Fear and Loathing in Trump’s White House as only Woodward could Tell It

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You know Bob Woodward, because he wrote All the President’s Men along with Carl Bernstein. Woodward was played by Robert Redford, and Bernstein by Dustin Hoffman, in the famous movie based on the book. That was about Nixon and Watergate.

But you might not know that Woodward has a new book just about to some out (you can preorder it), which reveals never before revealed revelations about the inside of the Trump White House. Fear: Trump in the White House.

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

I’ve not seen it yet, but I’ve read a WaPo overview of it, and it looks fantastic. I’ve already ordered mine.

In case you’ve not see the movie adaptation of All the President’s Men, have a taste:


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35 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in Trump’s White House as only Woodward could Tell It

  1. White House (and, by snarky comment, rickA) are already pushing back on the fake things in the book.

    Let’s see, who to believe: the WH folks with documented history of lying, or Woodward?

    Not a difficult answer at all. The right wingers won’t like it, but it’s a fair bet Woodward is spot on.

  2. The Republicans as a party should be afraid of the material that Woodward has held back for when he writes the history of the corruption underpinning the Trump campaign, election, and subsequent presidency.

    Woodward will have a bigger story to tell then – but unlike the situation when Nixon misbehaved, today’s Republicans have supported Trump in the face of clear and persuasive evidence that there is a strong case for Trump’s removal. This capitulation to corruption and the ceding of the national good for the sakes of their own jobs and the benefits of their friends will dog the Republicans in the future, and there may be penalties to be paid by individuals and by the GOP itself.

    1. “…unlike the situation when Nixon misbehaved, today’s Republicans have supported Trump in the face of clear and persuasive evidence that there is a strong case for Trump’s removal.”

      I don’t think this is correct. Republicans stuck by Nixon until just before the very end. It’s important to remember that Republicans are in control of Congress now, and they’re using their power to subvert investigations into Trump. The Democrats controlled Congress then. If the Republicans had been in control, Watergate would have faded away and would today be an insignificant footnote.

    2. That’s an important coda. I guess that we’ll see if they do fold at the last minute – it’s probably presumptuous of me to leap to the conclusion that they’ll not come good.

      On the other hand, I don’t expect to be surprised… 🙁

  3. Trump has the habit of shooting himself in the foot and hurting those he depends on. His attacks on “Lyin’ Ted” and Cruz’s responses are being exploited by Texas Democrats.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/02/trump-blasted-lyin-ted-cruz-again-again-activists-want-remind-texans-with-billboard/?utm_term=.df48fd88d12d
    His generalizations about Sessions have offended southerners. He demands (corruptible) loyalty,

    (This is a gem from Adam Davidson’s latest New Yorker article:
    “Early on, Trump would test new lawyers’ ethics by asking them to do something a bit questionable; perhaps he’d ask them to file a legal document with the city containing misleading information. If the lawyer pushed back at all, Trump would categorize the person as a stickler and never ask them to do anything untoward again.”
    https://www.newyorker.com/news-desk/swamp-chronicles/where-will-the-trump-investigations-go-next )

    but shows none to others. The result is that there are many insiders who are willing to talk, so we have a deluge of articles and books documenting how lazy and unqualified Trump is. We have detailed accounts of the disarray of his White House.

    His outliar presidency and attacks on critical journalism have revitalized the mainstream publications on which many smaller publications depend, and made them stronger. His impulsive mouth and unrestrained tweets provide evidence for obstruction of justice.

    Unlike Reagan, Trump lacks the charm and naïvité to be a teflon president, and his cruelty, ignorance, and ineptitude appear to be catching up with him. He makes traps he can’t get out of.

    1. ” Reagan ” ” Teflon ”
      That’s funny, I know lots of stuff about the arsehole. Stuff that’s undoubtedly true and can stick.
      He had the biggest mob of WMDs for one thing.
      Everyone in Australia was highly fucking aware of Ronnies WMDs.

    2. There’s a big difference between the fictionalized Reagan Republicans hold up as a shining star and the real Reagan. This is the man who sent Marines to Beirut without a clear mission, gave orders that forbade them from having active defenses around their base, which made it easy for terrorists to drive a truck bomb into their area and detonate it next to a barracks, killing between 60 and 70 people, roughly a third of them Marines. He then yanked them home, and later authorized the selling of weapons to the folks who financed the attackers. He broke the law to send money to terrorists in Central America and cleared the way for them to bring drugs into the US unopposed to further fund their work (’cause they were “anti-communist”, so they couldn’t be bad guys). That, and his admittedly masterly weaponizing of racism that started the ball rolling to today’s right wing use of it, are whitewashed away by the modern right.

