It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America by David Cay Johnston, Simon & Schuster, US $28.00, Pp 320, January 2018, ISBN 978-1501174162
President Donald Trump is one of the most controversial presidents in the American history. He won presidential elections against all odds with a better election strategy. However, many of his campaign promises were and remain controversial. President Trump’s insistence on going ahead with his campaign promises, at least partially, has kept the political atmosphere hot. The number of books covering the Trump Administration continues to grow at an astonishing speed but only a few of them are worth our attention. Recently released It’s Even Worse Than You Think by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston is a serious effort to understand the person and politics of President Trump. Johnston has been covering Donald Trump since 1988. He is the author of two earlier books of President Trump, i.e. Temples of Chance and The making of Donald Trump.
David Cay Johnston says that President Trump lacks the emotional stability, knowledge, critical-thinking skills, and judgment to be commander in chief. Emotionally he remains the thirteen-year-old troublemaker his father sent off to a military academy, where by his own account brutality was common. Being stuck in the awkward year between childhood and maturity for maturity for nearly six decades is a terrible fate, one that has twisted Trump’s personality and explains much of his narcissism, immature attitudes about women, disregard for others and his imagined intellectual gifts shown by his frequent declaration that “I’m like a smart person.”
David Cay Johnston argues that even by the standards of the incurious George W. Bush, Trump is appallingly ignorant when it comes to the world politics. Johnston says that Trump not only inflames hatred of all Muslims, he also allows himself to be used by the Saudis. They support the most violent faction of the Islamic religion and finance terrorists while Trump praises Riyadh for fighting against terrorism, unaware of how out of touch his words are. Johnston writes, “More surprising than Trump’s lack of knowledge of geopolitics is his ignorance of economics, the field in which he was given a bachelor’s degree by the University of Pennsylvania. Anyone who did the work to earn such a degree would know that imposing a tariff on imports from Mexico to pay for his wall means that American consumers would bear the cost, not Mexicans.”
Trump’s real or supposed Russian connections also resonate in this book. Johnston argues that Trump’ loyalties are divided. He argues that Trump owes something to Moscow is obvious from his many words of praise for Vladimir Putin, his years of lucrative financial transactions, and his hiring of Paul Manafort to run the campaign. Johnston says that whether Trump is merely a fool or a knowing Kremlin agent is unresolved at this writing. We know for sure that the Trump campaign eagerly solicited the Kremlin’s help to defeat Hillary Clinton, wanted to use Russian diplomatic links to secretly communicate with Moscow and that Trump directly participated in lying and covering up that secret collaboration with a hostile foreign power.
President Trump has filled his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires and with white supremacists. Johnston says that America has yet to become the society that Martin Luther King dreamed of in 1963, in which we judge one another not by the color of our skin but the content of our character. Trump represents a diversion on the road to that much better society. He is emblematic of the tendency, magnified since the 1980s, to judge people by the content of their wallet, as if money had anything to do with the character.
It’s Even Worse Than You Think is a timely addition to the existing literature on the person and politics of President Trump. Johnston powerfully shows that America under President Trump is likely in worse condition than we know. It’s Even Worse Than You Think is a meticulously researched book and sure to raise new controversies. Johnston provides very rich background to President Trump’s politics. It is a must-read book to understand current American politics and foreign policy.