Michael Meeropol: I Do Not Praise The Anonymous Op-ed Writer In The New York Times

Sep 7, 2018

I have read the New York Times op-ed by an anonymous Trump Administration official and I am disgusted --- not by the behavior of Trump whose actions are beyond disgust --- but by the self-congratulatory tone of the author.

[See “The Quiet Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”  The New York Times (September 6, 2018):  A21.   All following quotes are from that article.]

Though the writer claims that Trump “continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of the republic,” in fact the careful reader will note support for Trump Administration policies even as the writer attacks Trump the person.

“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.  … There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”

We need to unpackage these sentences.   First, this writer is no supporter of the resistance from the people who demonstrated against this President in the various women’s marches after the inauguration. This writer is no supporter of those who worked tirelessly to elect Doug Jones as the United States Senator from Alabama --- beating a Trump-endorsed pedophile --- or of those who worked hard to flip numerous legislative and Congressional seats in off year elections.   This writer is no supporter of the people who flooded airports in strenuous opposition to the initial Muslim ban ---- or of the countless lawyers who have worked tirelessly to unite families cruelly separated by Trump’s inhuman “zero tolerance” policy against immigrants seeking asylum.  NO --- he or she is not a supporter of that resistance.

Second, this writer is obviously at home with the deregulation that is making it easier for banks to cheat consumers, for for-profit educational institutions to stick students with high debts and worthless so-called “educations”, for polluters to continue to pump dangerous chemicals into our air and water and for carbon to be burned at higher and higher rates promising a hellish future on a burning planet for our grandchildren.  He or she is obviously at home with the massive tax cuts for corporations and high income individuals.  He or she is obviously at home with massive increases in the military budget.   I would venture to guess he or she is also at home with even the worst of Trump’s immigration policies though when it comes to this issue the writer is hiding his/her view.  Finally, the writer pointedly disagrees with the “near-ceaseless negative coverage” of the Trump Administration --- giving support to Trump’s dismissal of all negative reports about his policies as “fake news.”

So what is the point here?   I think this anonymous official wants the rest of us to think that he or she is hard at work with others in the administration containing and thwarting the worst instincts of Trump --- the bad human being. 

“But these successes [deregulation, etc.] have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”

The problem according to this writer is that Trump is a bad person, but also notice that the last word in this critique is “ineffective.”   The real complaint from this person who is very comfortable with Trump’s POLICIES is that Trump is such an unstable, ignorant, maniac that he is actually gets in the way of enacting some of the policies near and dear to the hearts of this writer (and apparently other members of the Administration).  

(I have delivered many commentaries arguing that many members of the Administration – particularly Sessions at Justice as well as the former EPA administrator Pruitt – have actually accomplished a great deal in terms of making America much worse than it was when Trump took office.   Trump the “ineffective” individual has hired many people who seem to be carrying out horrible policies very “effectively.”)

Notice what the writer did not mention when he or she touted so-called successes.

The tax cut included the repeal of the individual mandate to buy health insurance.  This is part of a long term effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.  “Unable to repeal the A.C.A. outright, they’ve [Republicans] tried to sabotage it — using last year’s tax cut to get rid of the requirement that people buy insurance even if they’re currently healthy, using administrative gimmicks to try to undermine the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions.” [Paul Krugman, “The Plot Against Health Care” The New York Times, May 31, 2018]The writer did not mention the cruel separation of immigrant children from their parents and the flouting of a judge’s order to reunite those sundered families.  Nor did he or she mention the stacking of the federal judiciary with activist pro-business, anti-choice, pro-voter suppression judges, -- the crowing achievements being the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  The writer did not mention the fact that the so-called “effective deregulation” is worsening the rate of climate change --- making the day of reckoning for our grandchildren with a burning planet arrive even sooner.

NO –none of these are problems for this pro-market, pro-liberty individual.   Instead, the writer complains that

“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.”

So there you have it --- Trump is an unhinged individual with no coherent understanding of the goals of free-market, pro-freedom Republicans.   According to this writer, to the extent that the Trump administration has succeeded it has been the work of self-less public servants who make sure that the important work of the administration will be carried out successfully despite Trump’s individual failings.   Sabotaging the affordable care act, making immigration more difficult, stacking the courts, making voter suppression easier, freeing polluters from regulations, making rich people richer with tax giveaways can all go forward despite the incompetence of an ignorant, willful, dangerously unbalanced President.

Implicit in the essay but coming though clearly in the quotes I have highlighted is the idea that it is not necessary to vote for Democrats in order to control Trump --- Instead, all we have to do is have faith in the people around Trump who know what a maniac he is and are working diligently to make sure that his worst instincts do not translate into horrible policy.

Sorry to be blunt – but THIS IS A CROCK!     The things this writer supports are the essence of Tumpism.  I hope that no one who read that OP ED will be persuaded that this writer is on the side of the people and against Trump and Trumpism.   I hope that everyone involved in  opposing Trump and his policies will keep focus where it needs to be --- REAL RESISTANCE!

Michael Meeropol is professor emeritus of Economics at Western New England University. He is the author with Howard and Paul Sherman of the recently published second edition of Principles of Macroeconomics: Activist vs. Austerity Policies.

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