Peggy Whiteneck, Freelance Writer

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The Trouble with That Anonymous Trump-Circle Editorial

by Peggy Rose Whiteneck

An editorial by a senior White House official ran in the September 5, 2018 edition of The New York Times. Entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance inside the Trump Administration," the editorial purports to reassure Americans that there are "adults in the room" who are thwarting the President's worst impulses. Ostensibly, the writer wishes to remain anonymous in order to continue at his/her post so that he/she can keep Trump's personality from blowing up his policy initiatives.

Normally, I give no credence to anonymous writing. I figure that if someone doesn't have the cajones to sign his or her name to an argument, there's no reason I should pay attention to it. But, as has been frequently noted by many non-anonymous speakers and writers, these are not normal times.

Still, what can we learn, really, from this editorial that we did not already know? The fact that the executive branch of government is in chaos and disarray has been known for the better part of these past two too-long years. That Trump is impulsive and amoral (as in totally lacking in ethical principles) is not news to anyone who has been paying attention. There is nothing in the editorial that either contradicts or expands upon what has been previously revealed by Amarosa Manigault Newman's book Unhinged and James Comey's book A Higher Loyalty, as well as by more objective authors such as Michael Wolff in his book Fire and Fury and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Bob Woodward in his book Fear - not to mention the daily reporting by numerous reliable news sources even as the President keeps trying to malign the truth as "fake."

This all calls into question the timing of the editorial piece as well as its actual intent. The author says his/her purpose is to reassure the public that there are steadying hands on Trump's rocky ship of state. The context for this "editorial" is that more and more Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed by Trump's hostile rhetoric and erratic behavior, an angst that can only be heightened by the recent, rapid-sequence release of the four books noted above, all of which tell a remarkably consistent story.

In responding to this crisis of White House credibility, the editorial writer claims to have a problem with Trump's style but not the substance of his policies and asserts that White House staff are doing their utmost to protect the country from Trump's worst impulses. If this message was meant to be mollifying or reassuring, it has rather the opposite effect on me. Those of us who believe Trump's policies, such as they are, are as toxic as his personality can take little comfort in the notion that clearer and more competent heads are prevailing to make sure those policies succeed in dismantling financial regulation meant to protect the country from another 2008 meltdown, in pushing tax cuts that balloon the national deficit and screw the most vulnerable members of the public while lining the pockets of the affluent, in revoking environmental protections, in backing us out of international treaties and agreements, in undermining the hard-won efforts of generations of civil rights activism, and in launching travel bans based on race and ethnicity as a substitute for genuine immigration reform.

Credible journalism has always relied on sources whose identity is known to reporters but not to the public; an anonymous "editorial" is just an extension of that long practice. So, no, I don't have much of a problem with the anonymity of the piece in question; we can argue over whether the editorial would have been more compelling if the writer had resigned and then blown the whistle. What I do have a problem with is the underlying thesis of the editorial: that the essential direction in which Trump is taking the country is sound. That anonymous article was not meant to expose Trump. It was meant to protect the Trump agenda.


More Peg's Blog Spot Posts

 · What "Telling It Like It Is" Really Means
 · Breaking News: We're All "Values Voters!"
 · Monuments Flap Is Not about the Monuments
 · Have We Always Been the Disunited States of America?
 · A Humble Defense of the Constitution
 · The Trump Presidency: Bigotry's Cause or Only Its Effect?
 · Race, Class, and Access to Women's Health Services
 · Trump's Angry White Folks
 · Whatever Happened to "Look It Up?"



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