I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.
President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.
It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.
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.
I would know. I am one of them.
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.
Don’t get me wrong. 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 impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.
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.
It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.
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.
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas, please
Fold ’em, let ’em hit me, raise it; baby, stay with me (I love it)
LoveGame intuition, play the cards with spades to start
And after he’s been hooked, I’ll play the one that’s on his heart
The Hebrew letters above the spiral read Bless the House. Brchat [bless] Habayit [the house]. Blessing the House has connotations described in the spiral calligraphy below. In the Beginning, Rashi mused, before God created the world, She created the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew alphabet created the world. The difference between Christians and Jews is that Christians believe that in the beginning there was the Word. We believe the world began with the creation of with the first letter of the holy Hebrew alphabet. This letter: https://youtu.be/Ibih2s0rLsA
A christian Fundamentalist group released this excellent video on the first letter of God’s especially holy first name. Discover the secret behind the Hebrew letter “Yud”. Visit www.thelivingword.org.au. Published on Oct 12, 2015.
The discussion of Jesus is not relevant at the conclusion of the living word video because I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. That said, I revere him. When I was in Israel I climbed to the top of the mount in the Gallelle where Jesus preached this remarkable sermon. Produced here, of course, in the King James Bible. While innacurate, the King James Bible is a work of art in itself. King James English is magnificent.
Matthew 5-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Prelude to Safed
In August of 1967, I was falling in love with Haifa. After shoveling manure in the Negev for a solid month, the head of family returned from his tank in the Sinai. The huge manure pile was diminished. I was not quite on my own.
On a dairy farm, there is always plenty of manure to shovel. I had distinguished myself as valuable because I was the only one of the six volunteers the Jewish Agency had sent to Kvar Warburg who lasted more than two weeks.
The other five volunteers were all British soldiers of war who had fought for Aparteid in Rhodesia and were eager to kill. Arabs would do. I was the only Jew. I spoke some Hebrew.
Potomac Children, Serving parents and Children in DC…Maryland, Southern Virginia
“Two,” Joanna says, when asked how old she is. “Two.” Joanna cannot say “One”, nor the word “Three”, although it is clear that the concept of One, Two, Three is in her mind. She counts the ducklings in a picture book I took out of the library. She sings the “Sesame Street” counting song, making up the words other than Two. She counts raisins with me, saying “Two” when I get to the second one.
She may understand Two, but I don’t and neither does her mother. “Terrible Two” is the expression Diana uses, over and over, and ours is mixed marriage–I complain; Diana doesn’t. Even so, the difficulties of parenting a two-year old hit Diana before it hit me causing her to go as close to hopeless frustration as I’ve ever seen her.
It is time to put a new film in this camera called Terrible Two. Joanna and I are running on the grounds of the Capitol–the Senate side. We climb down some stairs to a bubbling fountain surrounded by a circle of stone seats. I sit down, Joanna climbs up to the seat and stands up. There is a grill above her, looking down over a sharp drop of rock garden and water– dangerous for her if she were to get on the other side of the grill. “No,” I say, frighted as she tries to force herself through the grill. Then, I realize the bars are too close together for it to be dangerous. Giving me a mischievous look, she puts her left foot through a narrow opening in the bars. “No,” I say again, although this time there is no fear in my intonation. She laughs, returns her left foot, and then puts her right foot through the opening smiling, waiting for me to say No again. I oblige. Left foot. “No.” Right foot. “No.” It’s a game we both enjoy.
What makes this incident significant–worth the film in the camera? She understands what the word No means. She understands that she is doing something which I don’t want her to do. She understands that she has tested me and I have given in. She understands that this time the word No does not mean No. It doesn’t have the same meanings as the “No” i say when she is about to cross the street by herself or the “No” she says when she does not want juice.”
What I am trying to describe is freedom, independence, becoming a person in one’s own right, and all that seems to b e summed up in the word “No.” When Joanna said No for the first time she did not mean it. It was simply a sound–a word she repeated because it was easy to say and before she had heard it with some frequency. When she meant the word no for the first time she had suddenly achieved independence. She was making a statement. No I don’t want juice. She was doing it without crying and without equivocation.. She was saying that as a person who was worth listening to and she was ordering the word around her–her mother–not to give her juice.
At the age of two, children use the word No to assert their individuality–their independence–and they do a lot of asserting. That is why parents refer to the age as the “Terrible Twos”: because the idea of one’s baby suddenly being independent is terribly difficult to handle. The psychiatrist Scott Peck describes how some mothers are capable of loving their children only as infants….”They may be ideal mothers until their children reach the age of two…Then, almost overnight, the picture changes. As soon as a child begin to assert its own will–to disobey, to whine, to refuse to play, to occasionally reject being cuddled, to attach itself to other people, to move into the world a little bit on its own–the mothers love ceases. She loses interest in the child…perceives it only as a need be pregnant again, to have another infant, another pet….For her children the ‘terrible twos’ are not only the end of their infancy, they are also the end of the experience of being loved by mother.”
