The dumbest guessing game consuming Washington Thursday involved trying to figure out who penned the anonymous op-ed ripping President Trump in the New York Times, with the online headline “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”
Dumb speculation, but irresistible. Here’s my bet:
I imagine the author of the “resistance” piece, which slams President Trump for being “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” to be an Obama holdover who is lining up credentials for re-emerging into the job market.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has purposefully slow-walked the process of confirming nominees to staff the Trump administration, with his unprecedented demands for debate time even on the most inconsequential hires. As a result, a number of folks who were hired by President Obama are still in senior positions across the federal government’s many agencies.
It is also said that towards the end of 2016, numerous political jobs were reclassified so that the Obama-appointed incumbents could remain in place. So there are plenty of possible authors of the Times op-ed.
Common sense suggests that no Cabinet member or other Trump hire would write this unforgivably damning piece. What would be the point? No one working in the White House will benefit from undermining the president, or from suggesting that he should be replaced.
Only the people hoping to replace President Trump will gain from charges that he is erratic and not to be trusted.
Let us also consider the most reasonable motivation for penning an article that suggests that the president deserves no credit for the many accomplishments achieved since January 2017 – the detangling of suffocating regulations, reforming of the tax code, confirmation of scores of judges, and so on.
The driving force here is the approach of the midterm elections, and the important role President Trump may play. He has vowed to campaign vigorously for candidates who back his agenda; we have seen that his involvement is almost uniquely helpful.
The president has backed any number of Republicans running in primaries across the country; as CNN noted in early August, his candidates had won 14 of 14 times.
In the past few weeks, President Trump enjoyed more victories, most notably carrying U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, running to become the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, across the finish line.
These contests have focused on the booming economy, and attributing the growth of the country and the improved jobs market to the Trump agenda.
Republican candidates have talked up the White House’s efforts to rework trade deals to level the playing field for U.S. companies, cut taxes and red tape and reverse some of the more harmful policies of the Obama administration, such as its guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault cases.
Those candidates pledging to partner with the White House on these issues have done well.
Democrats understand what a force of nature Trump is on the campaign trail – they saw his effectiveness in 2016 and they have seen it at the standing-room-only boisterous rallies he has held this year. They need to dull his attacks and his impact.
Many were doubtless banking on “Fear: Trump in the White House,” the book coming out Tuesday from Bob Woodward, to do just that. Reports say the book contains numerous quotes from senior White House officials, obtained from anonymous sources who describe the president as ignorant, willful and dangerous.
But the White House has mounted a vigorous defense. In every case, the supposed authors of those salacious remarks have denied the words were ever spoken, which has taken some of the sting out of the charges.
To bolster the narrative, The New York Times op-ed doubles down on similar accusations of recklessness. What could be more helpful to Democrats than sowing doubts in voters’ minds just as President Trump hits the campaign trail?
What could be more helpful in offsetting the likely build-up of good news about the economy as we approach Election Day? Democrats have attempted to dismiss the nation’s declining unemployment, rising consumer optimism, buoyant spending and increasing business investment, but voters know better.
In time for the election, voters will likely see third-quarter growth of better than 4 percent at an annualized rate, which many on the left said was impossible. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is now predicting that the third quarter will expand at an annualized rate of 4.7 percent.
That may prove optimistic, but chances are good that the growth rate will top the second quarter’s 4.2 percent gains and vindicate the policies adopted by President Trump. That is a bitter pill for Democrats and one they are struggling to swallow.
Hence, the character assassination that’s on full display. That’s what Democrats have – no economic agenda, but rather a quiver packed with ways to belittle and vilify President Trump, even as the country’s fortunes continue to improve.
Democrats may take the House, but given how their ugly behavior during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and their and despicable attacks on the president might rile Trump supporters, I wouldn’t bet on it.