The one-two punch of Bob Woodward’s new book and an anonymous senior administration official’s op-ed in the New York Times has President Trump on his heels as he searches for Woodward’s sources and the name of the rogue op-ed writer.
Time wasted but that’s up to the President.
Woodward is regarded as a responsible, experienced, reliable, capable and competent journalist, which he is. He says he conducted interviews with many-people-who-would-know things on tape, not that he’s giving up who his sources are. (But clearly Kellyanne Conway is one because we know she spent at least a lunch with Woodward and it can’t all have been discussing a presidential interview.) His book, Fear: Trump in the White House, according to news reports, ranges from talking about Trump’s instinct to assassinate Bashar al-Assad and his minions to people stealing decision memos from Trump’s desk to ward off what they consider bad decisions.
The likelihood is Woodward got most of it right but some wrong in his book. His book also reinforces a lot of what we’ve been told by members of Congress, government officials and Trump’s friends about the president’s administration – that he runs it on instinct and without reading much about issues; that he makes decisions that are walked back sometimes the same day; that he watches lots of Fox news; and that he displays paranoia, among other things. After all, during the 2016 campaign when asked how he develops his foreign policy, Trump responded that he “watches the shows.” Whoever thought he was kidding now has nearly two years of him as president to know that was and is true. He is relying on talking heads rather than the best intelligence gathering machine in the world.
The anonymous “senior administration official” who penned the blockbuster NYTimes op-ed is a huge development. First, the newspaper of record would never allow an anonymous op-ed without being certain the author truly speaks from first-hand experience. That bodes for it being a very senior White House aide (assistant to the President level) or a cabinet or deputy cabinet official, in my mind. The NYTimes isn’t running a piece like that from someone they never heard of before.
That person’s name eventually will be discovered, I have no doubt; most likely by either a NYTimes reporter or another media outlet’s reporting. That, though, matters less than what he or she said and what it means.
If I were in the position of that person, I would not have written an anonymous op-ed to get out the message that the union is safe because of people like me and others protecting it from a president who often is off the rails, trampling on the Constitution and making immature fun of foreign and domestic leaders.
Some friends, Trump supporters, say this person is being disloyal to the President if he or she is not carrying out Trump’s wishes and the person should resign. To those friends I’ve said, the oath of office appointees take is to the U.S. Constitution, not the President. Trump tweeted “Treason?” about the op-ed’s author.
No, Mr. President, treason is not taking issue with you. We live in the USA which means we have rights to speak our minds, protest and even oppose whoever the President is. In fact, that person may have committed anti-treason, if there was such a thing.
If I were the person who wrote the op-ed, though, I would have handed in my resignation and taken a cab to the Hill to report what I knew to the appropriate Congressional leaders of BOTH sides of the aisle, to tell them what a danger to our nation Trump is. And, I would have tried to organize this alleged network of protectors of the union to join me so the Hill could not ignore it. To force the Hill to do one of its responsibilities – oversight of the Executive Branch.
And if the Hill did nothing, then I’d go public.
Yes, Trumpsters, he was duly elected by the American people. No argument. But if you elect someone who you then learn is a fraud and ignores the Constitution or at least comes right to the edge of ignoring it, do you just accept that? Do you sit back and wait for the Big Mistake he can make or his tempestuous instincts? Or do you act and report first-hand knowledge to the appropriate authorities who are, in this case, the Congress.
There is no doubt there are women and men, appointed by the President, as nervous about his leadership as many of us are. We’ve seen Woodward do his always deep reporting to find out the truth and this anonymous op-ed author ring the clarion bell and then, apparently, return to his or her job and try to protect the country.
For Woodward, that is what he does and he does it well.
For the anonymous op-ed writer, it’s not good enough. You sounded the alarm but that shouldn’t be enough to let you sleep at night for joining this corrupt administration.
Follow up and do something about it.🔷
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(This piece was originally published on The Screaming Moderate.)