Trump made a bad bargain with Woodward

That’s the weird thing about the Trump era. The biggest scandals occur in full public view. When Trump takes bribes, he does so in a huge building on Pennsylvania Avenue with his name on the door. When Trump directs public money to his own businesses, he invites the press corps along to record him doing it. When Trump solicits Russian help against his political opponents, he shouts the ask on live TV. And when Trump admits that he lied about the coronavirus, he admits it in real time, again on television.

The young Woodward earned his fame connecting Richard Nixon to the Watergate break-in of June 1972. If Trump had ordered that crime, he’d have bragged about it on TV the very next day, insisted he was smart to do it, that the Democrats had always done worse, and that he was the real victim. The burglars would have posed for selfies inside the office in Trump-Pence 2020 sweatshirts and called into Hannity to cackle about their caper.

We saw it all happen! The president not only told everybody at the time—he bragged about it at the time. We are surprised only because we forgot what we ourselves witnessed. There’s something quite brilliant in how Woodward and his publishers can use our amnesia for their marketing. But there is something very unbrilliant, indeed ominously dangerous, in the inability of the American public and even the American media to remember crimes and scandals that they witnessed in every last detail as they happened.