Happy Friday, everybody! As I wrote in today’s travel blog post, we had gorgeous weather yesterday. We went to the weekly market, since Bill is pretty much done with COVID. Afterwards, we came home and listened to the last of Bob Woodward’s Audible book, The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump. I must admit that I was glad to hear the end of the book, not because I don’t think Woodward did a good job, but because I hate listening to Donald Trump. And because this is an Audible book, it doesn’t exist in a print version. I can understand why it’s not in print, as I don’t think people would get the same experience from reading text as they do actually hearing Trump speak, but I still find listening to Trump a very painful experience. However, I am not sorry I bought Woodward’s first solely Audible effort. It was very educational.
—“I’m doing something here that I’ve never done before, presenting the lengthy, raw interviews of my work. In the fall of 2019 through August 2020, I interviewed President Trump 19 times for my second book on his presidency, Rage. I had also interviewed him in 2016 when he was a presidential candidate. I decided to take this unusual step of releasing these recordings after relistening in full to all 20 interviews. As I listened to them again I was stunned by their relevance to understanding Trump. Hearing Trump speak is a completely different experience to reading the transcripts or listening to snatches of interviews on television or the internet.”—Bob Woodward from The Trump Tapes
While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that Trump’s effect on my attitudes regarding politics has been remarkable. Just a few short years ago, I was one of those people who didn’t pay a lot of attention to politics or politicians. I didn’t care who people voted for, and I mostly didn’t care who ran for office. I mean, sure, in my 40s, I cared more than I did when I was a young woman. But I mostly didn’t think it mattered much who was in office. Trump’s time in the White House changed all of that, and now I find myself watching political pundits on YouTube and CNN. I find myself deeply resenting unhinged, extremist politicians who seem to be hellbent on destroying democracy. And I think Donald Trump is the main reason this has been allowed to happen. While I do appreciate that he’s made me a less apathetic American voter, I despise Trump. I did hesitate before I downloaded Woodward’s project, but ultimately decided that it was something Bill and I could share. So, over the past three nights, we’ve been listening to Woodward’s interviews… as best as we were able to, anyway.
I’ve read a few books written by Bob Woodward, who has enjoyed a long career as a journalist for the Washington Post. He is an excellent writer and researcher, and he’s a very good, patient interviewer, as he obviously had to be to have conversations with Trump. The Trump Tapes was released on October 24, 2022, and the work represents twenty interviews the ever patient and professional Woodward had with Donald Trump, before and during his presidency. Woodward has interviewed many politicians and former presidents, as well as our current president, Joe Biden. He is well qualified to undertake this project. I think he did a good job, although I know this project will obviously not be a hit with everyone. Trump still has his cheerleaders, after all.
As we listened to the eleven plus hours of content in The Trump Tapes, I noticed that at the beginning of his political “career”, Trump seemed a lot more rational than he does today. The first interviews start off sounding somewhat sane and sensical. By the end of the book, Trump talks over Woodward, interrupting him constantly, spews lies and obvious untruths, and makes some truly ridiculous comments that are easily disproved. He honestly sounds like a deranged maniac by the end of the book, and I couldn’t help but really appreciate Woodward’s ability to stay cordial, congenial, and professional as he struggled to cover his subject. Woodward has what sounds like a strong Midwestern accent, and it’s obvious to me that his strengths aren’t necessarily in narration. Still, I had no trouble understanding him, except in a couple of interviews when the audio quality wasn’t as good due to the circumstances of when and where the recordings were made.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post, when I mentioned The Trump Tapes, that Trump is very friendly and forthcoming to journalists who convince him that they’re “on his side.” Woodward manages to stroke Trump enough to get him to speak in an astonishingly forthcoming manner, which as an American citizen who also has a tendency to be outspoken, was shocking even to me. Trump speaks to Woodward as if they’re old buddies, casually referring to him as “Bob”, while Mr. Woodward deferentially calls Trump “Mr. President.” You know that Trump was LOVING and expecting that “respect” and deference, right?
