By Michael Willard
I’ve never been a fan of tell-tale books, even when the target of the venomous verbiage resides in my mind’s cellar with folk I suspect of kicking small animals, hating children, and disrespecting mamas.
Comes now two such tomes from the dustpan of John Bolton, former warrior-in-chief as National Security Advisor to President Trump and our leader’s niece, Mary Trump, daughter of his late brother, Fred Jr.
Having read neither, advance articles about the books leave absolutely no doubt as to content, or even literary value. Ms. Trump’s book is subtitled: “How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
Bolton’s is more subdued in titling: “The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir”. I suspect, however, Bolton’s book, which is said to be poorly written, would have more impact.
After all, the first is from an aggrieved relative with an apparent ax to grind and the other is from a long-time foreign affairs expert who previously has served as US Ambassador to the United Nations.
In dueling statements, Trump says he fired Bolton from his National Security post. Bolton says he quit. With 13,000 plus lies behind him, I’d say the truth meter favors the bewhiskered diplomat.
My take: It pains me to even have one. It stems from having worked for and with politicians and CEOs and been — in one way or another — a member of those clubs.
Rule №1: One should always examine the motives of the author of any re-telling of events. Quite often it is money. Sometimes it is wanting to get even. Usually, it is both.
Years after I had left the US Senate Democratic Leader, Robert Byrd, to launch my own business, I visited him in his Capitol suite where we walked around looking at memorabilia from a half-century.
To my surprise, we came upon a framed, typewritten letter I handed him when I resigned after eight years in his service. He thought enough of my departing thought to display it for all to see.
Over the years, I have had many positions. There have been good bosses and bosses that were not as good. Those in the second category I left, though never with malice or poison scraps of angry confetti left behind.
In other words, I never burned bridges. Instead, I put a fresh coat of paint on that bridge as I traversed, and left knowing I could most likely return if needed and conditions were such I wanted a repeated stanza.
Even if I like a particular personage who has served an elected official or a CEO of a corporation, I am disappointed if that person writes a tell-all book from his or her confidential viewpoints.
To me, it smacks of betrayal, and not a constructive critique.
When I was employed as communications director for the Rockefeller for Senate campaign, his wife, the gracious Sharon, asked me one day if I would be with them in Washington, DC when her husband was victorious.
I replied that I respected Gov. Rockefeller, but I could not returned to the Senate and work for someone who was from the same state as my former boss, Sen. Byrd. I knew the competition that existed between offices. My allegiance was to both of them.
Over the years, I have written several books that could be considered memoirs, which I think is probably over-wrought for someone who doesn’t approach the notoriety to deserve more than a footnote.
In one book, some two decades ago, called “The Flack: A PR Journey” I wrote about my time with Rockefeller and Byrd in a very favorable way. However, I repeated a joke about Rockefeller that had been passed on to me.
My view was that it made this great-grandson of the famous John David Rockefeller dynasty sound more human — which he was — and there was no ill-intent.
Not long after the book came out, I was told that Rockefeller, a man I greatly admire, was embarrassed by my retelling the story. I sent my apologies to him through a friend, his top aide.
Such was another reminder to me how much words and confidences matter.
No, I’m not interested in reading Bolton’s book and certainly not in Mary Trump’s account. But if young Barron Trump were to pen a few lines….