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In Defense of “Lodestar”

The Anonymous Writer to the New York Times is not a Patriot, but he’s not a Coward either.

Everyone is talking about the unnamed writer of an op-ed to the New York Times on September 5. The writer is a “senior administration official” and has said that they and others have thwarted some of President Trump’s worst excesses.

The response from pro-Trump factions is predictable. But what has been surprising, at least to me, is the amount of Trump critics who are mad at the writer, with many suggesting they come forward and resign. Some go as far as to say they, along with the anonymous sources to Bob Woodward’s latest book focusing on the Trump Administration are taking part in a slow moving coup. This is what David Frum says in the Atlantic:

Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count. Present the evidence that will justify an invocation of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or an impeachment, or at the very least, the first necessary step toward either outcome, a Democratic Congress after the November elections.

The belief from Frum and others is that it is cowardly to not step forward and come clean. Like Frum, the idea is to resign and present the case.

While I am surprised so many people are condemning this person, maybe I shouldn’t be. We live in incredibly polarized times. President Trump has taken advantage of that atmosphere to do allow himself to rule. Because he is considered such an odious character, because he has put forth heartless policies like the forced separation of migrant parents from their children, because he seems to thrive on racial/ethinc animosity, it is very hard for Trump critics to give a person like this official, some slack. Some see this person as a collaborator and not some kind of hero. Trump’s black and white reality is reflected in Trump critics that see black and white and not shades of gray.

But I don’t think either should happen. Being anonymous has allowed this person to keep us focused on the problem at hand, that our President is ill suited for the position. If they went public, the media spotlight would be focused on the person, their background, who they voted for and so on. What would have been forgotten would be the reason they wrote the article in the first place, that this President is incompetent if not insane, and that there are people trying to do the right thing on the inside.

As for resigning, a fair number of people have resigned their posts in protest during the Trump administration. The result has been….nothing. Yes, people leave. Yes, these workers don’t feel compromised or having to defend why they are working in the government for the President. But the thing is, if “Lodestar” did come forward and resign, he would probably get a gig as a special correspondent on CNN or MSNBC, but little would change. Many of those who have resigned their position because of Trump don’t make a big splash at all.

What about what Frum and others suggest, that these people who do whatever is needed to curb some of Trump’s excesses are basically coup plotters? Well, let’s look at it from another vantage point: if these people didn’t try to undermine the President, we might have gone to war with North Korea and it probably would have been a nuclear exchange. Writer Zach Beauchamp shares that Trump was fixated on hitting the “hermit kingdom:”

Trump spent the second half of 2017 threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury,” undercutting then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to negotiate, and tweeting implied threats to launch a war against the North. Sen. Chris Murphy(D-CT) told me in December that the Defense Department had quietly ramped up preparations for war, and that he had become worried about “Trump’s willingness to launch a preemptive strike.”

Axios reported that the president had a “fixation” on the idea of attacking North Korea, constantly bringing it up in meetings. “There is a reason the harshest assessments of Trump usually leak after North Korea meetings,” Axios’s reporters wrote ominously.

A war between North Korea and the United States, according to our best guesses, would likely have cost millions of lives. Yet instead of a conflict, we got rapprochement?—?a summit and sham deal between Trump and Kim Jong Un that seems to have moved us off of war footing (for now). But we still don’t really know why things went down this way.

There are very few practical checks on the executive branch’s ability to initiate force. If Trump had decided he wanted to follow through on his threats, he could have ordered a strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities. But for some reason, he changed his mind.

We don’t know for sure that someone was working to either change Trump’s mind or steer him away from World War III, but it isn’t that hard to believe that someone on the inside was able to stop Trump from going down a dangerous road. It’s not good to try to undermine the will of the President, but we are not in normal times. We have someone in the Oval Office that is not fit to be President, but is in the White House. Yes, subverting the President’s wishes is breaking norms, but it’s either this or probably dealing with the aftermath of Manhattan getting nuked.

What “Lodestar” is showing is that Trump doesn’t have the confidence of his staff. When people are so easily leaking information to journalists, it shows bad leadership, not bad followership. If the President were a better leader, one that wasn’t demanding loyalty, but trying to live up to his constitutional vows, you would see less leaking.

As columnist Megan McArdle and other writers have noticed, we are in new territory here. We have never had a leader like Trump; someone who seems to not understand how American government works, let alone know how the Constitution works. We have never had someone that seems so willing to subvert governing norms. Yes, we have had bad actors in the Oval Office, like Nixon. But while Nixon was corrupt, he was also a politician and knew how to govern. I remember reading one of Nixon’s many books on policy back in the early 90s; this was a guy that understood government, especially foreign policy. Trump has none of those redeeming qualities. He lives in a delusional world where he is the smartest guy in the room.

