Saturday, December 29, 2018

Falling on the Reputational Grenade

There is an interesting story to be written about a certain type of Trump administration official, with the following characteristics: They recognize the Trump administration is a moral catastrophe. They recognize that their participation in it will wholly ruin their reputation -- if history remembers them, it will be as a collaborator with evil. And yet they work in the administration anyway because, they believe, that if they don't do it, somebody worse will.

I suspect people like this exist -- Mattis could be one, though I don't have any interest in debating particular names and I certainly don't want to suggest that this is a common attribute of Trump administration officials.

But it's a fascinating possibility, isn't it? We talk a lot about people who sacrifice their safety or even their lives out of a sense of duty. But the idea of someone knowingly sacrificing their reputation -- wholly cognizant that they will be viewed as (at best) a schmuck and that it will be in a large sense well-deserved, but acting anyway because (they think) they're averting some greater evil -- that thought intrigues me.

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