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Rage

af Bob Woodward

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There is a bit more open editorializing in this book compared to other Woodward books, and I'm okay with that. At this point, and with so many inside books about US Presidents, he deserves to have a bit of say, especially at this time and with such a dangerous man in our highest office.

He sums up the book with this, "When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job." We should listen to him. The 391 pages that precede that sentence are Woodward's case.

( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
"Rage" by Bob Woodward is quite interesting on numerous levels. For one, I had not realized how competent Mattis was, nor how close we came to war with North Korea. The media have focused on Trump's mendacity with regard to COVID-19, but the real story is how he pulled the rug out from under those people he had hired and who were trying to do a good job for America.

It was impossible for these folks to hide from events, nor did they want to, "Mattis had a light in his bathroom at his quarters in Washington that would flash if he was in the shower when the National Event Conference alert came. A bell would also ring in the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen announcing that the conference was standing up because a North Korean missile had been launched or was ready on the launching pad."
Mattis was really concerned about his boss. Mattis had over 7,000 books in his personal library and believed studying and learning was key to developing and making policy decisions. "Mattis believed there were ways for a president to be tough and keep the peace. “But not with the current occupant. Because he doesn’t understand. He has no mental framework or mode for these things. He hasn’t read, you know,” he told an associate. Reading, listening, debating and having a process for weighing alternatives and determining policy were essential, Mattis believed. “I was often trying to impose reason over impulse. And you see where I wasn’t able to, because the tweets would get out there.. ..All the victories,” he said, “were becoming just submerged by this mercurial, capricious tweeting form of decision-making.”

Lots of revealing quotes, all taken from the tapes that Trump egotistically let Woodward make. Woodward had the temerity to suggest that the impeachment hearings and criticism of the Ukraine phone call would have gone away if only Trump had just apologized.

“I have this reputation of not being willing to apologize,” Trump said. “It’s wrong. I will apologize, if I’m wrong.” “When’s the last time you apologized?” “Oh, I don’t know, but I think over a period—I would apologize. Here’s the thing: I’m never wrong. Okay. No, if I’m wrong—if I’m wrong—I believe in apologizing. This was a totally appropriate conversation. It was perfect. And again, if I did something wrong, I would apologize. Okay?”

And Trump truly believes he knows everything and understands everything. In full Lamarckian mode:

He reminded me again of his late uncle, Dr. John Trump, a physicist who taught electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1983. “He was at MIT for 42 years or something. He was a great—so I understand that stuff. You know, genetically.”

As we all know the book was based on extensive interviews -- all taped -- with Trump. One piece that came across clearly from his own words was that Trump claims as accomplishments things that he has only talked about, not actually done, prison reform, fixing COVID, peace in the Middle East, a great trade deal with China, etc.

I recommend reading this book in concert with I Alone Can Fix It. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 7, 2021 |
I’ve read a number of books about Trump and his presidency. Hopefully, this is the last one. “Rage” is one of the better ones - better than “Fear”, Bob Woodward’s first Trump book.

The Epilogue is the best chapter in the book where (unusual for a journalist and especially Woodward) the author describes his personal feelings. Here is an excerpt:

“But now, I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘dynamite behind the door’ was in plain sight. It was Trump himself. The oversized personality. The failure to organize. The lack of discipline. The lack of trust in others he had picked, in experts. The undermining or the attempted undermining of so many American institutions. The failure to be a calming, healing voice. The unwillingness to acknowledge error. The failure to do his homework. To extend the olive branch. To listen carefully to others. To craft a plan.’

And the last sentence which may be the understatement of the year: “Trump is the wrong man for the job.” ( )
  slsmith101 | Jul 25, 2021 |
There have been a slew of books written about President Trump in these past few years, and Bob Woodward's book "Rage" is one of the better known ones. But with so many books haveing been written, we've heard most of the issues Woodward writes about already.

One item I hadn't heard before was from Woodward's interview with President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner told Woodward that to understand the President, a good starting point would be Scott Adams' book Win Bigley: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter. In that book, Adams talks of Trump's clever use of exaggerations, hyperbole, misstatements, lies, etc. But these are not considered to be ethical lapses or regrettable errors. Rather, they're part of a technique of 'intentional wrongness persuasion'. Adams argues that Trump can invent any reality he wants for most voters. All that the President's supporters care about and tend to remember is that (1) Trump gives his reasons, (2) doesn't apologize, and (3) that his opponents will call the President a liar as they always do. As an example, he refers to the President's Feb. 4th State of the Union speech in which he claimed that the U.S. economy was the best it had ever been. In fact, the economy was indeed very good, but has been stronger at many times in the past. But, as Kushner notes, controversy elevates message, and supporters will simply remember that the economy is good. And the more Trump repeats the claim, the more people hear it, the more it becomes cemented in the collective consciousness.
According to Adams, this is at the core of Trump's communication strategy in the age of the internet. A controversy over the economy, whether the best ever or not, only helps Trump. It reminds voters that the economy is good. And any hair-splitting, fact-checking debate in the media about whether the numbers were better decades ago or in the 1950's is irrelevant.

