You can find the instantly sensational op-ed here, as well as the New York Times’s various and predictable articles exploiting their own “scoop.”
“I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” says this alleged “senior official.” “…Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back….The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House…. It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t….
- It doesn’t, or shouldn’t to fair and rational readers, matter what the author claims. He, or whoever he, she or it is, is inherently without credibility, just as all anonymous hit pieces are. By his own admission and the evidence of the essay, the author is a liar, a coward, a spy, a mole and a saboteur, and an individual who is deliberately attempting to undermine democracy. There is no justification for trusting any aspect of his representations. Of course, those who want to believe the worst about the President will believe everything he writes, because they want to, and because confirmation bias is strong. Nonetheless, the piece is untrustworthy on its face. It would not be admissible as evidence in any investigation or formal proceeding. No manager or leader would treat such a document as useful or probative.
The essay is less credible and less worthy of discussion or serious consideration than the inflammatory claims of Omarosa, the hearsay/speculation/ fantasies of Michael Wolfe in the generally debunked “Fire and Fury,” orthe latest hearsay and anonymously sourced Bob Woodward “tell-all.” And none of those are respectable either. At least, however, those authors have the decency and courage to reveal their own identities.
- Despite all the hype and horror, this could have been written by an Ethics Alarms commentator—in fact, I could name some likely candidates— as one more familiar, standard statement of why any Trump-hater is determined that he should be impeached. It is a generic brief on the theory that “Donald Trump is unfit to be President and must be removed,” the first assertion of which was rejected by the electorate, and the second of which is legally unsustainable at this point.
The only aspect the op-ed arguably newsworthy is that the author claims to be a Trump administration official.
- It should be unnecessary to point this out, because it is obvious, but I will anyway: such an op-ed could be issued by any arrogant, self-anointed “savior” who disagreed with the policies and character of any and every President. Every White House has enemies who would write essentially the same words and accusations. Why has this White House been the first to vomit out such vile stuff in the pages of the Times? My guess is that the vicious culture of the anti-Trump Left has created confidence that there will be a critical mass of journalists and others who will represent this inexcusable conduct as not just excusable, but laudable.
The conduct would never have been regarded as anything but despicable coming from a senior official (if he actually is one) of any other administration. Democrats, “the resistance” and NeverTrumpers have jettisoned all ethical norms in their hatred of this one man who dared to foil them, who is in fact no different from any other President in the most important respect: he was elected, he holds the office, and he should be allowed to do his job.
- If the op-ed is not a hoax, and if there are, as the writer says, highly placed members of the Trump Administration who are pretending to be loyal government employees but who are actually trying to undermine the President and his policies from within, then the assertions by conservatives and Trump supporters of the existence of a “deep state,” much mocked by the news media and Democrats, have been accurate all along.
This was apparent, or should have been, before the op-ed, of course.
- Should the Times have published this? If they confirmed to their satisfaction that it was genuine, and really came from a senior official who revealed to them his identity, sure. The public should know that there are pompous, lying, unethical saboteurs in their government. And it should scare the hell out of them.
We knew this too, though, before the op-ed.
- President Trump is not blameless here. He and his staff have shown absurd incompetence in vetting staff high and low. It should surprise no one that a President who would allow the likes of Omarosa, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci and others to have places of trust within the administration would blunder into admitting other moles, spies and turncoats as well.
The fact that a manager or leader takes inadequate measures to ensure ethical conduct does not justify or mitigate the unethical conduct that results, however.
- I assume that we will eventually learn who wrote this. Besides firing, what is the appropriate punishment for someone who deliberately betrays the trust of elected leaders and who sets out to undermine the efforts that he or she is obligated to support? Such conduct flagrantly violates federal regulations, as promulgated by President George H.W. Bush’s Executive Order 12674. issued on October 1990. That EO begins,
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President, by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish fair and exacting standards of ethical conduct for all executive branch employees, it is hereby ordered as follows… To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, each Federal employee shall respect and adhere to the fundamental principles of ethical service as implemented in regulations promulgated under sections 201 and 301 of this order:
The “Principles of Ethical Conduct” following that the anonymous writer has violated and is violating include,
(a) Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.
(e) Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties.
(h) Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individua
(j) Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.
