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Fear: Trump in the White House
on September 17, 2018
Okay, so I’ve been putting off writing this review while I try to process my feelings about it. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
1. There was nothing particularly surprising in this book or in any of the other books that have been released about Trump, except this book describes the lengths to which his staff go in order to handle him—taking documents off his desk before he can sign them, conducting meetings prior to meetings to try to agree on an approach
2. The book itself was disjointed and unfocused. Perhaps Woodward did this on purpose to try to portray a chaotic and unfocused administration, but I honestly am left wondering why he felt he had to write the book now and why he was in such a hurry to release it. I felt as though the book was not finished—it ends abruptly when McGahn resigns and I’m not sure if there was a point to it ending then or if it was just the last thing Woodward could cover before he could meet his publishing deadline.
3. Bannon comes off surprisingly well in this book. I suspect he is a source for much of the info.
4. Woodward comes across as lukewarm on the Mueller investigation. I doubt that is his intent, however he is being so careful to try to present things from the point of view of Trump and his team that he gives the impression that he is somewhat sympathetic to them.
5. Repeatedly we see Trump refusing to look at evidence, especially if it contradicts his own long-held beliefs. For instance, one of his economic advisers says that his role is to identify the underlying statistics that confirm Trump’s instincts, and Trump’s instincts when it comes to the economy are always correct.
6. This book reinforces that Trump views everything from a profit motive. He obsesses over the fact that countries benefit from the US military without helping to pay for it, not understanding the strategic importance of using our military around the world. He gets all excited when Afghanistan promises him the mineral rights in exchange for our military support, not realizing that the minerals in Afghanistan are totally inaccessible and are useless to anyone.
7. And everything comes through a filter of how it impacts Trump. This is the only thing he cares about.
But he knew that. We knew it before the election, and nothing has changed except he’s become even more boorish and less conciliatory. My guess is that the Trump apologists will do what they always do and shrug this book off- fake news, poorly researched, lies, etc. Those opposed to Trump who have been following his presidency at all will shrug and say, “Yeah, tell us something we don’t know.” (This is pretty much where I am.)
The key target audience is, of course, the in-betweeners, and despite all the teeth gnashing and hand wringing about this book, if they haven’t figured everything that is in this book out already, then they are willfully sticking their heads in the sand and aren't going to change now
So bottom line, for me, is that I truly don’t understand why Woodward wrote this book at this point in time. My husband says he was trying to impact the elections, and that may be it. Somehow, I just don’t see it, though. I think voters have Trump fatigue. I think they are tired of the whole thing, and most of them have probably already decided for whom they will vote. At this point, Mueller could come out and tell everyone that he has discovered all of Hillary’s missing emails on Trump’s servers and found evidence that Trump and Clinton are colluding together on pizza gate, and it still wouldn’t have an impact on anything. These are, indeed, strange and scary times.