So what do you do when there is someone like Trump in the White House? People could resign, but mass resignations could mean that Trump fills the administration with his cronies, who might not be qualified for a job. At the end of the day, working on the inside to contain Trump is the best of many bad options.

So is Lodestar a “hero?” I don’t know. What I do know is that I am thankful that there are people within the government that are trying to keep the ship afloat. Because at the end of the day, that is probably all we can do until 2020. Both impeachment and invoking the 25th Amendment are clunky and would not be the slam dunk that liberals and Never Trumpers think it would be.

I don’t know if Lodestar is a hero, but I will say thanks to them and others that are trying to do the best they can. They have showed us how bad it is inside the White House. Without them it could be much, much worse.

Crossposted at Medium.


Staff Writer

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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65 thoughts on “In Defense of “Lodestar”

  1. There is no defense of Lodestar except for the few fantasy loving Pollyannas who think “adults in the room” can save us from Trump.

    The op-ed itself makes it clear, Lodestar likes a lot of what Trump is doing because it is long-standing GOP goals: regressive tax cuts that would make Louis XVI blush, jam packing the court with dyed in wool reactionaries that are young enough to be on the courts for decades. a return to Gilded Age non constraint on bankers and industrialists. Lodestar loves this all.

    Meanwhile we learn that Trump’s admin tried to do a coup in Venezuela. The terror campaign by ICE against immigrants continues unabated and without relief.

    The same thing is true of Sasse, Flake, and Corker. They might make some sighs and complaints about Trump but they never do anything that could constrain Trump. They will gladly vote for all his judges and tax cuts.

    Suppose there was a Democratic variant of Trump in the White House. Conservatives would write a trillion essays about how Democratic Senators need to vote no on long-standing Democratic goals for the sake of the country. Yet now they whine that is unfair to expect the same of Sasse or Flake.

    Damn them all. Damn the rigged game.

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  2. I don’t consider them heroes or patriots, and definitely are not a part of the resistance, but to the extent that they’re doing what they say I’m glad that people in the administration are doing what they’re doing so they don’t even need much defense. I’m glad because I know that the most likely (only?) alternative is not the collapse of the regime but an even worse administration than we have and a more poorly run nation than we presently have. There are some exceptions, but not many.

    I think a lot of the critics are either blind to this reality or simply don’t care about what actually happens as long as they can maximize the amount of distance between their own perceived virtue and everyone else’s.

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      • One of the reasons I’m unthrilled with the Op-Ed is that it (plausibly) carries implicit message for both Congress and (conservative) voters:

        “Don’t worry that the President is dangerously unfit for the office he holds. You have good conservatives here that will prevent him from doing anything really craze while getting you those sweet tax cuts and judicial appointments.”

        Is that the intent? I’m not entirely sure. But it’s certainly of a piece with the rationalizations the broad Right has been selling to itself in order to continue supporting Trump.

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        • One thing I didn’t mention here is that I don’t actually like the op-ed itself, and wish it hadn’t been written, for a variety of reasons. Among other things, this is the sort of thing that works best when you aren’t actually telling people you’re doing it!

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          • You’re assuming what should be proven, i.e. that Trump is unfit/crazy/etc. He’s been days away from melting down for decades. If lodestar stepped forward with actual proof, then maybe we can invoke the 25th.

            Or… it’s possible we’re going to see a huge ramp up of drama and then he’ll step forward, be forced to resign, he won’t have any actual proof, and he’ll accept a cushy job for CNN with a massive pay increase. Almost like that was the plan.

            Among other things, this is the sort of thing that works best when you aren’t actually telling people you’re doing it!

            Which means if this were going on as claimed, we’d expect that it wouldn’t be written. Which is why it’s very hard for me to take this at face value.

            Are there other possibilities? Mind you if it’s face-value true then I’d like to see Pence in there… but if it’s face-value true then I don’t understand why Trump’s staffers don’t also want that.

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  3. The critique is of the risible claim that this undermining of Trump by his staff is in lieu of a “constitutional crisis” by invoking the 25th amendment. This is so manifestly absurd that one theory out there is that the real purpose of the op-ed is to float the idea of 25ing him, inducing a bunch of people to suggest this out loud before the staff steal themselves to do what needs to be done. Maybe, but I am also open to the “blinkered stupidity” interpretation. The point of the critique is that the constitution contemplates this situation and provides a mechanism for dealing with it. Invoking this mechanism by definition is not a “constitutional crisis.” Using extra-constitutional means on the other hand, clearly is.