      Reagan was as scummy as Trump, but his mid-tier acting ability made him more forgivable to many.

    3. Dean:

      “This is the man who sent Marines to Beirut without a clear mission, gave orders that forbade them from having active defenses around their base, which made it easy for terrorists to drive a truck bomb into their area and detonate it next to a barracks, killing between 60 and 70 people, roughly a third of them Marines”

      You’re far too kind …

      From wikipedia:

      “The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing was a terrorist attack that occurred on October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War. Two truck bombs struck buildings housing Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF) peacekeepers, specifically against United States and French service members, killing 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers, 6 civilians and the 2 suicide attackers.”

    4. Dean … and this, also from Wikipedia:

      it was “the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II…”

  4. You’re far too kind …

    You were too kind. I was monumentally stupid with that post — I have no excuse for botching the details so badly. Thanks for setting me straight so gently.

    1. No worries. Benghazi, with four americans killed, was far worse because a black guy and a woman were in charge. Only white guys can get 300+ people killed and be anointed a hero afterwards. Or, come to think of it, W and nearly 3,000 on 9/11…

    2. Dhogaza isn’t the only one who’s thought of comparing the attack in Beirut and 9/11 to Benghazi. I find it amazing that Democrats haven’t exploited this. I also find it amazing that modern American historians rank Reagan as one of the top presidents, and that Democrats have quietly acquiesced in that assessment. Reagan was not a popular president until he survived the assassination attempt against him. This resulted in a wave of sympathy followed by a Democratic capitulation. His administration was riddled by scandals, among them the Savings & Loan scandal, which was enabled by deregulation. Reagan’s environmental record was a disaster, which leads me to this unforgettable Neil Gorsuch vignette:
      ““You should never have resigned,” he told his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, by her later account. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You only did what the president ordered.”
      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/us/politics/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-nominee.html
      This, of course, is the war crimes defense that was rejected in the Nürnberg trials.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_orders
      So much for individual responsibility.

      What is seen as Reagan’s major accomplishment, ending the Cold War, would have been impossible without Mikhail Gorbachev, but American myopia can only see Reagan.

      Considering the legitimizing value of the term “Reagan Republican,” I think it’s extremely important for Democrats to remind people about what he really stood for and what really happened while he was in office. The term “Reagan Republican” should be made a disqualification.

      I don’t agree with Dean, though, that Reagan was as bad as Trump, whom I see as sui generis. One major difference is that Reagan, despite all his shortcomings, did have a vision that was larger than himself, while Trump only sees himself and conflates his personal interests with the nation’s. I don’t recall that Reagan attacked the press and the judicial system, or urged violence against political opponents, or personally tried to profit from his tenure, or lied the way Trump does, and I think these differences are significant.

  5. Dean above sez “There’s a big difference between the fictionalized Reagan Republicans hold up as a shining star and the real Reagan.”
    Hoy Dean is there anyone ya reckon the donkey party holds up as a shining star?
    Cuz I guarantee they ain’t. Any prez from any time is an absolute scumbag as far as I can see. The donkeys REALLY need to ask themselves where their ethics and morals are at. Get rid of your WMDs ya shitbags.
    If yous are unsure about WMDs, look at the science as to effects of use.
    The donkeys believe in science appearently.
    At least the elephants don’t even try not to be shitbags. But the donkeys try on a more civilised ethical posture, that’s terribly hollow.
    That Carter cunt had heeeaaaps of WMDs. And Clinton. And Obama.
    Cuz yous all love the fucking things. Sick units.
    Anytime at all the donkey party can put up a platform to get rid of them. But they never will cuz they love em.
    Sick sick units….

  6. It will be interesting to see how Woodward portrays VP Pence in his book. Today there are suggestions that VP Pence might be the NY Times Anti-Trump Op Ed writer based on the use of the word lodestar, a word of which he is said to be fond. Of course, it would be easy for an author other than Pence to purposefully use such a word to deflect attention away from themselves.

    So, we have a narcissistic baby king US president who has usually gotten his way in life, being increasingly pressured by “friend” and foe alike. There are only diminishing prospects for him being able to to get his way through normal political channels, so my bet is that he is going to call on his adolescent brained gun toting base to rally around him through his mega-twitter-phone. That could be interesting. It looks like his FOX media support is not without growing hairline stress cracks. Invocation of the 25th amendment is starting to look more and more likely. Hyper religious Pence is looking more and more presidential by the minute.

