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The Anonymous Pro-Trump 'Decius' Now Works Inside The White House
Weekly Standard ^ | February 2, 2017 | Nichael Warren

Posted on 02/02/2017 10:31:27 AM PST by billorites

On a late January afternoon, as press secretary Sean Spicer walked into the White House media briefing room, a tall, thin, bespectacled man poked his head in the doorway for a moment before turning around and heading back into the West Wing. Later that week, at another briefing, the man stayed longer, standing in the corner behind the podium, out of view of the array of television cameras.

The reporters peppering Spicer with questions were unlikely to know it, but the wallflower watching over the proceedings happened to be the leading conservative intellectual to argue for the election of Donald Trump. His pseudonymous essays during the campaign sparked more discussion—and disputation—among thinkers on the right than just about anyone else's. Rush Limbaugh spent hours on his radio show promoting what he hailed as the writer's "shaming" of the Never Trump conservatives. Leading conservative opponents of Trump, like New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, National Review's Jonah Goldberg, and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, published critical responses to his most widely read essay. The writer even granted a postelection interview to the New Yorker, on the condition that his real identity not be revealed. The magazine described him as among those trying "to build a governing ideology" around Trump.

Now he's helping to implement that governing ideology directly. The writer is a senior national-security official in the Trump White House, nearly a decade after serving in a similar role for George W. Bush. His unmasking ends one of the remaining mysteries of last year's crazy and unpredictable election.

The enigmatic writer's real name is Michael Anton, and he's a fast-talking 47-year-old intellectual who, unlike most of his colleagues, can readily quote Roman histories and Renaissance thinkers. But readers knew him throughout 2016 as Publius Decius Mus, first at a now-defunct website called the Journal of American Greatness and later in the online pages of the Claremont Review of Books. As Decius, Anton insisted that electing Trump and implementing Trumpism was the best and only way to stave off American decline—making a cerebral case to make America great again.

At the center of Anton's/Decius's argument (distilled best in his September essay for the Claremont Review entitled "The Flight 93 Election") was the belief that the decline of the United States under the direction of the progressive left has been abetted by a bloated and lethargic conservative movement of "think-tanks, magazines, conferences, and fellowships" that exists to perpetuate the status quo. Conservative intellectuals had been living a contradiction, wrote Decius, decrying the decay of America's social, economic, and political traditions while offering nothing but tired ideas that tinkered on the margins of public policy—if they did anything at all. More nefariously, Decius suggested, professional conservative intellectuals were more motivated to preserve their own status (and steady stream of paychecks) than to reconsider their positions and ideological priors. His writing on this point was at once funny, clever, and vicious:

How have the last two decades worked out for you, personally? If you're a member or fellow-traveler of the Davos class, chances are: pretty well. If you're among the subspecies conservative intellectual or politician, you've accepted—perhaps not consciously, but unmistakably—your status on the roster of the Washington Generals of American politics. Your job is to show up and lose, but you are a necessary part of the show and you do get paid. To the extent that you are ever on the winning side of anything, it's as sophists who help the Davoisie oligarchy rationalize open borders, lower wages, outsourcing, de-industrialization, trade giveaways, and endless, pointless, winless war.

For Decius, the stakes for the 2016 election were civilizational, a choice between a continuation of corrupt republicanism in the service of progressive ideals and a disruption of that arc. Violence and battle are his preferred motifs: The left is looking to "crush" dissent; a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been "Russian Roulette with a semi-auto." The titular "Flight 93" refers to the hijacked plane on 9/11 that passengers heroically took back from terrorists and was his heavy-handed metaphor for the election. He even chose a martial nom de plume. In his History of Rome, Livy describes Publius Decius Mus as a Roman consul who rode to the front of his army in battle, sacrificing himself to save his men and Rome. Again, and to be clear, it's just a metaphor.

Anton/Decius viewed Trump as the only Republican willing and eager to sacrifice conservative pieties to save America. "Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity," he wrote. But it's not just the poetry Decius finds compelling about Trump—he's a fan of the prose: "The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning."

Anton wasn't always where Trump is on these issues, and he has the profile of exactly the type of movement conservative for which Trumpism has no use. He was inculcated in the Straussian conservative world of the Claremont Graduate School, reading—besides the late political philosopher Leo Strauss—ancient philosophy, modern political theory, and Machiavelli. (He married his interest in the Italian Renaissance writer with his passion for men's fashion in a 2006 book called The Suit, a word-for-word parody of The Prince also written under a pseudonym.)