    Invoking the 25th before the November elections would be an electoral disaster for the Republicans. I honestly don’t know if, given a choice between this and nuclear war, which way they would go. In the meantime, my guess is that the point of this op-ed is to claim that everything is OK: we got those awesome tax cuts, and if Trump decides to push the button, someone will hide it in the next room until his attention wanders to something else.

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      • The 25th is actually more difficult procedurally than impeachment, at least if it is to be made permanent.

        But it provides a permission structure if the case for removal for office comes from Trump’s own appointees saying that he cannot execute the duties of his office.

        And taking the Op-Ed (and pretty much everything else we know) at face value, he can’t.

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      • It’s a real reach to include this into what the 25th Amendment is for.

        The text of the amendment is that the relevant parties declare that

        the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office

        That doesn’t seem to me a reach at all, given what we know. Quite the opposite: It seems a no-brainer. Given when the amendment was enacted we can infer that they had nukes in mind. So far as we know, no one has had to physically wrestle the nuclear football away from him. If that is the standard, then I suppose you have a point. It isn’t the standard I take.

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        • There are sorta two fundamental problems in the design of the 25th amendment.

          The first is it assumes the president would _become_ unfit for office at some specific point. Maybe that point would be debatable, but the obvious concept is that they would start fit for office. This…did not happen.

          The second problem is that President Trump is not unfit for office. He is _anti_-fit for office. He is literally worse than no one in that office. Seriously, imagine the government with a void where the presidency is, (Where the cabinet is picked by Congress and whatever else needs doing just happens however.) and tell me we wouldn’t be better off right now. The 25th assumes that unfitness is some sort of medical condition that _reduces_ the ability of the president to do their job, not some personality defects that cause the president to do the job in extremely dangerous and quite absurd ways.

          The third problem, and this is Congress’s fault, is they never correctly implemented it. The cabinet is just supposed to be the stopgap authority until Congress creates a body to monitor the fitness of the president.

          ‘Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide

          There is supposed to be a body made up of…respectiable people. There are various proposals, like including all previous living presidents and vice presidents, and the Supreme Court. Or you could even do something like make the ‘gang of eight’ in Congress be that body. Or throw them all together. Most importantly, it needs to be people that the president (mostly) did not hire and _cannot fire_ if they start talking about doing this, or try and it fails in Congress.

          I am not saying that would fix the problem here, but _not_ having such a body has removed a method of removal from office.

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          • Here are the problems with Impeachment and to a lesser extent (but not much of one), the 25th Amendment:

            1.They are political procedures masquerading as Constitutional ones;

            2. We are all taught to think of them as Constitutional procedures.

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            • Right.
              They aren’t criminal proceedings, requiring proof or even evidence.

              Under the 25th, the president can be removed immediately by the VP and a majority of the Cabinet simply declaring it in writing to the Speaker.
              And if the President declares otherwise, its up to Congress to adjudicate, by whatever politics it wants.

              Likewise, “crimes and misdemeanors” means whatever Congress wants it to mean.

              The problem of course is that no one in his party really wants to invoke any of this. Not out of any concerns for norms (hah!) or thorny Constitutional issues, they just don’t want to, period.

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    • There are alternatives to invoking the 25th. Starting with “Telling Congress” or “Telling the American people” sometime prior to two years in. It’s not like Trump was doing fine until last month.

      The Op-Ed makes it clear why he’s finally telling the American public, two years in — it’s because Trump has outlived his usefulness, where said usefulness is “Getting things I, one of his unelected handlers, wanted done”.

      I don’t know why any sane person would expect anyone, even Trump’s most ardent opponents, to be happy with an Op-Ed that can be summed up as “As one of the people that works closely with Trump, I can assure you he is dangerously unfit for office and has been since the day he was elected. Most of us working for him believe that. Over the past two years, we’ve helped hide that from you so we could get some tax cuts in. You wouldn’t believe the wars he’s tried to start! Thank God he’s not a real President right? Anyhoo, he’s starting to make us conservatives look bad, so it’s probably time he goes. Aren’t I courageous?”

      Yes, bravo, Congressional Medal of Honors all around.

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  4. We actually have not one, but two, Constitutional mechanisms for dealing with a President who simply should not be in office, and “senior Administration officials arrogating the power of the President’s office for themselves” is not one of them. “Lodestar” excuses himself based on the assertion that removing the President from office would prompt a Constitutional crisis, but like the old dish soap commercial says, he’s soaking in it.

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    • This is the best criticism, in my opinion. It’s the one I am at least conflicted on.

      But my usual concern with this – the precedent it sets for future administrations – is unlikely to apply simply because it touches on what is specifically unique about this administration (in a bad way). The comparison I made on Twitter is Edith Wilson acting as president. It’s not good, but a very specific situation.

      But there are some solid arguments to the contrary, and at the least I can understand why Team Trump is pissed.

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        • FWIW, Dan Drezner (who is about as far from Team Trump as one can plausibly be) thinks that at least what Mattis et al. are doing is appropriate.

          This is a weird concept to even care about.

          It’s possible to come up with circumstances where almost any behavior is appropriate. In extremis, it is perfectly acceptable to…hijack a plane, for example. Like if the actual correct pilot was a terrorist who wanted to fly it into a building.

          I’m not really sure anyone disputed that if things are bad enough, the normal rules can be thrown out the window. It’s a bit shocking to learn we are _in_ such a situation, but, honestly, we all suspected that.

          The actual complaint is continuing as if everything is normal and not telling anyone. It’s like if someone came on the radio four hours into your flight: ‘Incidentally, the actual pilot of this plane was a terrorist, I’m just a flight attendant, but luckily I seized the other control stick right after takeoff, and have been stopping him from flying into buildings for the past four hours.’

          What the hell? That is not…what needs to be happening! Yes, thank you for seizing control of the plane, no matter if it was unlawful. You have our thanks. At which point you needed to, uh…tell people? Call the authorities? Tell the news media?

          Oh, I see. The plane was generally going in the direction you wanted it to go (Minus any buildings), and so you just decided to…keep flying it.

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          • I keep thinking of that saying, “When you really want to do something, you will find a way. When you don’t, you will find an excuse”.

            Right now, the party which controls both houses of Congress is looking for excuses.

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    • Saying that you can’t use the constitutional methods for removing an unfit President because it will lead to a constitutional crisis is odd. If lodestar is depicting the situation in the Trump Whitehouse accurately, that is more akin to a constitutional crisis because its a type of coup against Trump.

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  5. Conspiracy Theory du jour:

    Lodestar wrote this *AT THE DIRECTION* of Trump. It will provide cover for Trump doing some spring cleaning in the White House and he knew (HE *KNEW*) that The Media would salivate all over itself at the thought of printing something that, at first glance, made Trump look good without even thinking about what additional powers and justification it gave Trump on the second glance.

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      • Even if you believe he’s not an idiot, he certainly isn’t this kind of smart. Subtlety and implicit self-deprecation aren’t exactly his style.

        I could see one of the loyalists around him pulling this sort of too clever by half nonsense, though. Like Miller or somebody.

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      • It’s doubly stupid, because if there’s one thing that’s certain about Trump is he cannot tolerate anything that makes him look bad. (Except Putin, oddly).

        Not for short-term gain, not for long-term gain, not for anything.

        So the idea that he’d be okay with an op-ed effectively calling him a horrible President, unfit for office, who is being puppeted by his aides, requires ignoring everything known about Trump, in favor of a juicy conspiracy theory in which we don’t have an incompetent, unfit President, but an 11-D chess master whose complex plan requires sub-40% approval ratings and acting incompetent 24/7.

        I’ve noticed that 11D chess master belief comes from two places: Trump die-hards, and the “both sides are the same” folks.

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      • In what way?
        Since November 8, 2016, what victories has he gained?

        His initiatives like the Muslim ban have been tied up in court, or watered down when not overruled; The tax cut was the product of the Republicans, not Trump; He has been publicly outwitted and made a fool by North Korea; And his brand has become so toxic it is making Texas blue and come November will likely be facing a Congress which wants to eviscerate him.

        Echoing Saul, I don’t see this Donald Trump, Master Tactician anywhere.

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        • Since November 8, 2016, what victories has he gained?

          Granted, the policy issues I am most deeply interested in are somewhat narrow, and the legal procedures guiding regulatory changes make things move slowly, but Trump’s appointees have been methodically dismantling the obstacles to the continued use of fossil fuels. And looked at creating regulations that require people to burn coal — eg, Perry’s proposed rule to subsidize coal burners. From that perspective, the most important thing about Gorsuch and Kavanaugh is that both of them have a history of being (almost rabidly) opposed to restricting corporate abuse of the environment.

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        • Trump isn’t a master tactician but many of his underlings are. Sessions and Miller have really been doing wonders on making the United States immigration system really bad for immigrants in all matters. The ultimate goal is a deportation machine and Sessions is slowly moving there. Likewise, the American judiciary is getting a lot of young and conservatives judges that will stymie liberal policy preferences for decades under Trump unless the Democratic Party gains the Presidency, Senate, and House and does some real norm breaking stuff.

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          • I think you’re giving both too much credit, particularly Miller. To me, it looks like there has long existed a fair amount of institutional malevolence in CBP & ICE that the Obama administration just barely kept a lid on*, and now is completely uncapped.