    I say, stock up on pop-corn. It is not only good entertainment, it has some value as survival food. Just joking. It should be an interesting end to the summer this year ( end to the winter for those in the Antipodes). Cheers all.

    1. Don’t forget that the Power in the Land (aka the Koch Brothers) have fallen out with Teh Donald over his trade war. And Pence is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries…

    2. The anonymous op-ed got me thinking about the ego battle between Charles Koch and his network and Donald Trump, and I think my thoughts are supported by a remark by Barack Obama, who criticized the author for surreptitiously blocking 10% of Trump’s agenda while supporting the rest. What strikes me is that those 10% largely represent Trump policies that hurt Koch’s interests. Without going too far, I think it’s legitimate to ask whether the so-called “responsible adults” and Koch are connected. This, of course, would put Pence in a very interesting position.

  7. What is seen as Reagan’s major accomplishment, ending the Cold War,

    That old idea was destroyed years ago when Soviet govt records from the final decade or so became available for study, and it became clear that the old USSR had no bark at all by that time. The myth that Reagan hastened hasn’t been given up by his supporters, but there’s no basis for it.

    I don’t agree with Dean, though, that Reagan was as bad as Trump, whom I see as sui generis. One major difference is that Reagan, despite all his shortcomings, did have a vision that was larger than himself

    His vision was the same as Trump’s current one: dismantle social safety nets so those yucky minorities and poor people won’t have the same access to progress the “good” people do, promote racist lies (welfare queens anyone?), dismantle the foundations of public education, and more.

    Re lying — Reagan was as fluent with dishonest as the current president . All of this carried on from his years as CA governor. And in terms of attacking media — lying and telling people things are are simply not so does as much to erode confidence in the media as anything else.

    … is there anyone ya reckon the donkey party holds up as a shining star?

    There may well be, but the Democratic party wasn’t the topic of this post was it?

    That Carter cunt had heeeaaaps of WMDs. And Clinton. And Obama.
    Cuz yous all love the fucking things. Sick units.

    There are many policy-based reasons to be upset about from each of them, but dragging out the “you love nukes” crap doesn’t do it.

    1. “There are many policy-based reasons to be upset about from each of them, but dragging out the “you love nukes” crap doesn’t do it.”
      Why not? How come WMDs are acceptable and indeed promoted by donkeys. How did they miss the science? How did they miss the ethics?
      Are democrats stupid as fuck? The evidence would seem to point that way.
      Stupid and dangerous.

    2. The fundamental difference is that Reagan believed in democracy, Trump only believes in himself and his own interests. By overlooking this, you are legitimizing and normalizing him. Democracies are historical works in progress and can coexist with prejudice and a limited franchise. The struggle for women’s suffrage and civil rights would have been meaningless if a democratic framework hadn’t already existed. Reagan represented bad policy within a democratic frame. Trump represents more than bad policy. He represents a threat to democracy. That’s quite a difference.

      You see superficial similarities and you generalize from them and obliterate differences, so you say “Reagan lied,” and this for you means he’s no different from Trump. This reminds me of an example I mentioned earlier: a pathological liar I knew who defended herself by saying, “So I lie. Everyone lies.” The differences in their lying are not subtle.

      Regarding the end of the Cold War:
      Your little excerpt is dishonest and manipulative. This is what I wrote:

      “What is seen as Reagan’s major accomplishment, ending the Cold War, would have been impossible without Mikhail Gorbachev, but American myopia can only see Reagan.”

      I’m willing to give credit to Reagan for moving away from his initial belligerence. The end could have been very ugly. I give Gorbachev most of the credit for the fact that it wasn’t. And yes, the general Soviet economy was in bad shape, but Gorbachev and those around him faced opposition and could have made other choices.

    3. “The fundamental difference is that Reagan believed in democracy…”
      I think the evidence shows Ortega( who is a real arsehole btw, ) getting elected as prez in 84 as democratically valid, and Reagan not being terribly enthusiastic about it, to put it lightly.
      The best thing that could be said about Reagan and democracy is that his electorate loved WMDs and so he followed that wish and chose not to disarm.
      All the yank presidents are good like that. They follow their electorates obscene desire for the horrible things.
      Pack of ultra violent nutters yanks are, as a generalisation. Education must be totally utterly shit there for the people not to understand about WMDs.

