On Wednesday, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed that revealed an internal cabal that could be described as a “deep state.” While the term most frequently refers to holdovers from the Obama administration who are working behind the scenes to undermine President Donald Trump, this anonymous administration official claimed to want the administration to succeed — by restraining the president behind the scenes.
President Trump responded to the article, declaring it “really a disgrace.”
BREAKING: Trump calls publication of unsigned 'resistance' op-ed by senior administration official 'really a disgrace'
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) September 5, 2018
The anonymous author reported that “many of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
“I would know. I am one of them.”
Now, this secret conspirator immediately established an important caveat. “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic,” the anonymous official wrote. “Many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
The internal conspirator insisted, “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.”
Even so, an internal cabal that conspires to constrain the president arguably fits the definition of a “deep state,” though not quite the same sort of deep state involving Obama officials or for-life employees that attempts to thwart Trump’s policy goals from within.
This “steady state” cabal attempts to restrain President Trump without starting a constitutional crisis. “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the conspirator wrote. “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.”
The internal conspirator suggested that Trump needed to be restrained in order to support traditional conservative principles, and to minimize erratic behavior in the executive branch.
“Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright,” the anonymous conspirator explained.
Echoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the staffer lamented Trump’s “mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the ‘enemy of the people,'” a false characterization that applies Trump’s attack on a few outlets slanted against him to the entire press as a whole.
The conspirator described Trump’s leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Ouch. “Senior officials … are working to insinuate their operations from his whims. 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.”
To some limited degree, this negative portrait of Trump may fit reality, and there may have been times when “adults in the room” — as the conspirator pompously identifies himself — had to pick up the pieces.
If these “adults in the room” really did have the administration’s best interests at heart, however, they would not go wailing about it to The New York Times.
In fact, that’s the most interesting part of this entire story. Perhaps Trump has been restrained from time to time, and perhaps that has been positive for the country. But if all this were true, the conspirators would immediately forfeit the title of “adults in the room” by making any of it public — especially while it was still going on.
President Trump later attacked the op-ed as “gutless,” and that is indeed one good interpretation. Perhaps some staffer wished to defend his work — and maybe even lay the groundwork for a future career — by outing this cabal. Whatever the motivations behind it, this op-ed will not help the administration.
The Failing New York Times! pic.twitter.com/SHsXvYKpBf
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
If this “steady state” — which isn’t a deep state, I swear! — was really steady, it would know how to operate in the shadows, and have the wisdom to keep silent. Then Trump may secretly resent them, but he would have no ground to act out against them publicly.
Now, this op-ed has become a declaration of war. The president will launch an investigation into his administration to out the conspiracy, because now his honor depends on it.
If the reckless and anti-democratic Trump painted in this article is truly an accurate presentation, that president would personally go to war with his entire administration to root out any dissent. Going to The New York Times was the worst possible mistake this “steady state” actor could have made.
This is why I call it a deep state. Whatever the goals this administration conspirator truly had, they could not have been to protect the president, to forward his legitimate goals, or to help the nation come together. By going to The New York Times, this staffer has revealed his animus against Trump, seeking to dredge out into the open the dark secrets of the administration.
The author of this op-ed isn’t likely an Obama holdover. That only makes the entire thing so much worse.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared, “This coward should do the right thing and resign.” That sounds about right.
@PressSec Sarah Sanders on NYT anonymous hit:
'This is just another example of the liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the President. … This coward should do the right thing and resign.' pic.twitter.com/drlDcpzdiu
— Paul Bedard (@SecretsBedard) September 5, 2018
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.