What Michael Bender’s book reveals about the former US president
The most interesting character in the most recent tell-all book about Donald Trump is not the previous president. It isn’t a Trump relative, or any of the White House staffers attempting to silently restore their credibilities, or anybody in a position of power at all.
It’s Saundra Kiczenski, a 50-something-year-old staff member of Walmart’s outdoor patio and garden department in northern Michigan.
Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost is, for the a lot of part, precisely what it states on the cover: a behind-the-scenes breakdown of Mr Trump’s turbulent last year in power.
Like every other account of the Trump presidency, it’s peppered with disturbing and sometimes stunning anecdotes, which shed brand-new light on the dysfunction of Mr Trump’s White House and the character of the previous president himself.
But the author, Wall Street Journal press reporter Michael Bender, weaves those discoveries around the story of the Front Row Joes, a group of Mr Trump’s most dedicated fans.
Ms Kiczenski was among their charter member.
Throughout Mr Trump’s candidateship in 2016 and after that his presidency, the Front Row Joes followed him throughout the nation like groupies pursuing their preferred rock band.
That example sounds routine, I understand, however it’s in fact rather fitting. Mr Trump seldom states anything brand-new at his political rallies. Usually he simply plays the best hits, like an aging band biking through its old tunes, compromising the audience’s fond memories.
And that’s simply how Mr Trump’s diehard fans like it. Some of the Front Row Joes participated in more than 50 of his rallies, and they were generally very first in line, frequently appearing days prior to the occasion.
Through the stories of Ms Kiczenski and her buddies, Bender goes some method towards describing Mr Trump’s long-lasting appeal, and why no lie, scandal or error might ever sever his bond with countless Americans.
The Front Row Joes are considerate characters; basically good individuals who discovered a bigger function, and a brand-new sense of neighborhood, in their shared assistance for Mr Trump.
“Saundra’s life had become bigger with Trump,” the author notes.
But we likewise see the dark side of his impact. Mr Trump utilizes and controls these individuals without regret, indifferent to the damage he’s triggering.
After the coronavirus pandemic struck, one member of the group, Randal Thom, fell seriously ill with“high fevers and debilitating congestion” Symptoms of Covid.
“He was convinced he had coronavirus but refused to go to the hospital. He didn’t want to take a Covid test and potentially increase the caseload on Trump’s watch,” Bender composes.
“I’m not going to add to the numbers,” Mr Thom stated.
Mr Trump had actually consistently grumbled that the increasing variety of Covid infections and deaths taped in public information made him look bad.
Mr Thom risked his own health, rejecting himself treatment for a fatal illness, to stop that infection figure from increasing. He appeared more worried about safeguarding Mr Trump’s minor political interests than protecting his life.
Is that what Mr Trump would have desired? Maybe not. The indifference is the point here. The president was too narcissistic, too consumed with his own political difficulties, to stop and think of the repercussions his words may have in the real life.
A less self-centered leader would have seen the pandemic as a public health issue, and would have motivated Americans to get checked and go to healthcare facility, whatever impact it would have on the federal government data.
It’s rather easy actually: if more cases are determined and more individuals are dealt with, less individuals pass away. This is why Australia’s premiers commemorate days with abnormally high screening rates.
Every expert account up until now, consisting of Bender’s, has actually made it extremely clear that Mr Trump rather saw Covid as a political issue, a risk to his re-election.
So rather of handling it correctly, he kept insisting it was overblown and on the cusp of “going away”, right up till election day.
His fans thought him.
At his notorious Tulsa rally, with Mr Thom in participation, Mr Trump stated he ‘d informed his personnel to “slow the testing down”.
His fans listened.
There’s an awful fact at the heart of MAGA, one shared by a lot of character cults: the relationship is not mutual. Hardcore fans like Mr Thom care more about Mr Trump, and about the motion, than themselves.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump cares more about himself than he does about them.
By completion of the book, Ms Kiczenski is standing outside the Capitol in Washington D.C., observing a scene that frightened the world: an anti-democratic mob swarming over the structure, embellishing it with Trump flags, tear gas hanging in the air.
She isn’t frightened by what she sees. She feels proud.
“Saundra was inspired by a vista of Trumpian strength and patriotism: the Washington Monument off in the distance, the majestic Capitol in the foreground, and freedom-loving patriots fighting like hell to stop a stolen and fraudulent election, liberate their country, and save their president,” states Bender.
Then there’s this quote, from Ms Kiczenski herself.
“It just looked so neat. We weren’t there to steal things. We weren’t there to do damage. We were just there to overthrow the government.”
Hundreds of the Trump fans who stormed the Capitol (to be clear, Ms Kiczenski wasn’t amongst them, she remained outdoors) have actually considering that been jailed and charged with criminal offenses. Some will hang around in prison.
Two others passed away in the turmoil, consisting of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, whom Mr Trump is now attempting to become a martyr.
“Who shot Ashli Babbitt?” he keeps asking.
