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Opinion

A Moon resistance?

Sept 11,2018
Chun Young-gi
The author is a columnist at the JoongAng Ilbo.

An anonymous op-ed in The New York Times by a senior official in the Trump administration has turned the United States upside down, and the president is dying to find the traitor. About 20 senior White House officials have publicly declared that they were not the author, even making loyalty pledges to Trump.

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the op-ed reads.

In South Korea, such an instigation would be interpreted as inciting rebellion or a coup, but in the United States, the 25th Amendment provides for this. “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

The U.S. Constitution allows the cabinet to remove a president if it deems the incumbent incapable of running the country. The United States is clearly a country of resistance, where breakwaters of democracy are built in many places.

There is a lot of speculation in the media that the anonymous author could be Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis or White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. They are deeply trusted by the public and politicians. If one of them is revealed to be the author, he would be respected as a hero who fought against the president to defend democracy rather than publicly admonished. Trump’s humiliation would grow and his authority would weaken.

The essay clearly and consistently delivered a message that the Constitution and state are more important than the president. It means that resistance forces inside the administration owe much to the president, but their loyalty goes to the United States and the American people. “We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic,” the op-ed reads. “The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.” Quoting the late Senator John McCain, the author of the op-ed calls on Americans to break free from the trap of tribalism.

As a declaration by a public servant, the essay bears comparisons to the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. When the op-ed was published last week, Trump was about to join a Republican campaign, and a journalist asked him who controls the White House, The Washington Post reported. The journalist’s question suggests that while the president is in command on the surface, the resistance is actually leading the administration. Trump did not answer the question, according to The Post.

As I read the op-ed, I, too, began to wonder, “Who is really in command in the Blue House?” Without clear assurances from North Korea for its nuclear disarmament, South Korea’s presidential office is speeding up its campaign to restore inter-Korean relations on its own. Blue House officials believe in their policies as if they’re members of a cult. The grounds for them are weak, and statistics have proven their failure, but they still believe. I wonder if the Blue House is truly in the hands of President Moon Jae-in, who took the oath to defend our Constitution and embrace all Koreans, or if there is some sort of “Moon resistance” blocking his eyes and ears and eventually hindering the success of his presidency.

Of course, our situation is completely different from that of the United States. The Trump resistance is like a Robin Hood trying to protect American democracy from the impulses of an unpredictable president. If there is a Moon resistance in the Blue House, its participants must surely have the ambition to overturn the country’s system by taking advantage of an ethical and reform-minded president.
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