"Fear" By Bob Woodward,
To get an objective understanding of the Trump White House it takes a master storyteller and investigative journalist, one who sifted through hundreds of hours of interviews with the actual participants and witnesses to the events. That someone is Bob Woodward, the journalist who broke the Watergate story 40 years ago, has 2 Pulitzer Prizes under his belt and who wrote or co-wrote 18 non-fiction books best sellers, 12 of them #1 best sellers.
Bob Woodward`s book doesn`t strike me as one where the author has a political axe to grind. It`s called "Fear" and that comes from a quote by Donald Trump during his campaign on March 31st, 2016, "Real power is - I don`t want to even use the word - Fear". Woodward paints a picture of what really goes on inside the pre-election and the administration of Donald Trump. If the 24/7 never ending news cycle of Trump scandals, insults, investigations, trade wars, tweets, firings, resignations, treaty dissolvements, having documents being removed off his very desk and plain olde, "I just want to understand this guy who occupies the most powerful office in the world", interests you - at all, then this is the book for you.
The book starts out in September 2017 with Donald Trump wanting to dissolve KORUS, the Korea Free Trade Agreement, he is upset with the $18 billion trade deficit with South Korea, while spending an additional $3 billion, to station 28500 troops there. To him this is just wrong. His top Economic advisor, Gary Cohen, is appalled that Trump for months has threatened for months to end the agreement, despite numerous consultations with many advisors about the value of the economic relationship, the military alliance and most importantly the top secret intelligence operations there.
Even with all the daily reports of chaos in the White House the general public has no idea of how shifting and erratic the situations were there. Trump would get into a bad mood and something - anything would set him off and cause him to become fixated on a idea and anger him. This time it was KORUS, he told Cohen, "We are withdrawing today".
The date was Sept 5th, withdrawing the United States from KORUS would be a national security - in a now famous Trump euphemism "disaster". Cohen thought Trump would sign the letter if he saw it. Cohen removed the letter from the president's desk. Cohen told an associate, "I stole it off his desk. I wouldn`t let him see it. I`ve got to protect the country." Combined with all the other chaos in the administration, Trump never noticed. Between Cohen and Rob Porter, staff secretary, this experience happened other times with the president not noticing.
Chapter 1 starts off with how Steve Bannon in 2010, had a meeting with Donald Trump and gave him some coaching on what his positions needed to be as a republican, as Trump didn`t even know. He told him how important it was to vote in primary elections, something he rarely did, and something Trump didn`t even realize was even tracked. And he needed to be pro-life. "OK, I`m pro-life then" Trump said after discussing what republicans are, for that issue. After the meeting was over Bannon said to his associate, " He will never run, not a chance, zero chance, less than zero".
The book then documents most of the major dysfunctions of the administration along with the dialogue between the players and situations, too numerous to list. If you have been watching the train wreck of a presidency like I have, this book will shed a new light on most of the administration like you haven`t seen in the news.
The only criticism I have for the book is titles for each chapter need to be named, instead of just numbering them 1-42. Instead they could have been titled: Access Hollywood, Transition, Jim Mattis, Intelligence, Joint address to Congress, Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster, North Korea, Senator Graham, Iran, Afghanistan, Rex Tillerson, Peter Navarro, Syria, NAFTA, Comey, Kim Jong Un, Paris Accord, Jeff Sessions, NATO, Obama Care, White Supremacists, More White Supremacists, Steve Bannon, China Trade War, Tax Reform, Shithole countries, South Korea, Tariffs, and Trump not fit to testify.
The book clearly shows the backstabbing, infighting and confusion that has been the cornerstone of the Trump Administration. In the words of Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Convention and also having the honor of being the shortest serving chief of staff in the history of this country, "If you have natural predators at the table, things don`t get done. Why?" he said, "because when you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and seal in a zoo with no walls, things start to get nasty and bloody." He was talking about Ivanka and Jared Trump, Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon.
"Fear" shows how our mercurial and how the president denies all logic and data that doesn`t go along with his view of the world. For example, Trump was arguing with Steve Cohen about how the US record of WTO disputes. Despite Cohen had left reports for Trump that Trump never read. Trump said, "The World trade Organization is the worst organization ever created".
"This is in your book", said Cohen, "the United States won 86.7% of the trade disputes." Trump said, "this is bullshit, this is wrong, this is wrong." "This is not wrong, this is data, no one is going to disagree with this data, data is data" said Cohen.
The book doesn`t have anything in it regarding collusion, the investigations of Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen or Paul Manafort, my guess is that this will all be included in the next book, that many will look forward to Woodward undoubtedly writing. It`s just that juicy.
I look forward to this book being made into a movie, because most people don`t want to read books anymore. The movie I have imagined is a comedy, with the actors of the White House being the ones from Saturday Night Live, with of course Alex Baldwin playing Donald Trump. It would a little like the `Three Stooges` meets `Debbie does Dallas`, complete with people hitting each other over the head with shovels and Trump poking people in the eyes.
But seriously, I do look forward to this book being made into a real docu-drama so more people will understand what really went on in the Trump White House. Until then, I encourage you to turn off your TV and internet for a little while and read this book; it's very enjoyable, whether you think Trump a moron or a hero
"Fear" By Bob Woodward,