Fake President: Decoding Trump’s Gaslighting, Corruption, and General Bullsh*t
By Ralph Nader and Mark Green
Skyhorse Publishing, New York, 2019, 304 pages.

(this review will be appearing in the forthcoming Fall 2020 issue of Green Horizon Magazine)

He could be gone after November 3.

If so, well . . . whatever will we talk about for the next four years?

He’s been a media-dominating narcissist who put the “boob” in boob-tube well before descending the golden escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015 to become a pol. Having previously been a TV personality (a very high form of celebrity in this country) the press gave him hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free publicity under the guise of candidate coverage. He blustered and tweeted and fabricated to gain the Republican nomination. Shockingly, he continued to bluster and tweet and fabricate from the Oval Office of the White House!

Unpresidential. A rogue. A phenomenon. But also: a danger to the republic.

Mark Green and Ralph Nader have been a terrific team ever since the “Nader’s Raiders” days fifty years ago. For decades they’ve worked together fruitfully on a dozen books and numerous causes. Like so many of us, they watched in distress and near-disbelief as the presidential demeanor and discourse descended to diabolical depths (!) over the past four years — so much so that they felt compelled to document the details. If, on November 3, the country heaves out its “unpresidented” donkey, their book, Fake President, will serve as a chronicle of all the “bragging, bullying, blaming, and bullshitting” — and as a cautionary tale for future generations. Based on extensive probing and research, this book presents one head-turning revelation after another.

For example, did you know that . . . .

* Trump personally signed at least six checks while in the Oval Office totaling over $270K to Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels and others;

* fully a third of Trump’s first two thousand presidential tweets disparaged one person or another; by the end of 2018 the list totaled a hard-to-believe 598 people;

* as of May 2019 the Trump administration had lost 63 times in federal court; it had a 6% win rate as compared to 70% for prior presidents;

* lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at Trump’s Washington, DC hotel within a month of Trump’s 2016 election, paying for an estimated 500 rooms in just three months;

* as of March 2019 turnover among the administration’s senior staff was 66 percent, as compared to 24 percent under Obama after a comparable period in office; Trump set a record by being on his fourth national security adviser and sixth communications director less than three years into his presidency; meanwhile, only 61 percent of the 714 positions requiring Senate confirmation had been filled;

* Trump stated, on announcing an initiative to reduce kidney disease: “The kidney has a very special place in the heart.”

Regarding that latter citation and many others like it, Green and Nader know that we just have to laugh a little to relieve the morosity of the situation. And it sure is easy enough to laugh at The Donald. (Though when he was annoyed by a satirical SNL sketch, Trump tweeted that they had “no right” to do that to him and threatened to expand federal libel laws to make it easier to sue.)

Fake President contains a plethora of particular disclosures, earfuls, and gaffes in a general exposé format, but the essence of the critique delineates what the authors assert to be Trump’s core betrayal: “… how he weaves together rhetorical populism for workers with policies for the corporate super-rich.” The rhetoric is, of course, fully dishonest. Nader and Green list no fewer than 21 “favorite tricks” in Trump’s dissembling arsenal (count ’em): informational cherry-picking, baseless assertions, performance art, insults, contradiction of evidence-based science, deflection, boosterism, inducement of fear, ignoring proportionality, repetition, hyperbole, vagueness, nicknaming, denying, micro-aggression, rhetoric, metaphor, conspiracy theorizing, about-facing, disparagement, and — of course — outright lying.

Here’s another list: “We’ve had great presidents and awful ones. All had flaws. But never before has there been one so provably corrupt, impulsive, ignorant, incompetent, untruthful, work lazy, lacking empathy, antidemocratic, racist, sexist, ruthless, bullying, petty, arrogant, endlessly self-centered and self-enriching. It’s not easy to meld all these different handicaps into one sentient human form!”

* * * * *

I sure hope he’ll be gone by November 4. I’m sick of hearing about him. Beyond that, it would be a sweet comeuppance if he were all-but-forgotten ten years from now. If so, and if, by then, you want to recommend a book to familiarize your Zoomer with the bathetic and pathetic Trumpist interlude of our history, this astute Nader/Green book will provide an excellent and concise summing up of our Fake President’s sorry legacy.


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Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).