Real patriotism does not hide or ambush. It speaks directly to the people.
ONE MIGHT NOT expect President Trump and former President Barack Obama to agree on much, but this past week found the two men both expressing critical thoughts following revelations of White House dysfunction contained in a anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times, purportedly penned by a high-ranking administration official.
Trump said: "If the gutless anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for national security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once." Trump says the Justice Department should begin an investigation to discover the identity of the unnamed author of the article.
And Obama said: "The claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president's orders, that is not a check. I'm being serious here. That's not how our democracy is supposed to work. These people aren't elected. They're not accountable."
OBVIOUSLY, THE TWO MEN come at the situation from very different perspectives. Trump is the sitting president who doesn't want people in his administration who may be trying to block the directions he sets. Obama disagrees with just about everything Trump says and does but, as a man who sat in the big chair, knows a president must be able to trust his people.
For those readers who have not followed the news, the New York Times article - according to the paper - was written by an individual labeled a "senior administration official." The article painted a disturbing picture of dysfunction and worse within the White House and broadly suggested Trump is "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective." The author said there are members of a "resistance" within the administration who actively try to thwart some of Trump's directions because he may be unfit for office.
Following other insider accounts - including release this week of a book by famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward - the New York Times anonymous opinion piece has touched off a political firestorm, and a Washington guessing game trying to unmask the author.
PRESIDENT TRUMP called the unnamed author "gutless," and we agree.
President Obama said, and we agree, "They're (the so-called White House resistance) not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff coming out of this White House. Then saying don't worry, we're preventing the other 10 percent. That's not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal."
Here's why. If there are rogue individuals inside the administration who truly believe President Trump is unstable and a danger to the country, they are wrong to quietly go about their everyday business while occasionally and secretly undermining initiatives. If it's really that bad, they have a duty to the United States and their fellow citizens to go public - by name - and spell out the issues.
On the other hand, if they merely disagree with the directions of a duly elected president, appointed members of the administration should resign and say why they find themselves unwilling to serve this president.
Hiding behind a veil of anonymity while betraying the person who won a national election really is "gutless."
THAT'S NOT HOW the Founders intended the system to work. The first line of defense is free elections. Voters elect their choice. If it's a lousy choice, there's a chance to correct that at the next presidential election. The second line of defense is impeachment. Congress has the constitutional authority to remove a president for cause. The third line of defense is the 25th Amendment, a constitutional means for pushing aside a president who is deemed by the vice president and the cabinet to be unable to discharge his duties. And the fourth line of defense is mid-term elections, in which disapproving voters could hand Congress to the opposition party, effectively thwarting policies and legislation sought by an unpopular administration.
But a secret cabal in or around the White House is not among the Founders' plans, and citizens - even those who can't stand Trump - should not be cheering.
A FINAL WORD: This is a natural question: Was the New York Times wrong to publish the opinion piece but not name its author? Obviously, if the Times had insisted on naming the author, the writer would not have penned the piece. We do not disagree with the Times' decision to publish. If nothing else, publication revealed the existence of the apparent in-house resistance. That's a public service in itself. It also brings out into the open for debate among the people serious allegations regarding President Trump's stewardship of the White House. This is ugly. But we'd argue the New York Times' duty is to bring forth important information. And they did.