Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”. Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Real power is – I don’t even want to use the word – fear”. Donald Trump
I just finished reading Bob Woodward’s new book, FEAR. As we know, Bob Woodward is a well-respected chronicler of inside politics, focusing on the White House, in particular the last 4 presidents. He first came to fame with Carl Bernstein for their reporting for the Washington Post on the Nixon Watergate mess and Nixon’s ultimate resignation. His books are generally well-sourced and accepted as realistic looks behind the curtain.
In FEAR, Mr. Woodward reports on the general atmosphere and chaos of the Trump White House. It is not per se about President Trump; rather, the focus is on how this White House functions, or doesn’t. However, from the anecdotes we can discern certain traits of President Trump..
- The President is not a policy wonk. He disdains the intricate details of policy, relying instead on his gut impressions and instincts. When presented with facts and figures that run contra to his instincts, he pushes back against the information.
- His basic beliefs are rooted firmly in the 1950-1980 years. What were core industries then- steel, coal, aluminum – are to President Trump still the backbone of America’s economy today instead of the service/technology sectors.
- Life is a zero sum game. If you get more succotash at the dinner table than he does, you win and he loses. There is no such things as a win-win outcome in anything.
- People are either for him personally, or against him personally. He recognizes no higher calling than personal loyalty to him as Donald Trump as opposed to President Trump. However, loyalty only runs one way.
- His filter is his image. Why does he enjoy political rallies in friendly locations? Easy – thousands of the “base” cheer at his every word. “They love me; just listen to them,” Everything he does has to be great, or huge, or the greatest ever. Don’t confuse me with facts – just listen to the crowd..
- He has no or little understanding or or interest in the workings of government. Life in the hotel/casino world is simple, unburdened by competing interests and arcane rules of procedure. Build it and make a lot of money
- Money is an obsession. NATO allies don’t spend enough on defense; it costs the US a lot to keep troops in South Korea; if North Korea gives up its nuclear armament program, their economy will grow and the people will prosper, etc.
- Issues/policies are in silos. You take each separately. For example, what linkage can there be between South Korea’s trade policies and keeping troops there? What does raising tariffs on steel and aluminum have to do with the cost of cars and/or employment in the automobile industry?
- Just like when he was building hotels or casinos, his authority is absolute. It is MY Justice Department, MY State Department, MY military. The Constitution is like a zoning commission, something to be ignored or finessed.
- He is easily swayed. Pandering to his image/ego and/or his campaign promises will get attention.Reasoned arguments based on real facts and figures are ignored. Give the President the 30 second elevator music pitch and you are the winner.
This is the picture of the person constitutionally selected to lead our Nation, at least through 2020. It is the same picture that was present during the campaign, just with more detail. The question is – Will there be irreparable harm done in the interim?