The morale at the White House just took another deep dive into the abyss of the Shakespearean tragedy it has become. Donald Trump’s administration is already notable for suffering the worst retention rate in history with dozens of top-level staffers resigning or being fired in just the first year. This is a crumbling house of cards that Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called “a very functioning place of business.”
The White House has recently been described in strikingly negative terms. One account calls it “the most toxic working environment on the planet.” The official who told this to Axios went on to say that:
“Usually tough times bring people together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart. There’s no leadership, no trust, no direction and this point there’s very little hope. Would you want to go to work every day not knowing whether your future career was going to be destroyed without explanation?”
In the midst of that turmoil, it isn’t surprising to see many insiders anxious to leak to the media. According to a new report by Axios they are doing so, in part, to set the record straight and protect themselves from jealous coworkers. So Trump’s response to this dreadful lack of leadership was to post this harangue on Twitter:
The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
Note the obvious paranoid psychosis in that brief tirade. First of all, if he’s referring to “so-called leaks” by the “Fake News Media,” then there isn’t really anything to complain about as far as leaks go. In his view the information is false and, by definition, not a leak. Secondly, Trump doesn’t need any help from anyone to “look as bad as possible.” He’s doing that very well on his own.
Nevertheless, Trump is outraged that anyone in his employ would exercise their free will and talk with people in the media about the train wreck over which he presides. And his response to that demonstration of disloyalty to the King is to accuse the fiends of treason and threaten them with capture and punishment.
This president is certainly not the first one to be stung by insiders talking out of class. But he is the first to charge them with crimes punishable by death. And that is what makes Trump’s totalitarian tactics so dangerous and unambiguously contrary to the American values of freedom and democracy.
If Trump wants to stop leaking from his staff, the best and easiest way is to inspire them to have admiration and respect for his leadership. He’s quite clearly incapable of that, so he resorts to this sort of intimidation and bullying. Which isn’t going to work. In fact, it will just make things worse for him. So, Mr. Trump, please proceed.