Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Opinion

Sources coming forward would add credibility

A blistering opinion piece in the New York Times last week opened with an editor’s note.

“The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay,” it read. “We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.

“We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

To be sure, the column is decidedly critical of President Trump. “The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” it read.

Other examples are far more condemning:

• “The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”

• “In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the ‘enemy of the people,’ President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.”

• “Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”

The unnamed writer also acknowledged perceived positives of the Trump administration.

“There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more,” the column read.

•  •  •

As far as the pubication of an anonymous column, the Times labeled the source a “senior official” known to the newspaper’s editorial department, and that’s been generally accepted even by many who disapprove of the column. Bob Woodward’s recently released book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” uses anonymous sources backed by hundreds of hours of taped interviews.

Nevertheless, parts of the Times column sounded like a coup.

“There were early whispers ... of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” it read. “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

It added, “It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

The problem here is that these officials likely weren’t elected. Trump was. As such — if the allegations in the book and the op-ed piece are valid — that information should be verified and investigated instead of relying on a “quiet resistance within the administration.”

“We believe our first duty is to this country,” the column read, “and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”

If that’s true, at least some of these sources should come forward, resign if necessary, and take ownership of these comments. Federal employees take an oath to “support and defend” the Constitution, not to do the same for the president or the office of the president.

As such, if the claims are true, relative silence is not an option. Attaching a name to these criticisms would give them weight they simply wouldn’t have otherwise.


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