To fear or not to fear Trump?

Kevin Shay
6 min readFeb 4, 2022

Some portray him as dark, others as a mere egotistical carnival barker. The best response is in the middle.

I’ve recently had a chance to read most of the new books on Donald Trump and peruse a few others from 2019 and 2020.

Most are interesting, with some better than others. ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl’s Betrayal probably does the best job out of all the newer books in documenting how the January 6 Capitol attack occurred. But there have been important details coming out almost daily since it was released last fall, so it’s almost obsolete by now.

I really respect the work of Washington Post legendary journalist Bob Woodward. Reporting by him, Carl Bernstein, and others on Watergate led to the downfall of Richard Nixon, who was darker than most politicians. For all the threats and “enemy of the people” remarks Trump has made about the media, he hasn’t authorized an assassination plot against a journalist, as Nixon targeted Jack Anderson. Not that we know, many will say. But if there was such a plot these days, we would have known by now the way social media works. Back in Nixon’s day, pols could keep secrets for longer than a few days.

Since then, Woodward has continued to do yeoman’s work, not resting on his laurels. That said, his books on Trump are a mixed bag. They contain important details, such as Peril disclosing how Trump called aides like Rudy Giuliani at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, to discuss final plans for the following day. But they also present the former president in a light that is not really accurate, inferring that we should fear him, that his mere presence puts our nation in peril.

The only reason Trump wants people to fear him is he thinks that commands respect. It also could help keep him in office, though that didn’t work in the 2020 election. Behind the scenes, Trump comes off as a good tactician in certain areas such as the dirty tricks of politics. He has a high-energy level for a fast-food addict in his 70s. But then, he’s taking off to play golf or get in a social media battle about windmills. In everything I read about Hitler and Stalin, I never read about them playing golf or obsessing about some silly issue.

One of the more insightful books on Trump is Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump by sportswriter Rick Reilly. The author is more than a sportswriter; Reilly has eloquently written about the ups and downs of the human condition in Sports Illustrated and…

Kevin Shay

Investigated the JFK and January 6th plots. Walked and drove across nations. Also writes a bit. More at