West Whinge: How To Disagree With The President

Gary Bauer | President, American Values

In 1987, President Reagan was considering extending a personal invitation to the Soviet Union’s leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to visit him in the United States.

The decision didn’t meet with universal approval. The United States had been locked in a nearly 40-year Cold War with the Soviet Union, which Reagan had only two years earlier labeled the “Evil Empire.”  

Reagan’s idea was initially opposed by some of his advisors, including me. I couldn’t bear the thought of the White House raising the Soviet red flag adorned with the red hammer and sickle, even though it was diplomatic protocol for visiting heads of state.  

 I voiced my concerns at a staff meeting in the West Wing, but my opposition to the invitation didn’t go anywhere. As the head of the office of policy development and special assistant to the president, foreign policy was not in my portfolio.

Reagan extended the invitation, Gorbachev accepted and visited the following year.

In response, here’s what I did: I got on with my job. And whenever I was asked about the invitation, I’d defend the president’s decision, giving no hint that I had not agreed with it. I was working for the duly elected president of the United States, after all. I was there to advance his agenda, not my own.

 I tell this story not because it is extraordinary but rather because it is very ordinary. Every day presidents are presented with decisions to make in which some of his advisors are on one side of an argument and some are on the other side. The president’s advisors are there to advise him, but ultimately the decision is the president’s alone.

Once the president has made his decision, staff members have their own decisions to make: They can defend and implement the president’s policy or decide that, as a matter of honor, they will resign.

 That’s the way it’s always been, at least until Wednesday when the New York Times ran an anonymous op-ed by a senior Trump administration official.

 This writer says that while he agrees with much of the president’s agenda, he is part of a resistance movement inside the administration trying to thwart what the writer calls President Trump’s “more misguided impulses.”

 Nowhere in the op-ed does the appointee allege that Trump has done anything criminal or treasonous. Rather, this person accuses the president of being “incurious,” “amoral,” of not being faithful to “ideals long espoused by conservatives,” and of conducting meetings that “veer off topic and off the rails.”

 The author complains that Trump is undermining America’s institutions. But this official surely isn’t strengthening them by acting contrary to the Constitution.

 I have no idea what the author’s motive is, but I seriously doubt it’s honorable.

It strikes me as exactly the type of self-serving and self-righteous move that millions of Americans have come to associate with the DC Swamp.

 There is nothing honorable about trashing one’s employer while also collecting a paycheck from him. And no definition of courage I know of includes betraying the president while sabotaging his agenda.

An un-elected bureaucracy acting without the consent of the governed by thwarting the will of the elected leader is essentially a coup. It is also the best evidence yet of the urgent need to drain the swamp and shrink the size and scope of government.

This sanctimonious author claims to be protecting the republic. But the author is actually undermining the republic by admittedly thwarting what 63 million Americans wanted when they elected Donald Trump.

Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families. 


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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