The story of the day is about the anonymously posted opinion column by the New York Times (NYT) written by a “senior staffer within the Trump White House.” It seems the world is going mad about the whole thing.
I’m going to narrow my thoughts on this whole ordeal to four points (in no particular order):
1. If you did not realize there are good, disciplined staffers working in the Trump White House, curbing his less than professional and diplomatic faults and weaknesses, then you haven’t been paying attention. The author called it a resistance and everyone is freaking out about that but what is wrong with resisting the impulses of a man who has almost no impulse control?
The chaos around Trump comes from him bringing in people with no loyalty or experience like Omarosa Manigault-Newman or the insanity that was Anthony Scaramucci. Should we fear or condemn those who would want to protect the president from his own bad decisions?
Chaos comes from the problems they have finding and retaining experienced professionals and so misfits run the halls and talk out of turn to reporters and friends and anyone who will listen to their tales of misadventures in a White House that is constantly turned on its ear.
The steadiness of the ship comes from good-hearted, principled people likes Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders or those who have served our nation and consider their role to serve the office of the president more so than the man like General John Kelly. It comes from the professionals whose names you never hear because they have their nose to the grindstone working. It comes from those spread out not just throughout the White House but the entire administration.
Of course, there are factions within the White House there aways has been but in this administration there is no doubt that it’s worse than ever. There’s no doubt that it’s encouraged from Trump himself and his style of management (or mismanagement at time). There’s the do nothings vs. the do gooders. The loyal to Trump vs those loyal to the nation vs. those seeing their own 15-minutes of fame and/or access to power and later money. Of the first two groups there may be some cross-over but I suspect there’s not many who don’t tolerate Trump to get the job done or who don’t like the man but dislike the way he communicates or “rules.”
2. The anonymous source is likely to be outed, and there’s very little chance that they stay anonymous for even the next week. They knew that going into this. This has already turned into an all-out witch hunt in which everybody wants to know who is responsible to penning this op-ed. From reporters to those within the White House who agree or even disagree with the sentiments, to opponents on the Hill — it’s only a matter of time before people know who this is. Secrets do not keep well in DC. Secrets do not keep well within Trump Administration. Thus it would be premature to speculate as to this person’s motives and agenda until we know what their role inside the White House is. This is a chance the author took and they had to know what they were doing and what the costs would be when they were found out.
3. The President has called writing this op-ed “treasonous.” The First Lady just put out a response saying and I’m paraphrasing here, if you’re not here to do right by the administration, you need to leave. I wouldn’t agree that it was treasonous to the nation to write the op-ed but I agree that it was unprofessional and disloyal. Politics is a world in which loyalty and honoring the team you’re a part of are of the utmost importance. From day one people in this administration have bad mouthed and back-stabbed one another and you don’t have to look much further than the Trump vs. Jeff Sessions tweets or remarks to see that it’s welcome and encouraged behavior. If Trump wants more loyalty he should lead by example. That said, see #1. There are good people in the administration and that is obvious by the fact things haven’t totally hit the fan. Yet.
4. On the NYT printing an anonymous op-ed I must say I’ve had individuals approach me since I first began Alabama Today, who wanted to pen columns anonymously. This is a very tricky part of media: You want to get the story out but you have to consider many factors including maintaining the integrity of your publication and reputation for truth and honesty. There are a lot of things than can, and probably should be said in the world and in politics, if it weren’t for fear of making people angry, burning bridges and even retaliation I feel like we’d have a lot more of these types of stories. On the Hill people know and speak in hushed tones of improprieties for months sometimes years before a reporter has enough to go on to print something. Welcoming anonymity in these cases would open up the flood gates for those with bad motives.
The question here is what was the movitves of the author of the story at hand? It reads as sincere and not politically motivated in the way in which a lot of attacks are. This is why I agree that the NYT was correct in publishing the article. If everything that the staffer said that they knew and experienced is actually true.
Finally, what do I think about this as a whole?
The Trump Administration has done something that has not been talked about before. Which is they’ve shined a spotlight on those working behind the man. Generally when you’re looking at a President, or Governor, or even Member of Congress, there are only one or two people in their sphere that world is able to identify — the Karl Rove‘s, Dana Perino‘s, the Tony Snow‘s, David Axelrod’s, Rahm Emanuel‘s of the world.
The Trump Administration has put a focus on the fact that beyond those faces we typically see there is an army of people working behind the scenes to help keep the ship afloat just punching holes in the bottom of the boat.
They’ve proven that the quality of those people matter in an office where you have someone as unpredictable as Trump. He and most of his team went into the White House without the requisite experience to navigate international crises, or Congressional fights — he needs the professionalism of a staff to guide him through those types of traps and what this op-ed did was show that there are those in the administration who understand that’s their role.
I think it’s good that the country is starting to talk about what happens behind the scenes and who’s in the room where things happen. This story is going to get worse before it has a chance of getting better but the dialogue is a welcome one in my book.