  8. Your little excerpt is dishonest and manipulative.

    If you mean my comment about Reagan’s actions having no bearing on the downfall of the Soviet Union — nope, they were essentially dead when he took office. They would have ended as they did no matter who was in office or what they did.

    If you mean your quote — it wasn’t intended to be dishonest/manipulative, and if it seems that it was — that wasn’t my intent.

    I don’t agree that Reagan believed in Democracy — at least not for everyone. His racism, his start to dismantling education at the federal level, his history in Chicago, all indicate (to me at least) that he had the same attitude the modern right does: unless you are well off and white, and preferably male, you don’t deserve to have any help from the government.

    The struggle for women’s suffrage and civil rights would have been meaningless if a democratic framework hadn’t already existed.

    Obviously we can’t know what Reagan would have thought of women’s suffrage, but we know he actively opposed the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. It is positions like those that lead me to saying he was no different than Trump is: racism and the desire to restrict opportunity to people who want it.

    I do disagree with the importance of the “democratic framework”. The system didn’t do anything when Reagan authorized sales to enemies of the country (the people who supported the terrorists who killed Marines in Beirut) or when he lied about it. It’s
    guidelines aren’t doing much now. The sheer number of actions that will damage this country in the long run is certainly tipped in Trump’s favor, but that scale is simply a measure of how far down the toilet the “leadership” of the right has gone since Reagan’s years.

    1. Because of the number of links, I’ve divided my reply.

      “The system didn’t do anything when Reagan authorized sales to enemies of the country…”

      I’ll start with this and try to provide some historical context. During the Cold War the executive branch repeatedly went behind the back of the legislative branch and concealed what it was doing from the American people. In terms of its consequences, Reagan’s arms deal was insignificant compared to the damage done by previous Cold War administrations and is probably most notable because of its cake and Bible incompetence. Here are some of the highlights of what I’m referring to:

      Eisenhower
      “The 1953 Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d’état (Persian: ?????? ?? ??????), was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name “Operation Boot”) and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project[5] or “Operation Ajax”),[6][7][8][9] and the first United States covert action to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime.[10]

      “The 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état was a covert operation carried out by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that deposed the democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz and ended the Guatemalan Revolution of 1944–1954. Code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, it installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas, the first in a series of U.S.-backed authoritarian rulers in Guatemala.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

      Kennedy
      “The Bay of Pigs Invasion (Spanish: Invasión de Playa Girón or Invasión de Bahía de Cochinos or Batalla de Girón) was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion

    2. “According to CIA Director Richard Helms, Kennedy Administration officials exerted a heavy pressure on the CIA to “get rid of Castro.”[2]:148–150 It explains a staggering number of assassination plots, aiming at creating a favorable impression on President John F. Kennedy.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_attempts_on_Fidel_Castro
      “The arrest and assassination of Ngô ?ình Di?m, the president of South Vietnam, marked the culmination of a successful CIA-backed coup d’état led by General D??ng V?n Minh in November 1963.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrest_and_assassination_of_Ngo_Dinh_Diem

      Johnson
      “The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: S? ki?n V?nh B?c B?), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War…
      “In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident

  9. “Despite a consensus at the highest levels of the US and British governments that it would be necessary “to liquidate Sukarno,” as related in a CIA memorandum from 1962,[17] and the existence of extensive contacts between anti-communist army officers and the US military establishment – training of over 1,200 officers, “including senior military figures,” and providing weapons and economic assistance[18][19] – the CIA denied active involvement in the killings. Declassified US documents in 2017 revealed that the US government had detailed knowledge of the mass killings from the beginning, and were supportive of the actions of the Indonesian Army.[5][20][21] US complicity in the killings, which included providing extensive lists of communist party officials to Indonesian death squads,[27] has previously been established by historians and journalists.[20][15] A top-secret CIA report from 1968 stated that the massacres “rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s.””
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_mass_killings_of_1965%E2%80%931966

    I think I’ve made my point, so I’ll only mention Johnson’s intervention in the Dominican Republic, and Nixon’s crimes in Indochina and South America. Democracy in the U.S. has long coexisted with violations of other countries. Reagan wasn’t an outlier and I think it’s fair to ask whether he already was suffering from Alzheimer’s. What made the Iran-Contra scandal special was that it was an attempt to overturn the “Vietnam syndrome” and that it was exposed because of its incompetence.

    “I don’t agree that Reagan believed in Democracy — at least not for everyone.”

