Bob Woodward‘s Fear, a best-seller from the moment of its release last week, is a hard book to read.
It should be easy: the cast of characters is as familiar as family if you follow any form of current events. The problem is that as I read the book, I am reviewing the past couple of years’ history while simultaneously living with the updates.
This book is old-school journalism: researched, with no partisan commentary. Bob Woodward presents facts as facts. While concentrating on the current administration, he reminds us that previous presidents made mistakes.
None of the Trumps are American Constitution scholars so they surrounded themselves with a coterie of advisors from the business world, where the name of the game is to make more money.
“What do you mean, Trump asked. Just run the presses—print money.”
“Congress had a debt ceiling which set a cap on how much money the federal government could borrow, and it was legally binding. It was clear that Trump did not understand the way the U.S. government debt cycle balance sheet worked.”
I couldn’t contain my curiosity about Trump’s older daughter. First of all, nobody voted for the spawn of the first marriage so why were they lurking in our White House? I didn’t fight the urge to put Post-Its on whatever pages I might refer back to:
“I’m not a staffer! she shouted (at Bannon). I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter…and I’m never going to be a staffer.”
“Bannon believed…that the reason for firing Comey was because the FBI was seeking financial records from Jared. It was pure speculation. Ivanka had complained to her father about the FBI.”
“Mueller’s law firm had previously represented Trump’s son-in-law.”
“(Stephen) Miller reported that Ivanka and Jared thought they had Trump on some sort of deal that included funding for the wall in exchange for amnesty for 1.8 million Dreamers.”
“It was becoming impossible to manage the West Wing. At times it seemed Ivanka’s presence—hours a day, days in a row—was nonstop. Jared had the same squatter’s rights in the West Wing.”
At right about this point, page 190, I had to take a break for a few days. You can’t speed-read this book and you certainly can’t have the news on in the background.
This book made me think of a 1997 classic I read years ago. One basic premise of The Gift of Fear is that you must trust your gut instinct—or intuition; they are pretty much the same thing—if a person or situation makes you feel uncomfortable. I didn’t feel good when Trump announced his candidacy but is that truly intuition or the result of his past actions? I do recommend The Gift of Fear; Gavin de Becker is a seasoned professional with many illustrative stories from over forty years as an expert in security and violent behavior.
Woodward’s title can mean many things. Should we fear this presidency? Should they fear the voters?
“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women: Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness.”
Maybe we would be wise to do that too. I look forward to going back to reading Fear at a much more leisurely pace.