White House in Wonderland

Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault Newman is a book that either has been or is a subject of public notice and contention. I usually avoid books like this but Scribd grouped this together with Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff and Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green. All three are audiobooks. I finished Omarosa’s book, have almost finished Wolff’s book, and am listening to Green’s book as I travel. While all authors have agendas, authors writing on political matters deservedly are subject to greater scrutiny as readers attempt to separate fact from fiction from personal bias. With absolutely no reference to factual studies, I will advance my opinion the Omarosa’s book is open to even more scrutiny because 1) she is sensitive to issues of gender, 2) she is sensitive to issues of race and 3) she is open to the charge of being a disgruntled ex-employee.

As an Old White Guy with US Midwestern values, I believe few would expect me to think highly of this book. Those people would be wrong. I have only one criticism and it is one of organization and presentation. Omarosa addresses two main complex contentious areas in the book. The first is the obvious mismanagement or complete lack of management in the Trump regime. The second is Omarosa’s history. Both are interesting and I believe there should have been two books. As they appear in one book, some might dismiss Omarosa as a whiner and a person seeking advantage due to coming up from a background of disadvantage. A person scanning the work, looking for keywords that would support such an opinion, might form such an opinion. I believe a careful reader, someone who actually reads (or listens) to the book, will find lots of well-supported positions, ones that can be checked should the reader decide to do so.

A note on audiobooks: I generally don’t like them because they take up too much of my time. I read faster than the narrator’s speak. If I listen to audiobooks while doing something else, I pick up on important points and then feel the need to rewind to make sure I got it right. That especially holds true with non-fiction such as this book. Secondly, it disturbs my reading schedule and review posting. I read the same amount but make an excuse for not posting a review because I am listening to an audiobook and don’t have time to write a review. Two of the three audiobooks I mentioned are fascinating. I haven’t gotten far enough in the third book to have an opinion.

I give Omarosa’s book five Amazon stars but because I didn’t read it on Amazon or listen to it on Audible.com, this review will not be posted on those sites.

I was impressed by Omarosa’s admission near the end of the book that she had been enthralled by the Trump environment for almost fifteen years. She credited him with some of her branding techniques, such as the use of one name only. He is “Trump,” “she is “Omarosa.” She mentions that Trump likes to refer to himself in the third person. I have noticed this on occasion; I will watch more for it in the future. It was unclear to me whether Omarosa uses this third person reference now or whether she did so in the past.

The author details her work on the Apprentice series. It seems there was the Apprentice, the Celebrity Apprentice, and an All-Star Apprentice. All changes in names were an attempt to recapture audience share that while appearing high initially tend to decline with audience familiarity. I liked this section because in the wake of public reporting after her dismissal from the White House, some news outlets emphasized the number of times she had been “fired.” Why so many times? Omarosa reveals that the firings were a part of marketing strategy.

The huge takeaway from this book is Omarosa’s validation of a point that many in the general populace know whether they are readers, listeners, or viewers of TV news. If there is anything Trump values more than his opinion of himself, it is unswerving loyalty to him by all around him. Omarosa had a front row seat to view Trump’s on-going evaluation of loyalty within his family and within the group of his closest advisors, such as his cabinet and his personal attorneys. Omarosa saw different Trump expressions toward Ivanka and Don Jr. Omarosa was present for Cabinet reshufflings.

There is a very interesting section on the seeming unreasoned animus Trump has for President Obama. Omarosa offers an explanation for it that (not a spoiler) does not focus on race. At least not entirely. Somewhere around this same section, the author also explains the difference between these two words, “racial” and “racist.” I liked the book for this section alone.

Omarosa was present at the history of the evolution of the Donald, a tragedy for all but the most fervent Trump supporters. She was also present (and still is) present at the growing changes, both good and bad, within groups long disadvantaged in the US. That these same groups may also be disadvantaged in the world is also true. But it used to be true that we were advancing in the US. With this administration, we seem to be making up past advances with several steps back. I look forward to reading more balanced and intelligent writing from Omarosa.

 

 

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