Published on
by
Miami Herald

There Are No Adults in the Room

The anonymous "adult" in the White House has the jellyfish spine common among Republicans these days 

white house

"Not shockingly," the New York TImes essay written by an anonymous member of the Trump administration, "landed on the White House like a bomb." (Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)

For a man who places such a premium on loyalty, Donald Trump inspires remarkably little.

He or she shows the jellyfish spine and bunny rabbit bravery common among Republicans these days. Real courage would’ve required the writer and the “many Trump appointees” he or she says are part of this to quit their jobs en masse, find a public forum, and speak the obvious truth without hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. 

Bad enough his administration is a sieve, embarrassing accounts of bungled phone calls with foreign leaders and cheeseburger-fueled rants with cronies regularly showing up in the news. Bad enough top aides keep fleeing his White House like it was on fire. Bad enough his ex-lawyer has named him an unindicted conspirator in a campaign finance felony.

Bad enough, all that. Now there’s this.

Meaning, of course, last week’s publication by The New York Times of an anonymous op-ed by a person the paper describes as “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” The writer tells us that he or she is part of a large cabal of officials working to subvert some of Trump’s plans and to frustrate his crazier inclinations.

This is not, we are told, because of disagreement with Trump’s agenda—“We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous”—but rather, because these officials recognize that he is a man of great “amorality”—“reckless,” “impetuous,” “adversarial,” “petty,” and “ineffective.”

But there are, the writer assures us, “adults in the room.”

We’re told that these adults take it upon themselves, when Trump makes one of his “half-baked, ill-informed, and occasionally reckless decisions,” to ignore it, do something else or cajole him into a less stupid course of action. The writer says these officials try “to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. The result is a two-track presidency.”

Not shockingly, the essay landed on the White House like a bomb. In an angry tweet, Trump described the writer as “GUTLESS” and demanded that the Times, “for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

As if the First Amendment were repealed while we weren’t looking. As if the Times has the writer stashed in a newsroom closet.

But at least Trump was unconflicted. Frankly, it was hard to know what to feel after reading this essay. Another way of describing a “two-track presidency,” after all, is to say that America has undergone a de facto coup.

It’s possible to be deeply concerned about that—Just who’s running this country?—and yet, grateful somebody is standing between us and Trump’s meatheaded ideas. And it’s possible to be both those things and yet appalled at this person’s failure to be as large as the crisis demands.

To the contrary, he or she shows the jellyfish spine and bunny rabbit bravery common among Republicans these days. Real courage would’ve required the writer and the “many Trump appointees” he or she says are part of this to quit their jobs en masse, find a public forum, and speak the obvious truth without hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. Namely, that this tantrum-throwing child is unfit to govern.

Instead, we get this anonymous rationalization. It impressed MSNBC host and former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, who wrote that we should be grateful to these people for stopping Trump from “creating an existential crisis for the country.” Which is laughable. Trump is the existential crisis, but they’re OK with trying to manage it from behind the scenes because, tax cuts.

With apologies to James Comey, these people need to discover a higher loyalty. Until they do, the assurance they offer is empty.

There are no adults in that room.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

Share This Article