The response is that Ms Babbitt was shot dead by a Capitol Police officer, who stays unnamed, as she attempted to require her method through a barricaded door and go into the Speaker’s Lobby, surrounding to the House of Representatives.
But ask yourself, on a more essential level, why Ms Babbitt was shot. Why was this “innocent, wonderful, incredible woman”, as Mr Trump has called her, even there? What forced her to sign up with that mob, to challenge authorities, to breach the Capitol looking for traitorous political leaders?
She was drawn there by Mr Trump’s lies about the election. He informed his fans it was taken. He advised them to come to Washington and progressCongress He informed them the vice president, Mike Pence, had the power to unilaterally reverse his defeat.
It was nonsense, and Mr Pence had actually informed him so in personal a minimum of“a dozen times” But individuals at Mr Trump’s January 6 rally near the White House were really stunned when Mr Pence launched a declaration stating he would not turn down the electoral college votes.
When the crowd put into the Capitol Building a brief time later on, there were loud chants of “hang Mike Pence”.
“If Mike Pence would have come out of that building, I guarantee he would have died,” stated Ms Kiczenski.
“And if it wasn’t by gunfire, he would have been pummelled. They were going to kill him in the street.”
Let that sink in for a minute. “They were going to kill him in the street.” It isn’t the “liberal media” stating that. I’m not stating it. It’s originating from among Donald Trump’s most dedicated fans.
If Mr Trump had actually accepted the election outcome and motivated a tranquil shift of power, as every other beaten president in United States history has actually brought himself to do, none of this would have taken place.
Ms Babbitt would not have actually remained in Washington on January 6. She ‘d still live. Those other Trump fans now dealing with jail sentences would be complimentary.
But there’s no self-reflection about his own function in what took place. No indication he feels guilty. No recommendation of obligation for the suffering he triggered for his faithful fans, not to mention the remainder of the nation. He simplyDoes Not. Care.
When Bender check outs Mr Trump for his last interview with the previous president, he’s been hanging out at his Mar- a-Lago club, playing rounds of golf, indulging in the adulation of his paying visitors and groaning that he hasn’t got adequate credit for (allegedly) conserving 8 Republican Senate seats.
The book gets its name from Mr Trump’s quote late on election night, when he wrongly declared success prior to a big variety of the votes in essential states had actually been counted. He understood those votes would favour his challenger.
“Frankly, we did win this election,” he stated. (He didn’t win it.)
Despite months of unwarranted speculation about citizen scams prior to election day, it ends up Mr Trump had not chose what to state till quickly prior to he went out to deal with the video cameras.
Behind the scenes, around 2am, the president was supposedly “in shock that he hadn’t won” the election. He stood in the middle of the White House home with a “confused, dejected look” as more than a lots individuals yelled recommendations at him.
“It was a s***show. And the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” one authorities informed Bender.
Mr Trump wound up listening to simply one guy, Rudy Giuliani, who had actually go on to lead his farcical efforts to get the election results reversed in court.
“Just say we won,” Mr Giuliani stated.
In the subsequent weeks, practically everybody around the president understood the election was over and figured he would ultimately concern terms with his defeat.
At one point, attorney-general Bill Barr informed Mr Trump his Giuliani- led legal group was a “clown show” and his scams claims were “bulls***”.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo regreted that the “crazies have taken over”.
But conspiracy theorists, consisting of pillow salesperson Mike Lindell and legal representative Sidney Powell, had Mr Trump’s ear, and consulted with him in the Oval Office, hatching progressively unhinged plans about taking citizen makers and stating martial law.
Ms Powell would later on safeguard herself versus a $US1.3 billion character assassination suit by arguing “no reasonable person” might have thought her claims about the election.
Mr Lindell, unrepentant in spite of his own character assassination suit, is still insisting Mr Trump will be reinstated as president, though he has actually pulled back from his previous forecast that it will occur by mid-August
Mr Lindell, Ms Powell, Mr Giuliani– they’re all vibrant characters. So is Mr Trump himself. But while checking out the book I discovered myself returning, like the author, to the stories of Saundra Kiczenski, and Randal Thom, and the other routine Americans outside the halls of power who thought in Mr Trump and thought that he appreciated them.
Then I ‘d check out another chapter detailing the president’s failure to take his task seriously.
One last anecdote. The early morning after ousting Mick Mulvaney as his chief of personnel, as Covid cases had actually been identified in over half of America’s states and guvs were enforcing states of emergency situation, Mr Trump was at Mar- a-Lago He was agonising over an irrelevant information: what the logo design for the Republican National Convention needs to appear like.
The convention was nearly half a year away.
“I don’t really like the way the elephant’s nose is shaped. And there are only three stars. It should be five stars, like a five-star hotel,” he informed assistants.
This is how the president of the United States was investing his time in the middle of a cumulative, once-in-a-century crisis. And he questions why he lost.
Sam is news.com.au’s United States reporter|@SamClench