Loading...
No BYH to Trump voters, you elected a bulldozer to our norms, institutions and very stability. and whatever happens...

If you can't serve honorably, don't serve at all

MarcThiessen

Marc Thiessen

Loading…

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The "deep state" exists after all. But it turns out that deep state is not made up of the permanent bureaucracy, shadowy intelligence officials, or even Obama administration holdovers; rather it is made up of President Trump's own senior appointees.

In a New York Times op-ed, an unnamed "senior official in the Trump administration" admits that he and others "in and around the White House" are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda" and thwart "Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office." The author declares that he and his co-conspirators are being "unsung heroes" fighting on the inside to "preserve our democratic institutions." In fact, they are doing precisely the opposite.

President Trump asked on Twitter whether the writer had committed “treason?” No, he (or she) has not. But the writer and the other members of this "quiet resistance within the administration" have betrayed the solemn oath they took when they raised their right hands and pledged to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution vests executive power in the president, not "senior officials." Any authority these appointees have comes from the president, at whose pleasure they serve. For an unelected appointee to hide documents or refuse to carry out the lawful orders of the elected president is not noble. It is not patriotic. It is an assault on democracy.

If you are a presidential appointee who strongly disagrees with something the president is about to do, you have a moral obligation to try to convince the president that he is wrong. If you can't do so, and the matter is sufficiently serious, then you have an obligation to resign — and explain to the American people why you did so. But there is no constitutional option of staying on the job and pretending to be a loyal adviser, while secretly undermining the president by failing to carry out his decisions — no matter how bad you think those decisions are.

The conduct matches that of named senior administration officials described in Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear." According to Woodward, then-economic adviser Gary Cohn "stole a letter off Trump's desk" to avoid formally withdrawing from a U.S-South Korea trade agreement — and later bragged to a colleague that the president never even realized it was missing. Woodward further reports that Cohn did the same with a document to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, telling then-staff secretary Rob Porter "I can stop this. I'll just take the paper off his desk."

It would be a horrible decision to withdraw from those trade agreements. And it would be perfectly legitimate to campaign internally to dissuade the president from doing so. But for the head of the National Economic Council to conspire with the White House staff secretary to hide documents from the president is rank insubordination.

It is important that good people serve in the administration and try their best to persuade the president to make good decisions and dissuade him from bad ones. But when you go from advising to subverting the president, you cross a moral and constitutional line. You are no longer defending democracy; you are subverting it. And to boast about your duplicitous behavior in the media is shameful.

In our system of checks and balances, there are a number of options at the disposal of officials concerned about the president's fitness for office. If the president is as unstable as the writer suggests, and if many within the administration share that view, then a mass resignation would be appropriate. That could certainly make an impact on the midterm elections and flip control of the House and Senate to the Democrats, providing a check on the president's power.

If Trump is truly incompetent, then members of the Cabinet can agree to notify Congress that they do not believe the president can carry out his duties under the 25th Amendment. If he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, Congress can impeach him. But seeking to thwart the president from within by extra-constitutional means is un-American.

There is no shame in not serving a president you don't respect. Many conservatives have made that decision. But if you feel you can't serve the president honorably, then there is only one honorable thing to do: Don't serve at all.

Marc Thiessen is a columnist for The Washington Post, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

Op Ed

January 19, 2019

“Drain the swamp!” was one of those memorable Donald Trump campaign promises that remains unfulfilled, much like “Mexico will pay for the wall!” and “Repeal and replace Obamacare!” with “something terrific.”

Unlike the latter two promises,…

Senate EPA Wheeler-1

January 19, 2019

As state superintendent of North Carolina’s public schools, I often hear from other leaders that standardized tests help hold students, teachers and schools accountable. Accountability is important for our schools but also for our leaders. The testing system that the education-industrial…

Mark Johnson

January 19, 2019

Imagine traveling from Raleigh to Charlotte in about 22 minutes; not by train, plane or car, but instead in a pod, transported through an almost friction-free tunnel. This concept is under experimentation right now, as nearly 1,000 learned last week at the N.C. Transportation Summit.

Sponsored by…

020417Campbell

January 17, 2019

President Trump's political strategy is completely clear: use his persistent promotion of a border wall to energize his core supporters. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told Fox News that "border security" is the "No. 1 reason" those ardent advocates will vote to re-elect him. Trump himself…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

January 17, 2019

Since the Knights of Columbus recently became a political issue, I've seen a constant refrain on social media that goes something along the lines of: "What do you mean, the pancake breakfast guys?" The point being: Could you be picking on nicer guys? But the Knights' goodness goes far beyond…

kathrynlopez

January 17, 2019

The Post's report that President Trump "has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin" — including taking away an interpreter's notes and instructing the person not to discuss what was said even with senior officials of his own…

Marc_Thiessen

January 16, 2019

As you may have heard by now, there was a rather maddening side story to the veto override votes that took place during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day at the North Carolina General Assembly. As commentator Thomas Mills rightfully pointed out on the website Politics NC, had all…

Rob Schofield

January 16, 2019

Here are a couple of easy immigration questions — answerable with a simple "yes" or "no" — we might ask any American of any political stripe: Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do the American people have a right, through their elected representatives, to…

Walter Williams

January 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES TIMES

With the conspicuous exception of President Trump and some of his supporters, Americans were appalled when it was revealed that Russian “troll farms” had launched a disinformation campaign on social media designed to influence the 2016 election. But online deception…

January 15, 2019

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., defeated Democrat Deborah Ross in 2016 in a race infused with $55 million in outside money.

We already knew North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator was awash in NRA cash. We already knew the pro-gun group spent $5.6 million in 2016 against his Democratic opponent,…

Senate 2016 North Carolina Debate-2
321 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 33
        Next Page»   Last Page»