Things weren’t stupid enough, so we had to have this anonymous editorial from a self-described “senior official” in the Trump administration, published by the New York Times.
What I love is that anyone out there is really trying to figure out who wrote it.
— Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) September 5, 2018
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I think a Russian bot wrote it (or certainly could have written it), using nothing but the mainstream media coverage of the Trump administration for the last 18 months. (And I do mean a “bot.” An AI program could easily have come up with this editorial.)
It’s exactly what you would write, if you were submitting an op-ed from the infamous office building in St. Petersburg and trying to pass yourself off as a “senior Trump official” to the New York Times. You’d send them what they expect to hear.
They’ve been signaling for months what they expect to hear, so that part isn’t hard. There’s a bit more of the Washington Post’s editorial sensibility in this, and that’s what you’d pick in order to come off as more authentically “Washington” in tone.
But the whole thing is an exercise in bias confirmation. If you already thought Trump was amoral, unprincipled, anti-democratic, impetuous, adversarial, petty, ineffective, ranting, impulsive, half-baked, ill-informed, and reckless – well, this is the op-ed for you.
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. …
[S]uccesses have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. …
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. …
There’s more. Don’t forget to wade through erratic, chaotic, unstable, misguided, preferring autocrats and dictators, and showing “little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people.”
The piece mirrors the talking points of media themes and scripted Democratic responses so exactly, it’s impossible to take seriously as the cri de coeur of a genuine administration insider. It partakes fully of the cultural left’s totemic perspective on what words and concepts mean. At the end, it alludes to the events of the John McCain funeral week in the exact terms proclaimed by members of the mainstream media, as well as the prominent eulogists.
Maybe it did come from an administration insider, but it’s obviously not one who thinks for himself, or seems to have a reason for being there. I could have written this op-ed, inside an hour, working off of the memes-n-themes retailed relentlessly by the MSM. Any competent writer of daily commentary could have done so.
At any rate, the purported point of the op-ed is to assure America that there are senior officials like the author who are working from inside the administration to frustrate the president.
The dilemma — which he [Trump] does not fully grasp — is 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.
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.
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.
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.
The writer goes on to say that this is not a “deep state” at work.
This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.
Which would still be a non-constitutional entity acting in defiance of the constitutionally expressed will of the people and due process of law. So there’s that. Apparently “preserving our democratic institutions” isn’t about respecting the outcomes of due process, if those outcomes are not to the liking of the “steady state.”
I enjoyed the prompt take on all this propounded by Erick Erickson.
And by all means, let us be smarter and more elegantly seated than to waste time acknowledging that this sure sounds like an apologetic for a deep state.
A key problem is that if you probe with obvious questions – like “Why now? Why this week?” – the likely answers don’t map to some noble, anonymous official happening to have his steady-state conscience-of-America meltdown just at this particular time, and being coincidentally predisposed to write like someone reciting the Media-Matters-approved Anti-Trump Creed with a really earnest look on his face.
Rather, the likely answers go to things like Bob Woodward’s new book just coming out, and flogging the exact same themes as this op-ed; the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings being scheduled for this week, and the Left mounting an all-out assault to derail them; the interesting point that Trump is now said to be seriously contemplating a declassification of all the redacted portions of the Carter Page FISA applications, by the end of this week; and even just that Labor Day is behind us, the general election is now only two months away, and campaign season is beginning in earnest.
I kind of think this op-ed will land as another dud. It can’t open any new dialogues; it doesn’t say anything new. It won’t change any minds. It’s really only of interest to people who can’t hear enough disparagement of Trump.
Listening avidly for disparagement of someone else is not a healthy way of life. A great deal of the #WalkAway movement boils down to people realizing that, and feeling the cool breeze of mental liberty blowing through their spirits. This poor op-ed is already out of step because it looks in the rearview mirror and prescribes paralysis and prejudiced judgment — and the American people still have the freedom of mind to see through that.
Many of them will also see that insisting the people cannot vote for change — to things like regulation and trade policy — is the opposite of “preserving our democratic institutions.” Voting to change regulatory and trade policy is exactly what our democratic institutions enable us to do. What’s anti-democratic is an attitude that contingent, issue-specific policies, once enacted, mustn’t ever be changed.
I hope this op-ed is actually a Russian bot-driver’s idea of incitement. If it’s anything else, the most merciful thing to do is turn away and let its little ripples die without undue attention.