The New York Times published a piece allegedly written by a senior official in the White House that carried some harsh criticism for President Donald Trump. The author of the op-ed remained anonymous, but The Times claims that the person is “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”
The writer purports to be part of a group of officials who are working against the president’s agenda. It is difficult to ascertain the credibility of the person who penned the piece, as they are not named. However, it is clear that the article is intended to smear the president.
Interestingly enough, the writer of the article spends as much time boosting their own image as they do criticizing Trump. Throughout the article, they make multiple claims to be resisting the president out of some noble sense of patriotism. They make it clear that they are not part of the left-wing opposition: “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left,” they wrote. “We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
They go on to state that the reason behind these actions against the president is a sense of duty. “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 objective of this covert band of resisters is to “preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
So what does this look like?
The writer gives the example of Trump’s relationship with dictators versus the actions of this “shadow group.” They indicate that while the president may show a certain warmth towards leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, these individuals work to ensure that the United States takes the right approach to these heads of state.
“On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.”
In addition to distancing themselves from the “resistance,” the author also claims that they are not a part of the deep state. Instead, they label the group as the “steady state.” Unfortunately, their activities were not just limited to foreign policy — our author also suggests that they sought ways to remove Trump from office. “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” they wrote. “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
Anonymous Official Rips Trump
The author of the piece carries obvious animus for the president. They parrot many of the establishment media’s criticisms about Trump. The writer takes issues with Trump’s apparent “amorality” in his decision making: “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.”
The writer also portrays the White House as a chaotic environment in which officials are relegated to responding to Trump’s whims and working to contain the fallout from his decisions. They characterized the president as an impulsive leader, one who routinely changes his mind: “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.”
It is clear that the author of the piece is intent on casting the president in a negative light. They also discuss how others feel about the president:
“From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.”
While the writer does grudgingly admit that Trump has made some significant accomplishments, they claim that they “have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”
What’s the Point?
The writer is clearly attempting to get the readers to view President Trump negatively. But on the other hand, they are also trying to get readers to like them. At several points in the article, they cast themselves as courageous patriots trying to preserve the nation. Indeed, they wrote: “The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House.”
This story creates a certain narrative, one that portrays the group as a valiant bunch of individuals struggling against an immoral and inept leader. It is almost the type of story you might expect to see in a TV show like House of Cards. The question is: How badly will this op-ed hurt Trump?
Will This Matter?
While the details expressed in the piece are certainly damaging, they are unlikely to change anyone’s mind. People who hate Trump will have had their opinions confirmed. After all, many of the points the writer makes could have easily been plucked out of a piece you might read in The Washington Post or see broadcast on MSNBC.
Those who do not believe that the president is Hitler incarnate will either dismiss the piece due to the anonymous source, or they will not care about the statements made about the president. Like every other attack on the man, this one will likely fade away as soon as the next news cycle starts.
Of course, this controversy could be prolonged if the president decides to issue a series of tweets — but once he moves on to the next subject, so will the media – and so will the American public.
Are the author’s claims true? It’s difficult to say, but it is likely that they deliberately exaggerated Trump’s negative attributes while overemphasizing their own positive role. In the end, will it really matter?