On September 5, 2018, the New York Times published a bombshell op-ed that presented an alarming view of the Trump presidency. There were allegations of chaos, instability in the administration and staff members whose job it was to keep Trump in check and save him from his reckless impulses. The op-ed presented a clear message. The fate of our democracy is at risk. The Times took the usual step of granting the author, a so-called “senior official of the Trump of the administration,” anonymity.
A few months ago, the article resurfaced when it was announced that the same author would publish a tell-all book. Anticipation ran high as the public assumed that Anonymous was distantly related to Watergate’s “Deep Throat.”
The book, titled A Warning, was still at the printers when it soared to the top of the best seller list as pre-release orders broke all previous records for advance sales. Like hundreds of thousands of other “never Trumpers,” I placed my online order and marked my calendar in anticipation of its arrival. I wanted to be the first in my circle of friends — none of whom voted for Trump — to get some inside dirt on the president that we love to hate.
Last Tuesday I returned home after a weekend at the Lincoln Forum, which is a three-day seminar held each year in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. The event honors our greatest president with scholarly lectures and panels. Upon my return I found my much-anticipated book on my back steps. After unpacking and putting aside a newly acquired award-winning book that looks at the political evolution of Abraham Lincoln from 1855-1960 , I curled up for my much-anticipated reading of Warning.
Some 20 pages into the book I was still waiting for a bombshell and realized that I was experiencing culture shock having shifted from studying Lincoln to Trump. After turning a few more pages and realizing that I had dozed off a couple of times, I came to the further realization that I had been had. Anonymous merely capitalized — with a capital $ — on the five minutes of fame he or she gained from the original op-ed by putting some yeast into what was already in print and passing it off as a book.
Rather than add some coal to the flames of impeachment growing on Capitol Hill, Anonymous simply rehashed what we already know — Donald Trump is an out-of-control, paranoid, egotistical, misogynistic racist who finds it impossible to tell the truth.
Several times Anonymous questions Trump’s mental health but he offers no solutions. The so-called insider tells how monumental decisions are made based on the last person who talks to the President and how decisions can be reversed as quickly as they are made. Interestingly, there are no comments about Trump’s physical health, which can’t be all that great based on his irregular sleeping and eating habits and overall appearance — even though Trump says that he is the healthiest man ever to serve as president.
Even Trump supporters must be aware of how dangerous it is for a president to refuse to listen to career government professionals and experts in such fields a diplomacy and military affairs. When early attempts at delivering position papers to the President were summarily rejected, staffers were told to use Power Points, since the President is a visual learner. They soon learned that Power Points that exceeded three slides were too long. The President found them boring. Staffers learned that delivering one point of importance during a briefing was a major achievement.
A staffer taking notes during a White House meeting incurred the wrath of the President. “What the f… are you doing?” was the very presidential reaction, when the staffer was observed by the Commander in Chief. Outburst such as this make every staffer in constant fear of losing their job and most have letters of resignation prepared and in their computers — ready to print at a moment’s notice.
Anonymous mentions several times the possibility of a mass departure by the current White House staff but concludes that a massive walkout would do damage to the nation and leave the White House in the hands of those less qualified than themselves. As a result, they soldier on — constantly on pins and needles.
But through it all, Anonymous is more of a team player than a rabble rouser. The author never strays far from the straight party line or basic conservative values, even while he criticizes the President. His point is there is a problem, but he offers no solutions.
The bottom line is that in 2016 we elected a con man to the White House. Hundreds of thousands of Americans supported another con man or woman by buying Warning — and I include myself among the scam victims. If you’re interested in reading this work of mediocrity, check out your local free bookstore — the public library. I’m sure there will be plenty of copies on the shelves and if you wait a few more weeks and are willing to pay a few dollars, there will be plenty of copies on the bargain table at your local bookstore. You’ve been warned.