by Bob Woodward

Based on hours of interviews with sources, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist describes debates and decision-making within the Trump White House.

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    • Bob Woodward has done it again. "Fear" is a remarkable and important book, especially because it is so current and revealing and is vouched for by this very credible reporter. Woodward's book confirms in much greater detail many earlier and less credible reports, plus many others --- establishing clearly that Donald Trump is not fit to be the US president --- politically, intellectually, psychologically or morally. Moreover, his erratic behavior is a threat to US national security, as Woodward's book and recent TV interviews make very clear. Of course, most of the media attention on this book has been and will continue to be on Woodward's many shocking scoops. The most important question, however, that the book raises, for me at least, is "When and how will Trump's reckless rule be retired?"Mike Pence, the "Shadow President" and Trump's hand picked successor, will from many indications become president in the months following the November 6 election. That seems to be a high probability, even without Special Counsel Robert Mueller's likely devastating report on the Russian conspiracy to influence illegally the 2016 presidential elections and the related cover up obstructing Mueller's investigation of this conspiracy . The only unknown now is when and how Trump goes--- by the impeachment process or by simple resignation like Nixon did. We can expect Pence will then give Trump a full pardon, after Trump fully pardons some family members and close associates. Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort need not hold their breath waiting for a pardon. Trump, some of his family members and close associates will, of course, still be at risk of state law prosecutions, expecially in NY.Trump has long used fear to exercise power over others. Fear, as Machiavelli strongly recommended five centuries ago to a corrupt pope's nephew, is preferable to and more effective than kindness. Paradoxically, Trump's own deep personal fear of failure still drives him desperately--- any means are justified to reach Trump's top goals of personal profit and glory forever. Any means is OK, including even orphaning innocent infants at the Mexican border, while other immigrants are welcomed to work temporarily at Mar-a-Lago. Woodward's book just reinforces these observations many have already made.It is amazing to me that many of the so-called "adults in the room" cannot see that Trump is misbehaving as he always did. He cannot be changed, certainly not now and not by the many handlers selected seemingly because Trump can dominate them. That said, Trump still has more than two years remaining on his term!I have strong reactions to Woodward's many disturbing disclosures, as (1) a former Harvard Law assistant to Archibald Cox (prior to his being the unforgettable Watergate Prosecutor and nailing Nixon), (2) a former high school chum of Rudy Guiliani (now an unimpressive key Trump advisor), (3) a former law firm colleague of Bob Khuzami (now the impressive head of NYC federal investigations of Trump criminal matters) and (4) a father and grandfather.Initially, my strongest reaction to "Fear" was, in turn, real fear for the US and the world. How can the US survive two years more of Trump as president, especially given Woodward's very disturbing reports? On further reflection on the most likely outcomes, however, based on my experience, I am now less worried for the reasons indicated below. The US survived a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, a "Know Nothing" political party, two World Wars, a Korean War, an Iraq War and a Cold War, major Depressions, Prohibition and Nixon, et al. The US will survive Trump and Mike Pence!Woodward’s book is extremely specific and very detailed--- describing relevant facts, documents, dates and meetings. Importantly, he reports on how some of Trump's policies are so haphazardly made, not just on the many bizarre episodes of Trump and his staff. Woodward draws some really important and very plausible inferences from the collective information of the many involved in specific presidential matters Woodward investigated. And his extensive tapes of his hundreds of hours of interviews of almost 100 relevant persons are available to "prove" his inferences. Trump and his cronies' predictable complaints of Woodward bias, if anything, just invite a closer look at Woodward's findings.At 75 years old, Woodward clearly had a purpose in this voluntary and prodigious effort to research and write this book--- to flush out the true Donald Trump and show the danger he poses for US national security. Woodward, a Navy veteran like John McCain before him, is also a patriot. To paraphrase Trump, Woodward shows vividly that Trump's behavior is "very sad and really disgusting".The media will have a field day with some of the troubling Trump episodes Woodward reports. Many persons cited in the book will challenge some of his reports. To be expected and perhaps understandable, given Trump's fiery temper about those he thinks are in any way disloyal to him. The facts will nevertheless prevail, as they have mostly for Woodward's earlier books about the many presidents who immediately preceded Trump.More important, however, than specific episodes, is what the confluence of these troubling episodes clearly shows --- Trump is clearly unfit to be president! The longer he remains, the greater the risk in our nuclear age for the US, and the world as well. It is well to recall the near catastrophe last January when a Hawaiian technician pressed the wrong button indicating a non-existent "imminent" North Korean missile attack, following Trump's reckless rhetoric about the real North Korean threat. This must have sent a real chill down the spines of the leaders of all nuclear nations, and many others as well.Will Trump then finish his first term? Very doubtful, it appears.If the Democrats win a House majority in less than two months, prompt impeachment proceedings and numerous House investigations of Trump and his corrupt cronies appear to be inevitable. That dooms Trump.Even if the Democrats remain the minority, impeachment is still likely to occur in my view as Mueller's efforts continue --- they cannot be stopped now. They will continue even if Mueller is fired as they continued after Nixon fired Archibald Cox. Moreover, there is a reasonable prospect that one or more of Trump's children and/or in-laws could soon be indicted.Trump will after November be an increasingly unnecessary liability for Republicans, the GOP. Only 32% of voters currently polled even think Trump is honest. He has already done what the GOP and its billionaire backers like the Kochs and Devoses most wanted --- a major tax cut for the wealthiest, reckless deregulation, insuring a right wing judiciary majority, reducing drastically Federal revenues needed to fund the social safety net, et al.Moreover, it seems unlikely that Trump will be able to handle the steadily growing pressure he faces. He may even elect to resign as Nixon did. Pence can finish up to the cheers of the Kochs, Devoses, et al.For a fuller picture of what to expect from Pence when Trump "retires", please see the new comprehensive, readable and detailed biography of Mike Pence, "The Shadow President ..." by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter, Michael D'Antonio, and by his co-author, Peter Eisner. This book's findings dovetail nicely with the findings in "Fear".Unlike Woodward, D'Antonio even got, for his recent excellent Trump biography, hours of direct interviews of Trump before the 2016 elections, until Trump abruptly ended the interviews apparently concerned that D'Antonio was writing a truthful book based on facts, not on Trump's limitless lies and specious spin. We now know from this important book on Pence why it is very unlikely that Pence will ever be able to clean up Donald Trump's mess. We also can understand much better why Trump recently predicted that stock markets would crash if he were to be impeached. Not too great an endorsement of his successor, Pence, by a reckless and incompetent boss who has now witnessed up close for almost two years the non-stop cheerleading of the "Shadow President", Mike Pence.Pence successfully strived during the last two years behind the scenes, with Trump's apparent blessings, to advance his repressive and regressive fundamentalist Christian remaking of American society, including through administration and judicial right-wing appointments and adoption of fundamentalist social policies, like curtailing legal abortions and even limiting contraception access. Significantly, these policies mostly benefit in the end the already "uberrich" top 0.01% of Americans at the expense of the 99.99 % less fortunate--- how Christian is that?Trump's and Pence's unfair tax cuts and excessive deregulation can readily be fixed by Democrats when they regain power. But Trump and Pence have already changed the Federal judiciary with their many right wing judges appointed for life. That is not so easily fixed.This is scary stuff for a religiously diverse nation with constitutional safeguards of religious freedom that were extremely important for good reason to our Founding Fathers. They rejected a theocracy as well as a monarchy !By providing a brisk and insightful history of Pence's personal and political journey, we are able with this book to see behind Pence's perpetual smile and smooth style. It is not a very pretty picture.All, even Trump supporters, should read this book to understand better the threat Pence poses even for Trump. After the midterm elections, the "uberrich" will know they can fulfill all their remaining political and economic dreams through Pence, without having to put up any longer with Trump's erratic and at times almost bizarre policies and behavior. By mid-November, Trump will need Pence more than Pence will need Trump.It is not surprising the Omarosa recently observed on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" show that she thinks one of Pence's staff was the author of the unprecedented and anonymous New York times Op Ed column that further undercuts Trump and re-inforces some of Woodward's revelations. As to be expected, Pence offers to swear under oath that HE did not write the Op Ed column, which denial leaves room that one of his staffers wrote it, no?"Fear" and "The Shadow Presidency" raise a very ironic possibility in my mind. If Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, after the midterm elections in November, indicates that Trump and Pence were both implicated in Russian election conspiracy and/or in the subsequent cover-up, both of them could be removed from office or worse by a Congress forced by public outrage to act on Mueller's report. Even Nixon's base abandoned him once the true facts were widely known.Pence often played a key role in the 2016 campaign, as well as during the two years since. Who knows what he said and did in secret? Who knows if Pence was recorded by Amarosa, an evangelical pastor, or Michael Cohen, a "tell all" third rate lawyer or someone else at the White House, including possibly Trump himself. I suspect that by now, Mueller knows!If that happens, Nancy Pelosi could succeed after next January to the presidency as Speaker of the House, third in line after the President and Vice President. So much then for the great Trump/Pence strategy.The Pence book makes very clear why Pence is to be feared, perhaps even more than Trump. The "god" of Trump is Trump --- in that sense, he is obvious and usually predictable. Pence's "god" is much darker and more dangerous, as well as unpredictable, as this book has confirmed for me. It may be that a needy and greedy Trump is a safer bet than a surreptitious and smiling religious zealot, Pence.Pence legitimated Trump with the important and united fundamentalist voter base, who voted by over 80% to elect Trump! Trump also won 52% of Catholics' votes, while only 46% of the national vote. Who will legitimate Pence? This book suggests "good" fundamentalists should now vote against Pence if they ever find their Christian moorings again!Pence appears determined to advance a repressive and regressive fundamentalist evangelical theocracy, even though most Americans, including most Christians, have no interest in a theocracy, Christian or otherwise. Our Founding Fathers were well aware of the brutal post-Reformation religious wars that some of their not too distant relatives had fled Europe to avoid.Interestingly, Pence was a Catholic altar boy and Trump attended for two years a Jesuit college, Fordham. And the current four male Supreme Court conservative Catholic Justices and the newly nominated likely to be Justice, Brett Kavanagh, were also raised Catholic. Four of these five also went to Catholic schools --- Clarence Thomas to Jesuit Holy Cross College, Neil Gorsuch and Kavanagh to Jesuit Georgetown Prep and John Roberts to La Lumiere School. Samuel Alito was raised in a traditional Italian American Catholic family environment.It seems clear to me, as a graduate of 16 years of Catholic schools, that each of these men in varying degrees may be unduly, even mistakenly, influenced by celibate Vatican officials' "infallible teachings" on reproductive matters.In 1930, Pope Pius XI gratuitously (and "infallibly" {?}) condemned all birth control to help Mussolini and leaders of other Catholic Western European countries pump up their populations following the decline in births after World War I's slaughter of many potential Western European fathers. Pius XI, who had in 1920 seen up close in Poland the brutal atheistic Soviet threat in operation, was worried about expanding Soviet influence. Of course, Trump has now shown us that Putin and other former Soviets are the West's best friends!The Vatican's position on women's reproductive rights, initially adopted in 1930 in Pope Pius XI's "infallible" condemnation of birth control, is not based on the interests of women or families or on any Biblical foundation or even on rigorous philosophical and scientific foundations. On the contrary, it is based solely on the Vatican's mythical claim since 1870 that "the pope is infallible" so what a pope said in 1930 remains the "Gospel Truth" forever.The origin of the papal infallibility myth has recently been subjected to close and thorough analysis by the leading Catholic historian, Georgetown's 91 year old John O'Malley. A Jesuit, O'Malley has recently published a superb and short new book, "Vatican I", which documents in detail the 1870 invention in desperate circumstances by Pope Pius IX of "papal infallibility".While I share an Ivy League law school background and a Catholic upbringing with the Supreme Court's likely new all male majority, thanks to the scholarship of John O'Malley, Hans Kung and other brave Catholic scholars, I do not share in their uninformed adoration for papal "infallible teachings".Hopefully, some the these men will also read the important Vatican I book. If these male Catholic Justices are, based on their purported take on Catholic moral teachings, going to make legal rules for over 150 million American women about female reproductive matters, these Justices should at least understand the mythological origin of these teachings. They should all read O'Malley's new book and my Amazon review of it.Of course., "infallible" popes since 1870 have greatly increased their power even over Cardinals and other Bishops by exploiting their newly invented unique claim to being infallible. Popes, much like Trump, want to retain their power even if hundreds of millions of women worldwide are denied reproductive justice to protect popes' mythical claims to infallibility. Popes have shown in their shameful cover-ups of priests' and bishops' sexual abuse of defenseless children that popes sin like other humans. The papal fixation on preserving their unique "infallible claims" to protect the power they have built up over the last 150 years is more important than any women or children, it appears.If popes reverse themselves now on women's reproductive rights, their claims to the symbolic power of papal infallibility will fail. Of course, as few Catholics seem to know, popes have earlier reversed themselves on moral issues like slavery and usury. So much for unchanging infallible truths!That said, with Kavanagh on the Supreme Court, as appears likely, Roe v. Wade can be expected to be limited greatly, executive authority will likely be almost unlimited in immigration, foreign relations and other important areas, and corporate political donations will remain almost unlimited. These surely are trying times for the US.The push-back of majority voters will need to begin in earnest in less than 60 days in House and Senate elections, and again in 2020's presidential elections. In the 1930's FDR tamed a right wing court with the support of a majority of voters. This can happen again.
    • This is the book that only Bob Woodward could have written. With his experience and regard as a journalist who's held numerous administrations up to scrutiny (both Republican and Democratic), this is the examination of the Trump administration that we very much need. It's a pity that so many of his supporters will tune out this warning because it's one that's badly needed.Woodward doesn't mince facts as he shines a spotlight on the chaos within the White House. That even those who are unprepared and unqualified for the positions that they hold are scrambling behind the scenes to make coherent policy out of Trump's whims, reining in the worst excesses and even taking the unheard of step of actively working to keep Trump from entirely gutting American's foreign and domestic operations. We see his staff members trying to salvage our alliances, recognizing how vital they are for our country's security even if the man holding the office of president doesn't.But while the book, based impeccably on fact and direct testimony of those trying to operate in the eye of the storm, reveals the total dysfunction of the Trump White House and how utterly detached Trump is from reality, it raises other more troubling questions. Where are the checks that our founding fathers built into our system of government that were meant to corral an out-of-control president? What happens when the Congress, currently in the control of Trump's supposed party refuses to take seriously its role as an equal part of the federal government and give Trump free rein. What will remain of the Republican party once Trump leaves the political stage (whether by impeachment, being voted out or at the end of a dreaded second term)? What happens to our need for rational political discourse now that we've entered a world where fear, personal insults and cruelty are seen as political assets?I'd call this a must read even with the knowledge that too many people who need to read this book won't. Which is a real shame because like it or not, we're all in this together and one day we're all going to be survivors of what Trump has inflicted on our country.