(k) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities. [NOTE: The New York Times is not an appropriate authority.]
(n) Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards promulgated pursuant to this order.
- Of course, the President is taking the bait, and now fulminating in his usual clumsy and childish way against the writer and the New York Times. In this he again falls into the trap being constantly set and re-set by those who are engaging in the slow-motion coup.
I wish he’d let me ghost write his tweets.
- The conduct the writer extols and claims to be engaged in would be unethical and indefensible in any organization, large or small. The ethical responses to opposing ones’ superior’s conduct or the policies of one’s organization are to resign, or not to take the post in the first place. Joining an organization and actively working against the authority of superiors is never justified or justifiable except in wartime or as part of a law enforcement exercise.
Reactions to the op-ed from around the web:
“If I didn’t maintain rudimentary trust in the basic integrity of The New York Times I would think that there is no real person behind the famous anonymous op-ed. I’d think it was a concocted composite based on the Woodward book and motivated by the Woodward book. Look how that little thrown together collection of paragraphs is now drawing more attention than the book Woodward labored over, which dominated headlines on Tuesday. Wednesday, this column comes out. What is in the column that couldn’t have been extracted from the book and worked up into an op-ed purporting to be from a senior official in the White House?”
(Why does Althouse have any trust in the integrity of the New York Times?)
She also writes,
“This person is singing about his own heroism. We just don’t know his/her name, because he/she has got to stay hidden to continue sabotaging the work of the President the deplorables elected”
The LA Times:
“If you’re reading this, senior White House official, know this: You are not resisting Donald Trump. You are enabling him for your own benefit. That doesn’t make you an unsung hero. It makes you a coward. “
“How does it feel to learn that there is a powerful self-interested bureaucracy asserting itself above and against the will of the people?”
Byron York (Washington Examiner):
“Early in the piece, the author admits that the Trump administration has had significant success on the issues most important to American voters. “Many of [the administration’s] policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” he writes. Later, he makes a list: “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” Perhaps the author doesn’t see it that way, but peace and prosperity are any president’s two most important accomplishments. Conceding Trump’s achievement undercuts the broader theme of the article.”
The irony in the op-ed from the NYT’s anonymous WH coward is glaring and massive: s/he accuses Trump of being “anti-democratic” while boasting of membership in an unelected cabal that covertly imposes their own ideology with zero democratic accountability, mandate or transparency
“The more they tell us Trump’s crazy, the crazier they act. Meanwhile lefties are starting to push the 25th Amendment again — it’s like they’re cycling now — and I have to say, if you think removing Trump will leave you in a better position, well, it won’t. Getting rid of Trump won’t return things to “normal.” It will make sure things are never normal in our lifetimes. But why do I bother? These people are crazy.”
Nick Gillespie (Reason):
There is no question that Trump was a uniquely unqualified candidate to run for president and he seems to have virtually no expertise in anything other than Twitter trolling. He clearly understands nothing about trade deficits, for instance, and his policies clearly don’t add up to anything particularly coherent (then again, they didn’t on the campaign trail, either). He is not a traditional Republican, but since when is that an impeachable offense? The author genuflects to John McCain, a well-respected public figure but also one whose incoherent and grandiose economic, social, and foreign policy positions were hardly worth emulating, and concludes
“Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.”
With all due respect: What the fuck does that even mean?
Few outlets have been more stridently #NeverTrump than The New York Times, a fair stand-in for the legacy media which also has nothing but contempt for Donald Trump and sympathy for Hillary Clinton (it was her time!) and a broad Democratic agenda of more-active government. The anonymous op-ed can only be read through that light and thus discounted.
To sum up, the Times op-ed is just one more manifestation of the horrific mass misconduct that the entire left side of the political spectrum has persuaded itself is responsible, fair, rational behavior when it is in fact dangerous, undemocratic, and reckless. I am bored with pointing out this fact, but this President was faced with impeachment demands before he took office, was not accorded the minimal election spoils of united acceptance of his election traditionally symbolized by a peaceful, joyous celebration of our system and history at his inauguration, and he has continued to be undermined by behavior that never would have been tolerated by the public or the news media if focused on any other Chief Executive.
There is no question that it is wrong. The only question is how much damage it will do to the United States of America before it has run its course, and whether that damage will be permanent.