            *there’s been more than a few stories about bad stuff that went down when Obama was still in charge, but are only being widely publicized now because the lawsuits are finally ripe and people on twitter are now paying attention to every story of malfeasance, the way they weren’t before.

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            • Sessions doesn’t have any power over CBP and ICE. He does have power over the Immigration Courts. So for in his tenure as Attorney-General, Sessions has gotten rid of domestic violence and other “private crimes” as a grounds for asylum in Matter of A-B-, eliminated administrative closure as a way to manage case dockets in Matter of Castro-Tum, and stated that IJs may only grant continuances for good cause. The latter is significant because if any alien is pursuing an application that only USCIS could adjudicate while in removal proceedings, the IJ may have to order an alien removed before that application is granted. This makes pursuing the USCIS relief hard.

              Sessions has also made comments about “good lawyers” getting status for their client by going beyond the plain language of the INA or in other words doing what lawyers are supposed to do. Like the people obsessed about voter fraud, Sessions lives in a world where he believes every asylum application to be fraudulent and the immigration lawyers are either complacent or dupes.

              But yes, you are right. There is a lot of institutional malevolence in the different government bodies overseeing immigration. Many people who work for CBP, ICE, USCIS, and other agencies dealing with immigration see themselves as guardians of the borders and act it. They believe every claim made by an immigrant whether it be asylum, family based, or employment based is fake to an extent.

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              • here is a lot of institutional malevolence in the different government bodies overseeing immigration. Many people who work for CBP, ICE, USCIS, and other agencies dealing with immigration see themselves as guardians of the borders and act it.

                This, a thousand times over.

                As I’ve said before: Normal law enforcement has to deal with other humans besides criminals and suspects. Victims, at the minimum. Witnesses. All sorts of people.

                ICE does not have to do that. At all. They don’t have to interact with any humans besides ‘guilty ones’. And they don’t have piece together cases, they just…look info up in a database, and find the person, so they don’t have to think about any person’s situation at all. And they don’t sometimes go after the wrong people and have to correct. (Well, they _do_ go after the wrong people, but it impacts them not even slightly.)

                This is _on top_ of the general racism, plus the new, added racism from this administration. But it’s not just racism, it’s the inherent bias in ‘Every single person we interact with can be treated as a filthy criminal, and we don’t even have to prove any actual criminal wrongdoing’, vs., say, even an extremely racist cop in a Hispanic-heavy area deals with that…old Hispanic lady that lives on the corner that seems nice and is helpful and helped with some investigation in the past. Or whatever. ICE does not have that.

                The setup of ICE, the entire concept of a law enforcement agency that 99% of the time is just ‘Track down and expel people from the country without any investigation at all’ (1), is inherently dehumanizing. I don’t think anyone planned that, and I don’t think anyone has actually sat down and thought about it seriously, but we really need all law enforcement officers to…occassionally interact with actual human beings in a non-hostile way as part of their job.

                1) Yes, I know ICE, in theory, does other sorts of law enforcement. In reality, they don’t.

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      • In what way?
        Since November 8, 2016, what victories has he gained?

        His initiatives like the Muslim ban have been tied up in court, or watered down when not overruled; The tax cut was the product of the Republicans, not Trump; He has been publicly outwitted and made a fool by North Korea; And his brand has become so toxic it is making Texas blue and come November will likely be facing a Congress which wants to eviscerate him.

        Echoing Saul, I don’t see this Donald Trump, Master Tactician anywhere.

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        • @chip-daniels

          Trump also has a really low popularity rate despite a great economic. Yet comments like InMd’s remain common. I think a lot of people have these feelings for a variety of reasons:

          1. They don’t understand civics and how our government is set up and that the minority party only has so many things they can do.

          2. Which is related to Murc’s Law: Only Democrats have agency. I have seen a lot of articles discuss how Democrats “blew” their chance to stop Kavanaugh. This is bullshit because the GOP has a bare majority (but still a majority) in the Senate and Kavanaugh on the Court changes the alignment to be more in their favor. But discussing things like this is never done because it makes people feel powerless? So they would rather blame the Democrats for blowing their chance. Same with the freak scenario that gave us President Trump despite HRC winning millions more votes.

          To be fair, a lot of left-leaning people and Democrats also seem to practice Murc’s law with vigor.

          3. This doesn’t apply to InMd but as a former OTer said a lot of people hate the Democrats/Liberals more than they love liberty. Said OTer also is pretty cynical and thinks identity comes first and then people create their policy preferences.

