A Bizarre Foray into the Merry Go Round of Trump's Presidency: Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
There's a saying by the president, Donald Trump, that practically flies out of the pages.
"Real power is, I don't even want to use the word, fear."
Though an airborne quality may certainly befit such words, however, perhaps they are deserving of less clean imagery; thick smog, oozing from the pages at hand, would seem more suited. Indeed, such is the nature of Bob Woodward's observations that alarm bells should be ringing in perpetuity in the background, as you delve deeper into the dragon's den.
Of course, to those of us with the sense enough to understand what is deemed 'presidential behaviour', the shocking quality of Trump's first term in power will hardly come as a great surprise. What may come as a greater shock - hear me out here - is how Woodward's account of the White House's daily proceedings manages to humanise one of the most maligned political leaders of our generation.
Having furiously thumbed down a host of tweets previously, whilst practically frothing at the mouth with rage, I found myself embroiled in a conflict of sorts against my cognitive compulsion toward empathy. Though, before I take an unintended tumble into the pit of cancel culture, I feel I should state, for the record, my continuing, hm, 'disapproval' (to put it lightly), of Trump's presidency.
Despite the initial suggestion of Trump's rule by iron fist, Woodward's detailing of the power struggles within the White House appear to paint a completely opposing picture - one of a temperamental teenager boasting of his superiority (not least of all about the ginormous proportions of his nuclear button).
Trump may claim to rule by fear, yet, if Woodward's account is anything to go by, Trump's supposed dominance is little more than a fantasy permitted by a squalling child's imagination. The president's aides' efforts to protect Trump from his most disastrous whims by snatching documents from his desk - not to mention private outbursts of exasperation at his child-like ignorance - certainly resembles that of a parental role in this fantastical scene that whiffs of comedic orchestration.
Fear presents a White House with an often vacant throne - of a man somehow managing to live with delusions of grandeur whilst in the world's most prestigious public office. Woodward's litany of sources pull back the curtain to reveal that, actually, not a great deal has changed; the Establishment, in spite of Trump's grand claims, remain a notable faction within the White House, among stiff-backed generals and expletive-merry Cabinet members.
Resisting what one can imagine to be near insurmountable temptation to write in an incriminating fashion, Woodward offers you a more than generous peek into this political circus from underneath the pinstriped tent flaps, that will leave you just as baffled and mesmerised as one with a front-row ticket. Make up your own mind about him, he says. While this approach may leave some feeling a little short-changed, having expected a skewering of sorts, one cannot deny that the main attraction of this encyclopedic work lies in its lack of authorly instruction.
Take from the book what you will and don't be surprised if you feel more than unfettered rage.
Enjoy the show.