Other items in Woodward's book tend to confirm criticisms about the President as voiced by former White House personnel. Woodward describes what those who knew the President the best, those who worked in his Administration, felt about Trump and his leadership abilities. He reminds readers that former staffers suchs as Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, as examples, were Conservatives or apolitical people who wanted nothing more than to help the President and the Country. They were not the deep state. Yet each departed with cruel words for the President. (So did niece Mary Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, former Apprentice star and White House aid Omarosa Manigault Newman, etc.). Each, in their own way, concluded that Trump was a deeply flawed individual. Additionally, a number of former top national security leaders also thought Trump was a danger to the Country. Trump had stated that he thinks the Generals were stupid, the intelligence people needed to go back to school, and the media was fake news. He spent so much time undermining people who challenged him, whether his opponents or staff, that too many people no longer trusted what he said.

While it's practically impossible to write a book about politicians without it being criticized for being filled with errors and drawing false conclusions, one criticism that Woodward isn't guilty of (this time) is not having interviewed the President. In his earlier book about the President Fear, Trump was critical of Woodward because he had not interviewed him for the book. The President called the book a scam, a joke, untrue, even though a number of individuals close to the President confirmed that Woodward's book was factual. And Woodward said he tried often to get the President to speak with him for that first book, but it never happened. In this second book about the Trump, the President granted Woodward seventeen or eighteen interviews. Perhaps he felt that by allowing Woodward to interview him for this second book "Rage", the results would be more favorable. I'd say that didn't happen.

As Woodward told Trump after the book was completed, it's a "tough" book on the President. What Woodward concluded based on his interviews was that Trump's leadership has failed. Trump has an oversized personality, and a lack of discipline and of trust in those he picked for his staff, cabinet, and advisors. He fails to be a calming, healing voice, is unwilling to acknowledge errors, fails to do his homework or to listen carefully to others, or to craft a plan. Too often, he didn't have goals. He governs by gut feel, and doesn't like to follow the advice of experts.

For example, as we've been hearing throughout the 2020 Presidential election campaign, Trump was told early on that the COVID-19 virus was really bad, and would be his biggest national security threat. But Trump failed to take strong steps, and told the nation it was a minor problem, and would quickly pass, and many people therefore failed to take protective measures. As this book was published, the COVID-19 crisis continued and cases and hospitalizations are spiking again.

Woodward closed the book with the belief that anything could happen in the Trump administration. He also left little hope that things will get better. Trump uses his position and power to dominate the media. Trump's tough talk is often unsettling, even to his supporters. Trump and Attorney General Barr have several times challenged the traditional rule of law. Their use of the Justice system to reward his friends and to pay-back his enemies is petty and Nixonian. But, Woodward notes, he has not imposed martial law, or suspended the Constitution. Our Constitutional government may seem wobbly at times, still Democracy has held.
( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Rage, by Bob Woodward. Quite good. It is not a hit piece. I suppose many of his supporters might see it as an accurate portrayal of his — as they see them — qualities: impulsiveness, brashness, unpredictability, unorthodoxy, flexibility, keep them off-balance approach. Woodward pushes his willing interviewee relentlessly, constantly asking about his policies, his endgame, and his plans. And what he gets, verbatim, are mostly shallow, ad hoc, and contradictory responses. Woodward is not shy about admitting when Trump is or has been right or successful, and he has been at times. If you’re suspect of Trump, you’ll probably come away convinced of his unsuitability for office. If you’re a fan, you’ll probably come away convinced of his genius. Woodward did a great job, in no small part because he got Trump on record, and uses his own words to explain him and what he’s doing snd has done. ( )
  wildh2o | Jul 10, 2021 |
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Policy purists may prefer the veteran journalist Bob Woodward's Rage (Simon & Schuster), a densely reported account of Trump's latter years in office enlivened by often rambling conversations with the man himself. Watching him cling on by his fingernails this November, one struggles to dispute Mary [Trump]'s belief that Trump's greatest fear is losing face in public.
tilføjet af Cynfelyn | RedigerThe Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff (Nov 28, 2020)
 

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"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."

Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump in an interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa on March 31, 2016, at the Old Post Office Pavilion, Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C.

"This is when you said to us: 'I bring out rage in people. I bring rage out. I always have. I don't know if it's an asset or a liability. But whatever it is, I do.' Is that true?"
"Yes," Trump said. "Sometimes, I do more things than other people are able to get done. And that, sometimes, can make my opponents unhappy. They view me differently than they view other presidents. A lot of other presidents that you've covered didn't get a lot done, Bob."


President Donald J. Trump in an interview with Bob Woodward for this book, June 22, 2020.
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To Alice Mayhew, who edited every one of my 19 previous books over 44 years and gave me a lifetime of wisdom and love, and to Carolyn Reidy, our revered and steady captain at Simon & Schuster. I miss them both.

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