Books about President Trump's term in office are being cranked out faster than unchecked tribbles on a starship. But with so many anonymous and outright allegations and a revolving door of miffed exes (lovers, staffers) looking for a book deal, it's hard to know which pointed finger to believe.
Enter CBS News Chief and White House Correspondent Major Garrett, who used an even-handed, journalistic approach to report on Trump's achievements and missteps in his new book, Mr. Trump's Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams and Occasional Blackouts of His Extraordinary First Year.
"Whether you regard them as accomplishments or not they will be legacy items," says Garrett. "Whether you liked them or disliked them, they will be part of the Trump legacy. [I have a] chapter on taxes, a chapter on health care, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Jeff Sessions." Garrett also includes a chapter about Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the decision's impact on appellate court judges.
We'll also get an insightful look at Trump's management style, which Garrett says differs from every other president, although he does see some similarities with President Lyndon B. Johnson: "the physicality, the work ethic, their use of the telephone and their avid watching of or obsession with television.
"But [Trump's] management style is very different. Other chiefs of staff say 'That’s not the way we run things,' but it’s unique to Trump and he doesn’t spend a lot of time wondering about whether his way works. He believes his way works and is committed to making his way the way," adds Garrett.
The book does cover the ups and downs of Trump's relationship with North Korean dictator Kim John Un, his policies on immigration and the high rate of turnover among the staff, but it also traces the president's trajectory back to day one of the campaign trail.
Garrett attended 75 Trump rallies over 16 months and notes that Trump talked beneath his audience, not down to them. "He lifted them up and made them feel smarter, made them feel in tune, that they were on to something. That he won tells us something new about our level of expectation about what a president ought to be, should be."
Trump won the election in part because America was ready for "something different, a disrupter, someone talking about the issues differently," adds Garrett.
Garrett predicted the evolution of America's political map from blue to red more than ten years ago with his third book, The Enduring Revolution: The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue, and has been reporting on the executive branch for more than 17 years. In writing this book, his fourth, he knew he was entering an already saturated market.
"There have been a lot of books written about behind the scenes. Based on my covering previous White Houses there are always lots of rivalries. People apportion credit or blame even in White Houses that worked well. It’s always difficult to stitch together the truth," says Garrett, adding that he just wanted to focus on what happened.
"I only use one unattributed quote [in the book]; everything else is on the record. And that distinguishes it from the others," adds Garrett.
He'll be in Houston to discuss and sign copies of his book, and it's a homecoming of sorts; Garrett worked for the now defunct Houston Post. "I have a great affection for Houston. My two years [at the Post], my father grew up in Baytown, my first job in the business was in Amarillo. I claim honorary Texan status."
He's looking forward to stops at Brazos Bookstore and Rice University's Baker Institute, and promises to stay "as long as the crowd wants."
At the Baker Institute, Major Garrett will be introduced by the institute's director, Ambassador Djerejian, and then deliver a lecture-style presentation followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
7 p.m. September 26, Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 713-523-0701, brazosbookstore.com.
5 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. presentation, 7 p.m. book signing, September 27, Rice University, Baker Institute, 6100 Main, 713-348-4683, bakerinstitute.org, reservations requested.