After working as a speechwriter and press secretary for New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, he entered Bush's White House in 2001 as a communications aide for the National Security Council—a job that took on greater weight after 9/11. Anton was part of the team that made the case within the administration and to the public for invading Iraq—and he was enthusiastic about the war. Anton helped craft one of the more infamous sentences in a State of the Union address, from Bush's in 2003: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Those 16 words, which CIA director George Tenet later said "never should have been included" in the president's address, became a touchstone for those who contended the case for invading Iraq was trumped up. Decius doesn't mention the words or the arguments for the Iraq war in any of his writings, but he does state in his first essay for the Journal of American Greatness that the invasion "was a strategic and tactical blunder that destroyed a country (however badly governed), destabilized a region, and harmed American interests."

His evolution on the issue of Iraq is perhaps Anton's most notable shift, but it's not the only one informed by his experience as a member of the governing class he so artfully assailed as Decius. After leaving the Bush administration in 2005, Anton was a speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch at the media conglomerate News Corporation, then the director of communications at megabank Citigroup. For the last year and a half, he's been a managing director at the investment firm BlackRock. With that résumé, it's no wonder the man who referred to the "Davos class" as a "junta" and wrote that it would "be better for the nation to divide up more equitably a slightly smaller pie than to add one extra slice" chose to write under a pseudonym. Anton would no doubt happily accept that he is a "traitor to his class," which is what his Journal of American Greatness compatriot Julius Krein called Donald Trump in these pages. (Anton himself has contributed many pieces to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and its website, as recently as last year.)

Anton may also be a traitor to his class of conservative intellectuals, though his writings on Trump rejected by the Claremont Review of Books in early 2016 eventually found their home there by the end of the election. More consequential, in his new position as senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, he brings his brand of intellectual Trumpism right to the White House and the locus of power. The job was initially given to Monica Crowley, the writer and television pundit, with the intention that she be a public face for the Trump White House on national-security issues. But Crowley was forced to withdraw just days before Trump was inaugurated after reports revealed she had plagiarized her last book and her Ph.D. thesis. Anton's role will likely involve less camera time and more shaping of the White House's national-security message behind the scenes.

In "The Flight 93 Election," Decius considered the 2016 election as a game of Russian roulette for conservatives. A President Clinton would all but assure annihilation of everything they hold dear. "With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances," he wrote. Decius's spin turned out well for him—now he's at the front of the battle line, saving Rome.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 2001; 2003; 2005; 201609; 201701; africa; anton; antonakakis; blackrock; claremont; crowley; decius; flight93election; flt93; giuliani; iraqwar; michaelanton; michaelantonakakis; mole; monicacrowley; murdoch; niger; nigerflap; nsc; plamenamegame; publiusdeciusmus; rupertmurdoch; russianroulette; uranium; ussianroulette; yellowcake
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1 posted on 02/02/2017 10:31:27 AM PST by billorites
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To: billorites
Interesting factoid: The job was initially given to Monica Crowley, the writer and television pundit, with the intention that she be a public face for the Trump White House on national-security issues. But Crowley was forced to withdraw...
2 posted on 02/02/2017 10:32:53 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites

Wow! I just finished reading one of his essays right before this thread!

He is a great writer. A little heavy on the Latin references, but a truly great mind.

He absolutely nails the NeverTrumpers, Cuckservatives, and why Conservatism has failed for 50+ years.

3 posted on 02/02/2017 10:40:12 AM PST by IDontLikeToPayTaxes
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To: billorites
At the center of Anton's/Decius's argument (distilled best in his September essay for the Claremont Review entitled "The Flight 93 Election")

That was a fantastic piece. One of the best things posted on FR in the last few years.

4 posted on 02/02/2017 10:40:27 AM PST by Paradox ("Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.")
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To: billorites; Liz

Thanks for posting!

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3520541/posts?page=1#1

Ping! “Publius Decius” unmasked.


5 posted on 02/02/2017 10:44:14 AM PST by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57, returning after lurking since 2000)
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To: billorites

Anton sounds like he was better suited for the position than Crowley was.


6 posted on 02/02/2017 10:44:56 AM PST by bkopto
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To: billorites

Quite an interesting article. I read the “Decius” piece during the campaign and found it to be directly on target. It sounds like Monica Crowley’s resignation was a blessing in disguise!


7 posted on 02/02/2017 10:45:39 AM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: IDontLikeToPayTaxes

Kudos to Micheal Anton!


8 posted on 02/02/2017 10:53:37 AM PST by Lopeover (The 2016 Election is about allegiance to the United States!)
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To: billorites

From the article:

In “The Flight 93 Election,” Decius considered the 2016 election as a game of Russian roulette for conservatives. A President Clinton would all but assure annihilation of everything they hold dear. “With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances,” he wrote.


9 posted on 02/02/2017 10:55:57 AM PST by Colinsky
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To: IDontLikeToPayTaxes

Yes, Anton is a brilliant writer. I get the same thrill I get when I read Victor Davis Hanson. Glad to know he’s on the team.


10 posted on 02/02/2017 10:57:59 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites; antonius

Antonius, that you?


