Posted by Curt on 17 May, 2017 at 10:29 am. 3 comments already!


Michael Brendan Dougherty:

Donald Trump’s presidency feels like it is in crisis. Reading the Washington Post is almost comical now. At least once a week we are treated to at least 18 — now 24, now 31! — sources within the White House reporting that Donald Trump had another very Trumpish day. He’s berating advisers. He’s cursing Barack Obama and the Deep State. He’s making decisions based on fake news. He’s bungling even routine jobs, such as an introductory phone call with the Australian prime minister. Everyone who works for him hates him. The press has the whiff of blood in their nares. They might just be able to take this guy down.

But it’s not Trump’s attempts at self-enrichment, the rank amateurism of his staff, or even his mismanaged relationships with his own party that are dragging him down. From the media’s perspective, it’s the Russia stuff that’s working. It flummoxes Trump, unmans him, and people love to share the latest conspiracy.

Granted, Donald Trump hasn’t helped himself. Russia and Trump seem to collect the same shady and deluded co-conspirators, and real second-raters at that. His former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his national-security adviser, General Michael Flynn, were pushed out over their dealings with Russian politicos. Trump’s habit of talking about foreign leaders in overly familiar ways — he has “great chemistry” with some — leads him to say too many admiring things about Vladimir Putin. And Trump Tower was notorious for leasing apartments to shady Russian characters associated with organized crime. Every time Trump tries to cauterize the wound, for example by firing the FBI director for not clearing his name, he makes things worse.

But now almost all of the justifiable anxiety about Trump’s character and behavior is transmuted into the Russian story. And frankly, we should be worried about how that plays out. For all the talk about how Russia is an unpleasant Eurasian gas station with a stunted economy, it’s still a nuclear power that feels itself humiliated. Our last two presidents both tried to improve relations with Moscow. And there are geopolitical situations where a president of the United States, Trump or someone else, would desperately need Russian help and cooperation. If the “get Trump” hysteria impedes that, it could do more harm than good.

And it is a matter of hysteria right now. Amateur conspiracy theories proliferate across Twitter and in the media. A viral story at the Washington Post alleged Russia had been involved in a sophisticated campaign to spread fake news. The evidence amounted to little more than what the Kremlin-funded RT network had tweeted over a few months. Another viral story alleged a secret back-door computer communication between the Trump campaign and its Russian masters; it was most likely a server sending spam and hotel promotions. There was the entertaining and prurient “dossier” on Trump, a document in which it seems intelligence agents shared rumors and fantasies about Donald Trump’s bizarre private forms of revenge on Barack Obama.

Brexit: Russia did it. Vermont’s power grid hacked: Russia did that too. Except the grid was fine. Russia hacked C-SPAN and piped in propaganda instead. Except that never happened. It’s now commonplace to ascribe to Russia any plot that fits a pattern, whether the pattern is well established or not. Was Russian intelligence really so boneheaded as to wait until the last 36 hours to release the completely non-scandalous e-mails of Emmanuel Macron?

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x