FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Anonymous Anti-Trump Op-Ed Inadvertently(?) Exposes Real Danger

On September 5, the New York Times published an op-ed supposedly written by an anonymous official within president Donald Trump’s administration. The snobbish and self-serving hit piece paints Trump himself as dangerously immature, incompetent, and unstable, while reassuring us that “adults in the room” are working tirelessly to keep his worst impulses in check and save the republic without tedious formalities like invoking the 25th Amendment and removing him from power.

The op-ed itself was a jejeune and mediocre example of a time-honored American pastime, talking smack about one’s boss behind his back. On its own terms, it deserved at most a brief period of public mockery before fading away to something less than an historical footnote.

But then Trump responded swiftly and decisively from his favorite bully pulpit, Twitter.
“TREASON?” he thundered. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

In a few short outbursts, Trump managed to confirm all the op-ed’s worst characterizations of his temperament and mental state.

As for the alleged internal “resistance” the anonymous writer claims to belong to, it seems to have fled the scene. Cabinet secretaries quickly lined up to plead their innocence of any involvement, playing Bukharin to Trump’s Stalin. Who wrote the op-ed? Someone by the name of “Not Me.” An internal administration manhunt (womanhunt?) has allegedly launched to unmask the evil-doer.

Worse, key administration figures, including vice-president Mike Pence and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, are doubling down on Trump’s initial take. They’re softening the risible “treason” line to mere “criminal activity,” but still pushing the line that this whole episode may involve “national security.”

Treason is defined in the US Constitution in terms of levying war on the United States, not in terms of claiming to be your boss’s babysitter. As best I can tell, the rest of federal criminal law is also silent on the media-boosted equivalent of disrespectful water cooler talk.

Nor does any plausible version of “national security” extend to punishing speech of this sort. Calling the president names and affirming an already widely held impression of his fitness for office may further damage his personal reputation (if that’s even possible), but it doesn’t damage the US as such.

These over-the-top responses from Trump and his loyalists, on the other hand, suggest that the cancerous growth long decried as “the imperial presidency” is metastasizing into even more dangerous form before our very eyes. It’s the Reichstag fire, minus even the excuse of an actual fire.

The 25th Amendment doesn’t sound quite so over the top now as it did a week ago. Unfortunately, its beneficiaries would be the same gang minus their current leader.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail