Woodward book's most frightening message

Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear," is the story of an unstable President and a chaotic White House.In t...

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 11:35 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 11:35 AM

Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear," is the story of an unstable President and a chaotic White House.

In the run-up to its publication next Tuesday and beyond, expect much debate, blame, denials, pontifications, and tweets (definitely, tweets) either refuting or supporting what the book offers as evidence. That is accounts from President Donald Trump's own staff that he is unable to grasp policy, is endangering the country and unwilling to acknowledge the depth of his legal vulnerabilities.

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Political Figures - US

US federal government

White House

This is the story of President Trump. It is the story of the White House.

It is also -- sadly -- the story of us, America.

The passages released so far are not just about the content of private discussions or the substantive debates over national and homeland security. They describe internal processes that are so dysfunctional, so mercurial, so back-stabbing and destructive that other nations and their leaders -- whether ally or enemy -- will see in them more proof of an unreliable partner. That partner is us.

It isn't that revelations about Trump's personality will be surprising to leaders in Europe, South America, the Middle East or China. They have met him. They have read the tweets. What is new in Woodward's book is the picture of a President utterly isolated from the very people who serve him in the White House.

The President is in a den of vipers shot through with a cadre of aides trying to save the world from a crisis, according to the book (and since the start of his presidency, we've seen little reason to doubt it). The President has lost the authority that matters to us as a nation. Put it this way: does Trump seem weaker or stronger after these stories have come out? Whatever your answer, it's the same answer for the United States.

Our President cannot control a narrative of American superiority when he has lost control of that narrative. If our allies want a reliable partner, they will look to each other or another heavyweight like China.

Beyond our capacity to support friends, America looks -- and therefore is -- more vulnerable because of how the President has managed his office. A recent case in point: the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was ultimately about a White House that refused to comprehend the magnitude of the disaster, lead when the threat was real, or take responsibility for a population that lacked potable water and electricity -- and a death toll that would be revised upward last week to nearly 3,000.

His response to that news -- that the US did a "fantastic job"-- falls, like a heartless joke, on the ears of those who lost family, home, livelihood. It was also quite a terrifying response, as it showed that he simply missed the gravity of the situation. A President unable to recognize harms coming our way, and to deploy resources to stop them, energizes our enemies.

Finally, as someone who worked in an administration agency, I can tell you how revelations like those in Woodward's book play in the halls of power in America and across the world: workers in federal agencies that protect our national security are left with little to support their efforts against the unavoidable conclusion that the lights are not on at the White House.

This can be very dangerous; agencies get their strength and authority by positioning themselves as aligned with the White House and the President. For US officials, a meeting with a foreign diplomat or an urban mayor about safety and security draws legitimacy from the backing of the White House. It works the way a "trump card" should.

Those who work outside the White House, and who are protected by a government that is functional, are also hidden characters in Woodward's book. They are not anonymous sources or former Trump advisers.

They are ... us. The book is about the fate of the United States.

Huntsville
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 51°
Florence
Broken Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 47°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
50° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 50°
Decatur
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 50°
Scottsboro
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 50°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 363466

Reported Deaths: 4541
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby47682658
Davidson42703420
Knox18764149
Rutherford17749161
Hamilton16701152
Williamson1140080
Sumner9744137
Out of TN758152
Wilson748178
Montgomery658683
Sullivan643996
Washington6000106
Putnam591382
Maury584267
Blount549160
Madison5349110
Bradley519735
Sevier484831
Unassigned468222
Robertson377453
Tipton365938
Hamblen345560
Gibson323365
Dyer320751
Greene308272
Anderson294629
Dickson289133
Coffee281841
Bedford275630
Carter272455
Lawrence270034
Obion265950
Cumberland257236
McMinn252355
Warren240020
Roane235229
Loudon228019
Jefferson226932
Fayette225338
Hardeman224737
Weakley216937
Monroe212744
Franklin208634
Lauderdale205023
Hawkins194934
Wayne192010
Trousdale190512
Henderson185133
Macon184028
Hardin178125
White176918
Carroll174734
Marshall174420
Rhea169731
Haywood162930
Lincoln161215
Cocke160630
Cheatham158617
Overton154335
Campbell154223
Henry153619
Giles146949
Smith143819
Johnson141621
McNairy140233
Fentress121920
Hickman118219
Lake11766
Bledsoe11745
DeKalb115822
Crockett115526
Marion109819
Scott10727
Chester102520
Grainger101217
Decatur95513
Unicoi85826
Claiborne8369
Benton81314
Grundy77714
Cannon7663
Lewis76314
Morgan7306
Union7195
Humphreys7098
Jackson68410
Polk66515
Stewart59415
Houston58720
Clay55318
Sequatchie5285
Meigs48913
Perry48321
Moore3963
Pickett39013
Van Buren3672
Hancock1673

Community Events