Who is the anonymous “senior administration official” who wrote last week’s op-ed in the New York Times? You know, the one who boasted of taking part in a shadow government that sees its noble mission as stymieing the deranged American president?
It’s amusing to guess. But, man, that’s the wrong parlor game. The right one, for American voters, is deciding which actions to take before the midterm election to ensure we get a Congress that will stop both the president and the self-styled shadow government that imagines it’s subduing him.
There’s nothing comforting about a soft coup d’etat in the White House — made up of unnamed vigilantes accountable to no one — serving as a thin, self-appointed line between the life and death of the republic.
Like many stunts in journalism — and the Times’s op-ed is a beaut — this one does its job only if it spurs action. It’s crucial to see the whole whodunnit as a “Murder on the Orient Express” situation.
We all did it. Are doing it. The majority of us trapped inside the Trump regime share the anonymous senior administration official’s concerns about the president’s sanity, temperament and commitment to the Constitution. Those of us who disapprove of President Trump couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
Like the clique of self-styled resistance fighters on the inside, we on the outside also want to thwart him. But, as members of a democracy, we’ll do it at the polls.
Over the eons — meaning months — of Trump’s presidency, the list of non-anonymous insiders who reportedly have questioned the president’s sanity, integrity and intelligence has grown ever longer.
There are White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, former Trump legal adviser John Dowd, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former economic adviser Gary Cohn, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, former EPA chief Scott Pruitt and former communications aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.
Even Trump knows the score. When the anonymous op-ed appeared, Trump did not bother to claim that his inner circle was as loyal as they come. Who would believe that?
As the Russian dissident and chess master Garry Kasparov has said of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, when despots stifle protesters, journalists, voters and detractors, the despots are expressing blind terror.
Out of fear, Trump is trying to pretend the attendees of his rallies represent America.
Out of fear, he’s determined to frame the moral majority as outlaws.
But all that’s an illusion. Excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book “Fear: Trump in the White House” make it clear that the uncompromised figures near him consider Trump a profound risk. C
It’s as if Woodward’s sources jumped off the pages and into the New York Times to prove Woodward was telling the truth.
In Woodward’s book, Kelly is quoted as saying of Trump, “He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown.” Further, Woodward shows a scene of Mattis blocking Trump’s move to deny South Korea military protection. The op-ed author claims that it’s her or his clique securing our alliances against the president’s efforts to destroy them.
This is not to say that Kelly or Mattis is our Anonymous. Who cares? What’s important is that Trump is off the rails.
Most people disapprove. The protesters are fired up. The voters will rise.
And all the president’s men? This time, they despise him, too.
Virginia Heffernan has been a staff writer for The New York Times, as a TV critic, magazine columnist and opinion writer. Tribune News Service distributes her column.