Remember ‘Anonymous’? He — or, of course, she (or ‘zhe’ or ‘they’, etc.) — was the person who, back in September 2018, wrote an anonymous op-ed for our former paper of record, ‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.’
‘Anonymous’ claimed to be a ‘senior Trump administration official’. He took to the pages of the official fish-wrap because he didn’t approve of President Trump. He and ‘like-minded colleagues…have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda’. Indeed, according to ‘Anonymous’, ‘many of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda.’
Who knows whether ‘Anonymous’ is for real — I mean, just how ‘senior’ do you suppose he (or, again, she, etc.) is — or was? Maybe Anonymous is just Bill Kristol or some other NeverTrumper having us on. Presumably, we will eventually find out since ‘Anonymous’ has recently pledged to reveal his identity before the 2020 election.
In any event, his op-ed occasioned a little buzz at the time. To the anti-Trump fraternity, it was as manna from heaven — or gasoline on a dying fire. They loved it that ‘Anonymous’ spoke about getting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump for reasons of mental incapacity. They nodded sagely when he said that ‘the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.’ (Remember that television program Father Knows Best? The motto of ‘Anonymous’ and his ilk is ‘We Bureaucrats Know Best.’) They said ‘Amen’ when ‘Anonymous’ purred that ‘the root of the problem is the president’s amorality.’ Where’s Pastor David French when you need him? Fortunately, ‘Anonymous’ wrote, there were ‘unsung heroes in and around the White House’, people — like him! — who, unlike the president, were ‘astute observers’ or events and could steer the country in the right direction.
If ever an op-ed should have come with an air-sickness bag, this was it. It was all over in a news cycle, but for the nonce it was one more evidence that soon, any day now, the Trump administration was going to fall apart as a new bombshell detonated, a turning point had been reached, and the walls began closing in.
Well, now ‘Anonymous’ is back with A Warning, a book-length version of his op-ed. The book was published on November 19. Yesterday, ‘Anonymous’ took to the virtual pages of Reddit to peddle his book and answer questions. Yes, really. ‘Hi, I’m Anonymous, the author of A WARNING. I wrote this book to alert the American people about the dangers posed by President Trump as I have seen firsthand. I’ll be answering your questions on Reddit from 7 – 8 PM EST.’
It all makes for painful reading but does have some value as a psychological and sociological datum. Many of the questions concern the author’s decision to write anonymously. This elicited his one declaration with which no one can cavil: ‘I’m not Alexander Hamilton or James Madison by any stretch,’ he modestly acknowledged, but still, like them, he finds anonymity useful.
There was also a fair amount of back-and-forth about money. Was he doing all this for the money? No, he said, because he had not (according to his publisher) taken an advance and he was planning to ‘substantially’ donate his royalties to ‘nonprofit organizations focused on government accountability’.
But the main purpose of the exchange was to iterate the main thrust of his book: that he had been wrong in thinking that quislings (my word, not his) in the government could covertly rescue the world from Donald Trump. Alas, he now realizes that ‘no one can thwart [Trump’s] attraction to wrongdoing’. Things are bad, bad, bad.
‘Anyone should be able to see the chaos has worsened as the guardrails have come off…the president has little handle on the day-to-day operations of the federal government and is trying to run our administration with a skeleton crew. He is hurtling between different controversies and ignoring important matters of state, abusing his power with some regularity, undercutting vital democratic institutions daily, and debasing the national dialogue tweet-by-tweet. We can expect this and much, much more if he is reelected. The last guardrails are coming off, and if reelected he will feel emboldened to follow those dangerous impulses to unknowable and alarming ends.’
Let me offer some corroboration for these dire warnings. The stock market closed yesterday at 28,121. Worse, unemployment, especially minority unemployment, is at historic lows. Real wages, especially at the lower end of the scale, are rising rapidly. If that were not bad enough, Donald Trump has followed through on his promise to nominate judges who share the judicial philosophy of Antonin Scalia. To date, he has seen something like 200 confirmed, along with two Supreme Court Justices. Trump came to office pledging to undo two counterproductive regulations for every new regulation enacted. His record so far is something like 16 regulations repealed for every new one. He enacted a large tax cut — not perhaps large enough, but there was Congress to contend with — which further sparked the economy. His ‘America First’ agenda has brought manufacturing flooding back to the US. His support of fracking and other energy initiatives have made America the world’s biggest producer of energy.
This is just the beginning of a very long list, but you can see how tenuous is the administration of Donald Trump. The ‘guardrails’, as ‘Anonymous’ says, are collapsing or coming off, or whatever it is that guardrails do when deployed to illustrate a completely fictional and tendentious narrative composed chiefly to illustrate one’s own wisdom and self-importance.
The return of ‘Anonymous’ is another variation of that old Marxist mot about things recurring first as tragedy, then farce. The original op-ed had a sort of tragic, or at least malign, aspect. The book version, and its Reddit extension, is pure though contemptible farce.
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