But if Anonymous is a coward for wearing a mask while spilling beans about the Trump White House, he has plenty of company. Unnamed sources routinely whisper their secrets into the pages of the nation’s top newspapers. Among these anonymous sources are allies of the president, seeking to promote his policies, as well as opponents hoping to take him down a notch. I’m no booster of anonymous sources, but even I recognize the distinguished, ancient pedigree they hold in American politics. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense anonymously. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay cloaked their authorship of The Federalist Papers under the pseudonym of “Publius.” In more recent days, journalist Joe Klein joined the lower levels of this pantheon with Primary Colors, his roman à clef about Bill Clinton.
More important, time has been remarkably good to Anonymous’ op-ed. When first published, it seemed vague, unnecessarily guarded and excessively self-congratulatory about its own courage. But read in the context of what we’ve learned since about resistance by senior officials to President Donald Trump’s orders, the op-ed seems a lot smarter. The op-ed boasted that the Trump administration was filled with many senior administration officials “working diligently from within to frustrate” parts of Trump’s “agenda and his worst inclinations.” A steady stream of news stories has appeared—and continues to appear almost daily—confirming the assertion of aggressive sandbagging of the president by top administration officials.