While a number of senior White House and Trump administration officials have been forced to go on the record to deny that they had anything to do with the anonymous op-ed that appeared in The New York Times last week, at least one of Trump’s top emissaries made it a point to not only deny writing it, but to excoriate the person who did.
This piece is all the more interesting because it comes from UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is known for pushing back against the president more than perhaps any other single member of the administration. In fact, it becomes quickly clear from a reading of Haley’s piece, it is that willingness to stand up to Trump that makes the former South Carolina governor so disgusted with the coward who won’t.
“The author might think he or she is doing a service to the country,” Haley wrote. “I strongly disagree. What this ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ has done, and is apparently intent on continuing to do, is a serious disservice – not just to the president but to the country.”
Haley went on to say that if the self-described hero really wanted to demonstrate his patriotism, he would have the guts to put his money where his mouth was, tell President Trump his opinions face-to-face, and deal with the consequences, come as they may.
From the piece:
I, too, am a senior Trump administration official. I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country. But I don’t agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it. I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person.
Like my colleagues in the Cabinet and on the National Security Council, I have very open access to the president. He does not shut out his advisers, and he does not demand that everyone agree with him. I can talk to him most any time, and I frequently do. If I disagree with something and believe it is important enough to raise with the president, I do it. And he listens. Sometimes he changes course, sometimes he doesn’t. That’s the way the system should work. And the American people should be comfortable knowing that’s the way the system does work in this administration.
What this anonymous author is doing is very dangerous. He or she claims to be putting the country first, and that is the right goal. Everyone in government owes a greater loyalty to our country and our Constitution than to any individual officeholder. But a central part of our democracy requires that those who work directly for the president not secretly try to undermine him or his policies. What the author is describing is an extra-constitutional method of addressing policy disputes within the administration. That’s wrong on a fundamental level.
Haley isn’t always the most popular member of the administration among Trump’s loyal supporters, and it’s precisely because she is so frequently (and publicly) on a different page. But every time we hear from her, frankly, our esteem for her goes up. We may not agree with all of her policies, but she’s got the kind of backbone that a lot of people in Washington lack. She doesn’t go around the president’s back trying to secretly implement her own agenda. We strongly doubt she leaks back-biting secret info to the media in an attempt to undermine the president. When she disagrees with Trump, she’s out with it and plain-spoken about it. That’s a character trait to be valued, not denigrated.
And when you compare it to this little clique exposed by last week’s New York Times op-ed, it becomes very clear that there’s a huge gulf between being a responsible voice of dissent from time to time, as Haley has, and being a rat serving an agenda that’s all your own.