There is a new set of “great lies” in Washington as we approach this fall’s silly season. They are (1) Lodestar is a national hero (2) Colin Kaepernick is a martyr, and (3) The Redskins are a Super Bowl contender.
In debunking the lies, let’s start with 2 and 3. Mr. Kaepernick is a better-than-average-quarterback who had a shaky future in the NFL at best before he took his fateful knee. He is, by all accounts, a smart individual who has wisely invested the millions he made during his short playing career — he will likely not be found selling apples on street corners or to be shamed for working at Trader Joe’s.
Mr. Kaepernick now has a lucrative Nike endorsement contract. The real martyr may be Nike, which has seen a drop in its popularity — even among African Americans who it is wooing in the Kaepernick campaign — as well as in sales and stock prices. I gave all my Nike products (six pairs of “swoosh” running socks) to Goodwill.
As to the Redskins, they are still the Dan Snyder Redskins and they will continue to eat into the traditionally strong local football fan base. They will likely be on the golf course come February.
This brings us to “Lodestar,” the phantom op-ed columnist who is reportedly a senior Trump administration official purporting to be part of an internal White House resistance movement against the president in order to save the country.
Democrats and “never Trump” Republicans are portraying Lodestar as a courageous hero because — since Washington leaks worse than the Titanic — he (or she) will surely be eventually outed. What courage? Lodestar will be fired and possibly face the loss of his security clearance. Then there will be the lucrative book deal and 15 minutes of fame on cable news and the big three networks. This will likely be followed a lucrative stint with a progressive think tank. Some future administration may reinstate the lost clearance. However, Lodestar may find out what Benedict Arnold learned in trying to secure a command in the British Army — nobody trusts a traitor.
Since the Lodestar story broke, I have talked with a number of retired military officers about this subject. At one time or another, all of us have worked for at least one boss who needed to be protected from himself. Usually, these were guys who had hair trigger tempers or were prone to act on the advice of the last person that they talked to. Eventually they would regret snap decisions, but by then it was too late. They were usually prone to listening to self-serving sycophants who advised poor choices based on their own perceived best interest.
We were not above occasionally blocking such inputs or even rewriting an ill-conceived decision paper. On occasion, we all slow-rolled a poor decision to give us time to mitigate it or talk the boss out of it. In rare instances, most of us had asked to be relieved of our positions rather than carry out a particularly egregious order, and that was usually enough to cause the boss to reconsider. We might gripe about him among ourselves over an after-hours beer in the Officers’ Club, but we would never consider writing an anonymous article about him in the Marine Corps Gazette — nor would the Gazette ever print such tripe. The New York Times has sunk a long way from being the “newspaper of record” to the level of partisan rag.
President Trump may be a toxic boss, but staffers who can’t take the heat always have the option of resigning in protest. Some staffers have done so. Sometimes the president has rescinded the decision in question, and in others he has let the staffer go his or her way honorably. Like Brutus, Lodestar chose the stab in the back approach. Ironically, the persons most hurt by Lodestar’s op-ed are the staffers who are staying on and trying to influence the president in positive ways as they see it. Now every time a staffer offers a contrary opinion, the president will ask, “Is this another Lodestar?”
I have always held Washington leakers in special contempt. They betray trusts and pursue their own objectives from the shadows rather than showing the courage of their convictions. For the remaining White House Staffers, I would offer one piece of advice. Never put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to read in The Washington Post or The New York Times — because eventually, you probably will.
• Gary Anderson lectures in alternative analysis at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
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