Peck, of course, is describing an extreme. However, it is an extreme to which I am sensitive because when I was two, my parents’ marriage was dissolving and my mother was often not available to me. Watching Joanna leave her infancy at two, I can understand the reason for the extreme Peck describes.
When Joann was born, Diana and I both knew on an intellectual level that we did not own our daughter–in the sense that one owns a car or a house or a pair of shoes. Rather, Diana and I had participated in an indescribable experience which resulted in the creation of life–and clearly Joann was given to our care until she is ready to take care of herself. Whether or not one believes in God, it does not require a leap of faith to know intellectually that one does not own one’s children.
Even so, birth is such an intoxicating experience that it is difficult to bear in mind that this infant I held in my arms two years ago, only one year ago, only six months ago, is not mine. It was difficult for Diana, who is the most level-headed woman and mother I ever met. And it was difficult for me. At two the intoxication ends and reality intercedes. We don’t own Joanna. She says No to us and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Sometimes she will be right, sometimes wrong, but it certainly takes getting used to.
On the other hand, there are tremendous advantages to having a two-year old. Tremendous. She is discovering the world, finding excitement and joy in seeing clouds, horses, other children, and in the ability to pour juice from a thermos to a cup, to draw images on paper, to use language, to climb up a ladder, to latch a gate, to fit pieces into a puzzle. She is teaching us about a world we thought we understood and she is introducing herself.
Who is Joanna? I don’t think I am able to answer any more succinctly than I can tell you who her mother is or who I am. However, I can see that in addition to the tremendous glee she takes to discovering her own powers–running with seeming abandon down the sidewalk, squealing with delight–she also is discovering limitations. When she trips and falls, she returns to dependence frustrated and crying and clinging to my neck as I pick her up and hold her. When I make mistakes, I often have the same feelings of frustration–although I don’t express them in the same way. Independence. Dependence. They are alternating parts of the human condition–alternating throughout our lives, without any solution but acceptance that independence and dependence will continue to be part of each of us. At two, Joanna has entered this reality of unchanging change. The strongest lessons she will learn for dealing with independence and dependence will come from her parents–from Diana and me. And where did learn them? From my mother and father–whose imperfections are clear to me, just as mine will be to Joanna.
I’ve also learned lessons from my own experiences, experiences that brought me beyond my parents limitations and taught me limitations of my own. This is the point at which the fear and challenge of becoming a father becomes most apparent. I am now teaching Joanna by the way I handle successes, failures, and the long periods of silence in between. The feeling of being unprepared is both inescapable and irrelevant. She is watching and demonstrating her learning on a daily basis, as she repeats my words, my facial expressions, and the way I hold a spoon and move my body. I watch her with tremendous love, and she watches me watching her. Sometimes she throws her arms around me and gives me a kiss. Sometimes she does not want to have anything at all to do with me. As a father, there is too much to learn and too little time, and that too will not change. Being the father of a two-year old is terrible and wonderful; it is like being a two-year old.
This is what a “wheel chair accessible” restaurant looks like in segregated State College PA.
Video by Emily Hartsay
Cafe Verve received an operating license from Walt Schneider, head of code for the PA Centre County Council of Governments. To receive the license, the restaurant was required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specific enforcement of ADA in this instance was defined by Commonwealth building code which establishes public access requirements. As a restaurant seating 50 or fewer people, Cafe Verve was required to spend $4,000 to meet the disability-friendly requirements in the building code. The restaurant decided to spend twice that sum making the bathroom in the restaurant wheel chair accessible and paying for a sign saying so. However, the restaurant was not required to make the entrance wheel chair accessible.
In February, I called Walt Schneider to ask for an explanation. On May first, I met him at a meeting of the Bellefonte Borough Council. There, Walt promised to get back to me in two weeks to explain why the Cafe received an operating license.
On August 17th, Walt finally got back to me with the answer. The answer is that the restaurant was required to meet Commonwealth and Borough of State College regulations on accessibility for public accommodation. However [repetition is good for the soul], while Cafe Verve was required to make accommodations, the restaurant was not required to make the entrance accessible. Exclamation point.
At that occasion, there was a still-ongoing Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission formal complaint against the seven “liberal” members of the Borough Council of State College [see Phil Ochs] for disability discrimination in public accommodations and housing, Walt promised to get back to me “soon” so I could institute a voluntary discussion with the owners to resolve the issue. I had hoped to negotiate with Freddie Irani, one of the proprietors (and with the others whose names he agreed to provide) so I could celebrate on October 12th my seventieth birthday as a mensch. Walt pulled a Waldo again.
My plan was to celebrate my birthday with my two vegetarian daughters and my one-year old granddaughter in the new vegetarian restaurant that had just opened across the street from my apartment. Instead of driving my Amigo mobility device into the front door, the government of State College required me to crawl. Consequently, I adapted Lesley Gore’s classic and sang, “It’s My Party and I’ll Crawl if I Want To.”