Thursday, September 6, 2018

David Frum Is Right


After giving the matter some considerable thought, I agree with David Frum. The New York Times op-ed piece by an anonymous senior official from the Trump Administration has done more harm than good. Frum writes,
What happens the next time a staffer seeks to dissuade the president from, say, purging the Justice Department to shut down Robert Mueller’s investigation? The author of the Times op-ed has explicitly told the president that those who offer such advice do not have the president’s best interests at heart and are, in fact, actively subverting his best interests as he understands them on behalf of ideas of their own.

He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous.
And those who do not quit or are not fired in the next few days will have to work even more assiduously to prove themselves loyal, obedient, and on the team. Things will be worse after this article. They will be worse because of this article.
Just so we're clear, neither I, nor Frum, are quibbling about the substance and content of the piece.  With the exception of invoking the 25th Amendment - that one came out of left field - it corroborates every bit of investigative journalism we've seen about this White House. There have simply been too many people who have come forward expressing their grave concerns about the behavior of this president for this not to be true. As Fareed Zakaria adroitly observed, "Behind Trump’s ranting, impulsive, incoherent and narcissistic facade lies a ranting, impulsive, incoherent and narcissistic man."

No, the issue for me and Frum isn't the sincerity of these people, it's their lack of courage. Because what this mysterious writer, and virtually every one else in this administration who has commented off the record to the press - Bob Woodward included - has done isn't particularly heroic or patriotic. What it is, is self-serving, self indulgent and ego driven. Despite the author's affection for John McCain, there is no way the late senator would ever have been an anonymous source. If McCain had something to say, he always said it loud and clear and ON THE RECORD!

I have no doubt this author thought their op-ed would bring about something of an uprising within the White House. After all, what's a resistance without, well, resistance? Unfortunately for him, or her as the case may be, it's had the opposite effect. It's given permission for those who, for all we know, had been anonymous sources for other reporters to close ranks around this president and remain silent. Instead of setting an example by going on the record, this op-ed will only discourage future "brave souls" from speaking out.

But, worst of all, it will only embolden this president. A man who was already paranoid about the prospects of being impeached and / or indicted, will descend further into the same abyss that eventually consumed Richard Nixon. But unlike the 37th president, who at least had the good sense to know when it was over, this president will hold on to the bitter end; even if it means the destruction of the country.

There's no nice way to put this. We have a commander in chief who behaves more and more like Captain Queeg every day. Only instead of a fleet of Van Johnsons coming to the rescue, the nation appears stuck with a boatload of Fred McMurrays.

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