Fear - Trump in the White House
Bob Woodward
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
Chapter 17

Woodward constructs this chapter around trade, something that Trump is very concerned about, having reservations about most US trade agreements. The president believes that buying cheap goods from other countries has led to unemployment in America. He proposes that the nation should go back to manufacturing goods so that new life will be breathed into the job market. However, most economists including Gary Cohn object to the President’s viewpoint. For this reason, Trump hires Peter Navarro, the only economist who agrees with his thinking (Woodward 121). Despite Trump’s efforts, Cohn continues to convince him that America has reinvented itself into a service-based country. He supports his argument by saying that people prefer working in offices as compared to factories or industries (Woodward 124).

Priebus hires Rob Porter to be the Staff Secretary. Porter’s job is to structure and order Trump’s life, something that the president does not take kindly to (Woodward 125). Later, Trump signs a document to withdraw the US from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Peter Navarro think that the West Wing is responsible for stagnating Trump’s trade agenda. On the other hand, Porter and Priebus believe that Navarro’s ideas are terrible (Woodward 126). Therefore, Porter becomes the coordinator for trade policy, and starts heading trade meetings. He also builds a close relationship with Trump. Navarro and Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, bring a poster to Trump and start discussing the trade agreements (Woodward 127). Porter comes in and his argument allows for a process that will vet the presented ideas.


In this chapter, the author depicts Trump as an individual who clearly values independence. While reading the chapter, one can clearly see that the president interprets the US trade agreements as a sign of dependence. He believes the nation has to depend on other nations for goods despite its capabilities of manufacturing homemade goods. It is due to this reason that he fights hard to ensure that he destroys all the trade agreements and deals, confident that making the economy manufacturing-based is a sure way of increasing employment to his citizens. Therefore, his idea stands on the pillars of making the country and the people self-dependent through homemade goods and numerous jobs.

On the other hand, people like Porter, Priebus, and Cohn seem to have a better understanding of how the economy works. Cohn’s steadfast belief concerning the service industry is relevant considering the current state of the world something he tries to convey to the President. Clearly, the thinking process possessed by the West Wing indicates their considering for the current and future states of the world. These individuals understand that the service industry is more productive for the economy and it is preferred to factory work among the American people themselves. Apart from that, Cohn’s dependence on updated data shows his extensive research skills and his idealist process of success in growing the economy. It is easy to embrace Cohn’s approach considering that it has worked well in Goldman Sachs, with Cohn having experience in achieving the results and the success that he anticipated.

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