'Quiet resistance' and 'unsung heroes'

An op-ed article written by an unnamed US administration official that called President Donald Trump "erratic" and described a "quiet resistance" of Cabinet members.
An op-ed article written by an unnamed US administration official that called President Donald Trump "erratic" and described a "quiet resistance" of Cabinet members.PHOTO: NYTIMES

The New York Times on Wednesday published an op-ed article written by an unnamed US administration official that called President Donald Trump "erratic" and described a "quiet resistance" of Cabinet members who had whispered about taking steps to remove him from office. Here are extracts.

RESISTANCE WITHIN ADMINISTRATION

The dilemma is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

The root of the problem is the President's amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making. 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.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the "enemy of the people", President Trump's impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

DISBELIEF AT TRUMP'S WORDS AND ACTIONS

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander-in-chief's comments and actions. Most are working to insulate 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.

The erratic behaviour would be more concerning if it weren't for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

TWO-TRACK ADMINISTRATION

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

25TH AMENDMENT

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.

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.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2018, with the headline ''Quiet resistance' and 'unsung heroes''. Print Edition | Subscribe