I’m working my way through the Woodward book, stopping to reflect as I read. All of the nuggets we’ve seen mentioned on cable news are there, and comport with what we see of Trump every day.
What comes through more strongly in the book than I had thought about before is that Trump is like the crazy uncle in the attic, wandering around the White House while the business of the country is carried on by his mostly B-team cabinet officials, relatives, hangers on, or ex Fox news people. Trump spends hours a day watching television and talking on the phone to his cronies and drinking soda. Literally. He doesn’t come down to the office until around 11 am, and once there the TV’s are immediately turned to Fox News. I suspect he foregoes the PDB, the president’s daily briefing. Too many words. I don’t know on whom we are relying for presidential judgment regarding the crises of the day, but it isn’t Trump. Whatever else recent presidents used to do on a daily basis — talk with world leaders, attend meetings and have briefings, consult with cabinet officials and military leaders — Trump isn’t doing that. Someone else is — probably a lot of someones.
A point I wrote about earlier — my belief that Trump isn’t smart — is confirmed not only by the book, but in this latest round of tariffs with China. Trump has fundamental misconceptions about a lot of things, and he holds on to them tenaciously even when corrected by his senior people. He believes, or says he believes, that China is paying us billions in tariffs. Actually, the tariffs are paid by the end consumer: American families.
Trump is, in office, just what he’s always been: the reality star, the performer. The U.S. presidency is looking more and more like The Apprentice, but the stakes are so very much higher.