An anonymous official within the White House has spilt the beans on what daily life is like within that haunted place. Before getting to that, the other day Donald Trump tweeted something with a grain of truth stuck in there, like a seed caught in the teeth.
The possibly slightly true thing he’d said was undone straight away by his own past words or actions. But isn’t that always the way when you have a mouth that shoots off all the time?
What Trump tweeted was this: “When you see ‘anonymous source,’ stop reading the story, it is fiction!”
Just another bit of gob graffiti in his battle with the ‘lying media’; or is there a grain of truth in there? Well, it is reasonable to be suspicious when you see ‘anonymous source’ in a story. Especially if that unnamed person says something of a conveniently inflammatory nature.
But, as is often the case with Trump, in attacking anonymous sources he accidentally jabs a finger at himself.
As his Twitter critics gleefully pointed out, Trump has endlessly quoted anonymous sources, with a typical example being the “extremely credible source” who phoned his office to say that Barack Obama’s birth certificate “was a fraud”.
Others dug up those unreliable witnesses John Barron and John Miller – fake spokesman monikers Trump is said to have used when talking about himself. Or “my friend Jim” who is often wheeled out and is suspected of being an imaginary friend. Or that old favourite “very many people are saying”. And what they are saying is that Trump is doing an amazing job. Tremendous. Best President ever.
Two things have happened this week to add to Trump’s troubles, and to his wounded conviction that the world is against him.
First, the veteran journalist Bob Woodward has published a book called Fear: Trump in the White House. This is said to be full of carefully gathered evidence about the chaotic and dysfunctional Trump regime. In one snippet, his former aide Steve Bannon tries to coach Trump on his political values, getting him to repeat “I’m a populist”, which he constantly mangles as “I’m a popularist.”
Woodward writes about all presidencies, as he has done since his co-authored book All The President’s Men, about the undoing of Richard Nixon. He is forensic, unflashy and thorough; his book will be combed over for detail. Trump dismisses the book, of course, as “lies”.
The second ‘thing’ is an anonymous account in the New York Times written by a Trump administration official. This claims that an internal White House resistance is working against Trump to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” until he leaves, or can be removed from, office.
The op-ed is said to be without precedent in modern American history. The unnamed insider describes Trump as amoral, “anti-trade and anti-democratic” and prone to making “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions”.
And this is from someone on Trump’s side who is at pains to point out that she/he believes in parts of the president’s agenda, especially over tax cuts.
All this and more you can read online, and it’s worth two minutes of your time.
Trump has spluttered about “treason” and called the writer “gutless”. Oh, I don’t know about that. I reckon it takes real guts to write something so incendiary while you still work at the White House – and can probably hear the No-Honey Monster thundering just down the corridor, ranting and swearing and shouting.
Anonymous, perhaps. But the piece smacks of truth and honesty. In defending himself, Trump laid into the “failing” New York Times and did that odd thing of referring to himself in the third person: “They don’t like Donald Trump and I don’t like them because they’re very dishonest people”.
Takes one to know one, as they say. And ‘they’ are a reliable source in this case.