A Senior Trump Administration Official
Author: Written by an Anonymous Senior Official in the Trump Administration
Dr. RL Booker's Ratings
WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
DID IT MOVE ME?: 4/5
(Rating: 5 highest & 1 lowest)
"To judge a person’s character, we first must know what it is, how to measure it, and ultimately WHY it matters”
When the book A Warning was released in the winter of 2019, I was not sure what it would entail. As I took the time to carefully ingest the information, I was given a clear picture of a warning of what was to come for President Trump and ultimately our nation. In this book, the author specifically focused on assessing President Trump's character based on the 4 Cardinal Virtues. The author stated that this book, "is not about me. It is about us. It is about how we want the presidency to reflect our country, and that is where the discussion should center."
What is Character?
The author started by examining the question, what makes the character of a good person? This is a question that consumed the ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Over time, there arose a consensus which they identified as the Cardinal Virtues: Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice. The debate about one's character is a philosophical one, specifically a branch of philosophy known as ethics. Ethics is the study of how a person should act, particularly toward others. A basic definition of character is the "mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, but it’s not enough to have good morals. Your behavior must spring from them." I too believe that in order for your behavior to emulate your morals one must have the capacity to listen, learn, and adapt to people who are different from them. Basically, we must let empathy lead our actions. The character of any individual is tested when they are given power. Whether President Trump realized it or not, once he decided to campaign in order to become the 45th president of the United States, the light became even brighter when inspecting his character. Because of President Trump's notoriety, the author had a litany of anecdotal situations from 1973-2020 to assess his character. Let's look at how the author rates President Trump on the 4 virtues.
The great philosopher Cicero once stated that true wisdom doesn't require knowing all the facts upfront. Rather, it consists of learning the truth, an eagerness to seek the facts and to get to the root of an issue. He also stated that it is wrong to claim you know something that you don't... "it is dishonorable to stumble, to wander, to be ignorant, and to be deceived." The author gives numerous examples of how President Trump does not operate in learning the truth nor does he stir away from claiming he knows things that he does not. For example, President Trump has consistently stated that "Nobody knows more than me on [trade, taxes, campaign finance, the courts, ISIS, the US government, technology, and more]." One of Trump's favorite news sources is a once-respected Fox News host, Lou Dobbs, whose show is now riddled with conspiracy theories and wild speculation about current events. It is safe to say that, "Trump does not meet Cicero's standard for someone who reveres and seeks the truth...isn't easily deceived or doesn't spread misinformation. A wise man he is not."
When the author discusses justice, they are not talking about law and order. They are referring to the way in which Cicero defines justice, which is the concept as a way of characterizing how an individual treats others. Does the person maintain good fellowship with others? Do they keep good faith in contracts and promises? Do they display kindness and generosity? The author finds that President Trump is more ruthless than just. He gives several examples where Trump self describes his own qualities. For example, President Trump once stated, "when someone attacks me, I always attack back...except 100x more." Trump is a bully who picks fights with people. The total number of fights he has started with people like soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Senator Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush, NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem, and many more. President Trump is "not worried about maintaining good fellowship with people, treating others fairly, keeping his promises, or demonstrating generosity...in sum, he is the portrait of an unjust man."
Cicero defines courage as the virtue which champions the cause of right. A courageous person is one who is not swayed by the masses, resistant to the mob mentality, does not obsess with money and pleasure, and maintains stability through crisis. The author focuses on many acts where Trump has not exemplified courage. For example, during the Vietnam War, President Trump avoided the draft by receiving five deferments. Trump was accredited by stating, "You think I'm stupid? I wasn't going to Vietnam." Looking at the devastation in 2020, it is very clear that President Trump and his administration have completely mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic by disregarding health officials recommendations, not creating a national plan to mitigate the spread, as well as encouraging their base and local officials to defy measures that could have saved lives. In regard to the virus, America is more unstable now than it was at the start of the pandemic. The author found that "Trump is not brave, nor unswayed by the crowd, nor uncommanded by money and pleasure, nor stable through crisis. He is a pretender to courage, and that should give everyone pause."
Cicero describes temperance as someone who conducts themself in an inoffensive manner and is not careless. He also states that a person of temperance handles criticism well and is not readily provoked. Here again, there is an entire library of examples that show how President Trump conducts himself. The author describes that many in the Trump administration are put off by his misogynistic behavior. Over the last few decades, he has been on the record talking about women in the following ways: Sex appeal, beautiful piece of ass, bimbo, great in bed, nasty woman, stupid, fat ass, dogface, horse face, disgusting, grab them by the pussy, and more. President Trump takes any criticism of him or his administration personally. Case in point, when asked if he takes responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic, he stated, "I don't take responsibility at all."President Trump does not see temperance as a virtue.
The author found that President Trump, "isn't a man of great character or good character. He is a man of none." When this book was written Congress was considering impeaching Trump for his conversation in urging Ukraine to investigate one of his political rivals. The author believes that "impeachment inquiries are painful for the country...[and] it's un-American to hope our president is guilty of high crimes." Rather, the author suggests that Americans should use the voting booth to exercise their frustration and disapproval of President Trump. On November 3, 2020, Americans did just that. President Trump lost the election by more than 7 million votes. As listed below, the author gives us some guidepost to rejuvenate public life.
Guideposts to Rejuvenate Public Life
We need to restore a climate of truth by clearing the air of misinformation and changing how we report, consume, and share news so we aren't living in different realities.
We must re-learn the art of "agreeing to disagree with people whose political views we don't share, rather than alienating them.
It's time to bring the focus on politics closer to home. We need to act within our communities by focusing on educating the next generation about their democracy.
Lastly, the author concludes by stating that, "the character of one man has widened the chasms of American political division...hopefully [this will] cause us to investigate and reinvigorate the character of our nation...If we look within ourselves and undertake the arduous task of moral repair, America can restore the soul of its political system."
Notable Quotes in the Book
"I cannot overstate the consequences of reelecting Donald Trump. I've seen the impact of his leadership on our government and country, up close and all too personal."
"Democrats reading this book...I implore you, if you want a majority of our nation to reject Donald Trump, you must show wisdom and restraint in selecting your party's nominee. Resist the temptation to swerve away from the mainstream. Trust me."
“We are getting the presidency we deserve and the Congress we deserve. Is it not obvious that elected leaders are mimicking our behavior? Their snarky attacks and Twitter jabs sound a lot like the text messages we send, the comments we make below news articles, and the condensing meme we post to Facebook because it’s easier to fire rounds from behind a digital wall than hash out problems face to face."
"It was our choice whether to follow [Trump's] lead. We decided to indulge in irrational speculation. We decided to engage in social-media warfare. We decided to alienate neighbors based on whether they agreed with Trump or not. Our response to the attack led to record levels of incivility."
Anonymous. (2019). A Warning. New York: Twelve.