As Washington was still reeling from the contents of Bob Woodward’s new exposé of the inner workings of the Trump administration, a current senior-level official of that administration penned an anonymous op-ed column in The New York Times revealing an unprecedented “resistance” movement within the White House. The movement has, according to the anonymous source, managed to circumvent several of Donald Trump’s anti-constitutional decisions and desires. The opinion piece, titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” was only published by the “paper-of-record” under an anonymous by-line because the author is a high-ranking official of the Trump White House.
Speculation is running rampant on the identity of “Mr. X.” No other “Mr. X” article has created such speculation as to the identity of the author since 1947, when an article written by a “Mr. X” appeared in the July edition of Foreign Affairs magazine. In that case, the article, titled
“The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” was sanctioned for release by Secretary of Defense James Forrestal. Mr. X was later identified as U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan, who argued in the article for a U.S. policy of “containment” in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. That Mr. X and its author are small potatoes when compared to the Trump administration internal resistance article, which portrays a reverse “Seven Days in May” scenario of loyal constitutionalists preventing Trump from perverting America’s chief guiding instrument of law and proper political behavior.
Trump’s Mr. X gives away some clues as to his identity in the op-ed. He states that the root of Trump’s problem is his “amorality.” Lack of moral character is considered by Mr. X to be more important than Trump’s lack of respect for the Constitution, which, although written by moral men, remains a thoroughly secular document. Mr. X appears to hold steadfast religious beliefs.
Mr. X is also a doctrinaire conservative of the old school. Mr. X writes of Trump, “Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.”
Mr. X chastises Trump for “mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the ‘enemy of the people.’” Chances are good that Mr. X dabbled in the past in some form of journalism, including the broadcast variety.
Mr. X is in such a senior position that he appears to have a bird’s eye view of troubles within both the White House and Cabinet agencies. In addition, The New York Times would have only granted anonymity to the author if he is, indeed, in a very senior position. Speculation is that Mr. X would be fired if his identity was revealed. However, what if he is in the only position that is invulnerable to a presidential firing? The Times then possibly accepted anonymity only if premature disclosure could be expected to trigger a major constitutional crisis. That might result in two rival executives, one loyal to Trump and the other loyal to the chief of the internal “Resistance.”
Mr. X even refers to a “a two-track presidency.” Mr. X also states that there were “early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment,” adding, “we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until—one way or another—it’s over. One way or another! Mr. X is senior enough to have the cog on the 25th Amendment, the only way the White House can remove a sitting president for incapacity. Impeachment, on the other hand, is the domain of the Congress.
Mr. X concludes by writing, “We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example—a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue.”
There is one senior member of the administration who has often used the word “lodestar,” described by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “archaic,” in speeches. On September 2017, Vice President Mike Pence said in remarks to the United Nations Security Council, “So let us rededicate ourselves to the mission upon which this body was founded—the first words of the U.N. Charter, “to maintain international peace,” must again be our lodestar, our ideal, and our aspiration.” On December 7, 2017, Pence told the Kemp Leadership Award Dinner, “Jack’s [Kemp] lodestar was his unwavering belief in the fundamental equality and dignity of every person. It inspired everything that he stood for.” On February 7, 2018, Pence, in a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, stated, “And so vigilance and resolve will be our lodestar.”
Even before becoming vice president, Pence had an affectation for lodestar. In a speech to the right-wing Heritage Foundation on January 28, 2011, then-Representative Mike Pence said, “I think you’ll see House conservatives and Republican leadership use every means at their disposal to make sure that we turn our nation back, that, as we debate a debt ceiling, that we’re turning our nation back toward a lodestar of a balanced budget.” Going back to a 2001 House hearing on Environmental Protection Agency funding, Pence said, “I particularly appreciate Dr. Lutter’s comment with regard to using established principles for sound analysis, which will be very much of a lodestar.” Dr. Lutter is Randall W. Lutter, a Food and Drug Administration employee detailed to the Bush Office of Management and Budget and a fierce opponent of environmentalists.
Considering the author’s push back against Trump calling the press the “enemy of the people,” it is also noteworthy that in order to remain anonymous before the op-ed’s publication, our Mr. X would have had to write the article himself and not rely on White House secretaries, who would be subject to questioning in Mr. Trump’s current “mole hunt.” Mr. X has written with a journalistic flourish in the past. In 1988, Pence was hired by WRCR-FM in Rushville, Indiana to host a weekly thirty-minute show called “Washington Update with Mike Pence.” While the program was conservative commentary, Pence would have written and edited his copy. In 1992, the show expanded to the weekly “Mike Pence Show” on WRCR, with an additional Saturday program on WNDE-AM in Indianapolis. In 1994, Pence’s show was syndicated throughout Indiana on 18 radio stations, including WIBC-AM in Indianapolis. From 1995 to 1999, the “Mike Pence Show” expanded to WNDY television in Indianapolis. These gigs gave Pence definite broadcast journalism street credentials.
Clearly Mr. X sees himself as justified in leading a resistance against an amoral president.
We’ve already established that out of all senior administration officials, the vice president likes the term lodestar. One definition of lodestar is a “guiding star.” Think of the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magi to the baby Jesus. Remember, our Mr. X is religious. Pence is super-religious. Pence biographers have written that ever since the vice president was a child, he believed he was told by God that one day, he would become president of the United States. Trump’s evangelical base, while despising Trump’s coarseness and sexual scandals, have always believed he was merely a precursor to their earthly savior, Pence. They think of Trump as a crude version of John the Baptist, who paved the way for Pence, their “Christian Crusader” and “God’s proconsul on Earth.”
If Mr. X turns out to be Pence, Trump and his non-religious base will treat Pence as Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of their perverted version of Jesus. There will be a bitter fight between the “Christians” and the “liars.” The rest of us will enjoy our Roman bread and circuses moment as the Trump debacle consumes itself, with Trump melting away faster than the Wicked Witch of the West. “Dinged the Don, the witch hunt is dead!
Mr. X clearly hates Trump’s tariffs and anti-free market moves. Pence, after graduating from law school, served as president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation (IPR), a free-market think tank adamantly opposed to tariffs.
Maybe Mr. X is someone else. Even if that is the case, The New York Times did not grant anonymity to a piker. If it is not Pence, it is someone next down on the pecking order and no less than a Cabinet Secretary or someone at a high level within the White House, who also likes the word “lodestar.” Meanwhile, everyone is willing to throw their “two pences” into the guessing pool.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).