          Beto O’Rourke is doing well but I can see Crux pulling off a squeaker victory as well. My big fear for November is that it comes the good but not good enough election for the Democrats. Say we win 20-22 house seats instead of the 23 needed for a majority. And/or we manage to take Cruz and Heller out and turn TN blue but lose a seat or two in the Senate anyway because of how much of an advantage the GOP has in this years races and we lose Florida, Indiana, MO, and North Dakota.

          Will that leave Democrats feeling more demoralized?

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          • @chip-daniels

            I would’ve responded to this earlier and I apologize for leaving it hanging. I was required to evacuate the outerbanks of NC earlier and am doing what I can to salvage a family vacation in the sticks in VA. Not much time but a few points:

            1. I do not agree with Murc’s law. Republicans absolutely have agency and referring to it in this context is a cop out. I want Trump defeated. My point is a about tactics.

            2. I do not think Trump is a master tactician but I think he, and the Republican party excel at exploiting unforced errors and baiting Democrats, progressives, and the broader left into fighting on their terms. We take swings at ghosts while they find narrow avenues of obtaining and exploiting power.

            3. Trump and Congress’ lack of policy successes illustrates the contradiction. The conservative agenda has only been marginally advanced from a raw policy perspective because even they know how unpopular it is. Instead of attacking on that front the blue media wants a culture/scandal war they can’t win.

            4. I understand plenty of how civics works which is why I take the positions I do. Trump can’t be both fascist destroyer of democracy and stupidly ineffectual. He’s been mostly the latter which is why accusations of the former fall so flat outside of partisan echo chambers.

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            • Trump and Congress’ lack of policy successes illustrates the contradiction. The conservative agenda has only been marginally advanced from a raw policy perspective because even they know how unpopular it is. Instead of attacking on that front the blue media wants a culture/scandal war they can’t win.

              The idea that a President who struggles to keep his approval rating at 40% in a good-to-excellent economy is winning a media war seems… dubious. Nor is the outlook good for the House GOP.

              It’s better for the Senate, but that’s not really reflective of popular opinion, because the Senate isn’t supposed to be.

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    • Also, this dropped right on top of Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, which are not going great. This is being discussed instead of more important questions such as: how many provably false statements did the judge get caught making?

      Honestly, I don’t see how this hurts Trump. Nothing said here has not been said tons of times before and in three different books. However, it does serve as strong evidence of the “deep state conspiracy”. An oped declaring “i am the deep state”, jackpot for Trump.

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      • Said “Deep State” consisting of….people handpicked by Trump?
        People who had never been in the Executive branch until he came into office?

        The Trump administration isn’t at war with some secret cabal of bureaucrats- it is at war with itself.

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  6. The Constitution and our current interpretation of it have made the Presidency very constrained with regard to domestic policy, but very powerful to act in foreign policy.

    So despite his aesthetic quirks, Trump has only been able to simply affirm the Republican policy agenda for domestic affairs, not really do much of his own.

    On foreign affairs is where his hand is freer, and the one that worries Lodestar and the Republicans.

    Yet, by their own words, they prefer this state of affairs to any other alternative. The fact that with a careless tweet he could provoke a nuclear war is an acceptable price to get their domestic agenda in place.

    I think they know on some level the moral depravity of this calculus, which is why they labor so hard to dismiss the obvious alternatives of impeachment and the 25th.

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  7. As a working career federal civil servant, the op-ed makes me want to barf. Even more. Then normal. Everyone from the Vice President on down takes an Oath upon entering service to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and give true faith and allegiance to the same. Not to protect and defend unless we are getting the tax cuts we want, or give true faith and allegiance to the same after we pack the Supreme Court (and especially after refusing to do our constitutional duty to give advice and consent on the last President’s nominee).

    Having adults in the room isn’t sparing us from the Republican Politician’s pompous belief that white men matter more then anyone. Having adults in the room isn’t preventing the decimation of our industries by tariffs that benefit sitting cabinet members. And it sure as heck isn’t helping combat the opiod crisis sweeping so much of the economically disadvantaged part of our nation. Having adults in the room isn’t protecting a woman’s rights to her own body. And it didn’t stop a Supreme Court nominee from perjuring himself in Congressional testimony – or from Republicans and most of the media from looking the other way as he did so.

    I get that some Republicans want to preserve their brand name. The chance to do that was after Reagan when a swift and firm disavowel of Trickle Down Economics might have kept them on an even keel. but it didn’t happen, and so they backed themselves in to Trump because their policy choices can’t win on the merits.

    Neither can this op-ed. either the writer needs to come clean, resign and demand the chance to testify under oath to Congress, or s/he needs to be ready for the Republican Party’s come-uppence.

