Return to site

Raging Against the Machine


Bruce Bauman

Another day, another Trump takedown. Bob Woodward’s Rage isn't officially out yet, but it's already eclipsing Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s tell-all. Cohen's book should be hitting your doorstep today if you’ve ordered it on Amazon. Woodward's comes out next Tuesday.

Bob Woodward has been the country's best-wired reporter since making his bones with Carl Bernstein exposing Richard Nixon in the 1970s Watergate scandal. Woodward has occasionally been criticized for his use of unnamed sources, even though this is standard operating procedure in Washington, D.C.

This time, nobody can complain. Woodward talked to The Man Himself, no less than 17 times. On tape.

Here are the key takeaways:

Talking to Woodward on February 7th, Trump acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus, saying that the virus goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so, that’s a very tricky one…It’s also more deadly than your – you know, your, even your strenuous flus…This is deadly stuff.

“This is more deadly. This is five per…you know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know? So, this is deadly stuff.”

So much for his many public statements comparing Covid to the flu.  

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said, adding, “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Nearly 200,000 deaths and 6.3 million cases later, I guess he was right. Or partly right, because Covid is actually 50 to 100 times deadlier than seasonal flu, not five times deadlier.

Then there are Trump’s comments on the military. Adding to the evidence backing up the much-bruited Atlantic magazine piece documenting Trump’s dissing of the military, Woodward reported that Trump told trade policy advisor Peter Navarro that “my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies.”

Trump's appeal to his supporters lies partly in the fact that there’s often a grain of truth in his brutal, narcissistic slams, prime examples of how the Left and the Right meet in vulgar reductionism.

On September 8, in the face of criticism of his comments about the military, an unbowed Donald Trump told reporters that Pentagon leaders didn’t support him because they “want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

Sounds just like a lot of our left-wing friends.

I am beyond hoping that anything will deprogram Trump’s 38 percent, or embarrass Congressional Republicans into upholding the Constitution. But if anything reaches America's decent swing voters, especially the Boomers who remember Watergate, Woodward confirming Trump’s damning words on tape is probably the closest we’ll come.

Bruce Bauman is the author of the novels And the Word Was and Broken Sleep. The True Story of My Fictional Life is his work in progress. See more at his website.