Wednesday, September 9, 2020



Jeez, this new Bob Woodward book, Rage, covering the last two years of the Trump administration, previewed in the WaPo by Robert Costa and Philip Rucker. People are focused on a couple of big revelations—first, that Trump deliberately downplayed the danger of the coronavirus 

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call [with Woodward]. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

The Post story has audio of that: it's a response to a question on what he learned from Xi Jinping about the virus, direct from the leader of the country he'll be denouncing for its secrecy and deception a few weeks after that.

At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.

or rather, since we always knew that, that he was so pleased with his cleverness in doing it that he made sure Woodward would know all about it, in what must have been an awareness at some level that it was going to end up in the book. And the other one, buried in paragraph 34, that he shared some top secret security information with the famous journalist:

In the midst of reflecting upon how close the United States had come in 2017 to war with North Korea, Trump revealed, “I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.” 

Woodward writes that anonymous sources later confirmed that the U.S. military had a secret new weapons system, but they would not provide details, and that the sources were surprised Trump had disclosed it.

(He's said similar things publicly before; at a veterans' event in October 2019, for instance, "America’s armed forces are more powerful than ever and growing even stronger. We have the newest equipment and we also have equipment that we keep under wraps that nobody’s ever even heard of." But it's anybody's guess what he has in mind. Project Thor, the Kinetic Energy Penetrator system that would hurl 20-foot tungsten rods from satellites like thunderbolts, causing damage like that of a nuclear bomb but no fallout? Or something that isn't actually secret at all, like the submarine-fired five-kiloton W76-2 nuclear warhead, deployed last year?)

What's up with that kind of stuff? I mean, I understand that he's an idiot, and I understand that he wouldn't have learned not to do it anyway because there are never any consequences when he blurts out something he's not supposed to say, but what's the mental process behind it?

I'm imagining the desire to be one of those top-top people, cognoscenti, the ones who are clued in and know things hidden from the vulgar, like, obviously, Barack Obama, to be Obama's equal, along with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, but even more the kind of person who's always knowing things on TV—because TV is a higher reality than wherever he is—doling out dollops of exclusive gossipy information; not those clowns in Congress or his cabinet but Hannity, or Jake Tapper, or Bob Woodward. So he knows things too, you see, and has interesting strategies, and he tells the interviewer about them to impress them, just like telling Billy Bush about pussy-grabbing.

And who among the adherents and cheerleaders he depends on will look at a book? They'll be happy to believe him when he denies something "very strongly". While among the cognoscenti, they may act upset, but they don't really mean it. He's pretty sure they're all just as Beyond Good and Evil as he is.

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