A Very Stable Genius:
Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
Philip Rucker is the Washington Post's White house Bureau Chief and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his coverage of Russian interference. Carol Leonnig is an investigative reporter with the Washington Post and has been a staff writer for the paper since 2000. She was part of a team of reporters awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2014 for public service. They teamed up to write A Very Stable Genius and my first reaction is that if you are a regular viewer of MSNBC and/or CNN you probably already know about most of the situations discussed in the book but the authors flesh these out with much greater detail and more extensive sources. The authors take us from the election to the unveiling of the Mueller Report. Most of the MSNBC and CNN stuff is news as it happens, and the book provides a longer view and the longer view makes many of the situations discussed more appalling. Throughout the book Trump reveals an impressive talent for dragging everyone around him through the mud. In the process he shits on and demeans all those who serve him. The authors report that "He was willing--eager, ready--to belittle the people working for him." Trump is a narcissist obsessed with maximizing his power and diminishing his subordinates. Rucker and Leonnig quote a senior Republican source that "His whole DNA is, whatever anybody else has done is stupid, I'm smarter, and therefore that's why he goes around breaking glass all the time." Trump keeps his staff in a state of turmoil and rewards them for sniping at each other. He avoids briefings from his staff because Trump believes he knows more than anyone else. At the same time, Rucker and Leonnig documents several occasions where he is woefully ignorant. On his tour of Pearl Harbor, Trump did not appear to understand the significance of the site. They quote a senior European Official who observes "He's totally ignorant of everything. But he doesn't care. He's not interested." Rucker and Leonnig paint a picture of a man who refuses to admit he is wrong and is "incapable of saying sorry." As you plow through the book you will be hard pressed to find any admirable human qualities possessed by this man. The authors also paint Mueller as much less impressive than his reputation in the press suggests. He comes across as unable to judge, decide or conclude and in so doing, fumbles the investigation and is outplayed by Barr and the Trump team. The book ends with the question - will the US, its institutions and the constitution survive Trump? After reading the book you are left thinking that the best possible answer is a coin toss and the worst is no. The odds are 50-50 either way. In the 1930's the Nazi Propaganda Minister Herman Goebbels offered the Movie Director Fritz Lang control of the German film industry. Fritz Lang replied, “but Herr Goebbels, I am half Jewish.” Goebbels replied something to the effect "Only I will decide who is a Jew and who is not a Jew." That evening Fritz Lang wisely fled Germany on a train. This book leaves us wondering if it is that time yet here. While not an uplifting book, it is an important and necessary read.
Buy Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America from Amazon.com