If you work for Pres­i­dent Trump, now is the time to quit.

GOP po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant Rick Wil­son says wait­ing too long is riskier than leav­ing too soon

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - Twit­ter: @TheRick­Wil­son Rick Wil­son is a Repub­li­can con­sul­tant and a colum­nist for the Daily Beast.

I’ve been a Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant for al­most 30 years, and I’ve dis­pensed a lot of pri­vate ad­vice. But now it’s time for me to reach out pub­licly to my fel­low Repub­li­cans work­ing in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. We re­ally need to talk. Whether you’re a 20-some­thing fresh off the cam­paign trail or a sea­soned Wash­ing­ton in­sider serv­ing in the Cab­i­net, by now you’re painfully aware that you’re not mak­ing Amer­ica great again; you’re barely mak­ing it to the end of the daily news cy­cle be­fore your ver­bally in­con­ti­nent boss, the pu­ta­tive leader of the free world, once again steers the prover­bial car into a ditch. On ev­ery front, you’re faced with le­gal, po­lit­i­cal and moral haz­ards. The pres­i­dent’s job, and yours, is a lot harder than it looked, and you know that the prob­lem orig­i­nates in the Oval Of­fice.

You hate that peo­ple are shy­ing away from ad­min­is­tra­tion jobs in droves: This past week, in rapid suc­ces­sion, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Trey Gowdy with­drew their names from con­sid­er­a­tion as re­place­ments for former FBI di­rec­tor James Comey, the guy your boss fired. What­ever de­part­ment you’re in, it’s a safe bet that it’s a whis­per­ing grave­yard of empty ap­point­ments and un­filled jobs.

I know: Many of you serv­ing in Cab­i­net, sub-Cab­i­net and White House roles joined Team Trump in good faith, be­liev­ing you could help steady the ship, smooth the rough edges and, just maybe, put some con­ser­va­tive pol­icy wins up on the board. You could see that Pres­i­dent Trump’s undis­ci­plined style was risky, but you hoped the big show play­ing over at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue would pro­vide you with cover to work steadily and en­thu­si­as­ti­cally on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties. Some of you even bought into the ’Mer­ica First new na­tion­al­ism. Many of you qui­etly as­sured friends in the Wash­ing­ton ecosys­tem that Trump would set­tle into his job — af­ter all, just a few days af­ter tak­ing of­fice, he as­sured us, “I can be the most pres­i­den­tial per­son ever.”

You fig­ured that Trump would turn his po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal into big wins and that his lack of in­ter­est in pol­icy de­tails would let you and your friends in Congress set the agenda. Sure, you knew you’d have to feed Trump’s ego and let him take a vic­tory lap af­ter ev­ery suc­cess, but you also thought you might claim a smidgen of credit for a pop­u­lar in­fra­struc­ture bill, a big tax cut, re­peal of Oba­macare or a host of other “easy” lifts. Be­cause we’re all am­bi­tious, right? It’s okay to ad­mit it.

In­stead, your pres­i­dent botched Trump­care 1.0 and con­trib­uted lit­tle as Speaker Paul Ryan man­aged to ram a pub­lic re­la­tions night­mare, Trump­care 2.0, through the House at the cost of much po­lit­i­cal blood and trea­sure. In­stead, Trump’s fum­bles have left many mem­bers of Congress duck­ing town hall meet­ings like they’re in the wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram. The tax bill and the rest of Trump’s agenda are deader and more pun­gent than six-day-old fish. Maybe your par­tic­u­lar bureau is still afloat, but you’re re­ally not do­ing much ex­cept play­ing de­fense and won­der­ing which of your col­leagues is leak­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post.

You learned quickly that your job isn’t ac­tu­ally to serve the na­tion, man­age your agency or ful­fill the role you os­ten­si­bly play ac­cord­ing to the White House org chart. In re­al­ity, you spend most of your time fluff­ing Trump’s ego. Ei­ther that or you’re mak­ing ex­cuses for not be­ing a more ag­gres­sive suck-up. If you’ve been or­dained to ap­pear on tele­vi­sion as an ad­min­is­tra­tion sur­ro­gate, you know by now that your task isn’t to ad­vo­cate for your agency or is­sue, but to lav­ish the pres­i­dent with praise.

Now, you see the daily train­wreck; you see a White House in tur­moil and a pres­i­dent draw­ing an ever-tighter cir­cle of fam­ily and cor­po­rate vas­sals around him­self. You worry that the scan­dals and le­gal troubles, which have been rum­bling on the hori­zon like a sum­mer thun­der­storm, are draw­ing nearer. You should worry.

What­ever it is that you’re feel­ing, it doesn’t feel any­thing like Morn­ing in Amer­ica. It feels like some far-away klep­toc­racy where the cen­ter hasn’t held, the air­field and the ra­dio sta­tion have fallen to the rebels, and the Max­i­mum Leader is holed up in his se­cret bunker wait­ing for the other shoe to drop.

Soon (and by soon, I mean now) you’ll have to make a choice. You’ll have to de­cide whether I’m here to help has mor­phed into I’m help­ing this pres­i­dent dis­man­tle the republic. In D.C., prin­ci­ple is as rare as hen’s teeth, but, GOP friends, you can find it.

You al­ready know you can’t save the pres­i­dent, be­cause he doesn’t want to be saved. You al­ready know there’s not an­other, bet­ter ver­sion of Trump get­ting ready to show up. You’re smart. You’re loyal. You’re sniffing the wind like a gazelle, nose filled with the scents of predators. You don’t want to break from the pack too soon, but there’s greater risk in wait­ing too long.

When regimes col­lapse, dead-en­ders are the most fas­ci­nat­ing to watch — the ones who end up with the prof­itable con­ces­sions and soughtafter mis­tresses. You know al­ready, though, that’s prob­a­bly not you. So, ask yourself: When this regime falls, do you want to be among those who said “not me,” or do you want to go out like a Baath Party gen­er­alis­simo?

Stick­ing with Trump to the bit­ter end and pre­tend­ing that the un­fold­ing chaos is just “fake news” won’t save your rep­u­ta­tion as the walls close in. It won’t ease the judg­ment of his­tory. It won’t do any­thing to pol­ish up your fu­ture Wikipedia en­try.

Cut­ting ties with a man who is de­struc­tive to our val­ues, pro­foundly di­vi­sive, con­temp­tu­ous of the rule of law and in­con­tro­vert­ibly un­fit to serve in the high­est of­fice in the land just might. Do it now.

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