Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Deconstructing the President (Book Review)

This is primarily a review of these two books regarding the initial years of the Trump Presidency.  I am not here to support or detract from the President.  I have encountered few people that don't have an extreme view of this presidency.  The actions and direction of his office are evident by the media coverage (both fake and real) along with the Presidents voluminous tweets. 

What I found interesting about these two books, are the similarities in each, even though they were done by different authors obtaining information from different varying sources, both on and off the record.  There are those Americans that see the behavior of this president as an adjustment to the political correctness that has descended on the United States and to counter what many see as the new fourth leg of government, which is the liberal-biased media.  Clearly, this president sees the 'big stick' approach as being more effective, and in our better long term interest, than the global group hug of his Democratic predecessors. 

While there are 'pro' books that have been written about the Alt-Right agenda and the Trump presidency, almost all of these have failed to gain traction with the public at large.  Apparently, because few current or former staffers have much good to say about their boss.  Both of these authors have extensive interviews with various individuals close to, or inside the White House.  In many aspects both of these books tend to corroborate each other, in that they basically say the same things, but the statements are from different sources at different times. 

Individually, the statements made by various parties in these books can be dismissed as hearsay or off the record comments.  However, when you have multiple sources saying the same thing about a given meeting, phone call or reaction in a crisis, you have to start giving what is being said some credence.  After reading both, I have walk away with the following conclusions about this presidency. 

1) He never expected to win.  His campaign was a PR stunt to market his brand and influence his business dealings.  As opposed to actually 'winning' the election, various insiders in both parties admit that what actually happened was, Hillary lost the election.  Trump didn't win it, he was simply the least offensive of both candidates in the eyes of the American public. 

2) He has limited intelligence.  While this might seem alarming, we have to bear in mind that the General does not need to know how to drive a tank to win the battle.  Leadership is something that is inherent in some individuals.  Personality has little to do with it either.  Few liked George Patton, but the man won battles.  However, high ranking government officials that have dealt with Trump in the first two years of his presidency have come away with extreme doubts regarding his competency to understand basic global situations.  In one particular meeting, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has to repeatedly explain to the president that the Federal Government can not simply make more money to pay for the southern border wall, despite Trump's repeated solution to "lets just print more money".  Clearly there is a disconnect there regarding how various systems, both domestic and foreign, work.

3) He likely did not knowingly collude with the Russians to win the election.  Many long term friends and White House staffers admit that Trump saw business dealing with Russia as just another part of 'playing the game' of global finance, and the thought that the Russians might undermine our electoral process never really entered Trump's mind.  Like many staffers reference in the books, he just doesn't think that deep.  Ergo, it was easy for the Russians to dupe him into things in the political arena that Trump had little or no understanding of. 

4) He sees miss-direction and chaos as tools to control the media and further his agenda.  He speaks in vague statements that cannot be proven, never writes anything down or sends emails (outside of tweeting) and always claims ignorance and then never admits mistakes or apologizes.  Showing any weakness means you automatically lose in his mind.  Which leads to the mindset that, since he is the most important and powerful person in the room, anything he says is correct and cannot be disputed.  If he says it often and long enough, it will eventually become reality.  His will, will make it happen.

Both authors conclude, in rather depressing terms, that as his Presidency continues, he will likely become overwhelmed by situations that he cannot control or understand, which may lead to dire consequences.  Almost all of the staff that have left the White House during his first two years in office have done so to distance themselves from the likelihood that, if they stay, they will be drawn into situations that are illegal, either in domestic law or international law.

Stay tuned, I am sure there are more books in the pipeline.....

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