The eleventh-hour resignations of various Trump aides and cabinet secretaries are so utterly, cynically typical of how the American establishment works — especially its Washington branch, a.k.a. The Swamp.
And it disgusts. Why the sudden urge to leave the Trump administration? Rush Limbaugh, of course, nailed it with this recent observation:
“You want a job in Washington? You want a career in Washington? You want a future in Washington? As a Republican or Democrat, you have to become a participating member of that establishment or you have to appear that you are. That’s the big lesson going forward.”
Exactly. As the Daily Caller News Foundation has reported, “several media figures and Democrats have called for lists to be made of President Donald Trump’s “sycophants” or supporters following the presidential election, suggesting that these lists will be used in the future to hold the president’s supporters accountable.”
Or consider the fact that national security officials in the Trump administration are being compared to the Hitler Youth (emphasis added):
“National security officials who work for President Donald Trump are being snubbed by potential future employers and compared to ‘Hitler Youth’ days before president-elect Joe Biden will take office, Politico reported. … Former civil servant and Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann, who worked in counter-terrorism, told Politico that she easily found a new job after resigning from the Trump administration in April but credited this to her outspoken criticism of Trump policy.”
We’ve also seen a real gem of spiteful revenge emerge from Forbes’ chief content officer, Randall Lane, a cheerleader for the targeting of Trump staffers and their possible future employers. As Newsmax quite accurately pointed out, “acting more like a Mafia don than a media executive, Lane then threatened future employers: ‘Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.’”
Unfortunately, there is nothing new about the idea of presidential appointees being persona non grata with their establishment successors.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, won the election to succeed Reagan. The two men were from distinctly opposite wings of the GOP. Reagan, like Trump today, was an outsider, the conservative movement’s hero. Bush was the epitome of the Establishment Republican — and this seriously big difference quickly kicked in as it became time for the incoming Bush administration to staff up. In his Reagan-era biography “The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution 1980-1989,” Steven F. Hayward describes the transition from Reagan to Bush this way:
“But the first order of business for the Bush transition was turning out all of the Reaganites as quickly as possible. It was said of Bush appointees that, unlike Reaganites, they had mortgages rather than ideologies. Paul Weyrich said that he always feared that the election of Bush meant the arrival of ‘country club Republicans who couldn’t wait for the end of the Reagan administration .’ George Shultz’s top aide at the State Department, Charles Hill, recalled, ‘It was suddenly clear that this would be an adversarial transition. The new people were not friendly. The signals were: get out of here as fast as you can.’ Newt Gingrich cautioned, ‘We are not Bush’s movement.’”
The Trump-to-Biden transition is not simply a transition of Republican to Democrat, it is the Reagan-Bush transfer on steroids. Trump was, like Reagan, an outsider president. The Obama-Trump transition was the unseating of a vastly expanded Washington establishment that included elites of both parties, entire bureaucracies, the media and more.
In fact, that establishment had metastasized all over America, its tentacles reaching into the business world, academia, sports, entertainment and more. These were people with mortgages, not ideologies.
As Trump’s term winds down, these ostentatiously resigning Trump aides are doing everything they can to send the signal that they had the courage to resign from the Trump era. They want nothing more than to get back into the good graces of elites in Washington and everywhere else in America. They are nothing more than a cynical move that sends the SOS: “Hire me! Hire me! I’m soooooo sorry! I was wrong!”
There is one other message that cannot be ignored.
The American establishment is not about America. It is about elitism. It is about, as I have written previously:
“….iron-fisted, decidedly authoritarian Old Order’s obsession with demanding complete obedience of and submission to Old Order orthodoxy. An obedience and a submission that not coincidentally preserves Old Order power and privilege as this group exerts its cultural and political control over the entire country. Anyone — anyone — who is seen as standing in the way of Old Order power and privilege, not to mention violating any Old Order sacrament or doctrine, must, in one fashion or another, have his or her reputation damaged, if not having an entire career or a business — or a presidency — destroyed.”
Look no further than Forbes magazine’s Randall Lane to see just how authoritarian and bullying these people are capable of being.
These ostentatiously resigned Trump staffers are well aware of their problem. Yet they are completely unaware, or they simply don’t care, that in doing what they have done they are also sending a message that says exactly what kind of character they have, and what kind of person they are.
Jeffrey Lord, a former CNN contributor, is a columnist and author. He is a former associate political director in the Reagan White House. In his Washington career, he has served successively as a senior aide for a U.S. congressman and a U.S. senator, chief of staff for former Reagan cabinet member Drew Lewis in the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign, and as an aide to HUD Secretary Jack Kemp. He writes at his website,.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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