Thursday, September 06, 2018

Anonymity and Amorality

Well, here we are, going too fast down the road to hell, hoping desperately we haven't passed the last off-ramp. It's still hard to tell what effect the publication of the much-discussed New York Times OpEd, with Anonymous on the byline, is going to have on our trip.
It's noteworthy that its release prompted instant reactions, from both the left and the right, calling the writer a “coward.” Yet, the more I hear people branding the author of the OpEd as a coward the more I wonder what else is still hidden. Righteous indignation aside, was the OpEd a one-off? What's the next move in the game for Anonymous? 

Meanwhile, this new twist is reminding me of a big difference between two of the most important whistle-blowers of the early-'70s:

1. Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. 2. Mark Felt, who, as a whistle-blower was known publicly for many years as “Deep Throat” -- was the man who secretly coached Bob Woodward about Watergate skulduggery.

Ellsberg stood behind his revelations; he bravely faced the music. That, while Felt seems to have been a man who was acting on a grudge; he stayed in the shadows. His identity was revealed decades after his dropped dimes. Still, regardless of Felt's motives, by facilitating the downfall of Richard Nixon, he surely did the nation a service.

Then, to be fair, Felt was surely more than a coward. Nonetheless, those observations about whistle-blowers are being made with plenty of retrospect.

So, I'm going to wait to label this new whistle-blower. While I can certainly understand why many people would like to have seen the OpEd writer(s) put his/her/their name(s) on the byline, I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that today I know all the reasons why that choice was made.

For one thing, I'm pretty sure the OpEd has gotten much more attention from the get-go, because of the mystery and the speculation about who wrote it. What all it will prompt Trump or others in the White House to do isn't known, yet. And, when the identity of the writer(s) becomes known, what else might that trigger? The other shoe may turn out to be a lollapalooza.

After all, this OpEd was probably planned for several days, if not weeks, or even months. Here's a brief excerpt of what the anonymous author left us to think about:
The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Maybe this OpEd bombshell was penned by a coward (as Charlie Pierce writes in Esquire), but let's not rush to judgment. Why leap to shout "coward," before we look?

Anyway, "amorality" is a apt word that should have been associated with the self-absorbed squatting president, all along. I'm glad to see it happening now.

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