Watching Donald Trump fume about the "lying New York Times" before a bewildered group of sheriffs Wednesday afternoon, I imagined "Trump: The Opera."
As the baritone playing Trump bewails the perfidy of his presidential staff, the sheriffs lined up behind him act like a Greek chorus. In ominous minor-key tones, they sing the word "lying" over and over, or "treason." The Trump character grows ever more frenzied, his voice rising until he stalks off the stage in a heart-pounding dramatic climax.
Broadcast on Chuck Todd's daily "Meet the Press," Trump appeared before the sheriffs in their uniforms and cowboy hats just as news broke about a high-level Trump aide calling Trump morally and intellectually unfit for the presidency. The aide made his accusations in an anonymous piece written for The New York Times op-ed page.
As the puzzled sherifs looked on, Trump paced back and forth, clutching a printout of the article, which he tried to read in between fulminating about the Times and the "gutless" writer. Along with looking like an opera's tragic villain, Trump resembled a prosecutor making a case before a jury.
For the second day in a row, revelations about Trump's rebellious staff painted the administration as a dysfunctional "crazy- land." As the night wore on, cable TV's familiar chatterers grew shriller and shriller as reports accumulated about the pseudo-president's "volcanic" rage.
Betraying the autocratic tendencies decried in the op-ed piece, Trump in an ill-considered tweet called on the newspaper to turn over the writer to the government "in the interest of national security." In Trumpland, milk, imported cars and op-ed pieces can harm national security.
The anonymous author's op-ed article followed the release of similar findings from veteran journalist Bob Woodward in his forthcoming book, "Fear: The Trump White House."
After the op-ed article news broke late Wednesday afternoon, Washington journalists and insiders sought to reveal the writer's identity. Several cable TV commentators disputed the writer's claims to heroism, finding him or her cowardly.
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell made a good case for national intelligence director Dan Coats, although I believe Coats has too much of a sense of loyalty to write the piece, and that he would find its anonymity distasteful.
Vice Presdent Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied speculation that they were the author. I could see Pompeo doing it, although he was en route to Pakistan when the news broke. Pence lacks the imagination and writing ability. One of his aides might have done it though.
Other possibilities included economics adviser Larry Kudlow. Someone even suggested Melania Trump, the English-challenged first lady.
The piece appeared too slick for even a skilled communicator like Kudlow. It read as if it were cooked up in a conservative think tank like the Heritage Society. The senior aide likely wrote a rough draft, or outline of ideas, to be polished by a skilled think-tank hack.
The article sounded as if it had been written by more than one person. A single Cabinet member might have been the final author, but consulted with others.
Hopes for the end of the Trump presidency ended the article, indicating that the GOP establishment might have had enough of Trump. Once Brett Kavanaugh takes his seat on the Supreme Court and begins alsahsing the rights of women and workers, Trump will be tossed overboard.
Then we can wait for "The Death of Klinghoffer" author John Adams to write "Trump the Opera." Following"Nixon in China," the title might be "Trump in Crazyland."