Every homeowner knows that a leak can cause a lot of damage. It can go on for months, seeping in to every part of your house, leading to sky-high water bills and costly plumbing repairs, and inviting mold to spread.

In politics, a metaphorical leak from inside an organization — whether it’s during a campaign or once governing has begun — can be just as damaging. It can cause dissent, distrust, and discord within the organization, leading to chaos and undermining the public’s trust in government, among supporters and opponents alike.

For your supporters, it can lead them to question their faith in you; after all, if even your own staff can’t get behind your policies, how can they possibly justify your position to their friends and family?

For opponents, it stiffens their opposition and justifies it, making it even harder for you to get anything done.

Leaks in politics — at least, the unintentional ones — make allies nervous and enemies gleeful.

The Trump administration has been full of leaks since Day 1, far more so than most administrations. There have been constant rumors swirling about Washington about who’s in, who’s out, and who’s fed up. That reached a new crescendo this week with two potentially seminal events for this administration: a tell-all book written by veteran reporter Bob Woodward and an anonymous column in The New York Times attributed to a senior administration official.

For a number of reasons, the Times op-ed is more troubling, whether one generally supports or opposes Trump’s personality and policies.

In the op-ed, presumably meant to reassure readers, the author confides that he or she is part of a cadre within the administration seeking to constrain Trump’s worst instincts and to guide him in a better direction. Unfortunately, this is anything but reassuring, and may actually undermine the author’s goals.

First, though, it’s worth taking a moment to consider who the anonymous author actually is.

One of the theories floating around the internet has been that it was written by Vice President Mike Pence, but that’s ludicrous on its face. Pence has been nothing but loyal to Trump since joining the ticket, even when it’s required compromising his previously held positions to do so.

As such, he’s fully tethered himself and his political future to Trump, and he knows it: there simply aren’t a whole lot of votes to gain among Iowa or New Hampshire Republicans by double-crossing Trump in The New York Times, even anonymously. Pence has political ambitions, and he knows that no matter what happens to Trump, his supporters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon – so abandoning them would be political suicide. In crossing Pence off the list, we can also cross off anyone else in the administration with political ambitions or a career in politics. They’d all be more likely to court Trump’s base rather than slap them in the face.

You can also rest assured that it wasn’t a member of Trump’s ultimate inner circle — his family members. They’ve all been watching him run his organization for decades, and nothing he is doing as president should be a surprise to them. Even if some of them seem more reasonable than he, they’ve hitched themselves to him even more closely than the politicians in his Cabinet. If the worst were to happen to Trump politically — that is, if he was removed from office — they’d literally have nowhere to go.

It’s not as if any of the Trumps would suddenly be embraced by the Democrats if they were revealed as the author.

The op-ed probably wasn’t written by a member of the Cabinet. If any of them are trying to steer Trump in the right direction, they’d be smart enough to recognize that discretion is the better part of valor in that effort.

That brings us to the central question: If there really is an organized effort within the administration to curb the president’s agenda, why draw attention to it? Indeed, it seems likely to stymie it by increasing paranoia in the administration.

Ultimately, that’s the problem with the anonymous critic: we can’t determine the agenda of the author. It could be to undermine those trying to steer Trump by drawing attention to them, to settle a guilty conscience, or to set themselves — or their superior — up for a new job.

No matter the case, as long as we don’t know who the author is, we can only speculate as to their motivation.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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