    • The title is for those of you who remember the line from H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. I couldn't resist.I bought and read Hillary Clinton’s book, which I found rather tedious, repetitive, and lacking in some of the same crucial insights missing during her 2016 campaign. I bought and read Ivanka Trump’s book of hints ad cheerleading for working women, which I thought was an amazing and banal pastiche of clichĂ©s and platitudes from someone largely clueless about real working women. I bought and read Sean Spicer’s book about his short-lived career as press secretary and thought it was a valid, albeit overly apologetic and whitewashed, window into how he functioned in a milieu like no other. I can’t be bothered with Omarosa and others like her who peddle gossip and sleaze like a political “Upstairs Downstairs.” Honesty, verisimilitude, and even a smidgin of gravitas are as absent from those tell-alls as they are from the Oval Office.Bob Woodward is another story altogether. I was in my late twenties during the Watergate saga, and watched it all, from the June 1972 break-in to the final, sordid act of August 9, 1974. Since then, just to provide a sort of check and balance for what I remembered, I’d read a stack of books about Watergate, including Woodward’s and Bernstein’s seminal and spare recounting of “how they did it.” And what I learned from these experiences was that Woodward delivered the truth as he found it, documented it, multi-sourced it, taped it, and explained it. He presented the truth in few words—adjectives and adverbs, like the hyperbole so beloved of some journalists and op-ed writers, are not Woodward’s friends. Instead, we get page after page of “Just the facts, ma’am” story-telling, and in this rather stark literary environment, the fear is real and believable. So are the admissions of what has, by design and necessity, been going on in the West Wing, with some admissions more outspoken than others,I’ve lived through the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the 1963 Kennedy assassination, the cataclysms of 1968, and every amazing national upheaval through 1975, and survived all of it. I’m no delicate snowflake, but I will admit that what I read here, in one interview after another, one incident of subterfuge and deceit after another, endless attempts to thwart and manipulate what goes on in the Oval Office and outside it, and of allegedly trying to protect the country from its president to be more fear-inducing than Khrushchev’s missiles parked 90 miles from the US coast.Don’t expect a book that reads like an expanded National Enquirer or Daily Mail. Don’t expect a laundry list of bombshell revelations never before seen or heard. Don’t read this book to be amazed, titillated, or appalled. If that’s what you prefer, go cuddle up with Omarosa.However, if you want your worst fears confirmed in the most straightforward and unadorned manner, the bits and pieces you’ve been hearing from assorted cable news bobbleheads repeated but this time from a position of credibility, and what we might expect in the near future, this is your book. Readers already disposed to accept, with or without a certain degree of credulity, will be agreeing with every page. Readers who adamantly oppose the very idea of criticism large or small of this president might want to take a look at Woodward’s book, just in case.This book is not entitled “Fear” without good cause.
    • Perhaps no president has been written of by more writers during his first two years as President than has the current occupant of the White House.Neither has any topped Donald Trump in his ability to polarize a nation. I, myself, find Mr. Trump a repugnant specimen of human nature. Yet, even as I curse him for his apparent lack of empathy for other human beings, I do occasionally find his approach to politics refreshing. Why?In search of an answer for that last question, I have read most every book about the guy. Woodward’s “Fear” is probably the greatest insight we ever shall have into the psyche of America’s closest approximation to Adolph Hitler.Because of “Fear,” I understand better as to why Donald J. Trump is the greatest threat to our republic.BLUSH FACTOR: There are profanities of most every sort. Still, since this is nonfiction, I hope every American reads “Fear.”The writing in “Fear” is thought-provoking and uneven. Because of Woodward’s dependence on Deep Background, I cannot rate it five stars. I WANT to know who said what, precisely.Still, this is the one great insight into Donald J. Trump that history will most appreciate.BOTTOM LINEFour stars out of five.
    • Bob Woodward has not written a conventional biography of Donald Trump. His book, "Fear: Trump in the White House". is 42 chapters long, with each chapter being another tale of woe about Trump and his time in the White House. As with all Bob Woodward books, it is very plainly written. There's not much flowery writing in "Fear", just the facts. Woodward lets the reader put their own interpretation on what he's written; unfortunately, most readers - like me - will see facts that add up to a disaster of a presidency.Should fans of Donald Trump buy and read "Fear"? Yes, but they probably won't because the truth, as accounted by Bob Woodward, is not an easy read. I'm a liberal Democrat - horrified by Donald Trump and his presidency since the time when Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower in 2015 - and I'm finding it difficult to have my greatest fears verified.I also find it interesting that Bob Woodward and his publisher chose to release the book on September 11th.