The op-ed shows that Republicans are “beginning to think about how they’ll be positioned in a post-Trump era, however it arrives,” Mark Schmitt wrote. The president’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and the former foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos have all confessed to or been convicted of crimes, with Cohen telling a federal court that the president ordered him to break the law. An upcoming book by the journalist Bob Woodward depicts the president as unstable, incompetent, and corrupt, and surrounded by a staff that knows he is unstable, incompetent, and corrupt. As public evidence of this mounts, the president and his supporters are increasingly reliant on the conspiracy theory that Democratic partisans in federal law enforcement are framing the president, the only way to rationalize increasingly concrete evidence of criminal and corrupt behavior.
The author is also clearly not a Democrat, or even a liberal. Language equating free trade with democracy—“President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic”—and defending the president’s policy agenda of “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more,” reveal the author’s political inclinations to be conservative. To make it as clear as possible, the author notes in the beginning that “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.”
The biggest open secret in Washington is that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. His staff knows it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows it. House Speaker Paul Ryan knows it. Everyone who works for the president, including his attorneys, knows it. But they all want something, whether it’s upper-income tax cuts, starving the social safety net, or solidifying a right-wing federal judiciary. The Constitution provides for the removal of a president who is dangerously unfit, but those who have the power to remove him will not do so not out of respect for democracy, but because Trump is a means to get what they want. The officials who enable the Trump administration to maintain some veneer of normalcy, rather than resigning and loudly proclaiming that the president is unfit, are not “resisters.” They are enablers.
The anonymous Times op-ed writer is no different. While claiming that they and other officials are “thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses,” the op-ed provides few examples of this, and the author must know that the mere existence of their piece will only inflame those impulses. Already Trump has declared that “the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” If the president ever decides to issue unconstitutional orders to the Justice Department or the Pentagon, he and his supporters will point to this op-ed and claim that drastic action was necessary to “protect democracy.”