Just a few days before the news broke about President Trump testing positive for coronavirus, I attended a virtual interview session on featuring President Nixon’s former lawyer John Dean, who played a starring role in one of our country’s most jarring political disasters–Watergate.

While I was a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, I taught a course on Watergate at Rutgers University’s Camden, NJ campus, so for me this was a topic of nostalgic interest and curiosity. is an online publisher I occasionally write for.

As The White House legal counsel at the time, Dean was at the center of a cover-up of President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate fiasco, its backlash and controversy covered by then Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward whose latest book “Rage” is a tour de force of reporting on the Trump Presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. 

Dean initially directed efforts to protect the President from crimes and misdemeanors surrounding and ensuing from events following the break-in of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate and subsequent cover-up of the Nixon administration’s involvement.

Eventually, to save his own neck, Dean became a witness for the prosecution,  earning a much softer prison sentence for helping to directly incriminate his boss, the president, who would resign the presidency and flee Washington in disgrace.

Today John Dean has crafted a career for himself as an expert on authoritarianism, writing several books on the subject, along with news columns and appearances on CNN as one of its contributors especially on stories digging into President Trump, whom Dean brands, along with Trump’s followers like Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, as classic “authoritarian follower” figures. 

Today Dean describes himself as “the conscience” of Nixon’s administration.  Oh, really?   Some conscience!

And he defines an authoritarian as an amoral leader who opposes equality and believes in strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal liberties. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Dean says authoritarians are almost always men who were nurtured by authoritarian fathers as he says Trump was.

The question remains whether Trump, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, is in fact an authoritarian personality or does leadership itself often require taking charge and at times acting authoritatively in the nation’s best interest?

I see Trump as an astute businessman zealously trying to get the best possible deals for America, unlike past “stupid” deals by previous presidents, as Trump calls them.

Perhaps in his zeal to have America rebound economically so millions of workers can regain lost jobs, and end the suffering and dislocation the pandemic has caused so many, he was perhaps too relaxed about taking cover himself from COVID-19.

Being a smart man, I’m sure today Trump regrets some of his actions as he has now become himself a Poster President for wearing facemasks and keeping social distance. 

If you want to know what Trump’s really like, read Peter Ticktin’s new book, “What Makes Trump Tick” now available on Amazon and at airports across the country.  

Peter and Trump attended the New York Military Academy together when they were teenagers.  This was a formative time when Peter saw Trump early on exhibiting the leadership skills so evident today, delivered fairly, but with kindness and sensitivity.