The cowardice of the 'Sheep Throat' op-ed

This week, The New York Times took the extraordinary step of publishing an anonymous op-ed by a "senior offi...

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 6:04 AM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 6:04 AM

This week, The New York Times took the extraordinary step of publishing an anonymous op-ed by a "senior official in the Trump administration" in which the author described secret efforts to undermine aspects of President Donald Trump's agenda to avoid catastrophes that might be brought on by his reckless temperament.

The op-ed reinforced themes about an unhinged President and his White House previewed this week in reports on a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward. Woodward first rose to journalistic prominence reporting a story about the unhinged Nixon presidency -- a story fueled in large part by an anonymous source. Back in 1974, Woodward and his co-writer, Carl Bernstein, called their informant "Deep Throat."

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And so, to come full circle, I'd like to propose we call the Trump official who wrote the anonymous New York Times op-ed "Sheep Throat."

After all, though Sheep Throat's writing may be extraordinarily welcome to those looking for any crumb of gossip that shows an unraveling of this presidency -- viewed by many on both left and right as reckless and dangerous -- there's a certain cowardice in the essay.

"We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous," writes Sheep Throat, then adding, "But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic."

This is called trying to have your cake and eat it, too, an idiom that never actually made sense to me -- Don't you have to have cake to then eat it? -- but you get my point. Sheep Throat praises Trump for his policy moves that are in lockstep with the conventional right-wing agenda: "effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more." But Sheep Throat's complaint seems to be about Trump's "impulsiveness" and "ill-informed" style, which this op-ed writer and, we're told, others are working against. I think we're supposed to think that Sheep Throat and his or her herd is brave for fighting the good fight.

Never mind that fighting to cut regulations that keep pollution out of our air and drinking water, slashing food stamps for the poor in order to give massive tax breaks to the rich, separating immigrant children from their families, trashing public education, bloating our military spending and nominating justices to roll back basic fundamental rights is the very antithesis of a "good fight."

Never mind that the author's main critique of Trump appears to be that he is insufficiently conservative, that he "shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives." This lack of principles -- conservative principles -- makes Trump amoral, argues Sheep Throat.

Which raises the question: If you think Trump and his presidency are such an unmitigated disaster, then why are you helping him? Why stay in the administration? Sheep Throat says s/he is among those in the administration "choosing to put country first." Really? Seems more like politicians choosing to burnish their resumes with senior administration posts while preemptively insulating themselves from criticism after they willingly jumped into the dumpster fire that the Trump White House turned out to be.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted, "The op-ed is an attempt to take out an insurance policy for the GOP and conservatism if and when things get much much worse. It's a very public hedge meant to preserve the reputation of the GOP's entire political and governing class."

A hedge is also something you hide behind. As you go along to get along. Like a sheep. History won't reward you as a brave dissenter. It will blame you for your complicity in joining the herd.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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