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New York Times op-ed betrays Trump, voters. Staffers don't get to steer US


© Alex Brandon/AP The White House

By Ari Fleischer, USA TODAY

Ari Fleischer was White House press secretary in the George W. Bush administration.

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, I was asked on a TV show what advice I would give then-candidate Donald Trump or if I would ever work for him if he became president. I said he wouldn’t want to hire me, and I wouldn’t want to work for him.

That’s because if you’re going to work for the president, you need to believe in the president. Not just his policies, but the man (or one day the woman).

Which is why the anonymous op-ed published by the New York Times is a shocking betrayal of how a White House staffer should conduct him or herself. It’s also a piece whose importance is impossible to gauge given that no reader knows how “senior” the author truly is.

But whoever the author is, he or she is out of line.

Deceitful and selfish betrayal

It doesn’t matter what White House you work in, if the president gave you your job, you need to support the president or stop working for him. White House staffers are privileged to hold their positions. Their jobs come with responsibility, to the president and to the nation. Staffers should feel free to challenge the president. They should advise the president. And they should do so privately, knowing that’s part of their job. It’s one of the joys of the job. The staff gets to give the President of the United States their opinion. The president gets to decide if he wants to follow it.

But if staffers can no longer support the president, or as the case with the anonymous author, they doubt the president’s ability to do his job, they need to do the honorable thing and resign. At that point, they can go public and say what they want. There’s a tradition of Americans doing that and it can be a noble one.

But to do so while in the employ of the president is deceitful and selfish. In the case of the Times op-ed and President Trump, I suspect the source is playing both sides — he or she wants to keep his or her job while hedging how little they support the president in case things get worse for him.

Let’s say the author really means it when he says he seeks to “preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office…So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

Forgive me, but who the hell are you to decide what the “right” direction is? 

The American people settled that question when, like it or not, Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Under the Constitution, the president gets to decide what the “right” direction is. The staff should give advice, but they don’t get to decide.

I hope this anonymous author realizes there are other staffers who think the president’s direction is the right one. Who is this anonymous staffer to believe that his or her views are superior to their colleague’s views?
Voters choose America's direction like it or not

In our system, the remedy to a president who is not liked or trusted is overt politics, not covert op-eds.

If the American people don’t like what Donald Trump is doing, they can elect a Democratic House and-or Senate this fall. If they do like the president, the Republicans might keep the House or Senate. And the same healthy, political choice will again be before the voters in 2020.

That’s how our system was meant to work and be responsive to the will of the people.

No White House staffer is above the will of the people, especially one whose name none of us know.


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Politics - U.S. Daily News: New York Times op-ed betrays Trump, voters. Staffers don't get to steer US
New York Times op-ed betrays Trump, voters. Staffers don't get to steer US
Politics - U.S. Daily News
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