Those seeking impeachable material should probably avoid A Warning. Those who prefer a moral case will come away fortified, if not entirely surprised. The book is a scream of conservative outrage against a president who is making a mockery of conservative principles. At one point, the author issues a pertinent warning from history. At a tense phase in the Peloponnesian war, the citizens of Athens held a debate about what to do with the city of Mytilene, a small city-state that had defected to Sparta.
The central assertion of the book is the much quoted assessment that the president is “a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport”. It’s a vivid metaphor. But when it comes to be backed up by detail there is not much in this book that excites the attention or takes us farther than other books on this White House. Haberman points out (and she really knows the detail) that some of the assertions are not entirely true and where they are interesting they are often not backed up by any evidence that would make them credible.
The book is current enough to consider the impeachment proceedings now under way, urging Republicans to follow the law rather than partisan loyalty, before rejecting that option too as an unsatisfactory means of toppling an elected president. Ultimately, Anonymous deems the 2020 election to be the country’s best chance of waking up from its Trumpian nightmare. The author encourages fellow Republicans to look beyond tribalism, and Democrats to put up a centrist candidate that can unite an anti-Trump majority, or muses about a third-party candidate emerging from the heartland.
A Warning ends then with a rousing call to the ballot box, but it fails to answer the question that hangs over almost every page: why heed the counsel, however urgent, of someone who is not prepared to reveal who they are?