All of Washington is abuzz after The New York Times released an anonymous op-ed by a “senior” official in the Trump administration. Aside from seeking to undermine the result of an election, the anonymous author is arguing for a bad has-been policy agenda and approach to politics.
The American people can roll their eyes and move on from the controversy. This is just another Republican who hasn’t learned anything from the Bush years, and thinks we are back in the year 2000. The answer: vote for Republicans—like the president—who have learned something from the last two decades.
The anonymous author begins: “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author then goes on in MSNBC-speak until the second half of the op-ed, when he or she finally gets to areas of substantive disagreement with Trump.
The anonymous official says Trump is amoral and is not guided by “principles.” Wrong. Like most Americans, Trump is an ardent nationalist. Watch old interviews of the guy and it is clear that he’s been guided by America First his entire adult life. Yes, he’s pragmatic. But he’s not a flip-flopper of Mitt Romney proportions. Really, the anonymous author probably just doesn’t like that Trump thinks outside of the Washington, D.C., box (which is what got him elected).
Next, the anonymous author doesn’t like that Trump calls the liberal press “the enemy of the people,” and says his leadership style is “adversarial.” But these media outlets would rail against any Republican. Acting like Trump is particularly controversial because of his foibles ignores years of history. Mitt Romney—a relative choir-boy—was made out to be a dog-hating, sexist, racist, mean, rich guy.
To say the mainstream press is dishonest and biased is an understatement. Republican voters know this, and have been dying for a politician who would take on the press—not by being defensive and swatting down all the misleading narratives, which would be impossible—but by undermining the establishment press’s lofty position in the minds of ordinary Americans.
Trump is accomplishing this beautifully. He doesn’t publicly express anger at the press. Instead, he mocks the press to the cheers of thousands of supporters. And the more Trump mocks the press, the more outlets like CNN double down on crazy and further undermine any shred of credibility that they yet possess.
Trump isn’t cracking down on free speech and freedom of the press. Only the radical left and their apologists in the media want to do that. But Trump does threaten the intellectually handicapped narrative that says conservative media should be criticized and doubted, but all liberal outlets are somehow sacrosanct. Such a system is the enemy of the return to constitutional governance that real conservatives strive for.
Worse, the author believes that Trump is “anti-democratic” because he disagrees with Washington’s foreign policy status quo: “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.” The anonymous author then assures us that America is being ultra-hawkish on Russia, despite what Trump wants.
What a load of gibberish. How and when did Trump show a “preference” for Kim Jong Un? Trump was right to meet with Kim, just like Nixon met with Mao and Roosevelt worked with Stalin. That’s hard-nosed foreign policy realism.
As for the “little genuine appreciation” for our allies, Trump is right not to appreciate that NATO members aren’t doing what they are required to do under the pact. Germany is Europe’s biggest economy, but its military is in terrible shape. In but one example, a report earlier this year said that only 4 of Germany’s 128 Eurofighter jets were combat ready. But Germany still refuses to quickly meet NATO’s two percent defense-spending commitment. The same goes for the rest of wealthy-Europe, save the U.K. Trump’s predecessors have complained about NATO, but only quietly and with no results. Is Trump showing “little genuine appreciation” for our allies because he’s willing to actually say the same thing other presidents have said and mean it?
Most ridiculous is the allegation that Trump is a stooge of Vladimir Putin. Trump’s wish to get along better with Russia, and pivot America’s strategic focus toward China in every way possible, is a good and well-founded grand strategy.
Russia is a declining power. Russia has one smoke-belching aircraft carrier, with only one toilet for every 80 Russian sailors on board. Russia spends a tenth on defense what America spends on defense, and Russia’s economy is about the size of Spain’s, only 7 percent the size of America’s economy.
Russia will never present a serious challenge to American supremacy, though it can be a geopolitical pest and play the spoiler. And Russia, along with America, has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. These are reasons to carefully talk to the Russians. We should be tough, but we shouldn’t—through bad policy choices—push Russia, normally suspicious of the Chinese because of simple geography, closer into Beijing’s orbit.
That’s because China is the rising power. Though it may never surpass the U.S., and has huge problems to face in the decades ahead, China does pose a threat to American supremacy. Funny how the elites never freak out when people say nice things about China’s authoritarian government. In fact, it is the elites—at least on the left—who have a history of praising China.
The anonymous author also lambasts Trump’s reluctance to expel Russian diplomats from the U.S., many of whom are spies. But Russia has in turn expelled our diplomats, many of whom are spies, and now we know less about what is going on inside Russia’s intelligence services. Yet again, Trump was right.
Finally, the anonymous author takes issue with Trump for being “anti-trade.” Yes, Trump has increased trade tensions with countries deemed traditional U.S. allies. But Trump has every right to complain about Canada’s dairy tariffs, or Europe’s high tariffs on American cars. Again, he wouldn’t be the first president to do so.
Now, trade tensions with the traditional allies are subsiding, and all energy is being focused on China. This is good strategy, and good policy. China’s average tariff is nine percent. America’s is three percent. If an American company—such as an auto company—wants to sell into China, in addition to paying China’s high tariff, it must “partner” with a Chinese firm. That Chinese firm then gets to “replicate” the American technology and know-how, with the hope of one day elbowing out the American firm altogether and dominating the market.
China cheats, and Trump is right to take issue with this. The goal so-far is the reduction of trade-barriers, not destroying the global trading system. For this very reason, stocks are (for now) at all-time-highs in spite of a “trade war.”
But even platitudes about “free trade” ignore lessons that should be already learned. Lower international trade barriers are good. Yet under our current monetary system, our trade deficit never balances, and blue-collar America disproportionately suffers. Trump won’t be completely on-track until he starts talking about monetary reform, but he’s headed in the right direction.
Ultimately, The New York Times’ writer is just another elite who has been wrong about just about everything for a very long time. The elites said increasing trade tensions with China would hurt America more than China. So far, the complete opposite is true. Our elites said the hollowing-out of America’s manufacturing towns were because of robots, and had little to do with China, despite loads of completely contradictory evidence. They were wrong, but they still won’t admit it.
These are the same people who told us that we should invade Iraq, and then spent the last 6 years saying we should invade Syria to stop Iran from having a “Shiite Crescent” of control in the Middle East, only made possible by our invasion of majority-Shia Iraq.
Now, they say that Russia is the greatest threat ever, and seem to ignore China. They say that Trump is a threat to our “democratic institutions.” But by “democratic institutions” they mean control of the country by graduates of Yale and Harvard, and the sycophantic networks of patronage in Washington, D.C.
The anonymous author is a coward, but the author is also an idiot. The problem isn’t the op-ed. The problem is that far too many establishment Republicans agree with the author. America will always have elites, but America needs better elites. The answer is to change our elites. Trump can do something about the officials in his administration. It is up to the voters to do something about their politicians.