So, what little do we know about this so-called “leak”?
- Not the author: It could well be placed for one or another reason by one or another camp
- Not whether the statement is true or actually made by a senior official
- Not the exact motivation
- Not much that we did not know: this is not a leak, but a broadside directly delivered by its author.
- The author is someone who could get the NYT to deliver a message.
What it describes is mundane “office politics,” though it is not for that the less serious. Not everyone in any large organization is on the same side of much. The White House could hardly be an exception. If we can imagine that the current president might command less respect than many, we should recognize as believable the idea that his underlings do not respect him either.
That does still leave the question of why someone would announce it.
The NYT is an at least interesting place for a Republican-generated leak. This is among the outlets that took direct copy from Wasserman-Schultz during the '16 primaries, though that does not mean that they would not talk to a Republican official. It is interesting that the author did not choose Fox or WaPo, but not by itself very revealing, as far as I can see.
Reading the anonymous article, one can see quickly that it criticizes Trump mostly from the right. The author is or poses as a self-styled “free” market thinker. He or she wishes to associate that idea with the Republican party, but it has also been very much a part of right-wing Democratic thinking from Bill Clinton on. But most of the criticism of Donald Trump to present coming from the Democratic Party has been very distinctly right wing, as easy as it should be to criticize him from a more popular and humane position.
A second mystery is what Jessica Roy and the LA Times hope to accomplish by insulting an anonymous author personally. There must be some sort of name for this sort of nested fallacy; it’s less ad hominem than ad vacuum.
If Roy imagines that this somehow protects the honor of the so-called “Resistance,” that’s fine. I am all for the organization having standards; I just cannot tell what these might be, either in general or as regards the article. Nothing in the article appears to me to distinguish the author from the so-called “Resistance.”
- “Coward” is just vacuous here. Good people get scared, and I have known fearless psychopaths.
- Not everyone usually accepted as large-R “Resistance” is on the streets.
- “If you . . . carry out any part of his agenda, you are enabling him . . .” This is oversimple. Resistance authors do share some common stated values with Donald Trump, and mole can do far more damage than the work of any single individual.
- “If they really believe there’s a need to subvert the president to protect the country, they should be getting this person out of the White House” is non sequitur. Roy’s unspoken premise must involve a replacement who need not be subverted. There is not one available to constitutional procedure, nor even an obvious choice available to a coup.
- Does the speaker really believe that nothing in the Obama White House needed to be subverted? But as always, the current administration carries forward most of the values of the prior.
- Republicans are deeply divided over Trump. Republican leaders openly supported Clinton during the election. Republicans who favor a so-called “free” market often dislike Trump’s tariffs.
In general, there is no special magic by which those of us on the left may divine the quirks of Republican thinking. As weird as this may sound, there are actually lots of different Republicans, each incorrect about most but not all of politics in fairly divergent ways: they are a lot like Democrats, though some of the ideas are different.
I do not much care whether Mr. or Ms. Senior Official is a hero, a coward, or both, and I doubt that Roy does either. That does appear to be what the explicit message is about, so I wonder what I am to read between the lines.
Meanwhile, I do care that there are signs of further subversion of a small-d democratic process that is already moribund. A right-wing coup at this point would receive very little resistance from the Resistance, though perhaps Jessica Roy means to spark something of the sort. If we wish to do that or to protect the honor of the Resistance, if I may word it so roughly, members ought to start by making known some set of political principles by which to stand, then behaving accordingly.
If one is to say that one is left and then endorse people on the right, some explanation ought to be forthcoming at least. To what extent is “The Resistance” the people in the street who may indeed have leftist values, and to what extent is it the right-wing corporatists for whom Trump is not sufficiently aligned to the savoire faire or interests of the international finance set?
I don’t know. And I am not alone in not knowing.