September 7, 2018

Anonymous Op-ed in the NYT

On Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official wrote an anonymous op-ed for the New York Times, titled ‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.’ New York Times

President Trump tweeted in response, “Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” Twitter

Across the political spectrum, there are deep concerns about the ramifications of unelected officials thwarting the wishes of a duly elected president.

The Constitution vests executive power in the president, not ‘senior officials.’ Any authority these appointees have comes from the president, at whose pleasure they serve. For an unelected appointee to hide documents or refuse to carry out the lawful orders of the elected president is not noble. It is not patriotic. It is an assault on democracy... if you feel you can’t serve the president honorably, then there is only one honorable thing to do: Don’t serve at all.” Washington Post

“Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president’s own appointees—now that’s a constitutional crisis.” The Atlantic

Some on both the left and the right are also criticizing the New York Times.

“The op-ed in this case doesn’t meet [the] standards [for anonymity], not least because it isn’t news. The fact that senior Administration officials have been trying to block Mr. Trump’s uninformed policy impulses, and mute his self-destructive anger and narcissism, has been reported hundreds of times... [this] makes us wonder if the writer’s real purpose is to assist the looming campaign for impeachment. This is certainly the New York Times agenda.” Wall Street Journal

“This writer was allowed by the Times to anonymously promote the strictly partisan idea that it’s best to allow Trump to continue to advance the GOP agenda while trusting unnamed individuals to control Trump’s ‘amorality.’ That is not a patriotic act but one of gross self-interest for the individual and his or her party. No one should condone allowing a reckless, unstable man to continue to be president just to save a party and its policies... Trump is right to call the official ‘gutless’ and to lambaste the Times for allowing the person to remain anonymous.” Huffington Post

Other viewpoints below.

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Trump’s negotiating tactics, and argues that this deal will not solve the underlying problems with the immigration system.

“That the decision was made to publish it should tell you that this isn't some disgruntled mid-to-upper manager buried in the bureaucracy... The Times simply wouldn't do what it did for anything short of a major figure in Trump world."


“The suggestion that at least some members of the Cabinet have talked about invoking [the 25th Amendment] is new and shocking. But what does it mean to say that the whisperers didn’t want to precipitate a crisis? After all, the rest of the article makes clear that the crisis already exists and is deadly serious."

The New Yorker

“If we have a president so incompetent that his most trusted advisors have to play peekaboo to preserve national security, then those people should be working to get him out of office, not just spare us from his cruelest impulses."

Los Angeles Times

“The Trump administration planned and executed a policy of seizing infants from their parents at the U.S. border. It did so with such grotesque callousness that it is thus far unable to reunite hundreds of literally kidnapped children with their parents… Anyone who thinks they escape the moral and political taint of this administration by murmuring anonymous misgivings about Trump is a fool as well as a coward."


Counterpoint: “Given the stakes here — up to and including literal nuclear war — there need to be some people working quietly to prevent the worst from happening. Perhaps, at one point in the future, they will be in a position to do more: when Republicans are willing to actually do something about Trump. But right now, a weak resistance is better than no resistance at all."


Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

From the Right

“If you’re part of a secret cabal to contain the president’s erratic behavior, it seems counterproductive to notify the erratic president about it. What better way to fuel his paranoia and his persecution complex?"

National Review

“‘Senior administration official’ could apply to hundreds and even more than 1,000 people... Narrowing down the writer's role in the administration to at least a place or department is a fair ask of the Times, which clearly reaps benefits from the ambiguity of ‘senior administration official.’"

The Hill

“Common sense suggests that no Cabinet member or other Trump hire would write this unforgivably damning piece. What would be the point? No one working in the White House will benefit from undermining the president, or from suggesting that he should be replaced."

Fox News

If you didn’t believe in the Deep State before, you might believe in it now. If you wondered if there really was a swamp that needed to be drained, you might not wonder anymore. If you weren’t that sure fake news existed, you’d be a lot surer now. And if you wanted to give liberal news sources like the New York Times a fair shake, you’d be a lot less inclined to do so today."


“If Anonymous really believes the president is a threat to the republic, he should quit. No one is forcing him to work for the government. But if he wants to make policy, or thinks Trump should be impeached over his temperament, Anonymous should reveal himself and run for office."

The Federalist

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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