In Perspective The unnamed Trump Administration senior official whom The New York Times allowed to write a commentary without giving his or her name did no favors for the American people, as the writer claims. Neither did the newspaper.
To be sure, The New York Times knows the identity of the writer and it is pretty clear did not have an ulterior motive other than to add to the debate on the Donald Trump presidency. But that contribution would have been more effective with a name on the column. It is quite possible that The Times was also playing catch-up with The Washington Post which, just a day earlier, published excerpts from Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Fear-Trump in the White House,” which was still to be released.
Anonymous, who could be identified by the time this column is read, reinforced the basic point of Fear — that the ship of state has an unfit captain — and further asserts that the situation is so bad that those around Trump on occasion have ignored him and his policies, even sneaking at least two policy documents off his desk before he could sign them. The crisis is so grave, Anonymous says, that some officials considered invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove him from office.
Anonymous claims that “the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of the country” and “The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House.”
“The result,” Anonymous tells the nation, probably with a straight face, “is a two-track presidency.”
Still, Anonymous claims there are “bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture,” including “deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”
Those may be “bright spots” for Anonymous but not for many others. The ongoing deregulation frenzy benefits corporations and rejects the reality of global warming. The tax “reform” has enriched big business and has swelled the national debt. The military did not need to be made robust because it has always been so – and, in any case, robust for what purpose?
Ultimately, the Anonymous column poses this question: What would “senior aides” do when there is a president who is entirely rational and with sound policies with which they do not agree? The Constitution does not provide for a “twotrack presidency;” as former President Barack Obama and others have noted, that is not how American democracy works.
Anonymous has been described as “gutless” and cowardly” for good reason. If the situation is so dire, this is no time for verbal sleight-of-hand. And the whole column strengthens the longstanding contention of some conspiracy theorists that there is a “deep state”
comprising unelected officials and others who are the real power in America, despite what the writer claims.
But, of course, Anonymous and the other “adults in the room,” as well as the Republicans who control both houses of Congress, have never really wanted Trump gone. They embrace him because the same qualities which the writer decries have made him the ideal tool for reversing the progress of the past half-century at least.
Just name any policy which has sought to reduce the blatant disparities that continue to bedevil the nation – race relations, voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, gender equality, environmental protection, criminal justice and law enforcement reform, refugee rights, education parity, housing discrimination, health care – and they have been or will be repealed. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are also threatened. And it is all because this president can be so easily manipulated by reactionary forces.
But perhaps the most distressing action of the Trump administration is the stacking of the federal judiciary with young white men vetted by the archconservative Federalist Society for their rightwing judicial activism, after scores of vacancies were kept open for them.
Like U.S. Supreme Court justices, they will hold office for life. The Republicans knew this when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, refused for nine months to convene even a hearing on Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia as McConnell prayed for a Republican to be elected president. They got Trump and Neil Gorsuch and are about to get Brett Kavanaugh and the highest court in the land is poised to remake America in their own image.
So when Anonymous says about Trump 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,” he or she is merely reinforcing the belief that the crisis in which the country finds itself is a result of the work of enablers such as him or her, as much as of a president who is accused of “amorality.”