A Potty-Mouthed Legacy Journalist

By | 2017-05-14T15:03:52+00:00 April 14th, 2017|
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The malignity is easy to read. “Oh, Mike Anton, I recognize your quotes and so will Jared,” tweeted the hard-line NeverTrumper John Podhoretz yesterday morning.

John is the scion of two extraordinarily gifted writers, Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter. They were liberals in the old-fashioned sense, and the intellectual founders of the neoconservative movement. Norman publicly endorsed Donald Trump as the preferred alternative to Hillary Clinton. “Many of the younger—they’re not so young anymore—neoconservatives have gone over to the Never Trump movement. And they are extremely angry with anybody who doesn’t share their view,” he told the Times of Israel.

John became one of those not-so-young men who were “extremely angry with anybody who doesn’t share their view.” So angry, in fact, that he all but endorsed the woman whose repellent values churned the stomachs of most Republicans, and not a few Democrats.

Podhoretz’s potty-mouthed tweets reek of malignity.

So angry, that he’s now trying to destroy the Trump presidency. So angry, that he’s trying to destroy even the life and livelihood of a brilliant young academic, Michael Anton. Anton’s a 47-year-old married man and father of two young children, who gave up a lucrative job in banking to join the Trump team. He’s also my friend. Long a Trump supporter, he now serves as the deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council.

So why’s Podhoretz trying to destroy him by tweeting that he’s responsible for leaking anti-Jared Kushner information to The Washington Free Beacon? Hotair.com printed Podhoretz’s story in an article suggesting that Anton was part of a cabal trying to get Jared Kushner fired. As if that could happen.

It seems that the extremely angry not-so-young men see a battle for Trump’s soul unfolding in the Administration between the pro-Bannon and the pro-Kushner camps. They want a winner to emerge and they want the Kushner camp to win.

But that’s not how Trump operates. I know this for a fact as I was an informal and unpaid advisor to the Trump campaign in its early days, along with my husband, Frank Buckley. Trump would solicit viewpoints on a subject from a wide variety of people whose views spanned the spectrum of possible positions. From these divergent views Trump would craft his own speeches. They were always 100 percent Trump.

When Trump told the New York Post that he was his own strategist, he wasn’t dissing Bannon. He was stating a fact. He wants to hear from different voices, just as Ronald Reagan did with regard to the Soviet Union when he had two teams—one for and one against détente—advise him.

The New York Times correctly acknowledges that, as he has done throughout his career, “Mr. Trump plays advisers off one another, encouraging a sort of free-for-all competition for influence and ideas within his circle, so long as everyone demonstrates loyalty to him.” Trump has spoken dismissively of Jared’s recent Iraq trip and his newly-created office to overhaul the government. And he’s curtly told Bannon that his presence at certain meetings was unnecessary.

One doesn’t know in advance whose side Trump will take when all of the viewpoints have been considered. Jared wanted Trump to get involved in Syria. Bannon not. And Trump got involved. As the president, it’s Trump and only Trump who’s charged with making policy decisions. Everyone else must carry out what the president decides.

Unfortunately, what works for the president, doesn’t work for the extremely angry not-so-young men who get upset by “anyone who doesn’t share their view.” The people who don’t share the views of these angry old men must be drummed out of the Administration by any means possible. And that is why John Podhoretz has put a target on Michael Anton.

Anton is alleged to have leaked to The Washington Free Beacon, and Podhoretz’s tweet refers specifically to an article that yet again is covering the perceived “civil war” between Kushner and Bannon. Yet the article says that its anti-Kushner material comes from “sources both inside and outside the White House.” So what’s with fingering Anton as the person responsible for the anti-Jared comments? And after the article was published, a White House spokesperson told the Beacon that the article was inaccurate: “The NSC is running beautifully under the leadership of General McMaster who has installed an exceptional team to execute on behalf of the president.” This can’t sit very well with the not-so-young angry men of the right who want to destroy the Trump presidency if they cannot bend it to their will.

Podhoretz’s potty-mouthed tweets reek of malignity. They further no one’s interest but his own. He is the Chelsea Clinton of the conservative commentariat, a legacy figure devoid of interest save for his parents. I cannot imagine that his parents are very proud of him.

*A previous version of this article contained a typo in which the names of Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner were reversed, reading that Bannon supported the Syria bombing and Kushner did not.  We regret the error and have corrected it.

About the Author:

Esther Goldberg
Esther Goldberg is a lawyer living in Alexandra, Virginia.