Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Is the Times' Anonymous Op-Ed a False Flag Operation?

We'll be talking about this unprecedented anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, which describes the author as
...a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.
The author states:
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.
We need to think very carefully about what would have motivated this piece to come out at this moment.  The best possible case I can put forward for doing this is that the author is sincere, knew of the timing of the Woodward book, and contacted the NYT with something that would allow them to counter-scoop the Washington Post.  Presumably, the motivation is to encourage others to come forward and eventually either force the president from office or at least force him to moderate his behavior.

But that's nuts.

Here's what's going to happen:

  1. Trump will further whip his base into a frenzy.  Already he seems to be implying that the NYT simply made the op-ed up.  Expect further attacks on the press as the primary messaging coming out of the White House.
  2. There will be a full-blown purge of the White House staff, with anybody who even vaguely drags their feet on Trump's directives being whisked away.
  3. The replacement staff will be wall-to-wall toadies.
So the real motivation has to be something that's compatible with this outcome.  Or, even more likely, the motivation has to be something that seeks this outcome.

I suppose that there are various "in order to save the village, we had to destroy it" motivations that are compatible with this.  Perhaps the author wants to make things so bad that the cabinet or congress has to act via impeachment or the 25th Amendment.  But that's a hell of a risk, given that the author describes Trump as incapable of learning what geopolitical reality actually is, and utterly capable of going off disastrously half-cocked at a moment's notice.  This doesn't seem credible.

But there is an explanation that fits perfectly:  The op-ed is a false flag operation.

Rather than being authored by a member of the internal Trump "resistance", what if the author is a Trump toady who's written this piece at Trump's behest?  What if the whole purpose is to provide a pretext for Trump's bigger, gaudier, gold-plated version of Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre?

I would hope that the NYT has thought this through, and is confident that their source isn't acting as an agent provocateur.  I hope this, but I also note that they really did get scooped by the Woodward excerpts, and they might be desperate enough to have expedited the vetting.

I also hope that whoever wrote this is smarter than I am, and has thought through the ramifications of the piece in more detail.  I hope this, but I also note that we're talking about somebody working in the Trump White House.  There are many fine, first-class minds in Trump's inner circle, but there are also some people who decided to work for Trump for reasons other than a profound sense of duty and patriotism.

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