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At age 102, Bornet publishes 20th book -- on Trump

At age 102, retired Southern Oregon University professor and presidential biographer Vaughn Davis Bornet has published his 20th book — this one on the current president, called, “That Trump!”

Bornet, a Stanford doctorate and author of books on the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, said he tried to be fair, thoughtful and balanced in the books. But with Donald Trump, “It’s very hard. You look all over the place, but there’s not much there to praise and balance it with.”

Bornet, who calls himself a moderate Republican who has voted mostly Democrat in recent years, penned a suggested resignation letter for Trump in the book and sent it to the White House but has not heard back.

The letter begins, “I am today resigning. ... The never-ending turmoil surrounding daily and weekly events is beginning to be a considerable strain on my well-being. I fear that it will affect my physical condition, my general health, before too long. ... I am quite certain that my impact on the presidency has been positive.”

In an interview, Bornet, who was a U.S. Navy commander in World War II and joined the SOU faculty in 1959, said the book is not a hatchet-job.

“I’ve tried to be as objective as I can under the circumstances, but each day, you see him making a fool of himself on television and you ask yourself, ‘How can I overlook that?’ It’s very hard.”

The 178-page tome, to be published on Amazon, is written in a somewhat humorous, yarning, storytelling voice, surveying the Trump administration in chapters such as, “FBI Director Comey Gets the Bum’s Rush,” “Shocking Election: She Lost!” and “Abuse of Power is Fun, Get Used to It!”

Amid much criticism in the book from major political players, Bornet said he wouldn’t call the Trump administration a failure, rather, “It’s a menace, a danger to the country. He has enormous power to do evil, to get us into war. There are no controls on him, and I’m not exaggerating at all. Hundreds of psychiatrists are unanimous in saying he’s unfit for the office.”

Bornet’s take on Trump is that he “never dreamed he’d be president. It was amazing for him when he won. He didn’t know what to do or how to behave. Instead of learning, he slid around and did what he damn well pleased. I don’t think he really knows he’s president. He thinks he’s still on television and showing off how smart he is, so it’s all a joke.”

The book covers the Trump presidency through the Mueller probe and the impeachment, but doesn’t include the pandemic or anti-racism “uprisings.”

In a book blurb, Bornet writes, “Trump meddles with the American military when he can, mishandles the Southern border, tries to reframe medical care, fires career civil servants and diplomats, shows lack of concern for climate change, conservation and environmentalism, (and) proven Russian interference in American elections. This willful president authorized an assassination without Congressional knowledge or approval, thus risking instant war.”

He adds that the book “is not hard-hitting (but) is uncompromising.” He warns, “Our country is being divided in several ways. Get your mind ready to join the struggle ahead. Reading this book is a step toward understanding major crises in American history.”

Bornet predicted Trump will be defeated in November and Republicans in the Senate “will take a bad beating, too, because people are fed up, but they really should be frightened. The rule of law and Constitution are being violated and are in danger, 100 percent. It was a shame he wasn’t convicted after impeachment.”

Bornet’s daughter and assistant, Barbara Strumpf, says the book is being edited and loaded by an e-book firm to appear soon on Amazon in digital or print form ($8.95).

“My father takes this book very seriously and has been quite upset writing it,” she said in an email.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Vaughn Davis Bornet