NYT ‘Resistance’ Op-Ed Reveals Donald Trump’s Disturbing Daily Habits
Donald Trump has some strange habits in the West Wing. An anonymous op-ed, written by a senior official in the Trump administration and published by The New York Times, talks about a resistance inside the White House that intends to “thwart parts of his agenda” and temper the president’s “worst inclinations.”
But the letter also reveals some of Donald Trump’s worst habits in the West Wing — habits that others in his administration have just learned to deal with. Here’s what the “resistance” op-ed reveals about what Trump is like in the White House.
1. He doesn’t look to principles to guide his decisions
The op-ed, published by The New York Times on September 5, criticizes Donald Trump for his “amorality.” The letter writer explains that “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”
Additionally, Trump was, ostensibly, elected as a Republican. But the op-ed reports that Trump pays little more than lip service to the “ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets, and free people.” The letter writer notes, “At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.”
2. He acts on impulse
The “resistance” op-ed also implies that Donald Trump often acts on impulse, characterizing the president’s leadership style as “impetuous.” The letter explains that “From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.”
The writer of the letter also explained that Trump’s impulsiveness has real consequences. In fact, it “results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”
3. He pits people against each other
The New York Times op-ed also describes Donald Trump’s leadership style in the West Wing as “adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Similar accusations have surfaced from other sources, too. Axios reports that in the hours after the anonymous op-ed went live, “two senior administration officials reached out to Axios to say the author stole the words right out of their mouths.”
Sources close to Trump told Axios that in 2017, Trump carried with him a handwritten list of people he suspected as leakers. “He would basically be like, ‘We’ve gotta get rid of them. The snakes are everywhere, but we’re getting rid of them,” one source said of the president. Trump would often ask his staff whom they thought could be trusted, a source explains. That could “not only be uncomfortable but confusing to Trump: Rival staffers shoot at each other and Trump is left not knowing who to believe,” Axios reports.
4. He can’t stay on-topic
As president, Donald Trump needs to hold a lot of meetings. And to get through what must be a packed agenda each day, it would probably be ideal for him to stay focused and stick to the topic at hand. But the “resistance” op-ed published by The New York Times indicates that Trump can’t do that. The letter writer explained, “Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails.”
Jumping from topic to topic is part of Trump’s speaking style — something that Vox addressed before the president was even inaugurated. “He often jumps to an entirely new thought before finishing his previous one,” the publication noted. The president goes off-topic far more than the average person, which some linguists have cited as evidence that Trump may have a tough time thinking analytically about (or even concentrating on) the topic at hand.
5. He turns around to see who’s in a meeting
The anonymous op-ed revealed many of Trump’s most disturbing habits in the White House. But Axios learned of even more habits when two senior administration officials reached out the publication to confirm the original letter writer’s story. Those officials described an “increasingly conspiracy-minded president.”
When Trump attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room, for instance, “he would sit down at the table, and get to talking, then turn around to see who was sitting along the walls behind him,” one official explained. “One day, after one of those meetings, he said, ‘Everything that just happened is going to leak. I don’t know any of those people in the room.’. . . He was very paranoid about this.”
6. He engages in ‘repetitive rants’
The “resistance” op-ed also reports that Donald Trump has often engaged in “repetitive rants” during meetings with administration officials. That’s certainly not a good quality for someone with as much responsibility as the president. But it’s also nothing new coming from Trump.
The Washington Post reported in 2016 that Trump often repeats himself. “He’ll launch into a rant about a particular issue — say, immigration — and then conclude by repeating himself: ‘I want security for this country, okay? I want security.'” And USA Today reported in 2017 that the “president’s rhythm of speaking, in which he echoes the same phrases and descriptors,” isn’t lost on linguists, “who say his speech is similar to what advertisers use to get people to buy products.”
7. He changes his mind constantly
Sticking with a strategy and seeing it through might sound like the best way to pursue a presidential agenda. But Trump doesn’t seem to think so. The op-ed notes that Trump changes direction all the time during meetings held in the White House.
Another official reportedly complained to the letter writer, “There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next.” That official said that in a meeting with the president, Trump flip-flopped on a major policy decision that he’d made only a week earlier.
8. He complains about staffers’ actions
The “resistance” op-ed reports that officials and aides in the Trump administration have taken on the task of “trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. The result is a two-track presidency.” The letter writer gives the example of foreign policy, where the president “shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.” The op-ed explains:
He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
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