Pseudonymous Trumpist Revealed, Hiding in the White House

Michael Anton is the man behind the influential pundit Publius Decius Mus, whose essay comparing a Clinton presidency to playing Russian roulette with a semi-auto was on David Brooks' list of 2016 Sidney Awards.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, left, standing with K. T. McFarland, and Michael Anton during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

A conservative writer who preached Trumpism on the web under a pseudonym has been unmasked, and it turns out he is now working at the White House.

Michael Anton, a former speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration, wrote several influential essays under the pseudonym of Publius Decius Mus throughout 2016, according to the Weekly Standard, a conservative opinion magazine. "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," the Standard's Michael Warren wrote last week.

Decius, named for a fourth-century BCE Roman consul who sacrificed himself in battle, was noted for one particularly poignant essay called "The Flight 93 Election," in which he compared the election of Hillary Clinton to one of the planes hijacked in 9/11 that crashed fatally in Pennsylvania.

"2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees," he wrote. "Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances."

It made such an impact that David Brooks of the New York Times chose the essay for his list of 2016 Sidney Award.

Anton now works as a senior national security official in the White House. In the Bush administration, he was a communications aide for the National Security Council. According to the Standard, he was part of the team that crafted the now infamous assertion in Bush's 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." CIA director George Tenet later said that sentence "never should have been included" in Bush's address.

Anton's career also includes stints as a speechwriter and press secretary for New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and director of communications at Citigroup, the Standard reported.

The Standard described Anton as someone "who may be a traitor to his class of conservative intellectuals, and Bill Kristol," the Standard's editor, tweeted, "From Carl Schmitt to Mike Anton: First time tragedy, second time farce," likening him to the controversial Nazi political theorist.

Anton as Decius also revealed an anti-Islamic streak in his March 2016 essay, "Toward a sensible, coherent Trumpism." He wrote, "Islam is not a 'religion of peace'; it’s a militant faith that exalts conversion by the sword and inspires thousands to acts of terror—and millions more to support and sympathize with terror." The article appeared on The Unz Review: an Alternative Media Selection. In that article he also derided Trump's "enemies" in the conservative movement as "flailing and despondent."

He also defended Trump's "America First" approach, which harkens back to the anti-Semitic movement that wanted to keep the United States out of World War II. He stated that the 1940s America First Committee was "unfairly maligned." An exposé in The Atlantic noted that committee members included notable Americans with anti-Semitic sympathies such as Henry Ford, Avery Brundage and Charles Lindbergh, who "suggested Jews were advocating the U.S. to enter a war that was not in the national interest."