Trump’s Response: Rage, Denial, Shoot the Messenger, Persecute the Press
None of these are going to help improve his governance, and, in fact, they are all going to make it much worse. Since Trump is paranoid, he will start another purge of anybody who has ever challenged him or questioned his actions. There is no evidence that he will review his actions or start an advisory program to become better informed and less dictatorial.
The two embarrassing challenges are of course the anonymous New York Times op-ed of someone senior in the White House, who revealed the resistance group there acting for good governance, or party loyalty. Then, there is the about-to-be-released book “Fear” by Bob Woodward.
Some comments on the op-ed. There are several appeals for the public to be less divisive. The blame is put on the public, not totally on Trump’s unusual actions, policies, rejection of expertise, and choices of political lobbyists for his cabinet and administrative staffing. The direction of the op-ed is that we don’t have to worry about Trump’s mental status, because there is a resistance that will keep the Administration from doing anything dangerous. This is really a counter to the revelations in Woodward’s book. Both of these story lines are supportive of the administration, and made to counter the stories in “Fear”.
The resistance fighter is solidly conservative Republican, backing the wealthy tax cut. They were not saving us from climate change, in particular, pulling out of the Paris agreement. They were not saving us from Iran in protecting the nuclear non-proliferation agreement. They were not keeping the progress in clean energy regulations.
It’s hypocritical for Trump’s supporters to criticize the press for an anonymous op-ed and Woodward’s sources, when we have no accounts of Trump’s secret meetings with leaders of our two enemies, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and Vladimir Putin of Russia. Maybe Trump will ask his buddy Putin if he knows who wrote the Times editorial. So the resistance did not protect us from these secret meetings.
The conclusion is that the resistance has not protectected America from Trump’s careless, uninformed and unjustified actions. Given that, it is hard to see why Trump is so upset at such an agreeable resistance.
Trump is used to running his own pharaonic empire, the Trump Organization, in his dictatorial fashion, with him completely covered by employees’ non-disclosure agreements. The federal government is quite different. Employees work for the American people, and even the non-disclosure agreements that Trump made White House employees sign are probably not valid.
In any organization, the leader can only know or monitor a small amount of what is going on. This is especially true of Trump, who doesn’t know anything about government, foreign policy, economics, or even the Constitution. But in any organization, the leader has to rely on levels and levels of staff to carry out any policies. The government employees are also restrained by laws and ethics rules, which the leader doesn’t know about. So things don’t get executed, or executed as desired. The anonymous writer, and Trump, have to realize that this is the nature of organizations, and there is not much unique about what is happening in the White House, other than Trump’s ignorance and personality.
We know that Trump has gotten rid of a lot of his most knowledgeable advisors, and kept those with a high score on obsequiousness. Trump’s moodiness and changes of attitude were already well known. I don’t mind him making changes, since as he learns more, he could be making better choices. However, it has been said that he follows the last person who talked to him. It’s also apparent that in taxes, he follows the interests of his richest friends, and brags to them about how rich he is making them.
The search for Trump’s “TRAITOR”, or, as could be called “The Hunt for Red September”, is also an important distraction from the carefully secreted past of Brett Kavanaugh, and from the release of “Fear” on September 11. It also is a diversion from examining and fixing Trump’s faults. By the way, you can only have traitors if you have a declaration of war with a named enemy, and then communicate with agents of that country. Trump has already secretly met with both potential enemy dictators, and told us nothing.
Among many ancient references, shooting the messenger is in Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, when Cleopatra is informed that Anthony has married another, she threatens the messenger, who responds, “gracious madam, I that do bring the news made not the match”.
By the way, the leading clue to find the writer is his or her used of the word “lodestar”. In Merriam-Webster, the meaning is given as: one who serves as an inspiration, model, or guide”. Definitely not applicable to Trump. Lodestar is also a guiding star, especially the North or Pole Star. A lodestone is magnetized iron or magnetite. Suspended or on a float, it points to the North Star. Vice President Pence uses this to praise Trump. So you should look for a physicist or astronomer, or a scientist in the White House. Oh, but there aren’t any. (Just for fun, Shakespeare also includes a compliment by Helena in Midsummers-night’s Dream “your eyes are lode-stones”.)
Trump has already prompted 25 of his embarrassed cabinet and top officials to release statements that they were not the anonymous op-ed writer.
We already know that Trump does not read briefings put on his desk, so I must also declare that I did not write the NY Times op-ed. But I could have.