On Sept. 5, the New York Times published an anonymous opinion piece allegedly pinned by a high-ranking official in the Trump Administration.
The author of the piece takes aim at the president’s character, calling him amoral, anti-democratic, anti-trade, and attacking his manner of leadership as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”
Perhaps the most important takeaway from the op-ed is not the well-received—and well-accepted— criticisms of the president, but rather the admission that Trump does not truly seem to be in control of his own administration.
The author makes claims that surrounding the president are people who outright reject the president’s goals. The author offers a litany of a laundry list of willful neglect on the part of administrators in Trump’s government, a good number of whom, the author states, have pulled the president back from a number of disastrous policy decisions.
The piece ends with the anonymous source stating that “there is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first.”
As of publication, the author has not been identified.
At least three points can be gleaned from the op-ed, three insights that could be helpful to both the Right and the Left.
First, in favor of the Republicans, Trump has, many could argue, surrounded himself with at least some principled Republican advisors who are willing to put their careers on the line in order to simply tell the American people that there are some in the Trump Administration who are fighting for American principles.
When Trump clenched the Republican nomination over two years ago, many Republicans acquiesced— some might say rationalized—voting for Trump under the auspices that he would appoint counselors who would help guide the novice president in making wise, conservative political decisions. This, as far as the testimony in the op-ed is concerned, has been at least vindicated in some small degree.
Second, the op-ed shows that many Republicans are not completely opportunistic, partisan lackeys who have sold their principles for political power. The anonymous source explains that many Republicans who surround the president form a kind of insular cabal that keeps Trump from making harmful policy decisions. This, at least, shows that there are many who do have their own views and who are not simply going with the flow of Trump’s decision-making.
Third, unsurprisingly, the real estate mogul-turned reality show host-turned president, is not the most competent Commander-in- Chief. Two years as president have done little to refine Trump into something other than the impulsive, neo-Narcissus that many acknowledged he was when he first attained the Republican nomination and subsequent Presidency.
A final lesson that can be gleaned from the op-ed piece is that courage, the animating impulse of the virtues, is still alive in some capacity within Trump’s White House. Although reticence, even skepticism, is a wise position to hold at this point, there is ample reason to be hopeful about the future of our Republic in these questionable times.