In September 2018, an anonymous member of the Trump administration authored an op-ed for the New York Times decrying the president’s actions while also suggesting there was a cabal of officials serving as a barrier against his most irrational choices. Now one year later, this same author has come forward with more of the same: this time, a book-length eyewitness assessment of the tumultuous backstage drama that’s unfolded in the highest political office in the United States.
The book is coming from inside the White House—as if there wasn’t enough political paranoia going around.
In the opening pages of A Warning, the author notes that the first two years of Trump’s presidency were so stormy that officials discussed mass resignations to drive attention to his abuse.
They didn’t, so here we are.
And therein lies the problem with their warning. The author spends much of the book lamenting Trump’s unfitness for office—something they suggest has only gotten worse with each passing year. Yet, even after noting that their strategy of working behind the scenes to keep the White House on track has failed spectacularly on occasion, they still refuse to put their name to paper and reveal who they are. They offer up plenty of reasons why their identity would distract from the text—some compelling—but the cloak of anonymity does them no favors. Like privately threatening to resign only to shrug it off when the boss shows up, it’s a weak response. If the situation is as severe as they describe, writing an anonymous manuscripts feels like the equivalent of oiling a squeaky door while the house is on fire.
Even setting aside the issue of identity, there are hardly any new revelations for anyone paying a modicum of attention to the constant barrage of reporting from diligent journalists. Trump doesn’t like to read. Trump regularly shouts strings of expletives. Trump bungles meetings and events. Yet the author treats each of these moments with such revelatory awe that it feels as though their target audience is anyone who has never heard of Donald Trump. More frustrating, in a further attempt to hide their name, they regularly anonymize coworkers and other officials who comment on the proceedings. They’re just nameless, faceless sentinels who walk around in a perpetual state of shock.
A Warning was marketed as a political exposé , the likes of which have never been seen before. However, for once, the live production might be better than the book: the current impeachment proceedings provide tangible officials discussing their experiences—their names, faces, and reputations on full display.
Title: A Warning
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Classification: Nonfiction, Politics