Over the weekend , journalist and author Bob Woodward made his first appearances related to his new book Fear: Trump in the White House. In interviews on CBS, Woodward talked about the efforts that Trump’s staff and cabinet have to make in order to work around his incompetence, mercurial temper, and general inattention to facts.
Woodward: You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, ‘Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.’
Not surprisingly, Trump tweeted out several responses calling the book “a scam” and “a joke.” And honestly, everyone wishes that were true. The scary thing about the Woodward book is that the people standing between Trump’s brute force and irrevocable action are also not competent. If there’s one real fear to be taken back from the book with that title, it’s that the only difference between the people who are “protecting” us from Trump and Trump, is a some language and a few extra porn stars.
Trump is also still searching for a way to respond to the re-entry of Barack Obama into the national political conversation. On Monday morning, his choice was to try and maintain that “his economy” was much better than “Obama’s economy.” In multiple tweets, Trump claimed that the GDP was “about 1 percent” before he took office, that if Democrats had been elected it “would have been minus 4% instead of up 4.2%.” GDP is a miserable representation of how the economy is working, either at the individual or the national level, but in any case, it’s no surprise that Trump is simply lying.
The only time the economy dipped to anything like a negative 4 percent growth rate over the last decade was when Republicans threw the whole system into recession at the end of 2008. As President Obama orchestrated a recovery, the GDP actually showed a higher annual growth rate by the end of 2009 than it does today. The current peak was also exceeded in 2011 and 2014. The truth is that GDP growth has always been ragged. Quarterly growth has been as high as 16.7 percent, or as low as -10 percent. The most remarkable thing about GDP has been how little it has varied since the late 1970s, except for two recessions triggered by Republican policies.
On the Woodward front, Trump has taken every tack available to try and call Woodward a liar. He’s quoted snippets from right wing media, he’s retweeted himself, he’s taken out of context questions from interviews and presented them as if asking Woodward if he’s being factual is the same thing as saying that he’s not.
“It is mostly anonymous sources in here, why should anyone trust you? General Mattis, General Kelly said it’s not true.” @SavannahGuthrie @TODAYshow Bob Woodward is a liar who is like a Dem operative prior to the Midterms. He was caught cold, even by NBC.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
Yes … except that was a question, not an accusation. And Woodward had an answer. But it’s nice to know what Trump is doing this morning—watching Bob Woodward give interviews and desperately searching for anything that he can clip for an attack.
Trump’s twitter stream was also filled with a flurry of semi-random retweets of “Trump is great-ish” memes, many of them lifted directly from the bot-generated responses to his previous morning tweet.
It’s clear that Trump hasn’t settled on an effective response to Woodward’s book. And he hasn’t yet thought of a way to push back against President Obama. Because in both cases, his current approach is both weak and scattered.