Reveal yourselves, Trump administration resisters
The self-styled Saviors of the Country need to step forward, identify themselves, and speak plainly, honestly, and loudly about the menace in the White House.
Instead, they continue to hide in the shadows, chirping from the darkness that they've got our backs.
As but the latest example: On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times made the highly unorthodox decision of publishing an anonymous essay from "a senior official in the Trump administration," titling the piece "I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration."
[Trump's] 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. [The New York Times]
Cold comfort indeed. This just isn't good enough. Resister, reveal yourself.
This same dynamic is at play in the debate over veteran journalist Bob Woodward's explosive forthcoming book Fear: Trump in the White House. In his surreal conversation with Woodward, the president asked the author if he was "naming names" or "just saying sources" or "people have said." Woodward replied, "I say, at 2:00 on this day, the following happened, and everyone who's there, including yourself, is quoted."
Bob Woodward's reporting — in terms of raw documentation if not interpretive sophistication — is about as unassailable a product as you're likely to find in 21st-century media. There is no reason to doubt that current and former senior aides to President Trump have belittled the man's intelligence, character, and fitness for office.
Additionally, it's reasonable to believe that everyone quoted in Fear, along with this anonymous op-ed author, came forward with the expectation that their account would be accepted one day as the part of the settled historical record of the Trump presidency. These unidentified officials are speaking to the Bleachers of History, pleading for their good names and reputations, even as they presently assure the mad emperor that he is fully clothed.
Be it through anonymous op-eds, "deep background" interviews, or well-intentioned whispering in journalists' ears, these resisters within the Trump administration seem intent on delivering a message to the public: Don't worry. We won't let President Trump ruin everything. And hopefully history will remember our quiet heroism.
But this isn't heroism. It's the sort of cowardly behavior that has produced a cottage industry of Washington sages who declare that it's a "good thing" that Trump is surrounded by advisers who restrain "his most reckless impulses."
The following scenario captured by Woodward gives the lie to this self-serving tripe:
[Trump lawyer John] Dowd then explained to [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller and [Mueller deputy attorney James] Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: "I'm not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, 'I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?'" [Fear, via The Washington Post]
As Vanity Fair's Tina Nguyen notes, "Dowd is practically pleading with Mueller to think of the greater good: If foreign leaders read Trump's testimony, he suggests, it would be impossible for them not to conclude that he is unfit for office." If we did not live in a democratic republic; if our constitutional system did not include safety valves for unfit executives; if, indeed, Trump were a Mad King, Dowd's concerns would be understandable. But we do not. The only plausible explanation for concealing the truth about Trump from the public is that it would cause embarrassment to the president himself and the Republican Party.
America, full stop, would continue along just fine.
If America is indeed being led by a "goddamn dumbbell" who, left to his own devices, would start World War III, then we should hear about it — directly from the mouths of those who uttered the words and believe them to be true. At the very least, if they're not going to resign on principle from this chaotic joke of an administration, men like John Kelly, James Mattis, and John Dowd should loudly acknowledge the truth that's in front of everyone's noses.
To do otherwise is not to "save" the country. It is to save the reputation of Donald J. Trump.
The country does not require the discretion of James Mattis or John Kelly in order to survive.
History will damn them for refusing to recognize the difference.