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.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
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Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
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Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
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Yazoo5056
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Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
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DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
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Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
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Lawrence1070
Washington1057
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Clay642
Coosa581
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