All the President's Rage, by intrepid reporter Bob Woodward

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/16/all-the-presidents-rage-by.html

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Thank goodness there are people like this to warn us in their bestselling book!

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Mr. Woodward is a national hero. Just the other day, he noticed smoke coming from his neighbor’s house, and he immediately sent a postcard to inform the local fire department.

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Sadly, the card got fed through the shredder at the local PO.

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Does anyone honestly believe that any of this would have made a single bit of difference? That one life would have been saved had Woodward published his tapes earlier? That trump wouldn’t have done exactly what he has done since the revelation and run with the talking points of the right wing propaganda machine rendering the revelations utterly pointless?

I’ll take something close to the election that may stay in the news cycle long enough to sway enough voters in Florida and Pennsylvania over something that would have been buried within hours. The horror of 200,000+ actual deaths is a lot more influential than the possibility of them (that would have happened under this regime regardless).

Remember way back in January 2020 when we nearly went to war with Iran? When we invaded their borders to assassinate one of their (terrible, maniacal) top generals and the only reason we didn’t go to war was because they shot down a fucking commercial airliner and lost all legitimacy!?! He did that just to pull the impending impeachment out of the news for a cycle (and/or start the war that would ensure him a Nov victory)? That just became more noise in a cacophony of shit and so would Bernstein’s revelations have.

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But, this book could have been the one smoking gun that…
(Examines Donald Trump’s life)
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Yeah, ok, maybe it’s just good that it’s synched up with the election. Unless Bob Woodward has some special ability to make a citizen’s arrest on presidents, I don’t know how putting the news out there in real time would have changed events. It is good to have it on tape, but it is not a newsflash that Trump is a lying incompetent racist rapist. His fans are still defending him.

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Not to defend Woodward – seriously – but let’s say he reported what Donnie told him as soon as possible, how would it have changed things? Seeking substantive contrafactual, alt-histories. Because Donnie being Donnie, I can’t see anything significantly different happening. Anyone who thinks Trump could have been embarrassed by being outed on Covid, so to speak, knows nothing about the man.

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agree. neither him nor his base gives a damn then or now.

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I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not sure it will make a difference even now. It was already well-documented that, publicly, Trump hasn’t taken the pandemic seriously. He’s still claiming he’s done everything he could and even “overplayed the action” in spite of the facts.

And then there’s Trump’s defense that Woodward “should have gone to the authorities”, which would be laughable if his obtuseness didn’t have deadly consequences.

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it’s also possible that enough people who have the means to make a difference rationalize inaction, as you do, and that’s why trump is still president.

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You’re right, that’s exactly what my post lambasting trump for taking no action was doing. Thanks for that erudite take.

Keep swinging at straw men. It’s definitely the Bob Woodwards of this country that are responsible for inciting a near war with a nuclear power (who wouldn’t be a nuclear power but for a petty grievance), ignoring the worst public health crisis in 100 years, attacking soldiers, sailors, Marines and aircrew for their service, fiddling while the entire left coast is reduced to cinders, forcing women in interment camps to undergo hysterectomies, defending sex traffickers and their groomers and… shit, what else has happened in the past 9 months that is a direct consequence or mandate of donald j fucking trump? But yeah, definitely Woodward’s fault. And it totally would have mattered to the know nothing 20% ride or die jack holes in this nation.

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Woah, slow down! First he has to get confirmation from his source, The Smoking Man.

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I agree with you about how awful Trump is. He’s so awful that the only thing that we can hope for is his removal from office.

Here’s how I look at it: there’s very little that you or I can do to help get rid of Trump. Someone like Bob Woodward, on the other hand, had a real opportunity, one most people won’t get. You may be right that it wouldn’t have made a difference, but that doesn’t mean you do nothing. Woodward’s silence is especially galling because it looks like his motive was self-interest: sales and buzz for his new book. So no, none of Trump’s crimes are Woodward’s fault, but it reflects negatively on him that his response to the Trump presidency seems to be more about making money off of it than stopping it. And this is a concrete case in which he could’ve done more.

I’m curious where you see the “straw man” in what I said. As I see it we just have a difference of opinion: you think it’s fine that Woodward stayed quiet because there was no point in speaking up, and I disagree. I called that a rationalization of Woodward’s decision not to do anything. Would you agree with that characterization? We don’t have to agree on the substance of the issue, but I don’t want to misrepresent you.

Not exactly. I think that if you have a fish on the hook you don’t rip the hook out before you’ve landed it. After trump’s admission, he continued to dump incredibly insightful information that we absolutely would not have if he had gone public. Which he would have had to do by releasing the tapes which would mean no more tapes ever. That there was no point in speaking up is a by product of the reality of trump’s wickedness, not inaction by Woodward.

And Woodward is the straw man for trump’s inaction. The blame rests squarely and solely with him and his acolytes at all levels.

But that’s the point; he did do something. Twice. And in direct proportion to his position.

Imagine if this same scenario played out with Nixon and Woodward had come forward with some damning information that came directly from the president’s mouth on record (I realize that’s a tricky analogy because he was publishing in a different format at the time). He would be persona non grata within journalistic circles, never would have been able to follow Watergate through to his resignation and he would never have access to this administration. It’s imperative that journalists are able to maintain their relationships with confidants and make discretionary decisions about how they disseminate information because otherwise they simply would never have access.

That’s exactly one of the reasons that ad hominem attacks are problematic. But I’ll take a substantively differing ally over maniacal sociopaths any day.

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How would the world be different if Woodward had reported the tapes in real time?

I can’t know that, and neither can you. But regardless, it was the right thing to do.

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