Keep the ‘Adults in the Room’ in the Room
by Kevin Kelton
For almost two years Americans have been saying, “I hope there are adults in the room to protect the country from President Donald Trump’s worst instincts.” Now an anonymous high administration official has come forward to say s/he and others are doing just that, and everyone is yelling that it’s a cowardly coup.
No, it’s not. It’s exactly what a presidential advisor should be doing.
Avoiding or delaying bad decisions and directing the president to better ones are what the “adults in the room” are hired to do. They are the experts in their respective fields. If they know their president works best when he has a cooling off period before making a rash decision, they should do everything they can to give him that time to reflect – not let him fly off the rails by himself. If an impulsive president wants to sign an order to assassinate a foreign leader or launch a precipitous trade war, I want someone there to slow him down. Hell, I wish someone had done that to George W. Bush before he invaded Iraq.
As for the alternative description of this as a “soft coup,” that term simply doesn’t apply. A soft coup is the overthrow of a government by non-violent means. In the case of Anonymous, it’s clear s/he is executing most of the orders of the president and actively working to keep this administration in power until the voters or the congress decide otherwise.
In terms of him or her taking this action anonymously, there is solid historical precedent for that choice. Both Daniel Ellsberg (whom I admire) and Edward Snowden (whom I don’t) stayed anonymous after their leaks and only went public when circumstances forced their hands. And, of course, Mark Felt stayed silent for over 30 years before copping to being ‘Deep Throat,’ even denying it publicly many times. They all knew that going public off the bat might lead to job loss, prosecution, and public ridicule. Maybe the Trump administration’s unnamed turncoat only has so much courage. But better to show a little courage than none at all.
Finally, from a purely strategic perspective, having this person come forward and out himself is exactly what Trump, Mike Pence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and all the other White House deplorables want him to do. Why would you want to take the same position on it as them?! If this person had penned it under his/her name, Trump would now be on the warpath trying to destroy his reputation the way he has with James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Jeff Sessions, John Brennan, Bruce Ohr, and other people who’ve publicly stood up to him. How would that help the situation? If a person wants to do the right thing while avoiding the fate of McCabe or Strzok or Sessions, can you blame them?
So no, I don’t want the coolest heads in the room outing themselves and being forced to resign so this maniacal despot can replace them with spineless sycophants.
You can excoriate “Anonymous” for selectively removing papers or not outing himself. I applaud him, salute him, and hope many more follow his lead.