If there is an iconic figure in Washington news reporting circles it's Bob Woodward. After all, this is the man who helped bring down Richard Nixon and who, along with Carl Bernstein, kept the Watergate scandal alive when most of official Washington characterized it as a "third-rate burglary". So it should come as no surprise that Mr. Woodward carries a very large degree of reportorial gravitas.
On the other hand, we have Donald Trump. There are a lot of attributes you can ascribe to Donald Trump but gravitas certainly isn't one of them. I think you can also scratch truthfulness off the list of Trump character traits. So, when it comes to a credibility battle between Bob Woodward and Donald Trump, I know I'd put MY money on Bob Woodward. Which is why the reaction of virtually the entire Trump Administration to Bob Woodward's "FEAR" seems so ludicrous. It brings to mind a novel of the 60's, "The Mouse That Roared", in which the Grand Duchy of Fenwick declares war on the United States, hoping, of course, to lose so that they can rake in some of the American foreign aid loot.
Now there's nothing wrong with an individual President or his entire administration resolutely defending his or its reputation. You'd have to be some kind of wimp to be attacked and refuse to defend yourself. But you have to be careful of the battleground on which you fight. In this case, Donald Trump has decided to take on Bob Woodward on the battleground of truthfulness. If I were the President I'd be more than a bit careful of matching reputations for honesty with Bob Woodward. I'll admit that I've never been the biggest Bob Woodward fan in the world. He has the remarkable capacity of telling interesting stories in the most pompous and self-important way I've ever seen. If Donald Trump had somehow decided to go to war with Bob Woodward on the issue of likability he'd stand a good chance of winning. If he wanted to challenge Bob Woodward's charisma factor, he'd win in a heartbeat. But honesty? Better our "beloved" President should have chosen to run away and fight again some other day on some other battlefield.
One of the problems President Trump has in attacking Mr. Woodward's latest magnum opus is that it merely seems to underscore what others have written about Donald Trump and his Presidency. We have Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" and then, heaven help us, there's Omarosa's flight of fantasy "Unhinged". In each of these attempts at characterizing Donald Trump, we get pretty much the same message. The President was ill-prepared to BE President and he hasn't improved one iota since he's assumed office. He's unstable. He has the attention span of a gnat. He hates to read, including the President's Daily Briefing. In other words, the Trump Presidency has been, at best, a bloody shambles. The economy is performing better than could have been expected given his expertise in the "dismal science", but that's the only thing keeping Donald Trump's approval ratings above that of Richard Nixon during the height of the Watergate scandal.
If Mr. Woodward's portrayal of our President's performance in office had been at variance from what others have said or have written, then the President would have had an opening to attack him. But "FEAR" is a remarkably similar critique of the Trump Administration to all of the others that have hit the market. In listening to discussions of the book, one doesn't get the uncomfortable feeling about it that there's something fundamentally wrong with it. It may not be complimentary, but that doesn't make it wrong.
One gets the feeling that the wheels are coming off the Trump Presidency, that he bit off more than he could chew when he declared himself a candidate for President. I think the President approached the office with the idea, "How hard could it be?". I think he's discovered that it's a lot easier criticizing the President from the sidelines than it is to actually BE President. Unfortunately, in the nearly twenty months he's occupied the Oval Office, Donald Trump has not shown even a scintilla of evidence that he has the capacity for growth so essential for anyone who even dares dream of being President. And thus we're stuck.
The only way we can rid ourselves of this troublesome President is through the impeachment process. But looking at it realistically, the chances of this or even the next Congress voting for articles of impeachment and then the Senate's convicting the President are slim and none. I'm afraid we're going to have to ride out Hurricane Donald and hope that we can survive with a modicum of hope that his successor will be able to put the pieces back together again. Donald Trump may not fear Mr. Woodward's "FEAR", but we most certainly have cause to fear the Donald!
Filed under: Politics