Hats off to Mr. Woodward for his incredible patience, which allowed him to achieve that impression of respect for Trump. I think that’s what made it possible for him to deliver the goods in the form of a hell of a story. That’s a true gift, in my opinion. I don’t think I could have done it. Trying to interview Trump is obviously extremely frustrating. Listening to him is frustrating, too; but I think that was Mr. Woodward’s point. A person who is running the United States shouldn’t act or speak like Trump does. There were times, especially toward the end of the book, when Trump sounded a bit like a lunatic. And yes, as to be expected, Trump constantly self-aggrandises and congratulates himself. It’s infuriating, yet illuminating.
I see that a lot of reviewers on Amazon are polarized on the subject of The Trump Tapes. Woodward is, after all, preaching to the choir. People who like Trump aren’t going to buy and listen to his blather as put out by a journalist who obviously has a negative opinion of their orange Jesus. In fact, those of us who agree with Woodward might not want to buy this book either, because we don’t want to listen to Trump. I know I paused before buying for that reason. I did notice that a lot of people who clearly didn’t buy the book left one star reviews and accused Woodward has having TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Frankly, I think if anyone is deranged, it’s the people who doggedly defend Trump, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of what and who he is.
I certainly didn’t need to hear Trump’s unhinged bullshit to know that I won’t ever be voting for him or his acolytes. However… I am actually glad that Bill and I listened, because it confirmed what we already know, and I gained new appreciation and respect for Mr. Woodward’s skills as a journalist. He might not make a lot of money on this project, but I think he’s done a great service for the nation. Truly. Some people are saying that maybe these interviews were “edited”. I don’t think so. I’ve heard enough of Trump to know that he’s as bad as he sounds. I suspect that some of his supporters, even in the face of actual recordings, don’t want to believe that they voted for someone this corrupt. It’s a hard thing to admit. We all make mistakes. I just hope some people will open their eyes and make better choices before it’s too late.
One person complained that this book is only available on CD or on Audible, which they said they didn’t want to join. I want to comment that I don’t make a habit of buying Audible books. The only title I have, besides this one, was James Taylor’s book Break Shot: My First 21 Years, which was only available on Audible. I didn’t have to “join” anything to get these books. I just bought them on their own. I double checked my Amazon subscriptions, and I’m still just a member of Prime. Maybe Audible is included in that. I do see that people can join Audible Plus, which I guess offers books for a monthly fee. I prefer to read rather than listen, so I wouldn’t want an Audible Plus account. I don’t know. I do have an Alexa device, so maybe that was also an issue for the people who complained. The commenter also asked who has a CD player these days. Actually, I have one of those, too. In storage, I have several hundred CDs, so I’m going to keep my equipment for as long as it functions. I also still have a VCR, but I’m not sure if it still works.
I wouldn’t want to subscribe to Audible Plus just for this book, but I am glad that I was able to download it. I’m also glad I’m done with it and don’t have to listen to it again. As important and valuable as I think Woodward’s book is, I don’t want to subject myself to it again. I’m hoping I won’t need to, as Trump someday rides off into the sunset… or finally passes away, as even he must mercifully do at some point.
Below is a screenshot I took of an Amazon review that I think pretty much sums up what I think about the content, only she says it better than I can. I will admit that we were a bit distracted as we were listening; I didn’t take notes, either, so the experience is a bit of an aural blur. What I do remember is that a lot of his emphasis was on the stock market, money, and whether or not people were with him or against him. In other words, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before from Trump, or any other obvious narcissist.
Should you listen to The Trump Tapes? Well, that depends. As I mentioned, I didn’t find listening to this book particularly pleasant, nor did I pay attention with rapt concentration. But I did hear concrete evidence as to why I can’t ever vote for anyone affiliated with Trump or his minions. A lot of innocent people suffered and died due to Donald Trump’s insatiable greed and complete lack of regard for the citizens of the United States, particularly during the height of COVID crisis. He is an irresponsible, arrogant, incompetent, and uncaring man, and he has no business serving as an elected official. I knew that before I listened to The Trump Tapes, but now I am even more convinced. Basically, we had the Wizard of Oz in the White House for four years. It’s time for us to wake up and elect someone who cares, and actually wants to deliver something to every citizen, not just the super rich and powerful elites. If you need further proof as to how disastrous Trump is, then yes, you should listen to The Trump Tapes… if you can stand it, that is.
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