This week, the White House continues its furious hunt for the anonymous official who proclaimed him or herself part of “The Resistance” in a New York Times op-ed. Unsurprisingly, the president is “obsessed” with it, CNN reports.
What really set Trump off — perhaps understandably — was the suggestion that aides were deliberately undermining orders. “We want the administration to succeed,” the author said, before describing a coordinated effort to “thwart parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.”
But not all of that agenda. The author praised Trump’s commitment to “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, [and] a more robust military,” and even complained about “near-ceaseless negative coverage” obscuring those supposed accomplishments.
The president’s behavior in pursuit of that agenda may be “detrimental to the health of our republic,” the author admits, but assures readers: “There are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening.”
This helps the rest of us understand what’s happening, too: Career Republicans are riding right along with someone they themselves describe as “anti-democratic,” “reckless,” and “erratic.” And they’ll do it just as long as he cuts taxes for billionaires, deregulates the corporations they own, and keeps the spigot open to the military-industrial complex.
He’s doing that.
So, what’s he doing wrong? The author specifies only Trump’s “preference for autocrats and dictators” such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
Trump’s admiration for those figures says a lot about his disdain for democracy. But the response the author describes sounds more like an effort to shut off diplomatic openings with nuclear-armed rivals than to curb Trump’s anti-democratic impulses. Feel better?
Beyond this, the author offers few specifics on what they’d actually like to prevent.
Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords? Not a problem, apparently. Deregulating the banks that caused the financial crisis, and the fossil fuel companies causing climate change? Go right on ahead.
Giving corporations and billionaires a $2 trillion tax break, then trying to cut food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? Trying to throw 24 million Americans off their health care?
The author describes precisely no concern about any of these things, because virtually any Republican would have done them.
Remarkably, the author actually complains that Trump “shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives.” But it sure sounds like he’s governing as one.
Sure, Trump has made unique his own contributions to modern conservatism — alliances with white nationalists, concentration camps for babies, etc. But our anonymous “adult in the room” offers no objection here either, even as down-ballot Republicans increasingly embrace those extremes.
I can believe that White House staffers really do find the president unstable and dangerous. But instead of constitutionally removing him by the 25th Amendment, they’re keeping him around so they can cut billionaires’ taxes, put over half of every taxpayer dollar into the military-industrial complex and coddle corporations that loot the country and pollute the planet.
The writer pines for the late Sen. John McCain, calling him “a lodestar for restoring honor to public life.” McCain was surely more honorable than the president he feuded with, but even he voted with Trump 83 percent of the time. Do we really think Trump’s pathologies reside entirely in the other 17 percent?
If Trump implodes, they’re going to act like his personality was the problem — not the policy agenda he’s executing on their behalf. They’ll say we haven’t gotten enough “real conservatism.”
Sorry, but I think the amazing social movements behind the real “resistance” would disagree. They’re not trying to roll back 17 percent of what this White House has done. They’re trying to transform it — and much of what came before it — 100 percent.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies.