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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 November 2018

Non-fiction: Fear - Trump in the White House

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?

Hated Republican president Donald Trump, photo Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

Hated Republican president Donald Trump, photo Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Becci Heagney, Socialist Party North West

'Fear: Trump in the White House' by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward is based on 'inside source' material - secret interviews with some of Trump's closest advisers and staff.

What it reveals is a character who makes major decisions on a whim, and rules by tweet. Throughout the book, you feel that Trump is a child playing at being president, or a stroppy teenager who will pull out of an international trade agreement because someone annoyed him.

When looking for a national security adviser, he apparently rejects one guy because he didn't like "his big bushy moustache," and chose General McMaster instead because he "looked the part" in his uniform. Policies are decided on what sound good, tax rates decided on "big round numbers" that Trump likes.

But, far from being a regime of "fear" as the title suggests - a quote from Trump referring to what he thinks "real power" is - it is a regime of chaos.

Trump's staff are not fearful of him. They describe him as a "fucking moron." You get the impression that actually Trump is not in control at all, but is being controlled by the people around him - and is completely unaware.

Ruling class

His protectionist economic policies, approach to Syria and Afghanistan, and attacks on immigration are representative of only a small section of the ruling class in the US. Those individuals are using Trump to promote their ideas, while others try to undermine him.

It's true he has utter contempt for the people working for him. Staff get fired or promoted on Twitter. Decisions are made by the Trump family that go completely against what has been agreed in committee meetings.

Talking to Rudy Giuliani, the right-wing former New York mayor and only person who would go on TV to defend Trump after his comments about grabbing women "by the pussy" emerged, Trump says: "You're a baby! ... I've never seen a worse defence of me in my life!"

But on the other hand, Trump is treated like a toddler. When he is playing up, he is distracted with a shiny toy.

Executive orders are stolen from his desk before he can sign them, because "if the paper was not sitting in front of him, he'd likely forget it... Without something or someone activating him, it might be hours or days or even weeks before he would think, 'Wait, we're going to withdraw from [Nafta], why didn't we do this?'"

A staff memo went out in the White House saying - in bold - "on-the-fly decisions are strictly provisional." In an attempt to stop his tweeting, Trump's weekend TV watching was limited to after 9pm!

Overall, this insight into Trump in the White House only confirms what many people know. On the one hand, we are right to be worried about this unhinged, bigoted billionaire being in power. But on the other, the book reveals more who is really in control.

Trump may be a liability to the US ruling class. But removing him from power, while important, will not on its own end the "fear" that working-class and oppressed people internationally experience at the hands of US capitalism.

Only a mass workers' movement, with its own independent political party and socialist policies, can begin to do that.

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In The Socialist 28 November 2018:


What we think

End Tory misery - general election now!

For a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!


International socialist news and analysis

Eyewitness: French protesters seize streets against President Macron

San Francisco Bay Area's toxic smoke crisis and capitalism's mismanagement

Workers at the forefront of the new wave of protests in Iran


News

Haringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

The Tories' letting fee ban is full of holes - we need rent controls and council homes!


Workplace

PCS Left Unity election: All votes should count

Cammell Laird shipbuilding workers strike against job cuts on merseyside

College lecturers in Wales strike against low pay and workload

Black Friday day of action against Amazon


Environment

We need system change to halt climate change


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Islwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

Scrap the Tories' Universal Credit now!

Reclaim the Night marches condemn violence against women

King George A&E faces closure again

Southampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

"Horrendous" - Bristol's privatised buses

Nat West's benefit-claimant eviction policy


Opinion

Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?


 

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