The media, intelligence agencies and Obama administration all conspired against Trump. But the truth will prevail.
It is an astounding feature of the contemporary international political scene that almost no coverage of American affairs, including in most of the President Donald Trump-hating American media, reports or comments in a way that is even slightly relevant to the unfolding facts in that country. Unlike all other important countries except Britain and Canada, the United Stares has had the same political institutions for over 150 years. For over a century it has operated on a scale that the world had never imagined to be possible. It is a fantastic success, but it is not at all the shining “city on a hill” derived from the Sermon on the Mount and much bandied about by President Ronald Reagan. It is not at all like Canada and Britain only more populous, and its culture and institutions are only superficially similar.
It is a democratic meritocracy, but a tough country of profound inequalities, great garishness, extensive corruption by British and Canadian standards, a dysfunctional and profoundly unjust justice system and an inordinate amount of it is slums, strip malls and potholed roads. Its strength and its weakness is that it is a jungle — this produces immense productivity, competitiveness, fermentation, ingenuity, creativity and high achievement in almost every field, but it also grinds millions of people to powder needlessly.
It is in this context that the current American political drama must be seen. The British and Canadian media are even more hopeless than usual reporting about America, as I have remarked before. The Financial Times this week, with almost impenetrable obtuseness, declared that the Justice Department’s withdrawal of charges against Gen. Michael Flynn is the “politicization of justice.”
Last Saturday in the Globe and Mail, my accomplished and politically centre-left friend of over 50 years, historian Margaret MacMillan, lamented in an opinion piece about the coronavirus that President Trump is too incompetent to deal with any crisis, a widely held but uninformed opinion. On Thursday in the same paper, John Ibbitson quoted Canadian academics who claimed that Trump has “given up,” and that “irrational” people had taken over the Republican party in a “fearful, angry, insular, nativist … coup.” This is just drivel.
In the American jungle, justice has always been politicized, going back to PresidentJefferson’s spurious charge of treason against Aaron Burr, his former vice-president, in 1807.
The magnificent National Gallery was created and endowed by former treasury secretary Andrew Mellon as part of an arrangement by which Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew questionably motivated charges of tax evasion against Mellon. The America of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell exists, but it doesn’t represent much of America.
In 2016, the “OBushinton” post-Reagan coalition of the relatively think-alike bipartisan establishment was represented by the Bushes, as president and vice-president, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for nine straight terms (in the previous nine terms there had been eight unrelated presidents).
Trump, having made billions of dollars in a very tough industry, having come back from technical insolvency, having become and remained a great television star for 14 years in a format he devised and having been one of America’s great sports and entertainment impresarios, and after changing parties seven times in 13 years, became the only person never to have held any public office or military command to be elected president of the U.S.
He ran against the entire political class that, he said, had flat-lined the economy, mired America in unsuccessful Middle Eastern wars, generated a humanitarian disaster and the worst worldwide economic crisis since the Great Depression, tolerated trade agreements in which Mexico attracted factories from the U.S. to just inside the border, which then exported unemployment back to the U.S. and retained the profits in Mexico, while that country facilitated the illegal entry of up to a million low-skilled workers a year into the U.S.
The previous presidents had been swindled by Iran and North Korea and China and it was the conventional wisdom that China was about to surpass the U.S. as a world power. Within three years, Trump addressed all these problems — 80 per cent of illegal immigration had been ended, as were oil imports and unemployment, and the lowest 20 per cent of income-earners were gaining income more quickly than the top 20 per cent, a start at tackling the disparity of income problem. No one was speaking of imminent Chinese supremacy any more.
When the coronavirus pandemic descended, Trump’s enemies accused him of racism and xenophobia when he presciently stopped direct flights from China on Jan. 31, and he took an emergency health system that only tested for viruses by appointment in hospitals with results evaluated in Atlanta, invoked the national emergencies and war production acts to produce an instant testing device that now tests 300,000 people per day, vastly increased the production of ventilators and other necessities and got the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create the largest hospital in the country in the Javits Center in New York in 10 days.
He imposed a shutdown that “flattened the curve” of the virus and produced a $6-trillion assistance and liquidity package in one week (the European Union after two months adopted a complex $500-billion measure that hasn’t been distributed yet).
Now that we know that approximately 80 per cent of the COVID-19 fatalities are in the eldest 20 per cent of the population, where one person in 1,200 has died from it but just one in 15,000 Americans below the age of 60, he is leaving it to the governors and municipal officials to reopen the country at the rate they judge appropriate, while redoubling protection of the vulnerable.
Trump has again completely outmaneuvered the Democrats, who have a completely unfeasible candidate bumbling out gaffes and nonsense from his basement and calling for an extended lockdown, financed by shoveling $1 trillion of borrowed money out to the Democratic bosses every two weeks. Trump’s performance has been more than adequate, despite some of his stylistic infelicities.
But the real message, which, incredibly, the soft-left, softly anti-American and mindlessly Trump-hating media of the world has missed or ignored is the emergence, as long predicted (including by me), of the greatest constitutional scandal in American history.
Gen. Flynn committed no offense and only pled guilty to a process crime because prosecutors had threatened to charge his son and he had run out of money and had to sell the family home. Prosecutors in the cesspool of American criminal justice win 98 per cent of their cases, 95 per cent of those without trial because of their ability to abuse the plea bargain system and intimidate defendants.
Flynn is a sideshow.
The real story emerged last week. It seems clear that all the Obama officials who endlessly announced their reasoned belief in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative knew it to be false, that the Mueller investigation was set up to investigate Trump-Russia charges after the FBI and intelligence agencies had concluded that there was nothing to it — Mueller’s task was to find something to besmirch the president by extorting inculpatory perjury from people they attacked, including Flynn.
The former FBI director and other senior officials signed bogus applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants on the Trump campaign and transition team on the basis of the Steele dossier, which they knew to be malicious fiction commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
Senior Obama intelligence officials passed the fraudulent Steele material to the media as the product of an authentic counter-intelligence investigation rather than the spurious oppo smear job that it was. This was the only attempted coup d’etat in American history, and Obama and Joe Biden went through the entire operation on Jan. 5, 2017, 15 days before Trump’s inauguration. The American media are part of the political class that Trump promised to clean up, which is why their opposition to him is so frenzied. There are growing calls for the ringleaders of this attempted putsch to be indicted.
Like all jungles, the U.S. is run by 30-foot constricting snakes and 700-pound cats, and one group of jungle beasts is being defeated and overthrown by another. It is great drama, for those who have the intelligence to perceive it, instead of clucking over lapses of etiquette in the White House.