Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 7:08 AM

Woodward’s ‘Fear’ and an Anonymous Op-Ed Show We Have Everything to Fear…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Bob Woodward’s charges that top national security staff find themselves compelled to protect the world from President Donald Trump should, in any normal time, precipitate an almost unprecedented national emergency.

The revelations, in the veteran reporter’s new book, are so stark and shocking because they flesh out a narrative that the President’s critics have long advanced — that he is simply not fit, by intellect, temperament and knowledge, to be the most powerful man in the world.

(CNN, September 5, 2018)

With all due respect to the legendary Woodward, this quote explains why reading his book will be like running the final miles of a marathon, all 26.2 miles of which one is running round and round a 400-meter track.

Frankly, the most interesting thing might be its title, Fear. Because so much of what Woodward reportedly details defies FDR’s famous proclamation that

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Specifically, the word “fear” captures

  • the feeling (sensible) citizens (of the world) have about what further damage Trump might do to us;
  • the feeling (most) Republican politicians have about uttering a word of criticism about Trump; and
  • the feeling Trump must have about what the Mueller and other criminal investigations might do to him.

This is why the anonymous op-ed by “a senior Trump administration official” in today’s New York Times is stealing so much of Woodward’s thunder. Trust me, it is far more newsworthy … and consequential:

We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office. …

[S]uccesses have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

(The New York Times, September 5, 2018)

And this is the president who insists

  • “I alone” can fix all that is wrong with America;
  • “I alone” can negotiate trade deals; and
  • “I alone” can denuclearize not just North Korea but Russia too. #DelusionalIdiot!

Trump has spent much of his presidency accusing a “deep state” of obstructing implementation of many of his reckless policies. But this op-ed is just the latest indication that he is just too delusional and arrogant to acknowledge that the members of that deep state are his own presidential appointees.

After all, almost from day one of his presidency, we’ve been treated to accounts of such mutinies in everything from newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to books like Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and Omarosa Manigault Newman’s appropriately Unhinged.

Not to mention White House staffers validating the op-ed’s claims of resistance (or subversion) by assuring Trump that they’re in hot pursuit of the writer but rolling their eyes in contempt as soon as he turns his back.

Meanwhile, some of us are on record warning that his presidency would be thus – long before day one of his presidency. In my case, I refer you to such commentaries as “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker?” April 8, 2011, “I Can’t Hear, or See, or Say That Name [TRUMP] Without Spitting,” March 14, 2016, “Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization,” August 26, 2016, and “WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” November 10, 2016.

Unfortunately, Trump has so normalized the shattering of democratic norms that officials in his own administration see nothing wrong with resorting to coup-like tactics to keep him in check. To be fair, though, they are merely acting pursuant to the rationale Republican leaders offered from the outset to justify support for Trump. In fact, those leaders reassured the world that “adults in the room” would deploy such tactics to limit fallout from his well-known amoral impulses.

The once self-righteous Republicans enabling and defending Trump remind me of Catholic bishops who enabled and protected pedophile priests. Trump will probably perpetrate wag-the-dog machinations to divert attention from his Nixonian morass. But I doubt even that would bring these Republicans back to Jesus.

(“Trump and the Poisoned Chalice of the Pardon Power,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 22, 2018)

Accordingly, I hope Anonymous and his or her comrades in “the Resistance” are on guard today like never before. Because, pursuant to my pre-election warnings, when it comes to Trump rocking this ship of state, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Related commentaries:
fire and fury
don’t be a sucker
Trump organization
poisoned chalice

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 7:01 p.m.

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