    Neither did the men (only men) who held slaves and wrote the Constitution and limited the right to vote to male property holders. But they still believed in democracy, and the framework they created enabled democracy to expand. Whether Reagan was bigoted is irrelevant. He didn’t attempt to undermine the foundations of democracy the way Trump has. You’re looking for ready-made purity and consistency and you won’t get it. Obama’s recent speech in Illinois echoes my points. He speaks historically of “A story of progress, fitful progress, incomplete progress, but progress,” where you argue in terms of absolutes and fail to see crucial differences.

    Your assessment of the Soviet Union is contrafactual and stinks of economic determinism. The fact is that the Soviet Union fell when it did and the way it did. You ignore the internal opposition to Gorbachev that resulted in the short-lived coup. You ignore that the Soviet Army was still powerful and that the developments in Eastern Europe could have led to massive bloodshed. The actual situation was far more complicated and uncertain than you’d like to make it.

    1. Your assessment of the Soviet Union is contrafactual

      No, it isn’t. That is the primary lesson we’ve learned from the materials released after the Soviet Union fell apart — that and the fact that their military was powerful in numbers of personnel only.

      The history of US government actions around the world is not news to me either. We disagree on Reagan/Trump comparison, I get that. I think you give Reagan too much slack, you don’t think I give him enough.

    2. No, it’s not a matter of slack. It’s a matter of appreciating differences. I could just as well say that you give Trump too much “slack.” In his Illinois speech, Obama also inferred that Trump is a threat to democracy. Reagan was and deserved to be severely criticized, but I don’t recall anyone saying that about him. As far as Iran-Contra is concerned, I take it that your statement, “The history of US government actions around the world is not news to me either,” is an acknowledgement that the scandal wasn’t a major deviation from what had happened before.

      Re. the Soviet Union, we agree that the economy was weak. Where we disagree is that you’re saying that that weakness could have had one and only one outcome. The economy was essentially divided into an inefficient civilian sector and a favored military-industrial complex sector. The army was still powerful enough to embark on a campaign of repression. That the Warsaw Pact would end the peaceful way it did was by no means given. And, by the way, the dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred when Reagan and Gorbachev were no longer in power.

    3. Finally, I’d like to return to some of the main points I made in the comment you initially reacted to, and which have fallen out of our discussion:

      “I don’t recall that Reagan attacked the press and the judicial system, or urged violence against political opponents, or personally tried to profit from his tenure, or lied the way Trump does, and I think these differences are significant.”

      1. What evidence do you have that Reagan said or intimated that the press was “the enemy of the people?”
      2. What evidence do you have that Reagan attempted to delegitimize unfavorable news stories and critical publications by calling them “fake news?”
      3. What evidence do you have that Reagan attacked the judicial system and tried to turn it into an instrument for self-protection?
      4. What evidence do you have that Reagan spoke about using the justice department against representatives of the opposing political party?
      5. What evidence do you have that Reagan urged his supporters to use violence against his opponents?
      6. What evidence do you have – not that Reagan lied, but that his lies were in character and number comparable to Trump’s, e.g. that he habitually and repeatedly lied about manifest facts?
      7. What evidence do you have that Reagan tried to use the presidency as a source of personal enrichment?

      In anticipation of any misstatements on your part: The purpose of these questions is not to paint a hagiographic portrait of Reagan. None of them has to do with his policies. They all have to do with generally accepted democratic values. The purpose is to show that Trump is a unique threat to democracy.

  10. Woodward is saying that the Pentagon was aghast when Trump nearly sent a tweet about evacuating family members of troops from South Korea, but held back because of back-channel comments from North Korea that this would be interpreted as an imminent war.

    My questions:
    1) How else would Trump have intended it to be interpreted?
    2) How were the North Koreans able to send this communication, if Trump never tweeted it?

    1. That is not “new” to Woodward MikeN, it was all over the news this past May. Trump was all hot about it before the Winter Olympics. This was when the loon in chief was considering a “bloody nose” strike on the North and expanding military games. The north’s message then was that expanded war games would be taken as a sign of aggression.

    2. Yea, I remember the belligerence. So was the North Korean communication likely not specifically about pulling families, or about a tweet then? I don’t get the process Woodward is saying happened.

    1. I’d like to think that they would experience some discomfort but so far they seem to be able to overlook or ignore just about any evidence of the deficiencies of the man and party they elected — or maybe they don’t think of them as deficiencies at all.

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