Who is the real enemy within the Trump administration?
A 1994 movie, The Enemy Within, described a White House coup orchestrated by several high-level cabinet officials to remove the sitting president, replacing him with the vice president. The plot was foiled with the help of some Russians. How prescient. With a few shifts in who the villains are, this movie could be playing out today. Especially with the Russian angle.
President Trump certainly has enemies without, outside the administration and his political party. Academia is far left. Liberal professors outnumber conservatives by a 12 to 1 ratio. No question who most university professors view as the enemy. And who is educating the next generation of voters.
Hollywood and the entertainment world is no different. How many celebrities dared to campaign for or support the Donald Trump campaign? Hillary Clinton cornered that market. For confirmation, just watch late night non-funny comedy shows or any of the self-congratulatory award-fests.
Big media, the center of the spoke of the modern leftist agenda, has totally abandoned any pretense of journalistic ethics and objectivity to instead become the leading political resistance force. A recently released Harvard study found that 80 percent of Trump coverage by major media in his first 100 days was negative. Compared to only 40 percent negative for Obama during his initial days as president. Confirming conventional wisdom that the media agenda is not journalism, but instead advocacy.
Specific networks, called out accurately by Trump as being “fake news” were almost completely negative toward Trump. CNN, NBC and CBS were over 90 percent negative in their Trump coverage. Even “fair and balanced” Fox News, accused of carrying water for conservatives, was 52% negative in their coverage of Trump. That’s about as “balanced” as a news outlet can be, and far more so than the major networks and newspapers that had such difficulty reporting any positive news about the first months of the Trump administration.
These are not the enemies within, however. They are all well-known factions of the progressive movement. With a singular goal of destroying the Trump administration by any means necessary, including blatantly false news stories based on “anonymous sources,” rumors, whispers and outright fabrication. Who is the enemy within? Two culprits.
First is the so-called "Deep State:" bureaucrats deeply imbedded in the intelligence, law enforcement and regulatory agencies, dedicated to preserving their power and position. This is the establishment. Favored by both political parties and their paymasters in the donor class. The Lois Lerners in the IRS. The James Comeys in the justice bureaucracies. The James Clappers in the intelligence agencies. Loyal to the progressive movement and maintenance of the status quo in Washington, D.C. Fiercely opposed to any outsiders threatening to drain their warm and comfortable swamp. Whether the Tea Party or Donald Trump.
The Deep State is also the likely source of the never-ending leaks. Some may be part of Trump’s circle of advisors, loyal to a higher calling than their president. They are the anonymous leakers to the Washington Post and the New York Times, providing source material that once upon a time journalists investigated and cultivated on their own.
The Times describes its typical go-to source for news: “According to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official.” This is third-hand news. The Times not only hasn’t seen said document, they also must take the word of the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Anonymous. More like preteens playing telephone.
Their tips to the big newspapers generally turn out to be false, such as the recent Trump-Lavrov meeting. Trump supposedly told the Russians about ISIS working on laptop computer battery bombs. Really? The Russians didn’t already know about this? Anyone following the news heard about this threat a month ago. Or the claim that Trump complained to Lavrov about “nut job” Comey and “great pressure” over the investigation. Only to have Lavrov assert that Comey was not discussed at all during their recent meeting. Sloppy reporting or deliberate fake news?
Doesn’t matter. The damage is done as these stories are coordinated to do maximal harm. Call them the MOAB bombs. The Mother Of All BS. Deep State leaks to the Times or Washington Post, who then publish the story just ahead of the major network evening newscasts. In time to be discussed ad nauseam on the cable news shows which follow the evening network news, followed by the late light comedy shows. Choreography worthy of a Cirque du Soleil show. The Deep State is even rumored to have their own chat room on the dark web to scheme and coordinate.
The second enemy is the Republican Party establishment. Members of Congress, failed presidential candidates and the cadre of consultants and bureaucrats making the rounds on cable news shows under the GOP banner. Rep. Justin Amash discussing impeachment over the discredited story of Trump pressuring Comey. Which, by the way, Comey denied under oath during recent Senate testimony. Senator John McCain, no friend of Trump, bringing up the W-word, “Watergate size and scale.”
Ready to throw their anti-establishment president under the bus at the first whiff of controversy. Not a new phenomenon as this occurred on a regular basis during the campaign after each of Trump’s politically incorrect comments or awkward revelations such as the Access Hollywood tape.
Compare and contrast to Democrats and Bill Clinton. Scandals by the dozens. Shady or illegal business deals, sexual harassment, rape, perjury, and so on. Rather than throwing their president to the wolves at the first hint of controversy, they circled the wagons around their party’s leader, defending him through the very end of his impeachment. And they defend him to this day.
Ditto for Barack Obama, no stranger to scandal and controversy, from Fast and Furious, to Benghazi, to the IRS targeting political opponents, to a weaponized intelligence community spying on and unmasking private citizens to influence an election. By one count, Obama broke 78 laws as president. No special prosecutors. No talk of impeachment or Watergate. Democrats remained in lockstep support of their president.
I’m not condoning blind obedience in the face of illegality, but I hear few prominent Republicans defending and supporting President Trump. And I have yet to hear of any crime Trump committed. My local congressman, Republican Mike Coffman, promised to “stand up” to Donald Trump. Something I don’t recall him saying about Barack Obama. Low energy Jeb Bush has had an energy surge now saying, “I told you so” about the Trump presidency. Where was Jeb over the previous eight years? Speaking out against Obama and his policies? Not that I heard. Rather he was hanging out in Kennebunkport with his new stepbrother Bill Clinton.
Enemies within, enemies without. An array of political opposition never before aligned against a duly elected president. The shame is that even his own political party would rather cross their voters than defend and support the leader of their party. His base remains loyal, the voters that continue to support President Trump and his agenda.
What’s Trump to do? As he promised, drain the swamp, clean out the leakers and those in his administration actively trying to undermine him and his presidency. He would not tolerate this within any of his businesses. And plow ahead with his policy initiatives. Build the wall. Repeal Obamacare. Cut taxes. Use his bully pulpit and force of personality to drive his agenda. Ignore the media, shame the do-nothing GOP Congress. Appeal to the voters.
He is a loner in Washington, D.C., but 65 million Americans outside of the capitol have his back. As a Trump voter from Michigan succinctly reminded us, "Don't try to win over the people who don't support you. They're never gonna support you. There's nothing you can do to please them. Remember: the people who elected you are still strongly behind you. We have your back."
Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.