- Review: Fear: Trump in the White House https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075RV48W3/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ay9LBbVGJ99WX
This is a deceptive book. Maybe it is not intentionally deceptive, but it is deceptive nonetheless. The marketing of this book is a direct contradiction to it’s actual narrative. The narrative is extremely complicated because there are a lot of layers to it. This book is not CNN or Fox, no one is good or bad. There aren’t any unadulterated heroes nor are there any unabashed bad guys. This Trump narrative will knock a lot of people over because it breaks away from the sensationalism that journalism has embodied for so long. Perhaps people will read it and search for a narrative that makes them comfortable or one that backs up what they already believe. I found it disconcerting because it challenged a lot of what I thought I knew.
First, the sources of the book are ALL Trump people. I mean we knew this on some level, right? Trump won the election. He immediately filled the White House with his own people. Immediately, the leaks started from the very same people. It’s no secret that the sources in this book are Rob Porter, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Lindsey Graham, and John Dowd’s account of the Trump administration. So yes, Trump does not look competent and all your worse fears are all realized. However they are realized by his very own people. The White House staff is a collective of Doctor Frankensteins with no control over their creation.
They are all concerned and no one has any idea what to do about it. Trump on the other hand, seems to quickly get he is in over his head but some misguided hubris won’t allow him to admit it or pull back in any capacity.
This book is a freight train of power run amok at the highest level. There is a collective knowledge among these men of what they have backed and all on some level regret their part in it.
Are we surprised?
This has been repeated over and over again in the course of history. It is the essence of Me Too, Nazi Germany, Racism, the AIDS outbreak, Internment Camps, the Catholic Church…the list goes on and on.
It stems from a collective consciousness to protect the status quo, personal reputations, and archaic processes that are more comfortable than viable. This book is a commentary on humanity. It shows that at our core level there is a consistent weakness or inability to do what’s right when there is a direct cost to us or our reputations.
“You crank out the great Washington denial machine,” he says. “I’ve seen this over the years, going back to the Nixon case.” (Woodward’s source for the Watergate scandal, Mark Felt, denied for years that he was, in fact, “Deep Throat.”)
“Time and time again people will deny things,” Woodward says. “I understand people have to protect their positions. But I’ve done hundreds of hours of interviews with people. … These things happened.”
The truth is that all of these people, these Trump people in some way have resisted. Their resistance for a lot of us will seem cowardly. It’s not enough for us or for the people who have directly been harmed by this administration. I’m not even sure it’s enough for their own conscience. When this all falls down and it inevitably will…passed the assurances of lessons learned…what will it take for people to be smarter next time? Because there is always a next time…
“To Rob Porter, Charlottesville was the breaking point. Trump rejected the better judgment of almost all of his staff. He had done that before. His perverse independence and irrationality ebbed and flowed. But with Charlottesville the floodgates just opened. For just the sake of a few words, he had drawn a stark line. “This was no longer a presidency,” Porter said. “This is no longer a “White House. This is a man being who he is.” Trump was going ahead no matter what.”
“Most significant, however, were the private reactions from House Speaker Ryan and Senate majority leader McConnell. Both Republicans called some of the CEOs and privately praised them for standing up.”
Ryan and McConnell
“Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff, believed the White House was not leading on key issues like health-care and tax reform, and that foreign policy was not coherent and often contradictory. The Trump White House did not have a team of rivals but a team of predators, he concluded. “When you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls, things start getting nasty and bloody. That’s what happens.”
“Mattis and Gary Cohn had several quiet conversations about The Big Problem: The president did not understand the importance of allies overseas, the value of diplomacy or the relationship between the military, the economy and intelligence partnerships with foreign leadership.”
Mattis and Cohn
“They were like a posse of second-guessers, hovering, watching, interacting as family and senior advisers with the president. Ivanka planted seeds of doubt about policy and passed her father articles.
When Priebus voiced his dismay, Trump regularly joked, “They’re Democrats.” They were New Yorkers infected with the liberalism of their city roots. The president made no real effort to curtail their freelancing. Priebus believed he had run a very tight and organizationally sound Republican National Committee. The Trump White House seemed designed to upend any order or routine.”
Ivanka and Jared
“Mr. President,” Cohn said when they were alone, “I’m very uncomfortable with the position you have put me and my family in. I don’t “want this to be a contentious discussion.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about,” Trump said.
They debated what Trump had said and what he had not said.
“Before you say anything further,” the president said, “I want you to go back and listen to it again.”
“Sir,” Cohn replied, “I’ve listened to it like 30 times. Have you seen the video, sir?” Cohn said.
“No, I haven’t seen the video.”
“I want you to watch the video, sir,” Cohn said. “I need you to watch the video of a bunch of white guys carrying tiki torches saying, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ I cannot live in a world like that. “I said nothing wrong,” Trump said. “I meant what I said.”
“The Monday statement was great,” Cohn said. “Saturday and Tuesday were horrible.”
“According to notes that Cohn made afterward, Kelly said, “That was the greatest show of self-control I have ever seen. If that was me, I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times.”
“In the midst of the Charlottesville controversy, Bannon called Kelly. “I know this guy,” he said. “If you don’t start having people in the White House covering” for Trump, there would be trouble. “You’ve got to cover for him.”
“I’m looking at his picture—such a beautiful boy,” Trump said in one call to family members. Where did he grow up? Where did he go to school? Why did he join the service?
“I’ve got the record here,” Trump said. “There are reports here that say how much he was loved. He was a great leader.”
Some in the Oval Office had copies of the service records. None of what Trump cited was there. He was just making it up. He knew what the families wanted to hear.”
“I’m sorry,” Owens told the chaplain. I don’t want to meet the president. I don’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience won’t let me talk to him.
He later also said, “For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen—everything was missiles and drones—because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display.”
Fear: Trump in the White House
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