“It’s ridiculous—absurd allegations that have absolute no bearing in truth. Have yet to see the book, but it is a book of falsehoods,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of Mary Trump’s memoir about her uncle Don the president, Too Much and Never Enough.
Kayleigh didn’t need to read the book in order to dismiss it completely, which in itself might seem a bit ironic from the press secretary who promised not to lie to the American people and then proceeded to immediately lie to the American people. Obviously, Trumpworld is nervous about this memoir by the president’s niece. But should they be?
In a word, to quote Sarah Palin, youbetcha. They should worry because we’ve finally found ourselves something we never knew existed: a sane Trump. She’s like, a normal person, with a normal set of values and a normal conscience. She may not shift millions of votes—but the way things are going for Uncle Donald, she may not need to.
Fresh off the heels of John Bolton’s book about the president being an unstable lunatic who is unfit to govern comes another book alleging that the president is an unstable lunatic who is unfit to govern, and is also kind of an asshole. The revelations in this book are both explosive—and completely unsurprising.
It’s both shocking and oddly not shocking that even Trump’s father didn’t really know how much of a charlatan his son was. “In those early days, that expensive endeavor was being enthusiastically, if clandestinely funded by my grandfather. Fred didn’t immediately realize the scope of Donald’s limitations and had no idea he was essentially promoting a fiction, but Donald was happy to spend his father’s money either way. For his part, Fred was determined to keep money pouring into his son's pocket.” It’s both shocking and oddly not shocking that “Donald was enabled from the beginning, every one of his projects funded and supported by Fred and then by a myriad other enablers right up to the present.” This book makes it very clear how Donald Trump has been over his skis since birth.
Tolstoy said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." But honestly, all wealthy families are kind of the same too. All wealthy families tend to fight over inheritance, like the Trump family does in this book and all the Trump kids got by off the fat of the land so to speak. Mary mused that each of the kids used their family’s connections.
Aunt Maryanne came closest to making her own way—she put herself through law school and compiled a solid record as a prosecutor. Her eventual appointment to the federal appeals court, however, happened “because Donald used his connections to do her a favor.” Does the Trump family sound worse than other rich families? Not really. It actually sounds exactly like many of the wealthy families I know.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this juicy tell-all, and since over the last three years a cottage industry has sprung up around trying to diagnose what makes Trump so profoundly deranged, this book absolutely scratches that itch. Mary Trump has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (what could be more perfect?!) and clearly knows a lot about what makes the human mind function, which adds another fun layer to the book. It’s intriguing to read Mary try to diagnose whatever it is that makes her uncle so profoundly callous and cruel.
The most shocking line in the book comes in the prologue: “The fact is, Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he’d never sit for. At this point, we can’t evaluate his day-to-day functioning because he is, in the West Wing, essentially institutionalized. Donald has been institutionalized for most of his adult life, so there's no way to know how he would thrive or even survive on his own in the real world.”
It’s kind of like watching a less pretty version of Succession that takes place almost entirely in Queens. The only one of the president’s wives who comes off sounding halfway decent is Marla. Mary comes to dinner at the golden penthouse while Donald is still married to Marla and is introduced to a “a twenty-eight-year-old Slovenian model” who is “five years younger” than Mary is. And who “barely speaks.” Mary speculates with her uncle Robert Trump that “maybe her English isn’t very good.” And Robert shoots back, “She knows why she’s there.”
There’s also lots of fun stuff about first wife Ivana being tacky and garish. In 1977, she gives Mary a $12 three-pack of Bloomingdale’s underwear and her brother Fritz a leather-bound journal that’s two years out of date. And one Christmas, Ivana offers to introduce Mary—when she was a teenager, mind you—to Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. Also there’s the unsurprising but delicious detail that Ivana loves both re-gifting and cellophane.
Trump is a carnival barker, he’s a charlatan, he’s a scumbag. He’s the guy who comes to Springfield to sell a monorail that no one needs or wants in the famous monorail episode of The Simpsons. We know Trump. Look, John Bolton alleged that Trump encouraged President Xi to build concentration camps for Uighur Muslims, writing that, “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.” This revelation barely caused a ripple.
On Aug. 17, 2016, Hillary Clinton said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Mary Trump shows us who her uncle is. Perhaps the biggest revelation in this book is that the president’s family feels the same way about him that the rest of us do and somehow the fact that there are some normal, smart, non-grotesque Trumps kind of makes me feel slightly better about humanity.
Mary Trump clearly wrote this book with the hope that it might prevent her uncle from being re-elected. She probably didn’t need to, but I’m glad she did. As the election gets progressively more dystopian, it’s nice to know that some members of the Trump family are part of the resistance.