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Whodunit?

Rich Galen

Monday September 10, 2018

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  • Last week was the final proof that there is a difference in the way those of us who live and/or work inside The Beltway look at the world and how the other 326 million people living in the United States see it.

  • It was not about John McCain. It was not about Michael Cohen or Michael Avenatti. Not Russia or Robert Mueller. Not Bob Woodward. Not even about Trump - at least not directly.

  • The question that gripped the Inside-the-Beltway crowd was: Who wrote the anonymous op-ed that the New York Times ran?

  • When I say "everyone" was thinking and talking about it, I'm not talking about guests on the cable nets, or the political insiders sitting at the bar at Landini's in Old Town Alexandria. The - this is true- the guy who runs the 15-items-or-less lane at the Safeway asked me who I thought it was. People who recognized me walking down the street asked me who I thought it was. People sitting in restaurants asked me who I thought it was.

  • My answer was the same: If it wasn't Donald Trump, I have no idea.

  • In fact, I Tweeted:
    "I've narrowed the potential author of the @nytimes op-ed to three people: John Barron, John Miller, or David Dennison."

  • Which generated over 1,900 "Likes."

  • For those of you who may have missed the America's Got Talent episode of "The Many Names of Donald Trump," those are among the pseudonyms used by Trump when he would call newspapers pretending to be NOT Donald Trump, but a PR guy extolling the virtues of Donald Trump.

  • The fact that reporters on the other end of phone knew it was Trump didn't stop them from playing along, nor Trump from thinking he was pulling the wool over their eyes.

  • Same as today.

  • To be serious for a moment, the Times said the op-ed was written by "a senior official in the Trump Administration." Note he or she is not specifically IDd as a "senior official in the Trump White House, so depending on your definition of "senior," it could extend to just about anywhere in the Executive Branch.

  • The op-ed claims there is a fully functioning group of "the resistance" whose job it is to help the "Administration to succeed" as it simultaneous works to "preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office."

  • The author (or authors) suggest that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment."

  • That's the one that lays out the steps required for a sitting President to be removed from office short of being defeated at the ballot box.

  • It is not easy. It takes a majority of sitting Cabinet Secretaries and supermajorities - 2/3rds - of the members of the House and the Senate to declare the President unfit and for the Vice President to be sworn in as President.

  • You can read the entire op-ed for yourself. There is a link to it on the Secret Decoder Ring today.

  • If this "resistance" inside the Trump Administration is true and they are actively working to propel policies they agree with and thwart those they do not, it is chilling.

  • Every White House and its extended Administration has factions. Every political appointee things he or she knows best how to run the world and will happilly share that knowledge in the back bar at the Old Ebbitt any weeknight.

  • In the end, though, there is one "decider-in-chief" and that person sits in the Oval Office in the White House, not in some small office in the HUD building.

  • The New York Times' editors felt the person who wrote this piece was "senior" enough to warrant sharing his or her thoughts with its readers without our being able to judge the veracity of those thoughts against what we know (or would shortly know) about the author.

  • This will, like all the 18-hour tornadoes that have come before it, will be supplanted by yet another cloudburst.

  • The next storm building quickly is the new book by Bob Woodward which has leaked so perfectly that we know a great deal of the nuggets, but having Woodward on a book tour will certainly provoke Presidential ire.

  • I suspect we will, sooner or later, learn who wrote that op-ed and it will generate another day of intense examination.

  • In the meantime, the game of the week here in Our Nation's Capital has been "Whodunit?"

  • I'm betting on the butler in the library with the candlestick.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: The link to the NY Times' op-ed, to the 25th Amendment, and to the Old Ebbitt Grill.

    The Mullfoto is of a repair job on some steps in Old Town Alexandria.

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