history.

Outlandish!

Sounds crazy. Donald J. Trump can barely be bothered to read; and writes mostly in 240 word tweets, often with childish spelling errors. Amazingly there have been more books written about Donald Trump than any other living president. Which is now down to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. None of whom are, or should be, immune from criticism.

Sheer Volumes

First let’s set some limits and define some terms. The focus is on books about Donald J.Trump specifically. More than only his presidency, but his life, his business career or even his campaign were scrutinized and written about extensively and published between when he got into office and now. There have been at least 51 books published about the Trump presidency since May 2016. At least 60% of these books about Trump books come out in 2018. Astonishingly, that’s 2.5 books about Trump per month for a total of 30 new publications in 2018.

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HANLON’S RAZOR: Cutting Through the Hype

President Trump is unwelcome in many areas of the world

President Trump is unwelcome in many areas of the world as demonstrated by this protest in London

HANLON’S RAZOR: CUTTING THROUGH THE HYPE

T.K. McNeil

A “culture war” by American definition implies a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal. It is most obvious when urban and rural American values come into clear conflict.

Origins

Little is known about the originator of Hanlon’s Razor, Robert J. Hanlon. To the point that it came to be thought that it might have been a misspelling of the famous science fiction author Robert J. Heinlein. Although this similarity proved to be purely coincidental. Originally composed as an entry for a writing contest based on the largely satirical “Murphy’s Law”. An axiom which states that anything that can go wrong invariably will. Though, Hanlon’s philosophy is generally more optimistic. Showing a modicum of faith in human nature. Attributing seeming misconduct to human frailty and incompetence rather than inherent cruelty.

Hanlon’s Razor

Much of the rhetoric based on gross exaggerations may not be  intentional manipulations of the truth. Hanlon’s Razor states, A truth most clearly expressed in the political aphorism known as Hanlon’s Razor.  Hanlon’s Razor states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” Or as former British press secretary Bernard Ingham rephrased it: “Cock-up (screw up) before conspiracy.”

Hope In Odd Places

When you consider Hanlon’s Razor, today’s politics do not have to be this way. Politics have become objectively more fraught but largely based on a false premise. That the opposition, as defined by those who disagree, are acting with malice. It is difficult to believe otherwise, given the violence involved. Though violence, even fatal violence, does not always come from a place of malice. Violence can be enacted out of a sense of righteousness and even positive intention. Especially when enacted against a perceived enemy.

Cold Civil War

FDR described himself as a liberal Democrat

FDR described himself as a liberal Democrat

America is in the throws of a Culture War. Since we don’t apply Hanlon’s Razor, polling statistics show a gap between Democrats and Republicans unseen since the American Civil War. Slowly moving ever further  away from the deceptively bipartisan past beginning in the 1920-1930’s.

Conservative Democrats and Liberal Republicans

It was a time when “conservative Democrat” and “liberal Republican” were generally understood and popularly used terms.  The “conservative Democrat” was most often from the south in pre-1965 politics. Self-defined liberal Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his 1933 “New Deal” put together an unlikely coalition, by today’s standards, that of southern whites, labor unions, minorities, and liberal/intellectuals.  Hanlon’s Razor allowed different viewpoints to come together during a decade of national tumult.

Things Get Ugly

Newt Gingrich was instrumental in blowing up bi-partisanism

Newt Gingrich was instrumental in blowing up bi-partisanism

After the Civil Rights legislation of the mid 1960’s the assumption became that the opposition was giving away the farm.  Due to the rise of the civil rights movement, southern white voting block broke to the Republicans in the manifestation of the GOP’s “southern plan”.  Instead of Hanlon’s Razor assuming that some of the transitional legislation was unintentionally flawed, the people assumed that America no longer cared.

It Gets Uglier

But it wasn’t until the 1990’s when any remaining gentility in American politics died, sending Hanlon’s Razor out the window.  Republican’s “Contract with America” declared war on anything liberal, focused on less regulation, tax cuts, term limits, and balanced budgets.

Actual Malice

The move toward the right was led by chaos creator extraordinaire, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.  Before his retirement, Newt was sanctioned by the House of Representatives. He was fined $300,000 for election fraud and ethics violations. He left the House in 1999.  However, Hanlon’s Razor took a blow because sometimes it really is malice.

Violence Increase

Heather Hyer died in Charlottesville, VA protest

Heather Hyer died in Charlottesville, VA protest

A protester at a Milo Yiannopoulos event in Seattle was shot in the stomach, surviving only because of immediate medical attention and extensive surgery. Then there was the wide-spread civil disobedience in Berkeley and several potentially fatal bludgeoning attacks with a bike-lock. 2018 was not much better.  All of these situations assume malice rather than the Hanlon’s Razor’s assumption that these events were never planned to incite violence.

Some One Died

We need to apply Hanlon’s Razor now before things get out of hand. While there is not yet open combat, there have been fatalities, beginning with the death of Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017.

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