Blessing must arise from within your own mind. It is not something that comes from outside. When the positive qualities of your mind increase and the negativities decrease, that is what blessing means. The Tibetan word for blessing … means transforming into magnificent potential. Therefore, blessing refers to the development of virtuous qualities you did not previously have and the improvement of those good qualities you have already developed.
― Dalai Lama XIV
Friday, September 7, 2018
MIxed feelings about OpEd
Op-Ed Columnist NY TIMES
It is a selfish attempt at justification. And it is unlikely to be effective.
I imagine many of you have read it, given the immense size of the article’s digital audience already. If you haven’t, the piece describes Trump as misguided, impulsive, unstable, erratic, ill-informed and anti-democratic, as well as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” It says that other administration officials are quietly defying him to minimize the damage he is doing to the country.
But as many other writers have pointed out, the mere act of writing the piece — which has enraged Trump — will make it harder to quietly defy him. He is less likely to trust his aides and more likely to rely on a small cadre of loyalists. “He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous,” The Atlantic’s David Frum writes.
The author’s real goal, many writers argued, was to justify his or her own decision to continue serving Trump. “Nobody who’s part of the real resistance should be celebrating this,” The Los Angeles Times’s Jessica Roy writes. The more honorable path, many said, was a public resignation, coupled with an honest description of the president.
I think many of these commentators make good points. (And, for the record, I played no role in this op-ed and do not know the author’s identity.) But I would add one caveat — one way in which I think the piece is worse for Trump, and more helpful to the country, than many others believe.
It is one more high-profile description of his unfitness for office and the chaos of his White House. It joins Bob Woodward’s new book, other previous books and journalism on the same subject and John McCain’s extended memorial. Together, they have the potential to persuade a small but meaningful number of former Trump supporters.
This isn’t pure speculation. Over the last week — a week full of talk about McCain and, now, the Woodward book and anonymous op-ed — Trump’s average approval rating has fallen to its lowest level since early this year. Only 40 percent of Americans approve of his performance, according to FiveThirtyEight, and almost 54 percent disapprove.
I fully agree that the anonymous author — and Trump’s other internal White House and Cabinet critics — should go public with what’s really happening. “Previous generations of Americans have sacrificed fortunes, health, and lives to serve the country,” Frum writes. “You are asked only to tell the truth aloud and with your name attached.” Yet I still think the op-ed, along with the Woodward book, may damage Trump.
Other reactions to the piece include:
Susan Hennessey of Lawfare: “I have a lot of mixed feelings on this op-ed. But consider for one moment how bad it has to be, how genuinely scary, for someone to feel like they needed to write this.”
“The significance of the NYT anonymous op-ed is that it shows Rs beginning to think about how they’ll be positioned in a post-Trump era, however it arrives,” tweeted New America’s Mark Schmitt.
The New Republic’s Jeet Heer: “If you have someone who is mentally unfit to be president (as Trump seems to be) there is remedy: the 25th amendment. Instead, according to the op-ed & to Woodward’s book, we have something far worse: an administrative coup.”
“It’s no comfort at all to find out that anonymous, non-elected people boast they are running the country in lieu of the addled president,” writes The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. “In other parts of the world, that is called a coup.”
Tom Nichols, professor at the Naval War College: “If the author of the NYT had used his/her/their name, all we’d be talking about is who they are, where they grew up, their entire career resume, who else they ever worked for, and where they are now. The message of the oped itself would be completely lost.”
Andy Smarick, conservative policy expert at R Street: “It is an apologia. Someone is doing his/her best to defend and explain his/her decision to work there.... I suspect that the author — and others in similar situations — recognizes that the chances of the future judging this administration kindly are now infinitesimal.”