STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Woodward book's most frightening message

Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear," is the story of an unstable President and a chaotic White House.In t...

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 11:35 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 11:35 AM

Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear," is the story of an unstable President and a chaotic White House.

In the run-up to its publication next Tuesday and beyond, expect much debate, blame, denials, pontifications, and tweets (definitely, tweets) either refuting or supporting what the book offers as evidence. That is accounts from President Donald Trump's own staff that he is unable to grasp policy, is endangering the country and unwilling to acknowledge the depth of his legal vulnerabilities.

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Political Figures - US

US federal government

White House

This is the story of President Trump. It is the story of the White House.

It is also -- sadly -- the story of us, America.

The passages released so far are not just about the content of private discussions or the substantive debates over national and homeland security. They describe internal processes that are so dysfunctional, so mercurial, so back-stabbing and destructive that other nations and their leaders -- whether ally or enemy -- will see in them more proof of an unreliable partner. That partner is us.

It isn't that revelations about Trump's personality will be surprising to leaders in Europe, South America, the Middle East or China. They have met him. They have read the tweets. What is new in Woodward's book is the picture of a President utterly isolated from the very people who serve him in the White House.

The President is in a den of vipers shot through with a cadre of aides trying to save the world from a crisis, according to the book (and since the start of his presidency, we've seen little reason to doubt it). The President has lost the authority that matters to us as a nation. Put it this way: does Trump seem weaker or stronger after these stories have come out? Whatever your answer, it's the same answer for the United States.

Our President cannot control a narrative of American superiority when he has lost control of that narrative. If our allies want a reliable partner, they will look to each other or another heavyweight like China.

Beyond our capacity to support friends, America looks -- and therefore is -- more vulnerable because of how the President has managed his office. A recent case in point: the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was ultimately about a White House that refused to comprehend the magnitude of the disaster, lead when the threat was real, or take responsibility for a population that lacked potable water and electricity -- and a death toll that would be revised upward last week to nearly 3,000.

His response to that news -- that the US did a "fantastic job"-- falls, like a heartless joke, on the ears of those who lost family, home, livelihood. It was also quite a terrifying response, as it showed that he simply missed the gravity of the situation. A President unable to recognize harms coming our way, and to deploy resources to stop them, energizes our enemies.

Finally, as someone who worked in an administration agency, I can tell you how revelations like those in Woodward's book play in the halls of power in America and across the world: workers in federal agencies that protect our national security are left with little to support their efforts against the unavoidable conclusion that the lights are not on at the White House.

This can be very dangerous; agencies get their strength and authority by positioning themselves as aligned with the White House and the President. For US officials, a meeting with a foreign diplomat or an urban mayor about safety and security draws legitimacy from the backing of the White House. It works the way a "trump card" should.

Those who work outside the White House, and who are protected by a government that is functional, are also hidden characters in Woodward's book. They are not anonymous sources or former Trump advisers.

They are ... us. The book is about the fate of the United States.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 57°
Columbus
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Oxford
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
A few showers linger early in the morning. But these should gradually push away from our area, leaving us mostly cloudy and cool through the midday and afternoon hours. Some clearing may occur later in the afternoon, leaving us mostly clear by Thursday morning.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather