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Inside Trump's 'cartoon chaos' president

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THE DIVIDER: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021

author: Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

the publisher: Double Day

page: 752

price: $32

“His job was not to get things done, but to prevent certain events and prevent disaster.”

This line from Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s Detailed History of the Trump Administration Dividers: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, technically applies to his first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. But in reality, it portrays any of the former president’s dozens of beleaguered supporters, whose temperamental tendencies of anger have outraged Washington and kept the White House out of office for the better part of four years. kept in constant damage control mode for a while. Thoroughly researched and sharply narrated. divider is a story of disasters avoided and disasters realized.

Narrowing down the turbulent events of President Donald Trump’s long national frenzy dream between two covers, even if the two covers are spaced apart, as in this 752-page anvil It will strain the skills of the most agile journalist. Still, Baker and Glasser’s husband and wife team confidently pull it off.

baker, new york timesGlasser, chief White House correspondent for The New Yorker and staff writer for The New Yorker, combined their combined 60 years of Washington reporting experience, along with their two other co-authors, to bring this book to life. The perfect pair for writing. (I know both through professional circles. When Glasser edited Politico Magazine, she hired me to write a history column.)

Baker and Glasser strive to maintain a professional, sober tone even while listing Trump’s most outrageous actions.

Aside from the landmark Abraham Accords of 2020, which opened diplomatic ties between Israel and several Arab countries, they have paid only fleeting attention to Trump’s concrete achievements and have been critical. We have to admit that even at home there were some. The strength of the pre-coronavirus economy — Trump does not deserve full credit, but millions of voters blamed him for his mistakes and failures. What helped get through — is barely discussed. Trump fans will surely object to their consistently negative judgment of the Tribune.

Given the sheer number of crises and conflicts that have taken place under Trump’s watch, it is not easy to put them all into a story. I am concentrating. For example, Trump’s difficult relationships with foreign allies and the 2018 budget war over the Mexican Wall.

Some of the most important chapters deal with Trump’s relationship with Russia. Baker and Glasser, former Moscow correspondents and longtime Russian jokers, eschew the wilder conspiracy theories buzzing in left-wing circles during Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign’s Russian ties.

Instead, divider It soberly and carefully reframes events to reveal anew Trump’s shocking respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin — especially at the 2018 Helsinki summit, where the author pointedly wrote: ing. agency. A chapter on the 2019 Ukraine scandal reaffirmed the gravity of the initial impeachment when Trump linked aid to the government to the extradition of Joe Biden for corruption.

If divider Although it has a dominant theme, it may be a struggle to curb his most dangerous instincts within an “almost cartoonishly chaotic White House” by people more rational and ethical than Trump. No. The White House has become a den of an “ongoing tribal war,” they write, because everyone had different ideas about where to restrain Trump and where to encourage him.

Sneaky gossip and taunting nicknames cross-coin the Trumpese coin (Kushner as “Slim Reaper” and Homeland Security Secretary Kirsjen Nielsen as “Nurse Ratched”). They also highlight a dysfunction that is rare even in Washington freak shows. [Kellyanne] Conway. Or: “In public, Mattis, Tillerson, and McMaster were portrayed as adult Axis members. In private, they were sometimes trivial, reminiscent of middle school cafeterias.”

Backbiting led to constant personnel changes, followed by a harrowing parade of dismissals, resignations and exorcisms. What’s even more amazing is that a number of his once loyal supporters have emerged as one of the president’s toughest critics after he left office.

A number of Trump aides who might otherwise deserve harsh criticism, such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Attorney General William P. Barr, sometimes bravely stepped in to keep Trump in check. Without their modest resistance, things could have been much worse. Still, Baker and Glasser seem to support the views of Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who warned Republicans during the initial impeachment.

In this instance, Schiff was speaking specifically about Trump’s plan to “compromise our election,” but his words were tragically prescient. divider concludes with several fascinating chapters about Trump’s insane plan to stay in power after his November 2020 defeat and storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In the final passage of the book, we learn that Trump defected to Mar-a-Lago like a movie villain, defeated, but not outright defeated. In Hollywood, an ending like that helps keep the door open for another installment.

©2022 TheNewYorkTimes news service