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Author of Trump Op-Ed Just Made Things Worse

One view sees a 'constitutional crisis,' while another shrugs it off as business as usual in DC
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2018 8:35 AM CDT
President Trump walks to board Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, in Morristown, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – David Frum is no fan of President Trump, but he finds great fault with the anonymous author of the anti-Trump op-ed in the New York Times. The op-ed describes "overt defiance" of the president by his own staffers, which amounts to a "constitutional crisis," Frum writes in the Atlantic. Frum further accuses the author and any like-minded staffers of selfishly shirking their own responsibilities. "If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand." Yes, attempting to do that may damage their careers, but "on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution—and there were no 'riskiness' exemptions in the text of that oath."

Trump's opponents may have been gratified to read the op-ed, but the author has actually thrown the government "into even more dangerous turmoil" by feeding the president's paranoia, writes Frum. Sounds dire, but Noah Feldman at Bloomberg thinks reaction like this is overblown. What's happening isn't a coup or unconstitutional, he writes. "What the writer describes is a lot like what happens in many, probably most administrations: Officials who share some but not all the president’s goals use bureaucratic tools to avoid or delay implementing presidential initiatives they don't like." The only thing different about the op-ed is that it reflects a "depth of contempt" for Trump that appears to be far greater than that toward any modern president, writes Feldman. "It's all pretty normal—except for the tone, the bombast and the contempt." (Is the use of the word "lodestar" in the op-ed a clue?)

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