POTUS takes ‘Teflon President’ to new heights with release of ‘Rage’


Illustration by Analisa Sulacia

Alex Hanks, Opinion Editor

Last Tuesday, Washington Post’s Associate Editor Bob Woodward published “Rage,” a tell-all book giving a synopsis of various interviews between Woodward and President Trump. The president’s love for North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un, his relationship with Dr. Fauci and some very telling rhetoric foreshadows the out-of-control pandemic we are currently living through. While the content in the book is daunting to say the least, we should not set the expectation that a book can shift the perception of arguably the greatest Teflon president of all time. 

If we have seen the 45th president hit the breaking point of his reelection campaign, it happened following the phone call recordings between Donald Trump and journalist Bob Woodward. In the phone call, Trump and Woodward discuss a wide range of topics, but most notably, audio now exists of Trump explicitly downplaying COVID-19. This call made it definitive to the American people that the current administration had knowledge of the seriousness of COVID-19 yet openly admitted to downplaying the virus since January.

“I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,” Woodward quotes Trump as he discusses COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic. 

This year, Trump has repeatedly emphasized to his base that the coronavirus is not serious, even going on record equating it to the flu. His racially charged rhetoric, evident by him calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus” and the “Kung Flu,” showed us that the president and his base are feeding off each other. It doesn’t take a secret phone call for us to see the president’s ideology as we approach our 200,000th coronavirus death in the U.S. We also can’t forget that this is the same administration that has definitively stated they would like public schools across the U.S. to open in full capacity.

“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” said National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien in a conversation with Trump earlier this year. 

Nothing adds more to the cesspool of 2020 politics while still hardly impacting the race than that March 19 phone call. But one thing all voters should consider is that the Woodward tape isn’t the smoking gun in the way you would think it is.

While Trump can deflect bad publicity arguably better than any president in American history, he can’t defend hours of his own voice — but does he even need to? Trump’s downplaying of the virus in early February should prove devastating to his campaign, as states such as Texas have already seen Biden with a slight lead in the polls. This should be a big deal for voters, considering we lost nearly 200,000 Americans to COVID-19 — but Trump’s role as a Teflon president has remained unmatched throughout the last four years.

The release of “Rage” is so compelling because Trump himself is the source of the writing, as Woodward utilizes 18 on-the-record interviews between himself and Trump. We have spent an entire presidential term listening to the president’s rhetoric, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. One could even consider this a victory for Biden’s camp. But with the multitude of moving parts, such as a Supreme Court nomination and Russia once again influencing the election, we can’t expect this call to shift the election results. But we should still anticipate Biden to capitalize off of Woodward in an effort to pick off voters from the Trump Train.