11 posted on 02/02/2017 11:02:02 AM PST by txhurl (Break's over, kids, back to WAR.)
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To: Paradox

We the People: “Let’s Roll!”


12 posted on 02/02/2017 11:07:58 AM PST by Balata
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To: billorites

Excellent article, very reassuring. One more indication that the adults are in charge. Thanks for posting.


13 posted on 02/02/2017 11:21:08 AM PST by matthew fuller (Democrats have not been this apoplectic since Republican Lincoln emancipated THEIR slaves.)
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To: matthew fuller

I had forgotten what it was like to have grownups in the White House.


14 posted on 02/02/2017 11:24:34 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Colinsky

Just read “The Flight 93 Election”.

It is good, but misunderstands how we got to where we are.

The Left did not just happen to take over the schools, academia, and think tanks. It happened because of the centralization of the media, its takeover by “progressivism” and the lack of any serious opposition to it for decades.

Trump’s rise did not happen because Trump picked the right issues. That was part, but not the most important part.

The most important part was that we had built new and alternate media that could get Trump’s message out. He was able to fight the Establishment media and win. The new media was not built by Trump, but he took full advantage of it.

That is why Trump’s election will prove effective and lasting. The Mediacracy’s hold on the dissemination of infromation has been broken. It cannot easily be put back together.

And Trump is exactly the President we need to fragment the media establishment, and set it to fighting each other and aggressively checking each other for “Fake News”.

The Establishment media is the key, and Anton does not emphasize that enough.


15 posted on 02/02/2017 11:37:45 AM PST by marktwain (We wanted to tell our side of the story. We hope by us telling our story...)
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To: Paradox

Do you have a link to that article? Thanks.


16 posted on 02/02/2017 12:02:38 PM PST by nwrep
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To: Paradox

Never mind, found it and read it.


17 posted on 02/02/2017 12:38:52 PM PST by nwrep
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To: billorites

Great job, Michael Anton!

And good for President Trump putting him in the White House.

I hope Anton has moved beyond Straussianism.

The Neocon Straussians are a strange lot. Their intellectual pedigree began with 20th century Jewish emigres from Central and Eastern Europe who were Trotskyists.

Eventually they rejected Trotskyism and embraced free markets, but they did not return to Judaism.

They reject Judeo-Christianity and appear to adhere to elements of Classical Greek philosophy. But they are “esoteric” in writing about the true basis of their belief system, apparently because they think Americans would reject them if they were more open about this.

Their roots in our country are rather shallow, and they support Globalism and have little concern for the well-being of fellow Americans. They are embarrassed by strong feelings of American patriotism and consider national spirit and self-government based on nation-states, to be retrograde and passe.

Ironically, while they are strong supporters of a Jewish nation in Israel, they are not strong supporters of an American nation in the USA, and are one of the most influential voices in demanding mass third world immigration into the USA, including in particular Islamic immigration, on the basis that America is merely a “proposition” nation and not really a people with its own culture, tradition and history with a right to determine who may immigrate, unlike Israel.

Many of them, such as Jen Rubin, Bret Stephens and Bill Kristol, have become completely unhinged because of the election of Trump and view an American people that would elect Donald Trump as little different than Nazis. They have become very influential through magazines like the Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary and the WSJ editorial page.


18 posted on 02/02/2017 12:44:51 PM PST by Meet the New Boss
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To: Meet the New Boss
Humans are a tribal species and humans are tribal in regards to class as well as race.

I imagine the ascendancy of Trump is as disturbing and distasteful to some in this country as the election of an Untouchable to high office would be in India.

For all his wealth Trump will never be mistaken for being one of the manor born.

I find much to admire in him, but even I have to look beyond his taste for white furniture trimmed in gold.

19 posted on 02/02/2017 1:20:51 PM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites
At the center of Anton's/Decius's argument (distilled best in his September essay for the Claremont Review entitled "The Flight 93 Election") was the belief that the decline of the United States under the direction of the progressive left has been abetted by a bloated and lethargic conservative movement of "think-tanks, magazines, conferences, and fellowships" that exists to perpetuate the status quo. Conservative intellectuals had been living a contradiction, wrote Decius, decrying the decay of America's social, economic, and political traditions while offering nothing but tired ideas that tinkered on the margins of public policy—if they did anything at all. More nefariously, Decius suggested, professional conservative intellectuals were more motivated to preserve their own status (and steady stream of paychecks) than to reconsider their positions and ideological priors.

Exactly! National Review, Peggy Noonan, George Will and David Brooks come to mind here. The fault lay not in our stars, but in ourselves, e.g. the argument over who was the "true conservative" in the election, as if anyone cared or it would have been of any consequence to have a conservatively defensible answer to the question.

20 posted on 02/02/2017 1:28:22 PM PST by AndyJackson
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