Phar Kim Beng, PhD
4 min readNov 7, 2020


The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency

The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency

University of Chicago Press, 2020, Daniel W. Drezner

Review by Phar Kim Beng
Strategic Pan Indo-Pacific Arena
Twitter: @indo_pan

That President Donald Trump is a narcissistic imbecile is a given. Who in his right mind would ask a Covid-19 carrier to try curing him or herself with “bleach”? One has got to wonder if he even knows that hydroxychloroquine is meant for malaria not SARS Cov II, the virus that triggers the onset of Covid-19.

But this book “The Toddler in Chief” written by one of the best political scientists in The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Tufts University, a school jointly administered with Harvard University, is fun.

It is fun only because after four years of tolerating the nonsense of President Donald Trump, from his temper tantrums to sick embrace of murderers and known autocrats as his close friends, can the democratic world breathe a sigh of relief, that he shall not be back anymore. As this is written, the voters in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia continue to show that they are not rooting for him regardless of his tendency to sue his opponents.

That being said, the “Toddler In Chief” did not foresee Trump losing the election on November 3 2020. Thus all the implications of Trump’s refusal to concede in the election were not included in the book.

Rather the book was filled with many interesting anecdotes of how Trump is a Command-In-Chief who cannot, and must not, be trusted, especially given his petulant behavior.

One of the things that President Donald Trump could do, between now and January 20 2021, when he has to hand over the reins of his office to President Elect Joe Biden, is the extent to which Trump, together with his militia supporters, would refuse to stand down.

When President Trump was asked by the moderator of the second presidential debate, if he would repudiate the “Proud Boys”, a White Supremacist Group, President Trump replied: “Proud Boys, Stand By, and Stand Back”.

This was not so much a downright rejection of any potential violence, with which the “Proud Boys,” may use, should they also refuse to accept President Joe Biden as their Commander In Chief, but a dog whistle to get them ready to engage in some serious political or tribal warfare against their fellow Americans.

President Donald Trump, a graduate of a military academy, may think this is all funny and humorous, but political violence instigated from the very top in the White House, while rare, has not been unheard of in the United States.

Each year, the Secret Service has to handle up to two to three hundred attempts to assassinate the President.

The Toddler in Chief should he refuse to concede gracefully, that he has lost, and Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have won, hate speech and hate crimes, both of which have a causality, will literally shoot up in the United States

When that happens, America won’t be struggling with the potentially flawed criminal justice system that have led to the death of many black lives, but serious civil convulsion too.

Joseph Tepperman, the editor in chief of the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine may not be wrong by much, when he affirmed that even when Biden has won, America must contend with living with the Trumpism of the Toddler in Chief.

Elsewhere, one must remember that in contrast to the election of 2016, the Toddler in Chief has actually increased his popularity by 5 million votes. If anything, a large portion of Americans have exercised their right to choose a sociopath, who thankfully lost as the 45th president.

Indeed, the “Toddler In Chief” deserves a careful read, especially when one tries to understand the flaws of democracy, not just in the United States, but all over the world. It is also important to read the book together with the New Yorker, which explains some of the five key reasons why up to 70.5 million Americans, some of whom are Latinos and Blacks, continue to root for Trump.

Overall, this is a superb book that deserves a wider readership, beyond the usual genre spawned by Washington insiders such as Bob Woodward who wrote “Fear” or Mary Trump, the niece of President Trump who sees her uncle as a psychological and physical threat to the well being of the United States of America.