Mary's Reviews > All the President's Men

All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein
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it was amazing
bookshelves: crime, espionage, history, mendacity, politics, usa, journalism

Such a opportune, marvelous story! I feel like I’m living through great uncertainty, shock and Executive Branch crimes far worse the Watergate. Contemporary nefarious, unprepared, unqualified, lower-IQ characters are getting caught, mostly behind the scenes. Trump is no Nixon but I suspect Trump’s criminal nastiness outplays Tricky Dick. I do believe that Mueller can and will subpoena Trump. I pray he questions him under oath as our President vastly overestimates his own abilities, can’t keep his story straight and suffers regular temper tantrums and low impulse control. Trump is offering up his own downfall and he seems to be taking his crooked family and a, mostly willing, mendacious GOP with him. Careers will be made and awards will be won in within the “Fake News’ establishment. Careers will be destroyed and sentences will be handed down within the Trump Administration.

Reading “All the President’s Men” reminded me that these massive hidden criminal undertakings are a bitch to unravel. Investigators don’t always know whom to believe, how to ask the right questions, where to follow up, how to handle sources or which interrogation techniques to employ. Further complicating things for reporters and Team Mueller is the undesirability of using classified documents. I believe there is some bad shit on Trump that is classified and therefore cannot be used in a regular court of law. They have to nail him with unclassified information. It also takes a team of razor sharp minds to work up an understandable narrative. I believe the story behind Trump-Russia, his shady business deals, his sexcapades and all the decades of cover up are mindboggling. To bore into just one aspect of the obstructer-in-chief, I am focused (separately from this commentary) on the Fusion GPS, or “Steele” dossier. That document and who has a hand where is a wilderness of mirrors for me. Especially since I don’t have access to much. I’m trying to figure it out reading MSM in US and UK and the tweets of reputable counter intel guys, who cannot reveal everything. Motivation and access are key.

I have long admired Woodstein’s investigative reporting on Watergate. I got to tour around the WP newsroom and some offices in (most probably 1989) with an editor there. It was one of those indelible moments of my impressionable youth! Fresh out of suburban Michigan into the hallowed Halls of The Post. Woodward and Bernstein were so bright and unrelenting. Thank God Nixon came before Trump so we gained applicable experience with, and new laws re, a criminal WH.

Poorly informed and/or Misled Voters
“… [T]he public—softened up by three years of speeches from VP Agnew—has less than total confidence in what it reads and hears—particularly the so-called Eastern Establishment media—is true and undistorted by political prejudice.” Apparently, this works. Trumps constant lying is confusing his followers into believing him. His rants harden me.

Crimes
“… [T]he President of the United States was the head ratfucker.” President Trump is the head shlyuhafucker! Karma will certainly be his next “mistress”.
“The President himself has been blackmailed.” This time our president is even an asset run by Putin!
“The WH had been willing to subvert … the whole electoral process?” The Kremlin was willing to subvert the whole electoral process? Da.
“… [T]he grand conspiracy directed by the President’s men to subvert the electoral process.” This time around the President’s men have names like Vovochka, Mitya and Mishka.
“Somehow the bungling seemed reassuring—it tempered the frightening implications of how far the Nixon forces were willing to go to achieve their ends.” I am not (yet) reassured by Trump and his people and all that bungling. I hope I can reminisce with detached amusement.

Scapegoating
President Nixon’s spox is quoted complaining about the “opposition” in the Watergate stories, which is taken to mean the free press. “The WH had decided that the conduct of the press, not the conduct of the President’s men, was the issue.” So Trumpian it hurts.
Bill Bradlee: “This is the hardest hardball that’s ever been played in the town.” Softball in retrospect.
“The WH was pitting its credibility against the Washington Post’s, and in the process was giving the paper’s allegations more currency.” FAKE NEWS! SAD!
“He [RMN] think the press is out to get him and therefore is disloyal; people who talk to the press are even worse—the enemies within…” So Trumpian.
Trump WH trying to ban the use of personal cell phones! The Nixon admin tapped phones to find leakers. Trump bans personal cell phones. Good luck with that! Will have to establish police state first, Knucklehead.

Process
Trump’s fury toward Jeff Sessions: “… the President’s willingness to cooperate with one inquiry and not another—the grand jury’s proceedings would be secret, and under the supervision of the administration’s Justice Department. The Senate hearings would be public, and independent of the Executive.” Too late!
“The covert activities involve the whole US intel community and are incredible.” This time our very stable genius has managed to piss off the whole US intel community!
“Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law.” And , one more time, the crooks have and will be brought to justice. Despite Trump’s desire, this is not Russia.
“In the summer of 1974, it was neither the press nor the Democrats who rose up against Nixon, but the president’s own Republican Party.” Ain’t gonna play out that way this time. GOP has savaged its brand beyond repair. Trump lead them off a cliff. SAD!
The time that Nixon actually told the truth in his televised address to the nation: “It was the system that has brought the facts to light . . . a system that in this case has included a determined grand jury, honest prosecutors, a courageous judge, … and a vigorous free press.” Go Team Mueller!
“The President sat down in his chair stunned, like someone had hit him in the head with a rock.” Trump? Orange, crushed.

Unravelling
Deep Throat (Mark Felt): “It’s building and they see it and they know they can’t stop the real story from coming out. That’s why they are so desperate.” It’s a lovely thing to watch in real time. Watch Trump’s nonverbal signals with the volume off. Disintegration. Resign already. It’ll take SOME of the pressure off.
“… [O]ld loyalties shattered, little work getting done, confusion about who on the staff might be indicted, who would resign and who would be saved. It’s every man for himself—get a lawyer and blame everyone else.”
“Any congressional investigation is going to have a big problem unless they get someone from the inside to crack…. Part of the strategy would involve a broad claim of executive privilege to prevent investigators from subpoenaing WH and DoJ records.”
“Government investigations were underway, and the instinct for survival could turn some of the President’s men into informers.” Misha Flynn, Felix Slater, George “Coffee Boy” Papadapoulos…. They way Trump throws people under the avtobus, his own family should turn on him.
“Unreal atmosphere around the WH—realizing it is curtains on the one hand and on the other trying to laugh it off and go on with business. President has fits of ‘dangerous depression.” All of Trumps crimes and unforced errors are taking a yooge toll. He seems both unfit and unwell, mentally and emotionally. I can imagine his staff are all pretty miserable. If not, they should be. This madness has got to end sooner than 3 years
“[RMN], his subordinates were saying, had become a prisoner in his own house—secretive, distrustful even of those who were attempting to plead his cause, combative, sleepless. He would only talk to “millionaire business men who were his long-time personal friends.” Wow. The only thing missing is Twitter and a smart phone. Apparently, Trump spills to his rich, fat cat friends on the phone after dinner and reads leaks in the “FAKE NEWS” the next day. In other words, Trump is leaking while trying to grab staff personal phones. Very stable, subtle genius.

Conclusion
“Nixon had lost his moral authority as president. His secret tapes—and what they reveal—will probably be his most lasting legacy on them, he’s heard talking almost endlessly about what would be good for him, his place in history, and, above all, his grudges, animosities, sand schemes for revenge. The dog that never seems to bark is any discussion of what is good and necessary for the well-being of the nation.”
Don’t cover up your crimes by obstructing justice. You are a man, not a king. Nice try, MF.
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Reading Progress

December 22, 2017 – Started Reading
December 22, 2017 – Shelved
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: crime
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: espionage
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: history
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: mendacity
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: politics
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: usa
January 14, 2018 – Shelved as: journalism
January 14, 2018 – Finished Reading

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