Loading...
As a resident of the TRUNA neighborhood I am grateful for all the wonderful work of Councilman Bell for the last two...

An insider's lament about Trump serves no public good

PONNURU

Ramesh Ponnuru

Loading…

Friday, September 7, 2018

People write op-eds for all kinds of reasons. Some do it for recognition, some to draw attention to an issue they think has been overlooked. We can rule out both motives for a splashy New York Times op-ed, written by an anonymous someone whom the Times assures us is a senior Trump administration official, and who calls himself part of a "quiet resistance within the administration."

So what was the point of it?

Was it to inform the public that President Donald Trump often makes "half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back"? Anyone who is capable of reaching that realization has already done so.

Was it to inform us that many people inside the administration consider Trump "erratic" and dishonorable? We knew that, too, from several thousand news stories quoting anonymous administration officials — almost certainly including this one.

Was it to reassure the public that Trump is being restrained by his own aides? ("Americans should know that there are adults in the room.") If so, it's not very reassuring. The message of the op-ed amounts, after all, to saying that the president is unfit for his office, so unfit that even many of his employees see it, and that they are trying to work around it.

Was it to share the news that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment" to remove Trump from office? But this is too vague to constitute news. Did one assistant secretary invoke the idea in the spirit of gallows humor, or did a few secretaries meet to discuss the idea seriously?

Was the purpose to make opponents of the administration think more kindly of the people working for it? They, too, are aware of the phenomenon of Trump officials who have serious reservations about him and are trying to limit the damage, as they see it, from his presidency.

If these opponents consider this kind of ambivalent service a morally sound course of action, they thought so already. If they think it is cowardly, an anonymous op-ed won't change their mind.

I think working for Trump while seeking to thwart some of his impulses is defensible. It's not "overt defiance of presidential authority," as one critic of the op-ed has put it, especially when the president is so lackadaisical about enforcing discipline among his underlings.

In any presidency, aides want to steer the president toward the impulses they consider better. What differentiates this administration from past ones is the contempt for the president's character that animates so many of its employees.

The Trump aide who feels the president is unfit for office must make, and continually update, a judgment whether it will do more good to influence the administration or do it a marginal bit of political harm by leaving it in public.

But he should be aware that it is enormously psychologically tempting to conclude that his own presence in office is crucial in averting disaster. If Trump's aides were making this judgment free of self-interest or delusion, surely someone by now would have a public resignation on principle.

What can't be justified, on any calculation I can perform, is how this op-ed advances the public good. It will make the president more aggrieved and less likely to credit wise counsel than ever while changing no one's mind.

Perhaps it has at least achieved catharsis for its author. But there is already more than enough self-expression coming out of this administration.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, senior editor at National Review, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and contributor to CBS News.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

August 18, 2019

I have had the distinct honor and privilege of leading the Greenville VA Health Care Center as the Administrator and Associate Administrator since November 2016.

Over the past two and a half years, I have enjoyed working all of the veterans and staff members as we grew together, overcame obstacles,…

Forte.jpg

July 23, 2019

Since being sworn in January, I have been working hard to help the people I represent in Lenoir and Pitt counties — and the biggest opportunity to do this has been through the state budget. I’ve talked with elected officials, educators, administrators, nonprofits, business owners,…

121718chrishumphrey

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson
112 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 12
        Next Page»   Last Page»