“Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more.” It may have been a tad inelegant, but Johnny Paycheck’s 1977 hit song expressed a sentiment that everyone who works for other people needs to keep on their playlist. Getting paid inevitably requires compromises, but if the boss demands a humiliating degree of subservience or issues orders that violate your conscience, it’s time to hit the Play button on Johnny and walk out. The alternative is on view every day in Washington, where proximity to power and fear of President Trump’s wrath have reduced legions of public servants to simpering sycophants. It’s deeply disturbing to see how easily this president has bent subordinates and acolytes to his will—compelling nodding affirmation of obvious untruths and complicity in words and deeds they surely know are wrong.
Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars going to the president’s own properties and pockets? Not a peep of protest. (See Talking Points.) The Justice Department threatening automakers with an antitrust suit for preferring California’s emissions standards to Trump’s? Silence. (See Business.) The White House suspending $250 million in military aid to Ukraine for declining to investigate Joe Biden and his son? Crickets. (See The U.S. at a Glance.) There are, however, laudable exceptions. After Trump wielded his Sharpie to include Alabama in an official map of Hurricane Dorian’s possible path, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that anyone who contradicted Trump would be fired. (See Controversy.) Browbeaten NOAA officials issued an unsigned press release stating that Alabama might have, sort of, been affected. But the acting chief scientist at NOAA, Craig McLean, this week launched an investigation into the coerced statement, saying that if scientists alter predictions for “political” reasons, it will “debase” their work and mislead the public. Guts and integrity, apparently, are not dead. More, please.