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  8. One thing that I keep coming back to is that there were so many complaints during the Bush years that he was surrounded by Yes men and kept in a bubble. He was certainly swayed greatly by people like Cheney and Rumsfeld. At the same time, Obama was praised for being surrounded by smart people who would give him their honest opinions. At the end of the day though, isn’t the modern Presidency always an exercise in trying to suss out the right answer from a lot of different people’s opinions? Everyone has an agenda.

    I’ve been in the same boat as this, on a much smaller scale. Working under managers or directors that were grossly incompetent but due to seniority or their network of contacts or the unwritten management code of not throwing each other under the bus…they were left in power far too long. The rest of us had to do damage control behind them or often ignoring their directives until they forgot about them.

    Dennis makes the best point here: “As for resigning, a fair number of people have resigned their posts in protest during the Trump administration. The result has been….nothing.” There’s no upside to them resigning and the people calling for them to will quickly abandon them when they realize that it won’t change anything. This is in the hands of the Cabinet or the Congress.

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    • I agree with Mike here. I’m not impressed with the Op-Ed in the least, but at the same time, exposing the author and having them resign or get the boot will do exactly zero.

      Honestly, about the best value we are getting out of this is some schadenfreude that Trump is so pissed he’s probably getting ready to stroke out, and if the author was exposed, he’d have a target for his anger.

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    • As with so many things – It Depends. If its Sarah Huckabee Sanders – yeah resigning won’t do much good. If it’s James Mattis, Or Mike Pence – that resignation would make people stand up and notice.

      Either way the view from the trenches isn’t pretty.

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  9. I tend to agree that people who are competent should not feel obligated to resign because the people above them are incompetent, especially when there is so much on the line.

    That being said…

    Pretty much all of the commentary I’ve see here echoes what I see elsewhere on line, and suffers from that hubris we political junkies have that makes us believe (usually incorrectly) that because we are political junkies we somehow have magical insight into things that are largely or entirely hidden from us. When Lodestar says that the cabinet was considering the 25th Amendment, my guess is that people largely took things they already knew or had taken wild-ass guesses about, and just assumed that whatever they thought was going on what was in fact going on. I think that’s an incredibly dangerous lapse of curiosity when it comes to something this big.

    If the cabinet, that a POTUS had just appointed, all or mostly seemed to observe something that made the start discussing the 25th, then I don’t believe making vague handwaving about what those observations were is anywhere close to sufficient.

    So the question for me is, did Lodestar refuse to give details because doing so would compromise his/her anonymity? If that is the case, I would argue he/she absolutely had a obligation to either name themselves or at least risk being found out so that we would all know exactly why a US White House cabinet had gone so far as to discuss 25-ing their meal ticket. Because that is some scary shit.

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      • “…then what?” probably largely depends on why they discussed those steps. Was he not very up to date on issues? Was he bringing hookers to Cabinet meetings? Did he order the IRS to shut down real estate competitors? Had he ordered an assassination of a member of the press corp he didn’t like, or of Stormy Daniels, or of his wife? Did they not like his tie that one day?

        Mostly, though, I confess I find your question bizarrely incurious. I mean, do you think we have government reports or basic reporting of anything that goes on in government? If so, why?

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        • I don’t think I am being ‘incurious’ but rather pragmatic. Trump’s approval ratings are well below 50% and I think the non-approvers (myself included) are increasingly convinced he has diminished mental capacity (and my bar was already very low for his mental capacity). The point is that the Constitution makes it pretty clear that responsibility for dealing with him lies with Congress or his Cabinet and they do not currently seem ready to act. If anything, I would rather this person stayed in the WH and continue to record facts that might be used later. Outing them might temporarily make the Left happy, but it is short-sighted.

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          • I’m confused. You don’t think it’s important for us to know what’s happening behind the scenes, but you do want to make sure that he or she is there to record facts? For who, exactly, should they record things, if it’s not that important that the public knows?

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            • There are a lot of lawyers and former justice department folks in Congress. I’d rather give them a chance to seek this person and his/her compatriots out and start building a case for impeachment, rather than just marching it through a few days of the 24-hour news cycle just to please the Left.

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              • Do you believe that a perceived need for transparency in government is simply a thing we do to “please the Left?”

                Or is your desire to not have transparency in this case because that transparency might inadvertently “please the Left?”

                Because those would be very different points, and I want to make sure I’m responding to the correct one.

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                • I believe that ‘transparency’ is something we should have in the in the long-run, but not something we need exactly the moment we want it. I could describe a hundred different scenarios here that would qualify as ‘let’s not pull back the current until the right time’ and they would make sense. For example, when you were running OT, we certainly had plenty of discussions behind the scenes that were not fit for public consumption for a variety of reasons…right?

