Rage by Bob Woodward

‘I bring rage out.  I do bring rage out.  I always have.  I don’t know if that’ s an asset or a liability, but whatever it is I do.’ (Donald Trump in an interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa 31/3/2016)

I have been reading a lot of books about Donald Trump.  I picked up this one for two reasons:

  1. Bob Woodward is not a former Trump staffer or disgruntled former employee; and
  2. All but one of the interviews was recorded.

I thought that the first should make the book more objective and the second would mean that Trump could not claim to have been misquoted.

A few people I know will see this book as yet another hatchet job on their wonderful president while others, like me, will see it as proof that somehow a divisive, erratic and impulsive man has been elected to the highest office in the USA.

I read about Donald Trump because I am looking to try to find his vision for the USA’s future, some hint that he wants to unite and lead the USA, something other than the name-calling, self-obsessed behaviour I see reported in the media and evident from his own tweets.

I read in vain.  Instead, I found myself agreeing with Mr Woodward:

‘As I listened, I was struck by the vague directionless nature of Trump’s comments.’

And with this:

‘Our conversation had gone from interview to confrontation.  He did not seem to understand or accept my central point – the President of the United States had no business asking for a criminal investigation of his political opponent.’

And when we come to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of travel restrictions to the USA:

‘Despite the conclusive evidence that at least five other people wanted the restrictions – Fauci, Azar, Redfield, O’Brien and Pottinger – in an interview March 19, President Trump told me he deserved exclusive credit for the travel restrictions from China.’

What motivates the man, I wonder, that he needs to rewrite history in this way?  The best leaders seek (and take) advice from experts.  It is a strength to do so, not a weakness.  And it is a courtesy to acknowledge others.

I kept reading.  The USA is a divided nation, and whoever wins the US Presidential election in November 2020 will struggle to reduce the divisions.  I fear that Donald Trump will be re-elected: his supporters think that they have nothing to lose, his opponent will struggle to gain traction in an environment where any publicity (no matter how negative) is good publicity.  And Donald Trump is an expert in gaining publicity.

My conclusion?  I agree entirely with Mr Woodward’s conclusion:

‘When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith