DONALD Trump has enemies in the White House and they could even be after his job.
After The New York Times published an extraordinary op-ed from an anonymous White House official describing how senior staff actively undermine the US President to protect the office from his worst impulses, the world is naturally wondering who the author was.
Donald Trump has accused them of treason and the White House has demanded they resign.
While we may never know who was behind it, an unusual word that features in the article may point to a leading suspect.
If you don’t know what the word lodestar means, you’re probably not alone. A lodestar is a star that is used to guide the course of a ship.
It’s not a word that the average punter would use very often, but it’s a word that US Vice President Mike Pence is apparently quite fond of. And guess where it shows up.
At the end of the piece written by someone who claims to be “part of the resistance inside the Trump Administration” is a homage to the late John McCain — a noted enemy of Trump.
“We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honour to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honourable men, but we should revere them,” it reads.
It didn’t take long for the internet to start picking apart the story, trying to uncover the identity of the author.
American audio journalist Dan Bloom, took note of the unusual word and did some digging. He couldn’t find any examples of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly or the adversarial Secretary of Defence James Mattis ever using it. But one bloke kept turning up.
Sharing his search on social media, he pointed out that during a speech at the UN in September 2017 Vice President Mike Pence told the audience; “The first words of the UN charter, ‘to maintain international peace’ must again be our lodestar, our ideal, our aspiration.”
Two months later, he spoke at an awards ceremony dinner and used it again.
In February 2018, he dropped it once again. Speaking in Tokyo, alongside Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, he uttered the words “vigilance and resolve will be our lodestar”.
Internet sleuths dug up a number of other examples, dating as far back as 2001. It’s pretty clear that Mike Pence loves the word.
It’s far from concrete evidence, but is certainly a bit of fun. Of course anyone could have noticed the Vice President’s propensity for using the word and included it as a red herring for the inevitable investigation that would ensue.
Others have pointed out the role of a speech writer and speculated that it’s likely that one was involved in writing the Times piece.
Dan Bloom, who got the ball rolling on the lodestar line of inquiry, said a political speechwriter source of his agreed it was probable.
Heard from a speechwriter that works in politics at a high level. He said: ‘seeing buzz from speechwriter twitter noting that it’s likely a speechwriter had a hand in it.’ He explains further…— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m)
My speechwriter contact: ‘It’s possible Pence’s speechwriter authored it. But if so, i don’t think the speechwriter was speaking as him or herself. More likely, written on behalf of or with Pence.’ more…— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m)
‘Just too well written for a principal who likely has a hell of a lot more work on their plate than would allow for this to be produced within 24 hours of the Woodward news.’ That said, he raised a nuanced point that I hadn’t previously considered…— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m)
‘The fact that Pence has been using the word a ton going back to his radio show suggests it’s him. If the speechwriter is putting that into his speeches it’s only because he (or she) has picked up on the fact that Pence loves the word.’— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m)
‘…plus the way the op ed is written suggests it’s by someone with actual influence. A speechwriter to the VP ain’t that person.’ Smart analysis from my speechwriter contact who has real insight into this world. #lodestar— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m)
As CNN points out in a rather detailed list, there are plenty of top level US officials that have reason to undermine Trump and leak against him. The man seems to thrive on making enemies out of friends.
When considering Mike Pence as the author, CNN’s editor-at-large Chris Cillizza, suggested his desire for the Oval Office could be a possible motive.
“The Vice President is all smiles, nods and quiet, deferential loyalty in public. Which of course means that he has the perfect cover to write something like this in The New York Times,” he wrote.
“Pence is also ambitious — and there’s no question he wants to be president. But would taking such a risk as writing this scathing op-ed be a better path to the White House than just waiting Trump out?”
It’s a compelling theory, or maybe I’m just jaded because I come from a country where it’s the main job of politicians is to undermine the boss to take their job for themselves. It’s unlikely Mike Pence is actually behind the article but the conspiracy theories are flying thick and fast online.
This isn’t someone keeping their head down to weather the storm. It’s someone with their own ambitions for higher office trying to not only fatally wound Trump, but distance themselves ahead of rehabilitating their own image.
All of it screams Pence even more than ‘Lodestar.’— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@stealthygeek)
The Times piece comes a day after the release of Watergate journalist Bob Woodward’s book on the dysfunctional Trump administration. Both paint a picture of a petty and “amoral” President whose behaviour is so alarming it has driven his own hand-picked appointees to commit mutiny.
Possibly even the first mate.