Donald Trump, undoubtedly has to be the most unpredictable, uncouth and perhaps undeserving leader of any democracy in the annals of human history. From ill-informed tirades, intransigent outlook to ill-conceived knee jerk decision making, Trump is a conundrum not just to the rest of the world but unsurprisingly to his own administration as well. In his bestselling book, “The Threat”, Andrew G. McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and one of the ‘unfortunate elites’ in a burgeoning rank of officials to have been fired via Twitter, penned a rousing indictment, if not a measured polemic against a President who operates on instinct, indiscretion and injudiciousness.
Now in a remarkably hard hitting and sensational work titled ‘A Warning’, a member within the Trump administration going by the prosaic and plaid nom de plume of ‘Anonymous’, informs his poleaxed readers about the conundrum posed by President Trump, courtesy his eccentricities, and the struggle engaged in by his administration to keep a hold over ever fluid policy decisions.
According to the book, within the ranks of the Trump appointees, there exists a “Steady State” brigade. The rank and file of the Steady State, alarmed by the impulsive nature of the President try to “steer him away from self-destructive impulses.” Going by their track record, the Steady State association has managed to more than just distinguish itself. Robert Mueller’s Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” he wrote, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
The Steady State team needs to work overtime for they know that their task is more than just cut out. With a President who decides the fortunes of a nation, the friends it chooses to keep and desert, by way of rants on Twitter rather than via informed dialogues and deliberations, the damage mitigating team is left walking the tightrope more often than they deem comfortable. Even Trump’s own Party seems to be at their wit’s end with the inexplicable attitude of the President. For example, on December 19, 2018, when Trump exclaimed, falsely, that ISIS had been eliminated and it was time for the United States to withdraw their forces from Syria, Congress was, to say the least, aghast. “I’ve never seen a decision like this since I’ve been here in twelve years,” Senator Bob Corker, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters. “It is hard to imagine that any president would wake up and make this kind of decision, with little communication, with this little preparation.” Even Senator Lindsey Graham, who’d been trying to curry Trump’s favor, blasted the decision. Lindsey told reporters the announcement had “rattled the world.”
The book demonstrates in no uncertain terms the internecine conflicts and squabbles littering the White House as the occupant’s band together into factions and try upstaging one another. Hence, “there, was the Kushner camp, the Bannon camp, the Conway camp, and others such as Penceland or the so called Flynn-stones, acolytes of the anointed national security advisor. They were united at times and divided at others. This was a real-life version of The Apprentice.”
Unlike either Obama or George Bush Jr, Trump is one President who apparently does not read anything! Averse to elaborate explanations and too distracted to plough through position papers, the President’s patience wears thin upon being told that he needs to be extensively briefed. Sample this: ““He is the most distracted person I’ve ever met,” one of the president’s security lieutenants confessed. “He has no fucking clue what we are talking about!” More changes were ordered to cater to Trump’s peculiarities. Documents were dramatically downsized, and position papers became sound bites. As a result, complex proposals were reduced to a single page (or ideally a paragraph) and translated into Trump’s “winners and losers” tone.” In so far as Trump’s administrative skills are concerned, the book has some astonishing stuff to state. “About a third of the things the president wants us to do are flat-out stupid. Another third would be impossible to implement and wouldn’t even solve the problem. And a third of them would be flat-out illegal.”
The book attempts to judge Trump against the quintessential principles of leadership laid down by Cicero. These principles have as their bedrock a four-part rubric adhering to which determines the character, or lack of it, of any leader. And as the book goes on to illustrate Trump miserably fails every single principle. For the uninitiated, the four principles are:
- “understanding and acknowledging truth”;
- “maintaining good fellowship with men, giving to everyone his due, and keeping faith in contracts and promises”;
- “greatness and strength of a lofty and unconquered mind”; and
- “the order and measure that constitute moderation and temperance.”
But the greatest danger is neither Trump nor his hysterics. As the book expounds in great detail, the President of the United States of America is surrounded by a band of loyal acolytes who are driven by the troika of power, tribal allegiance and fear. The Trump coterie as per the author can be categorized into ‘Sycophants’ and ‘Silent Abettors.’ “Put them in a room with the president and watch as he strings together unrelated sentences, as his tone changes, as his face contorts, and as he declares he is going to do something very, very good (but that reasonable people know is not good at all, and perhaps very bad). Watch as he gestures his hands to those around the room, enlisting them by extension in his declaration, whether they willingly endorse it or not. Then scan the room. The bobbing heads and forced grins are Apologists. You can see for yourself on television because the president invites the press to cover these conversations, as a means to display his total dominance of those around him. There are two separate types of unsavory Trump appointee. Both belong to the same genus, the Apologist, defined by their shared willingness to excuse the inexcusable. But each is its own species with distinctive characteristics.”
The President’s character can also be judged in the utterly disdainful and despicable manner in which he views women. As the book illustrates in a brutally uncomfortable manner, the words and style employed by Trump to describe and address women is downright ugly. “Sex appeal. Beautiful piece of ass. Good shape. Bimbo. Great in bed. A little chubby. Not hot. Crazed. Psycho. Lonely. Fat. Fat ass. Stupid. Nasty woman. Dog. Ugly face. Dogface. Horse face. If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband,” “what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
A Warning ends with a clarion call to the voters to choose wisely at the ballot box, but in so far as credibility is concerned, many would want to understand the need for the author to couch himself/herself in the garb of anonymity, especially when the potential future of the whole world is at stake.