The Milquetoast Patriotism of the “Cabinet Resistance”

If the President is incapable of performing the duties of the office to which he was elected, he should be removed.

From the moment President Trump took the oath of office, many of us suspected as much – even as a candidate the President showed no interest in or knowledge of the difficult details of policy, nor a desire to ameliorate his ignorance, preferring instead to spit bigoted lies and snake-oil promises.

More recently, a new book by Bob Woodward and an anonymous op-ed by a senior White House official have confirmed this in devastating detail. In particular, the op-ed alleges that there is a secret alliance of Trump officials in the White House who, in turns and by degrees, seek to frustrate his worst impulses and try to limit the damage he is doing to our institutions.

What they don’t realize is that preventing Trump’s insanity from becoming policy doesn’t protect our institutions – in the long run, keeping the ship of state afloat by flattering the President’s ego but refusing to follow his orders turns the Presidency into a figurehead. When the buck stops nowhere, the damage to our institutions is done whether the orders are carried out, or someone whisks the relevant paperwork out of sight.

Sure, I can contemplate a certain bravery to mitigating the consequences of his orders (by refusing to follow them). But what this op-ed really says to me is that its author (and their compatriots) prefer to use the Presidency as a hot-air balloon for their personal policy agenda instead of using their power to protect the integrity of the office the way the Constitution intended.

When the Founders contemplated the eventuality of an unfit President, they didn’t create a chattering body of unelected advisers to make decisions in his stead – they gave the House of Representatives the power to impeach, and the Senate the power to try all impeachments.

Implied in this concept of impeachment is the radical notion that the President should be held responsible for their decisions. In turn, it is implied that the President should actually be allowed to make decisions.

Yes, there have likely been times when the worst impulses of every President needed to be checked in quiet ways – but when it happens all day, every day, such conduct ceases to be patriotic stewardship and starts to resemble the cynical calculus of a cover-up for the “greater good”. The “Cabinet Resistance” may be helping in small, short-term ways – but at the end of the day, the right thing to do is call bullshit. If the President is incapable of performing the duties of the office to which he was elected, he should be removed. He is. And we should.

 

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