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A fantasy world of hate, anger, revenge and lies: Junior’s book says a lot more about the Trump family than he knows

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David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

Donald Trump Junior’s Triggered is quite a book, rich with insights, all of them unintended.

The subtitle of Triggered is “How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.”

What the text shows is that it is Junior who spews hate, mixed with an unhealthy dose of made-up facts to justify his anger. That’s just the kind of hypocrisy the Trumps spin inside their fantasy bubble, where anyone who questions what they do is unworthy of being heard.

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The words put down for Junior by a host of Hachette editors, identified only by first name, show that he lives in a black-and-white world with never a hint of gray.

Just the kind of hypocrisy the Trumps spin inside their fantasy bubble, where anyone who questions what they do is unworthy of being heard.

“The whole world was against us” in the early days of the 2016 campaign, Junior asserts.

“All the experts” agree with him. Anyone who wants universal healthcare is a socialist.

The Trumps are the champion of union members, the Democrats their enemy.

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The Democrats are all lazy while Junior “worked night and day” for five years on his father’s Chicago hotel, which based on falling occupancy could reasonably be described as his father’s failing Chicago hotel.

There’s no evidence of popular demand for Triggered. It is only thanks to bulk purchases by the Republican National Committee and others that Junior’s book briefly made the top of The New York Times bestseller list.

It’s since been succeeded at the top. A Warning by Anonymous, which I wrote about last month, made No, 1 because actual readers bought it one copy at a time.

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Flattering Himself

Throughout, Junior flatters himself relentlessly even as he inflates minor incidents and fabricates or, as Kellyanne Conway famously said, proffers “alternative facts.”

Despite evidence to the contrary—like indictments and convictions of others—Junior says that he was “probably number two” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s “kill list.” Similarly, he wants us to believe that he is a subject of public fascination exceeded only by his father.

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The love of money permeates Junior’s book. Reverence for money runs strong in that family, patriotism not so much.

Getting Choked Up

As he watched his father place a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Junior writes that he got all choked up. But it wasn’t the sacrifices of the more than 400,000 Americans buried at Arlington that stirred his emotions.

“In that moment,” he wrote, “I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed—voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office.’”

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His writes that his 1977 birth was accompanied by fireworks, though they had nothing to do with him. At five, he writes, of traveling to Czechoslovakia to spend  a few months with his maternal grandparents, where he recalls a border officer objected to his coat. “I remember looking around the room and seeing how afraid all the Czech citizens were on my behalf,” he says, because of course a little boy in a room of strangers coming off an airplane would be the center of everyone’s attention.

Rewriting History

Junior doesn’t limit himself to rewriting personal history.  His cartoon version of the Sixties had me laughing out loud.

At page 112 Junior writes that “JFK would be considered alt-right today.”

He describes President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs as an attempt to “appease the New Left by ushering through a socialist agenda” with food stamps, universal medical care for older Americans and minimal gun controls. Never mind that Johnson had been engaged in how to address poverty since 1928 when he taught poor Mexican-American children in a Texas border town.

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Junior then asserts that “the hippies of the New Left had traded their peace signs for raised fists and terrorist organizations.” Ah, to live inside such a simplistic, ahistorical bubble of Trumpian nonsense.

Promoting Bad Manners

Junior complains about “political correctness.” And just what does that term mean? To Junior, it is an epithet that reveals how those he detests are weak-minded, oppressive and liberal.

Without saying so directly, Junior establishes his dislike of good manners and civility, which is what political correctness is about, flaws and all. Junior offers a dog whistle to those white Americans who believe they are oppressed because in decent society one can’t use racial and religious slurs without consequences.

“The Democrat Party,” Junior writes, “has tilted so far to the left that it threatens to collapse any day.”

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He wrote that, or agreed to what others wrote for him, months after the Democratic Party (its correct name) won the House in 2018 by garnering nine million more votes than Republicans. That supposedly failing political party has a growing roster of registered voters and a growing list of wins in elections, some of the in deep red states like Alabama.

A Pre-Birth Miracle

But wait, Junior gets even crazier in making stuff up.

He describes President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “the man who practically invented the labor union.” Never mind that the first recorded union strike in America took place in 1768, more than a century before the patrician FDR’s birth in 1882.

There are bits of fact and truth in the book. Junior says his father has “almost completely reconfigured” the Republican Party in just three years. That’s true.

But then Junior undoes this by asserting that the pre-Trump GOP existed as “a political entity, frankly, was headed toward extinction.”

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Never mind that Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House during the first half of Trump’s presidency and yet failed to accomplish anything but a huge increase in future taxes by going on a military spending binge and borrowing vast sums to create the appearance of income tax cuts.

Since 2016 the GOP has been shrinking, down now to only 29% of voters. That’s almost identical to the 28% of voters who declare themselves independent of both major parties.

Chased Off Stage

Books have been important sources of unvarnished Trumpian facts. The father, for example, spent pages in his book Think Big denouncing Christians as “fools,”
“idiots” and “schmucks” while declaring his life philosophy is a single word” “revenge.” He details the pleasure he says he gets from ruining the lives of those who don’t do what he wants. All of that, of course, is decidedly anti-Christian.

The elder Trump brags about cheating his partners in his first casino deal, and cheating at golf, in his bestseller The Art of the Deal. That, too, is incompatible with his claim to be a Christian. And so is his statement that he has never sought forgiveness from God because he has never done anything that would require forgiveness. There’s that fantasy Trumpian bubble again.

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Junior complains that “the Left” wants to silence him and others who fashion themselves as conservatives. “Fashion” is the right word here because Donald Trump is anything but a conservative, as many conservative writers, theorists and publications have documented.

Still, when it comes to Junior’s claim that there are people who want to silence him, he has a point. It’s just not the point he intends.

On his book tour an angry audience forced Trump and his girlfriend to flee a stage in that center of liberal thinking, Berkeley, Calif.

The audience that the couple triggered was not composed of Democrats, socialists, leftists or even Republicans. The anger mob was composed of Americans so far on the right that they think Junior and his dad are softies on immigration.

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Irony, Donald Trump Jr. is thy champion.

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