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Opinion | Trump Has Made Civil Servants Sexy

Rarely have career public servants inspired such passion.

Once upon a time, government officials were largely thought of as dreary drones — that is, when anyone bothered to think of them at all. But along came President Trump, and suddenly, these largely unknown operators have assumed an aura of mystery, danger even. For those who don’t see them as treasonous denizens of the swamp Mr. Trump was elected to drain, they are heroes of the resistance, calling out the excesses of an out-of-control president.

Once again, Mr. Trump seems to have accomplished something that no one imagined possible: He has made civil servants sexy.

It’s not just the players in the impeachment drama who have assumed an extra bit of sizzle.

In September, officials in the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service found themselves in the national spotlight after gently correcting Mr. Trump’s inaccurate tweet about the projected path of Hurricane Dorian. The president had warned that the storm was headed for Alabama. It was not. His ensuing effort to save face led to an unwarranted scolding of the Weather Service, the questionable intervention of multiple senior government officials, including the commerce secretary, and the apparent doctoring of a weather map, which spawned the appropriately absurd #Sharpiegate scandal. At an industry conference that same month, the director of the National Weather Service, Louis Uccellini, publicly praised his staff for heading off a “public panic” and asked the crowd to give them a standing ovation.

More troubling, a steady flow of advisers and employees of agencies ranging from the Department of Homeland Security to the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned in disgust with, or protest of, Mr. Trump’s policies and practices. In July of last year, four members of a D.H.S. advisory panel stepped down, citing the administration’s “morally repugnant” decision to snatch migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border.

Not that any of this is likely to bother Mr. Trump. Since Day 1, he has evinced zero respect for his own government and the people who power it. This goes beyond any paranoia about administrative coups. A deep-seated hostility toward government is central to his brand — and his party’s brand more broadly. Just a few weeks after Mr. Trump was sworn into office, Steve Bannon, at the time a top White House adviser, cited the “deconstruction of the administrative state” as a core principle of the president’s agenda.

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