- - Thursday, September 6, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For more than a year, President Trump raged at “the deep state” which he believed was arrayed against him, a cabal of highly placed men and women within the federal government, many of them holdover remnants of the Obama administration, working to destroy him and his agenda by any means necessary.

The president’s claims provoked laughter and derision from the media, the permanent Washington establishment, elected Democrats and even some in the displaced Republican elites. President Trump, they said, was just being paranoid.

This week the Deep State emerged from the shadows with dramatic confirmation of the president’s claims, in the guise of a remarkable op-ed in The New York Times written by someone the newspaper would identify only as “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”

The author identified himself — his sex revealed inadvertently by the newspaper with its use of the male pronoun — as a member of the “steady state.” He wrote that he is “part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.” He says multiple members of the White House staff are working to thwart the president and replace his agenda with one of their own.

Some of the author’s claims are familiar to followers of the mainstream media. We read, for example, that, “meetings with [President Trump] 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.” These accusations have been part of an endless loop of out-of-school tales in The New York Times and The Washington Post, countless magazine articles and Internet blogs, and books by the likes of Michael Wolff, Omarosa and now, carefully timed for maximum effect, by Bob Woodward.

Such “disclosures” sourced anonymously make it difficult to assess the validity of the claims. That’s precisely what makes the op-ed so remarkable. It’s simply a longer version of the blindly sourced news accounts we see every day. Why didn’t the newspaper assign such a blockbuster account to the news department for confirmation and splash it across Page One? That’s how newspapers, including The New York Times, have done it for many decades.

More disturbing is the admission from the author that he and whoever worked with him at The New York Times set out precisely to thwart the agenda that Mr. Trump promised to accomplish if he were elected. The anonymous author writes, as if a revelation, that the president is “anti-trade.” Hostility to one-sided trade agreements and illegal immigration were exactly the issues that catapulted Candidate Trump past nearly a score of Republican presidential primary candidates for the nomination and then past Hillary Clinton.

The anonymous author writes that the president “complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.” Whether such actions against Russia were in fact necessary is debatable, but what is not debatable is that an unelected group of the president’s trusted advisers have no right to organize nothing less than a coup to depose a president of the United States. The United States is not a banana republic. Not yet.

President Trump has reacted apoplectically, as any president, Republican or Democrat, would and should. Sarah Sanders, the president’s press secretary, called the anonymous author “gutless” and a “coward.” The president dispatched a provocative Twitter tweet suggesting that the op-ed constitutes treason. We think it’s correctly called a betrayal of the president and established order, and dishonorable in the extreme.

Sarah Sanders says the author should “do the right thing and resign.” That is likely on the way. It’s unlikely that the anonymous author can keep his identity hidden for long. Scribblers are notorious gossipers. This is a sad day for The New York Times, for being an accomplice and an enabler in the betrayal of its own history. It’s further a betrayal of the men and women who do honorable work at the White House.

Such men and women have in the past come to profound disagreement with the presidents they served, and have done the honorable thing, to resign and explain why, in whatever forum they choose and at whatever length they think appropriate. But there is no honor in betrayal.


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