Bob Woodward’s book won’t matter in November

So Bob Woodward wrote a book. In this book, among other things, Donald Trump admits that he was well aware of the severity of COVID-19, but didn’t want to spread panic. He also denies wealthy white privilege, accusing Woodward of having drunk the Kool-Aid. There’s other fluff about how Kim Jong-Un flattered him.[1] And I would assume, there is more that I have not learned about because I haven’t actually read the book, but am relying on a Washington Post account.

I have called Trump a delusional raging narcissist. His delusions have been apparent and are apparent, even here, as he defends lying about something as serious as COVID-19, lying about how serious it is, as if doing so would be the better way to respond to the coronavirus, even as he understood it would be the biggest “national security threat” of his presidency.[2] It’s implicit here that his priority in response was not about reducing the death toll or limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The title of Bob Woodward’s book is Rage,[3]and Trump’s rage is narcissistic.[4]

Perhaps you will say there is no sense to be had here and you will be right. That’s a hallmark of mental illness: utter, complete, and completely baffling irrationality.

There’s also the question of why Trump would admit all this to Woodward. It’s self-defeating for him to do so, right? And yeah, this falls under the rubric of that completely baffling irrationality.

But it’s also significant in that the interviews Trump gave Woodward are not addressed to Trump’s base. Woodward is an icon in the very journalism that Trump so often decries as “fake news.” There’s probably some psychology at work here that I won’t get into.

What I want to return to is my suspicion about Trumpsters suspending their disbelief even as they vociferously advance conspiracy theories.[5] If this suspicion is correct, Woodward’s revelations will make absolutely no difference to Trump’s base. Because Trumpsters are desperately attempting to believe what they want to believe.

It really makes no difference to the rest of us because we already know that Trump mishandled the pandemic.[6] We just now know that Trump knew better and still did the wrong things. Which isn’t really an improvement on our knowledge of a profoundly corrupt administration where Trump seemingly thinks that conflict of interest is a necessary qualification for office.

And we certainly already knew that Trump was a racist, at the very least bordering on white supremacism.

Woodward’s book will add more of the sort of evidence that is important to historians and to those of us who seek to learn from history. And the book would surely be more important in a society that valued intellectual endeavor. But for the ludicrous number of unread books I already have on my shelves—honestly, I meant to get to them—I might even order a copy myself.

I’m not seeing the book make a difference in November.

  1. [1]Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, “Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans,” Washington Post, September 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodward-rage-book-trump/2020/09/09/0368fe3c-efd2-11ea-b4bc-3a2098fc73d4_story.html
  2. [2]Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, “Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans,” Washington Post, September 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodward-rage-book-trump/2020/09/09/0368fe3c-efd2-11ea-b4bc-3a2098fc73d4_story.html
  3. [3]Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, “Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans,” Washington Post, September 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodward-rage-book-trump/2020/09/09/0368fe3c-efd2-11ea-b4bc-3a2098fc73d4_story.html
  4. [4]George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counselling Resource, July 24, 2017, https://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, September 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  6. [6]Associated Press, “FDA warns against using the drugs that Trump touts for coronavirus,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-24/fda-warns-against-using-trump-touted-drugs-to-treat-coronavirus; David Benfell, “The dangerous and delusional raging narcissist-in-chief,” Not Housebroken, April 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/25/the-dangerous-and-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief/; Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/; Allyson Chiu, Katie Shepherd, and Brittany Shammas, “Trump comments prompt doctors, and Lysol, to warn against injecting disinfectants,” Washington Post, April 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/24/disinfectant-injection-coronavirus-trump/; Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us; Ed Kilgore, “Could Trump Go the Way of Herbert Hoover?” New York, May 4, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/could-herbert-hoovers-fate-be-trumps.html; Joe Lowndes, “The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America,” New Republic, April 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157505/morbid-ideology-behind-drive-reopen-america; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump; Aaron Rupar, “Trump and Fox News want to send their hydroxychloroquine hype down the memory hole,” Vox, April 22, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21230982/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-trump-fox-news-hype; Anna Sanders and Chris Sommerfeldt, “A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments,” New York Daily News, April 24, 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-new-yorkers-household-cleaners-trump-20200425-rnaqio5dyfeaxmthxx2vktqa5m-story.html; Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” Atlantic, May 9, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/americas-racial-contract-showing/611389/; Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html; Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html; David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/; Paul Waldman, “The real reason Trump is obsessed with hydroxychloroquine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/07/real-reason-trump-is-obsessed-with-hydroxychloroquine/; David Wallace-Wells, “There Is Still No Plan,” New York, May 7, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/white-house-plan-for-ending-coronavirus-stay-at-home-orders.html

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