A commenter here used to say quite often that the left had a lot more tricks up its sleeve than we knew, and that we were only seeing a small percentage of their power, maybe 5%. That person also said that if the left really wanted to sink a president or a person, we’d be seeing a good deal more.
I was thinking about that yesterday, and wondered what percentage we’re seeing now unleashed against Trump. In this case, of course, it’s not just the left; it’s everyone whose interests are threatened by him. I almost added “everyone who has reason to dislike him,” but that’s not true, because some of that group of people seem more alarmed by the forces arrayed against Trump right now and the extent to which they will go than they are by Trump himself and anything he or his aides have done.
John Podhoretz, who is not a Trump supporter, writes:
I can’t believe I’m writing this after the administration has been in office for 26 days, but here goes. The idea that Donald Trump is now inexorably on a path to impeachment has taken almost gleeful hold in the wake of the Michael Flynn resignation among liberal elites and anti-Trumpers generally—and everybody better stop and take a deep breath and consider what might arise from this. This isn’t fire we’re playing with, it’s a nuclear war.
Podhoretz goes on to explain the realities of impeachment of a GOP president by a Congress controlled by Republicans and concludes that it is highly unlikely. He also goes on to equally blame the anti-Trump and the Trump forces for the current situation, and predicts the possibility of real violence. I don’t agree with everything Podhoretz says about all of this, but his alarm is real (and unusual for him, I think). And I don’t think it is misplaced.
Polling continues to report the majority of people being at odds with ideas that are being promulgated by the press—for example, polls show general approval of Trump’s travel halt—and higher levels of distrust of the press than of Trump. My question is: how many people understand what the current “Trump’s aides spoke to Russia” flap is about, and how many see talking to Russia as some sort of terrible terrible outrage? I’m not at all sure the number is high, except of course among those who already hate Trump.
Trump weathered many storms during his candidacy, but I don’t think anything even remotely compared to this full court press. His ability to weather this one depends in part on whether there really is a smoking gun, and I confess I haven’t a clue. But a gun may not be necessary if enough smoke is generated, and the anti-Trump world (which is large, and composed of many disparate elements) is trying very very hard to create that smoke.
So far they are trying with propaganda and innuendo, as described by Scott Johnson here:
• “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of … Trump’s … campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
• “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering” that Russia was hacking the DNC.
• “[T]he intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president.”
Allen misses this slight qualification of the innuendo: “The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.”
And this one: “The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.”
Even putting the innuendo to one side, the story’s three reporters are what literary critics call unreliable narrators.
(Johnson goes on to explain a lie the reporters had previously told about something Trump said.)
So, that’s the way it goes, and that’s just one article we’re talking about. We have no idea whether the contact with Russia was innocuous or not, or whether the surveillance was legal or not, and the Times doesn’t care if we never find out, as long as we come to the proper conclusion: get rid of Trump and/or get rid of everyone who might be willing to work with him. That latter bit would have a very chilling effect, even without Trump removal—make it hard for him to function by striking fear and paralysis into him and everyone around him. Or provoke him into a really stupid explosion on Twitter or otherwise in public (or in private, and then report the leaks about that).
Lastly, stir up people into physical violence, or at least into demands that Trump go. Hey, maybe enough GOP members of Congress can be persuaded to impeach and even convict him. Of course, then you would have a lot of angry Trump voters—very angry—and even some people who didn’t vote for him but who don’t like what they’re seeing from the deep state and the MSM right now might be angry, too.
Hypothetical: would all of this still be happening with a President Cruz, for example? I don’t believe that Cruz would be making the same kind of errors as Trump and his people, so he wouldn’t be as vulnerable. But I do think there would be almost as many anti-Cruz people around. And I do think they’d be trying the same tools to bring him down, with the same tenacity. Everyone makes errors, and if you’re looking for them hard enough and ruthlessly enough, and especially if you’re willing to spin and even manufacture them, they can be used against that person.
“Interesting times” are not necessarily fun. But they are interesting.