Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, July 30, 2016


I had the unpleasant experience of catching a little bit of a panel show on CNN yesterday. The topic, naturally, was Trump's alleged ties to Russia.  The conservative rebuttal - as near as I could determine from the close captioning - was that there was no evidence that Trump has any financial connection to Putin's regime or the cyberattacks that Russia is waging on the Democratic party.

If this were a court of law, that is an undeniable truth. Trump has the presumption of innocence in a court of law.  However, Trump is not in a court of law, he is running for office.  Given his well known propensity for suing people and waging proxy battles in the courts, he's not doubt familiar with a presumption of innocence and will exploit that.

There are two problems with Trump relying on presumption of innocence.  The first, as mentioned, is that he is not in court, he's running for President.  It would seem reasonable enough for the American people to ask Trump to disclose his entire financial dealings with Russia, but we know he is very unlikely to do this.  Both by temperament and because I would wager his tax returns are embarrassing to a man who claims to be a billionaire, but likely is not.

The second problem is that Trump does not extend this presumption of innocence to anyone else.  The repeated chants of "Lock her up" at the RNC and subsequent rallies are based on her criminality in....what exactly?  Was Benghazi investigated?  To death?  By her political enemies?  Even people like Trey Gowdy and Darrell Issa couldn't find plausible criminal acts in Benghazi.  The emails?  The FBI determined that there was nothing worth seeing there.  The email server violated State department best-practices, not any laws.

Trump engages in the worst sort of off-the-cuff speculative character assassination.  It's part of his shtick.  You lose the power of crying that you're being persecuted, when your entire campaign seems based on persecution and character attacks.

What is so depressing about this is the way our media is sure to handle this is the "both side" fashion that they know so well. A few lonely voices are speaking up to note that Trump is unlike any candidate we've seen.  Ezra Klein correctly notes that this election is not Republican vs Democrat but Abnormal vs Normal.  Trump is so far from any existing political norms that regular rules can't be applied to him.

But the Media are loath to give up their mantle of Olympic objectivity.  What they can't see is that objectively speaking, Trump is a profoundly dangerous and unhinged candidate for President.

You can't have a panel show where you treat Trump as normal, and every disagreement between the campaigns as normal political back and forth.  When Trump invites Russia to hack Clinton's emails and then Russia hacks Clinton's campaign...How the fuck is that normal?

My hope - and it's a thin one - is that as we get closer to the election and Trump continues to manifest dangerous traits, that a certain core of Republicans come out and denounce him and even endorse Clinton.  I'm thinking the Bushes and people like John McCain and even Rand Paul.  Maybe they endorse Gary Johnson.  I don't know.

But sadly, it will require major Republican figures to allow the Media to say what is manifestly true: Donald Trump is an active menace to the norms of American politics.

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