This too is a must read. It’s written by one Darryl Cooper and posted as an op-ed on Glenn Greenwald’s Substack page. According to Greenwald, it’s an expanded version of a Twitter thread that went so viral that Tucker Carlson ran the entire thing verbatim on his Fox News show and Donald Trump recommended it at the recent CPAC conference. Cooper spells out, in some detail, what he thinks goes into a Trump voter’s belief that institutions of government and much of the MSM combined to target a duly-elected president in a four-year effort to substitute their priorities for the will of the voters. That includes their belief that the 2020 election was, if not a fraud, a conspiracy to elect anyone but Trump.
Now, let’s be clear. I’m no fan of Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him in either 2016 or 2020. (I didn’t vote for Clinton or Biden either.) I have little respect for him as person. I consider him to be not very smart, coarse and boorish and lacking either a long-range vision for this country or the ability to lead it well in a world that’s a bit more complex and dangerous than a south Florida real estate deal. History will record these times as part of this country’s decline and Donald Trump will, I believe, be seen more as a symptom of what ails us than as a potential savior.
Still, whatever your take on Donald Trump, the man was elected president and should have been treated as such. Instead, his term in office was, from the outset, met with an unprecedented orgy of unhinged, unprincipled efforts to either remove him from office on any pretext or, failing that, hamstring his presidency. American tradition is that of the “loyal opposition,” the idea that “I didn’t vote for you, but you won and that makes you my president.” That is not what happened. The actual outcome of the 2016 election was treated by vast swaths of the news and opinion media and much of government itself as a mere inconvenience, something to be brushed aside and the hell with the democratic process.
That is not the way a healthy democracy functions. Did any of those Never Trumpers stop to consider their reaction if it had been their candidate being targeted? Did any of them ponder what the election of an outsider who’d never held public office meant about voters’ already-existing distrust of our political system? Did it occur to them that their relentless attacks on Trump would only further alienate those voters from that system and its institutions, including the press?
It is not because I have a brief for Donald Trump that I urge you to read Cooper’s piece. It’s because I value American democracy, our Constitution and way of life. It’s a good thing to not live in a banana republic, but that’s exactly what the U.S. from 2016 to 2020 looked like. Those years shocked and alienated, perhaps permanently, vast swaths of Americans, inflicting a wound to our body politic that may be permanent. I hope it’s not fatal, but some believe it is.
Meanwhile, many people are urging us to come together, to understand each other and respect our differences. If you’re one of those, reading Darryl Cooper’s piece is a good place to start. If you’re a liberal or a Democrat, ask yourself how you’d have liked it if President Hillary Clinton had gotten the same treatment. Cooper’s essay is a plea for understanding, for empathy, but it’s also a demand that the concept of the “loyal opposition” become once more the necessary part of politics and government it has been, until recently.
So of course he details much of the sordid “Russia collusion” scandal in which the Clinton campaign paid various operatives to manufacture dirt on Trump, assisted by the FBI that didn’t hesitate to lie to courts and the press along the way. Then came Robert Mueller.
If the point of the Special Counsel is to take the investigation out of the hands of line investigators to avoid the appearance of political influence, why staff the office with known partisans and the same FBI personnel who originated and oversaw the case?
Throughout the almost two-year special counsel investigation, the press made little pretense of objectivity or balance.
Why was the relationship between Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS being dismissed as irrelevant? Why were people who must know better continuing to insist that the Steele dossier was originally funded by Republicans long after the claim had been debunked? Why wasn’t the media asking even these most obvious questions? And why were they giving themselves awards for refusing to ask those questions, and viciously attacking journalists who did ask them?
Good questions, all. But it wasn’t just that institutions of government and the press had decided to fabricate a scandal in order to unseat a president and thwart the will of the voters. Obviously, that would have been bad enough, a scandal of unprecedented magnitude and impact. But it was more even than that.
The collusion case wasn’t only used to damage Trump in the polls or distract from his political agenda. It was used as an open threat to keep people from working in the administration. Taking a job in the Trump administration meant having one’s entire life investigated for anything that could fill CNN’s anti-Trump content requirement for another few days, whether or not it held up to scrutiny. Many administration employees quit because they were being bankrupted by legal fees due to an investigation that was known by its progenitors to be a political operation. The Department of Justice, press, and government used falsehoods to destroy lives and actively subvert an elected administration almost from the start.
It was always one of my problems with the Trump Administration that it never seemed to be playing with the ‘A’ Team, that our various secretaries and ambassadors never looked like the cream of the crop. And sure enough. As Cooper points out, the anti-Trump madness spilled over and threatened, not just our democracy, but our ability to function at a high level in world and domestic affairs. To an extent, targeting Trump meant targeting America.
I’ll have more to say on this next time.