Press: Four years of Trump is worse than we thought

Looking back at it now, the most surprising thing about the Donald Trump presidency is that we survived it at all: the lies, the chaos, the ignorance, ugliness, recklessness and lawlessness. On many levels, it was unlike any other presidency in our history, Republican or Democrat.  

Presidential historians generally rank Warren G. Harding, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Zachary Taylor and Andrew Johnson as the worst six presidents in American history. It’s time to revise the list. Donald Trump makes them look like statesmen.  

It’s all spelled out in “The Divider,” a compelling new account of Trump’s four years in the White House by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. In a sense, their book is a compilation of their great reporting — by Baker at The New York Times and Glasser at The New Yorker — on COVID-19, the Robert Mueller investigation, and both impeachment trials. But it’s more than that. Now that it’s over, pulling it all together, their account of the entirety of the Trump presidency is mind-blowing. How did we stoop so low? How did we escape?  

Baker and Glasser don’t hold back. They establish the theme of the book in their very first sentence: “Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat in the 2020 election, and the insurrection at the Capitol he summoned to overturn his loss, were no violent outliers but the inexorable culmination of a sustained four-year war on the institutions and traditions of American democracy.”  

Let that sink in. Donald Trump didn’t declare war on democracy on Jan. 6, 2021. From Day 1, his entire presidency was a war on democracy, an undermining of our basic democratic institutions and breaking of rules that continue to this day. So much so that Glasser and Baker call their book “a report from an active crime scene.”  

As the authors point out, we should not have been surprised by Trump’s behavior in the Oval Office. As a big-time New York developer, he was known for puffing himself up, telling lies and breaking rules. The idea that he’d “pivot” once he became president was absurd. Still, the inadequacy of his presidency is stunning.  

Press: Four years of Trump is worse than we thought (