I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations... The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — 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... 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... But 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.That is why 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 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.
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.
But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is
- petty and
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.
“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.
The erratic behavior 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.
The result is a two-track presidency.
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.
.. On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
.. This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.
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.
.. The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.
.. Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.
.. We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.
.. There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.
Lee embodied the values that West Point seeks to inculcate in its graduates: Duty, Honor, and Country. So I was taught and so I believed.
.. It is my fate to be a quick study and a slow learner. Not until I was in my thirties, therefore, did I begin to wonder how it was that West Point should elevate to the status of role model a serving officer who had abandoned his country in its time of maximum need.
.. My complaint about Lee—I admit this to my everlasting shame—was not that he was a slaveholder who in joining the Confederacy fought to preserve slavery. It was that he had thereby engineered the killing of many thousands of American patriots who (whatever their views on slavery and race) wished simply to preserve the Union. At the beginning of the Civil War, Lee famously remarked that he could not bring himself to take up arms against his home state of Virginia. This obliged him to take up arms against the very nation that as a serving officer he had sworn to defend?
No less than Benedict Arnold, Robert E. Lee was a traitor. This became, and remains, my firm conviction.
.. Elsewhere, however, quietly expunge Lee’s name from gates, roads, halls, barracks, and awards handed out to cadets. To put the matter kindly, he doesn’t deserve the recognition. As with General Koster, there’s no way to excise Lee from the Academy’s history. That he should occupy a place of honor in the Long Gray Line is something of an obscenity, however.
Trump resigned the presidency already — if we regard the job as one of moral stewardship, if we assume that an iota of civic concern must joust with self-regard, if we expect a president’s interest in legislation to rise above vacuous theatrics, if we consider a certain baseline of diplomatic etiquette to be part of the equation.
.. He abdicated his responsibilities so thoroughly and recklessly that it amounted to a letter of resignation. Then he whored for his Virginia winery on the way out the door.
.. Trump knew full well what he should have done, because he’d done it — grudgingly and badly — only a day earlier. But it left him feeling countermanded, corrected, submissive and weak, and those emotions just won’t do for an ego as needy and skin as thin as his.
.. On Tuesday he “relinquished what presidents from Roosevelt to Reagan have regarded as a cardinal duty of their job: set a moral course to unify the nation,” wrote The Times’ Mark Landler
.. Did he place the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the same “moral plane” as those who showed up to push back at them?
“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane,” Trump answered.
.. he never in fact wanted or set out to be president, not as the position is conventionally or correctly defined.
.. He revealed that repeatedly as he rejected the traditional rules and usual etiquette, refusing to release his tax returns, bragging about his penis size, feuding with the Muslim father of a fallen American soldier and electing puerility over poetry at nearly every meaningful moment.
.. All that time on Twitter wasn’t principally about a direct connection to voters. It was a way to stare at an odometer of approval and monitor, in real time, how broadly his sentiments were being liked and shared.
.. Applause. Greater brand exposure. A new layer of perks atop an existence already lavish with them. Utter saturation of Americans’ consciousness. These were his foremost goals. Governing wasn’t
.. He made clear that conflicts of interest didn’t trouble him, drawing constant attention to Trump properties
.. members of Congress who met with Trump about the repeal-and-replace of Obamacare were aghast at his ignorance of the legislation and of the legislative process itself.
.. A president is supposed to safeguard the most sacred American institutions, repairing them if need be. Trump doesn’t respect them. He has sought to discredit and disempower the judiciary, the free press, the FBI, the Congressional Budget Office. He even managed to inject politics into, and pollute, the Boy Scouts. This is the course of a tyrant.
.. I kept coming across variations on the verdict that he had “failed to lead,” and that phraseology is off. “Fail” and “failure” imply that there was an effort, albeit unsuccessful.
Mr. Comey was not merely a player in the past year’s palaver. He was the player... Mr. Comey explained that he had lost faith in then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s ability to handle the affair, in part because she had directed him to describe the probe in public as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” That one of President Obama’s political appointees outright directed the head of the FBI to play down an investigation is far more scandalous than any accusation aired about Mr. Trump... If Mr. Comey truly had believed the president was interfering, he had a duty to report it or to resign. Instead he maintained Thursday it wasn’t his role to pronounce whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice. Really? This may count as the only time Mr. Comey suddenly didn’t have an opinion on whether to render justice or to take things into his own hands... And why did he agree to dinner with Mr. Trump in the first place? Why keep accepting the president’s phone calls? Asked whether he, in those early meetings, ever told the president how things ought to go, he said no. Mr. Comey did nothing to establish a relationship he felt was correct.Instead, he kept secret memos, something he’d never done before. He wrote them in an unclassified manner, the better to make them public later. He allowed Mr. Trump to continue, while building up this dossier... Yes, Russia interfered. Yes, Mr. Trump damages himself with reckless words and tweets. Yes, the Hillary situation was tricky. Yet you have to ask: How remarkably different would the world look had Mr. Comey chosen to retire in, say, 2015