The same “Senior Trump Administration Official” who famously wrote a disturbing Op-Ed in the New York Times (“I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” September 5, 2018) has pulled out the stops in A Warning. In fact, his new book reads much like some of the more apocalyptic rhetoric to be heard from Democratic activists. The anonymous White House Republican who wrote this book fears not just that American democracy will not survive Donald Trump but appears to be terrified that if reelected he will blunder into a war that could cost thousands, if not millions, of lives.
A Warning by Anonymous, a Senior Trump Administration Official (2019) 272 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
An anonymous White House Republican
So, what do we know about the anonymous author of this book?
- First, I believe the author is a “he,” because a New York Times reporter announced in a recent podcast that he knew the author and claimed he’s male.
- He’s a Republican who did not join the “Never-Trumpers” searching for an alternative to Donald Trump as the 2016 election approached.
- He considers himself a true conservative. In the course of the book, he praises some Trump policies, especially deregulation, and inveighs against the perspective advanced by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
- When alarmed senior Administration officials considered the possibility of mass resignation to protest Trump’s over-the-top behavior, he was among them. However, he makes clear that he was in error when he described their efforts as a “resistance.” In A Warning, he speaks instead about the “Steady Staters.”
- And he sits in meetings with Donald Trump, apparently with some regularity, so he speaks from first-hand knowledge.
However, knowing this about him as we do, how can we not wonder why he (and those other “Steady-Staters”) haven’t carried out their threat to resign in protest? And, if not now, how about next year, once the primary process is underway?
No headline-worthy new disclosure but a numbing recitation of examples
The reception for this book has been poor, ostensibly because it contains “nothing new.” What critics seem to mean by that charge is that there is no juicy new headline-worthy disclosure that leaps off the page. Of course, there has been a flood of other books by Trump Administration insiders who have mined most of the salacious material. But instead of zeroing in on one or a handful of shameful episodes, as other tell-all books do, A Warning conveys the Big Picture of life in the Trump White House. The author doesn’t single out individual meetings or conversations to make his points. Instead, most of the time, he cites numerous examples. And the effect is numbing.
A telling example of the problem, and from a Republican in the White House
Here’s one example that was unfamiliar to me. “‘Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the f***ing judges,’ Trump fumed one morning. ‘There shouldn’t be any at all, really.’ He went a step further and asked his legal team to draft up a bill and send it to Congress to reduce the number of federal judges. Staff ignored the outburst and the wacky request. Trump continued complaining anyway.'” Anonymous cites this as one of innumerable instances in which the President made clear he considers himself above the law. We’ve known that for a long time, of course, but the citation of Trump’s pungent language and of yet another attempt to subvert the Constitution forcefully drives the point home.
Summing up the case against Donald Trump
Here’s how Anonymous sums up the case against Donald Trump: “The net effect of the president’s war on democratic institutions is that he has turned the government of the United States into one of his companies: a badly managed enterprise defined by a sociopathic personality in the c-suite, rife with infighting, embroiled in lawsuits, falling deeper into debt, allergic to internal and external criticism, open to shady side deals, operating with limited oversight, and servicing its self-absorbed owner at the expense of its customers.” Although every one of those points has been made by others, the summary nails down the case. And Anonymous substantiates every single aspect of his indictment.
The author is no fan of impeachment
The author of this book is not a fan of the impeachment process. He seems to fear that Trump’s supporters might rise up in revolt if he’s removed from office by Congress. At this point, of course, there is scant likelihood that any such thing will happen. But Anonymous insists again and again that it is vital that the American people remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office with a landslide vote in 2020.
The most disturbing prediction in A Warning
What is most disturbing about A Warning is the author’s surmise that if Trump is impeached and then convicted in the Senate, he very well might refuse to leave the White House. Anonymous insists, too, that in the event of the President’s conviction, or his loss in a close reelection contest, Trump’s fanatical supporters might resort to violence in an attempt to to keep him in office. And he cites a statement by Ulysses S. Grant predicting the recurrence of civil violence under similar circumstances. Yet, the author insists, if Trump is indeed reelected, he will have no remaining reason to pursue any consistent path. “[T]he base will not matter to him” anymore, and he will feel empowered to follow his instincts and impulses totally without restraint. God help us.
For further reading
For another view of this book, check out “What Does “A Warning,” by Anonymous, Really Tell Us?” by Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker (November 19, 2019).
You’ll find this book in good company on my post, Pandemic got you down? Read these books!
You might also be interested in:
- The top 5 books about Donald Trump and his impact on American democracy
- Top 10 nonfiction books about politics (plus dozens of runners-up)
- Top 20 popular books for understanding American history
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.