Scheduled to appear in bookstores on the anniversary of 9/11, Bob Woodward’s latest OPUS, Fear, could be more devastating to the current administration than those four hijacked were to the nation back in 2001.
Reputed for this obsessive concentration on detail, carefully checking of sources (not merely a corroborating single, but multiples), Woodward is by far the most credible, trustworthy and serious scribe to put a journalistic microscope on the White House since the inauguration in January 2017. Airing taped “teasers” from the hundreds of hours of tapes he amassed while researching this tome, Woodward has also provided what could be a fatal blow, in the public arena, where the question of the tenure of the administration will be decided, indirectly, if not directly.
Quoting Mattis and Kelly, (Defense Secretary and Chief of Staff respectively) on trump, Woodward notes Mattis’ having answered the president about why the U.S. is friendly to South Korea, “Because we are trying to prevent WWIII!” Kelly, in another episode aired during the last twelve hours, acknowledges this is the worst job of his life, and wonders what they are doing there.
Woodward’s voice on the brief audio clip with the president, points out that he tried to reach the “boss” by contacting several people, including a lunch with Kellyanne Conway, who, “surprisingly” failed to pass the message along the pipeline paving the way for Woodward to speak directly to trump. While sorry that they were unable to speak directly, Woodward clearly wants both the president and the world to know that “I have been very careful” in his work. When asked, ‘Do you name people, or just say ‘sources say’? Woodward points out that he asserts in the book that on a specific day, the named people met to discuss, including the name of the president” and then goes on to detail the discussion.
This is no Hollywood reporter (ala Wolfe) nor an ambitious and transformed acolyte and former Apprentice show participant (Amarossa), nor is it a vengeful Comey emerging from a high profile firing as Director of the F.B.I. This reporter, now Associate Editor of the Washington Post, is revered (along with Carl Bernstein) for this work on Watergate. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the administration, despite all the cataract of denials already beginning to flow (Mattis says he would never speak about the elected president in such contemptuous terms), to shove this piece of work into the trash-bin of “fake news”. And even among the trump cult, (it has to be named as such, given the obsessive-compulsive consumption of the tsunami of lies, deceptions, cover-ups, projections and outright braggadocio of what Megan McCain aptly dubbed the “tyranny of the tweets” in her father’s eulogy), there will have be some, however miniscule, elevation of consciousness, perhaps just to the point where they might consider calling, emailing, texting or even tweeting their member of Congress, too long asleep, and too long self-gagged to begin to utter opposition and even penetrating public criticism of the president.
Yesterday’s opening of the public confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, including the arrest of some 70 protesters who interrupted the chair several times, laid bare several important facts, for all to see.
First, one has to wonder the size of personal ambition of a man (reportedly a strong family man, youth athletic coach, former alter-boy and former White House staffer under George W. Bush) to permit his name to go forward under a nomination from a president who is already an unindicted conspirator (re. Michael Cohen). Would Kavanaugh not know, as anyone who has not been living under a rock for the last eighteen months would know, that the clouds of suspicion, interrogation, investigation, accusation and even potential conspiracy/collusion have been gathering over the White House since before the 2016 election.
Of course, a life-time appointment to the United States Supreme Court is the holy grail for legal minds in the United States, the highest rung on a very steep and long ladder of accomplishment, status, recognition, professional security and reputation. And for conservatives, the opportunity to “stack” the nine-member body with right-leaning legal judgements for the next half-century is a prospect that many of the trump and Republican marching band would almost literally “die for.”
Nevertheless, having not only permitted his name to go forward, but gratefully praised the president for the “confidence placed in me,” Kavanaugh has stepped into a very tippy canoe, to say the least. And the irony and the historic significance of the release of the Woodward book on the opening day of his confirmation hearings cannot be either missed or ignored by the American people, and especially the U.S. members of Congress.
Having already served under former Special Prosecutor, Ken Starr, in the Clinton debacle, and already written both in favour of and in opposition to the chief executive’s legal for investigation, subpoena, indictment while in office, Kavanaugh has already exposed both himself and the president to the obvious and legitimate charge, already voiced by many Democrats and a few lonely Republicans, that he has been nominated by a president seeking protection should a subpoena land on his desk from Special Prosecutor Mueller, be refused and then litigated in the Supreme Court, following his possible confirmation.
Having also written thousands of opinions on such significant subjects as torture, Roe v. Wade, gun control and the already mentioned presidential immunity, (many of which pages have been embargoed by the White House) and also having written some 300-plus decisions as a member of the Court of Appeals of the Third District, presided over by Merrick Garland,( the Obama nominee who suffered the ignominy of complete and utter excommunication by Republican senators, prior to the 2016 election) Kavanaugh is a legitimate target for serious challenge by Senate Democrats.
Women, especially, are concerned that Kavanaugh will become the final nail in the coffin of a woman’s right to choose to have a therapeutic abortion. Access to this service is already being curtailed in many states through decisions of state legislatures to restrict permission to doctors who also have “privileges” at local hospitals, and to demand the conditions in clinics meet or exceed those in hospitals for the right to be licensed to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood, for example, is highly vocal, incensed that what had been considered “established law,” Roe v Wade will be chipped away into oblivion, with a guaranteed five conservative votes on the Supreme Court, should Kavanaugh be confirmed.
The forces of dissent, disapproval, disparagement and even impeachment continue to grow, not to be dimmed either by the publication of the Woodward tome, or by the mounting evidence of a “blue wave” of energized Democratic voters who have already secured the nominations of surprisingly visionary candidates in New York, Boston, and potentially even in the south.
Woodward’s exhaustive work, coupled with his platinum reputation, and his professional gravitas, landing on 9/11, 2018, only 60 days prior to the Mid-term elections is undoubtedly going to fuel animus among trump voters as well as among the growing millions of voters, both Independent and Democratic, who, hopefully, are awakening to the seriousness of the tightening noose around the administration’s collective and singular neck.
Citing “fear” as his title, and diagnosing the “nervous breakdown” of the administration, Woodward has pounded his key-pad hammer into the two most vulnerable spots in the administration’s body politic. It is the paradox and irony that the fear within the president (the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader, according to John Kelly) projected onto the American people, as a methamphetamine concocted in the White House basement, to vacuum all those free-floating fear radicals that haunt the middle of the country, the outback, the angry white men and women who have already taken their trump-toxin that, taken together, could render the administration the author of its own ultimate demise. With all the growing and credible evidence of a “nervous breakdown” claimed by Woodward, people inside the country and around the world have to be both worried and exercised about the potential damage trump and his band of thugs have already, and continue to inflict.
Woodward, almost single-handedly, has turned the tide against the charge of fake news levelled hourly against the national media. Woodward has also compiled and published a compendium of more than circumstantial evidence, available to everyone able to read to reflect upon personal civic responsibility, and take hold of that most valued democratic right, the vote, in November.
Should the legal charges process either take too long or subvert the public’s collective wisdom, the ballot box is the last and best resort for a nation on the brink of disaster.
Is there a Medal of Honour of a Purple Heart equivalent for journalists? If not, it is time to create one!