Amid the flurry of coverage over a controversial op-ed in the New York Times entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Within the Trump Administration,” it’s important to set the record straight on what the anonymous author stands for.
For those who haven’t yet read it, the op-ed, which is purportedly from someone who identifies only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” describes how the author and other unnamed individuals “are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump]’s agenda and his worst inclinations.”
However, the author never described which particular policies President Trump has put forth they are trying to stop, and in fact extols many of Trump’s legislative accomplishments. While there is no praise offered for any specific law Trump signed, the op-ed’s author suggests they are in favor of some of the most damaging policies Trump has put forth, including the tax cut bill of 2017 that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy, and the mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and perhaps even the separation of undocumented children from their parents (many of whom remain separated to this day despite a court order).
“To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” the author wrote, later referring to “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”
“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 author continued. “That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
It’s unclear why rampant deregulation — like former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to make it easier for asbestos to be used in construction projects again — or a tax bill that would raise taxes on the poorest half of the country to further reward the rich with financial windfalls they don’t need are praise-worthy. It’s also not clear what the author is referring to as a “more robust military,” given that Trump’s stated promise to “streamline the government for the 21st century” has instead led to just one agency within the Pentagon completely losing track of $800 million in taxpayer dollars.
From the author’s essay, it seems that the objections they and perhaps other administration officials have is not with the administration’s rapid upward redistribution of wealth from the working class to the very rich, or with the administration’s drastic re-shaping of the federal judiciary into something that will be far more beneficial to corporations and detrimental to workers for generations, or with their boss’s possibly irreparable damage to very young children who have been ripped out of their parents’ arms, but with the president’s habit of tweeting stupid things.
The author’s chief complaints with President Trump are namely that he wastes time during meetings and that some decisions (they didn’t specify which ones) have to sometimes be “walked back” due to being “half-baked.” They then go on to pat themselves and other members of the “resistance” on the back for even going so far as to discuss a possible invocation of the 25th Amendment (which removes a president from power if they are deemed unfit to govern) though they backed down from that idea.
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. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.
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.
Thankfully, many political observers on Twitter didn’t buy into the arguments the author put forth. MSNBC host Chris Hayes characterized the op-ed as a thinly veiled attempt on behalf of Republican operatives to save their careers when the administration takes a turn for the worse. Vox’s Matt Yglesias tweeted that the op-ed inadvertently admitted a quiet coup by unelected cabinet officials was unfolding, but that they thwarted their own attempts to be successful by publicizing it. Others ridiculed both the author and the Times for the self-serving tone of the piece:
The op-ed is an attempt to take out an insurance policy for the GOP and conservatism if and when things get much much worse. It's a very public hedge meant to preserve the reputation of the GOP's entire political and governing class.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 5, 2018
“We considered using the process spelled out in the constitution but decided that would be too messy and opted for trying a slow-motion coup instead, but then we decided to undermine that by going public about it anonymously.”
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 5, 2018
Check out my new piece "I am in the Manson Family and Sure I Killed a Couple of Drifters to Earn their Trust but I am Resisting from the Inside" in @nytopinion
— Ed Burmila (@gin_and_tacos) September 5, 2018
If the anonymous Trump administration official who wrote the New York Times op-ed had any courage or integrity, they would not only identify themselves, but they would resign in order to avoid being seen as a collaborator with an administration that they themselves admit is dangerous to America. Both the author and the Times deserve not our admiration, but our scorn, for putting craven careerism ahead of what would actually be best for the country.