The White House ‘resistance’ and what the hell is happening

A day after quotes from Bob Woodward’s book on Donald Trump hit the headlines, the New York Times stirred things up even more with an anonymous editorial claimed to be by a senior person from the White House – I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. 

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Trump and others from the White House have predictably slammed this, and he has been referred to as gutless and a coward.

Others have said this person may have caused more problems, creating more paranoia and  possibly pressuring Trump into doing something foolish with major consequences (as opposed to his frequent relatively ineffective foolishness).

David Frum at the Atlantic – This Is a Constitutional Crisis

A cowardly coup from within the administration threatens to enflame the president’s paranoia and further endanger American security.

If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. But on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution—and there were no “riskiness” exemptions in the text of that oath.

The author of the anonymous op-ed is hoping to vindicate the reputation of like-minded senior Trump staffers. See, we only look complicit! Actually, we’re the real heroes of the story.

But what the author has just done is throw the government of the United States into even more dangerous turmoil. He or she has enflamed the paranoia of the president and empowered the president’s willfulness.

What happens the next time a staffer seeks to dissuade the president from, say, purging the Justice Department to shut down Robert Mueller’s investigation? The author of the Times op-ed has explicitly told the president that those who offer such advice do not have the president’s best interests at heart and are, in fact, actively subverting his best interests as he understands them on behalf of ideas of their own.

He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous.

There’s an obvious risk of that, unless there is a real revolt in the White House as consciences kick in.

But here is another take on things from @AmandaMarcotte:

Administration officials have two goals: Convincing you Trump isn’t *really* in charge, so people feel safe voting for him him again, and protecting their own careers after this all implodes. Keep that in mind when reading any anonymous statements, articles, etc.

It seems weird to liberals, but trust me. Conservatives are soothed by the idea that Trump is just the face and that someone else, someone more responsible, is running things. And yes, they believe this justifies voting for him.

And this goes back to Reagan. You hear the same justifications for Reagan, i.e. that it was fine voting for him for emotional reasons, because there were adults in the room protecting us from his incompetence.

And we can be assured that this op-ed is not courageous or principled because the author does not share any critical information about Trump’s private utterances on racial issues, nor does he/she say anything about administration officials with white nationalist views.

Instead, the message is largely about reassuring readers: Yes, Trump is an idiot, but that is a GOOD thing and you are safe because adults are secretly in charge. The message is not to worry. So be very skeptical.

And while Trump, a narcissist, will be upset, understand that this op-ed helps him. He’s safer if people think of him as an irrelevant sideshow instead of what he is, a deeply evil would-be fascist who is incredibly powerful.

Also today Vice President Pence (who would take over if for some reason Trump could no longer continue in office) took a different side to trump over Attorney general Sessions:

There must have been a reason for the timing. Is pence attempting a coup? He won’t be able to do it on his own.

Any of these moves – Pence, the NY Times editorial, providing Woodward with quotes and then publicly denying them – could be part of some sort of a plan, some scheming, some attempt to minimise the damage.

So what is it? I think it’s impossible for most of us to know. All we can tell is that it seems to be getting crazier and more chaotic dysfunction in the US presidential and political systems.

Trump could get worse, he could do something, or precipitate something, really bad.

Or he could get worse and force others to force him out of office to try to restore some semblance of order.

All we can do from here is watch and hope that it doesn’t become a disaster.

 

9 Comments

  1. He vowed to drain the swamp years ago but just seems to have become swamped by incompetence.

    • Gezza

       /  September 6, 2018

      Trump. A dribbling bufoon. Blithering fire & fury. As usual.

  2. artcroft

     /  September 6, 2018

    I think Frum offers the better analysis than Amanda Marcotte. This resistance issue is going to spook Trump into making a big play re the Border Wall. Govt shutdown, here we come.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 6, 2018

      Every President should have at least one decent government shutdown though eh …?

  3. MaureenW

     /  September 6, 2018

    Crazy times – I don’t know which side is worse – Democrats or Republicans – but they’re both crazy

  4. Corky

     /  September 6, 2018

    ”It seems weird to liberals, but trust me. Conservatives are soothed by the idea that Trump is just the face and that someone else, someone more responsible, is running things. And yes, they believe this justifies voting for him.”

    What seems weird to me is Amanda Marcotte…whoever she is?

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 6, 2018

      That explains an awful lot Corky …

      Puppet governments are actually soothing to Conservatives …

      Wow! This had simply never crossed my mind.

      It’s like a Key … that somehow unlocks meaning … in English …

  5. Blazer

     /  September 8, 2018

  1. Denials as Trump train wreck continues | Your NZ