                  I want the process to play out in a way that is best for the country i.e. removing Trump from office. If it means I have to wait a while to hear the identity of this person, I’m cool with that. It kind of feels like a grown-up decision. I believe the term is ‘delayed gratification’.

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    • When Lodestar says that the cabinet was considering the 25th Amendment, my guess is that people largely took things they already knew or had taken wild-ass guesses about, and just assumed that whatever they thought was going on what was in fact going on. I think that’s an incredibly dangerous lapse of curiosity when it comes to something this big.

      Theory #1: Trump ordered Hillary Clinton’s arrest the first day in office.

      Theory #2: Something to do with Bannon’s idiotic Muslim travel ban and his race-baiting. Like, that got through, and the staff started saying ‘What the utter hell?’ and started paying attention to executive orders, and there was a _really bad_ one that didn’t make it through, like seizing and destroying all mosques or something.

      Anyone remember any other extremely stupid campaign promises or dumb behaviors of the Trump administration right at the start of his term? I don’t have space in my brain for all that.

      Theory #3: Trump ordered the US government to stop paying all suppliers, period. Just flat out stop paying them.

      Theory #4: Trump attempted to literally loot the US Treasury. Like, actually tried to have a check written to himself, personally, for a billion dollars.

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      • Anyone remember any other extremely stupid campaign promises or dumb behaviors of the Trump administration right at the start of his term? I don’t have space in my brain for all that.

        Two candidates would be shutting down a newspaper (or CNN, or the like) for “libel”, and carrying through on his promise to have the military deliberately target the civilian families of terrorists.

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      • All of these are fun, and if the (openly leaking WH) had seen those orders, then we’d be pretty deep into the 25th (or should be).

        It’s probably more grey than that.

        Theory: Trump is exactly who he’s pretended to be, he isn’t a skilled actor but has always been showing his inner face.

        So he’s a vulgar racist womanizing ass. He’s not a politician. He’s used to being in charge and able to fire people until his way gets done. He has some minimal idea of the law, but no real respect for rule of law. He changes his mind often. He’s uneducated about how the gov works, how the military works, how trade works, how various other things work.

        He’s skilled at “unfiltered” communication on Twitter where we’re able to view his ID, i.e. what he really thinks. A pure sociopath, he’s used to functioning with “following the law” being a cost/benefit thing even down to “do I pay him what I owe him or make him sue me”.

        So he’s fine having policies which rip apart families and doesn’t care if some judge stops him down the line. He’s fine starting with an outright Muslim ban and slowing walking that back to Muslims-we-are-bombing. He’s trying to send a message that the US isn’t welcoming illegal immigrants and that’s just a part of it.

        He’s perfectly willing to start at an outrageous extreme and push for that until someone stops him by pushing back, half a loaf is much better than nothing. He expects to do stuff, fail at it, and be outraged that he’s failed. That’s not a good thing when it comes to delicate situations… but there really is something to the idea that the world is filled with leaders who put their countries first.

        Bull in a China shop. Chimp with a revolver. And he was elected because of these traits, not in spite of them.

        We’ve had wave after wave after wave of politicians get elected promising to shake things up. After promising to do that they become Presidential and forget that promise. This time the President really is shaking things up and running around breaking things.

        My expectation is he hasn’t done anything which clearly labels him unfit after we subtract everything I’ve mentioned… but everything I’ve mentioned would be enough to kick a normal man out of office except for the issue that Trump ran on all of these things.

        My overall judgement is elections have consequences and the people should be allowed to pick their leaders. As dangerous as it is to leave Trump in there, it’s probably more so to remove him because he’s unacceptable to the people who run Washington.

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      • We know these two recent stories which are both pretty insane if often typical for U.S. policy though:

        1. Trump wanted the military to assassinate Assad and this got a “Don’t listen to him son” directive.

        2. There was the NY Times bombshell about joining with Venzeuelan military higher-ups for a good old fashioned coup d’etat.

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  10. Lodestar isn’t a coward, isn’t a hero, but is someone who thinks way to highly of themselves.

    My hot take between this op-ed and hearing snippets of Woodward’s book is that people aren’t actually thwarting Trump as much as they think they are. Trump just has moods that ramp up quickly and then dissipate just as quickly. People are just stalling until he’s not in that mood anymore.

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    • The question is whether Lodestar cares about what the target audience of the Daily Caller thinks.

      I’m guessing no.

      EDIT to add: Holy shit that list of bullet points providing “evidence” that the Op-Ed is a hoax perpetrated by the Times editorial board is wild. Just endless stuff like:

      A lesbian waitress in New Jersey claimed to have received an anti-gay message in the receipt. She lied.

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