December 1, 2019

Russian Ass-Hat

The charge that Donald Trump “serves the interests of the Russian state and its president, Vladimir Putin,” as Maclean Gander asserts in extensive detail in the November 27 Commons (Windham Co., Vt.), reads like classic conspiracy theory: The premise is assumed to be the conclusion, and thus all evidence, even when countervailing, is presented as confirming it rather than to test it. But conspiracy theories at least call into question the mainstream or official story, whereas the tale of Trump as Russian asset is itself the mainstream prejudice. Gander’s long narrative serves to defend imperial power against any challenge to it. Although he would identify himself as liberal left, his distaste for Donald Trump has caused him to make common cause with war and fear mongers. Or perhaps his nostalgia for the Cold War had already brought him to embrace Barack Obama’s demonization of Putin and by extension all things Russian.

Let us go through his essay, which primarily cites the Mueller report and the Steele dossier as clinching the “conclusion” that “Trump is working on behalf of the Russian state.” But the Mueller report shows nothing of the sort (only that there was no “collusion” between them during the 2016 election campaign), and the Steele dossier has been widely discredited and was itself a product of foreign agents, notably Ukrainians, working first on behalf of Senator John McCain and then for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Never mind, because as if sensing the weakness of those well known fiascos, Gander tells us it’s complicated and that House Democrats are wise to stick to the “simple facts” of withholding aid (military aid, to counter an imagined Russian invasion of western Europe) to Ukraine, and he warns that the larger story may be “darker than anything that we are ready to face.” The darkness we must face,, however, is the attempt to delegitimize, sabotage, and remove the President by means other than electoral — and the forces on whose behalf this is being pursued.

(And ignore the fact that the Ukraine story appeared only after 3 years of prior dud attempts to find something on which to hang impeachment, with a deadline for action looming, i.e., another election year.)

As an aside, it is notable that people like Gander decry Trump’s coup mongering in South and Central America while they pursue the same thing here at home (and supported it in Ukraine in 2014), and that Trump himself lends support to those coups while being subjected to one himself. One of the lines used by all of these coup mongers is that they are acting to protect democracy. By rejecting and overthrowing the people’s choice when you don’t like the result, however, you rather betray yourself as having contempt for democracy and thus for the people themselves.

Back in Gander’s current piece, “the facts of the Ukraine story are clear: Trump abused his power to run a rogue foreign-policy operation ...” — how can the President, the one person responsible for setting foreign policy, run a rogue operation? — “... focused on having the Ukrainian government dig up nonexistent dirt about Joe Biden ... as well as Biden’s son, Hunter ...” — “nonexistent”! Joe Biden is on video boasting about successfully threatening to withhold aid from Ukraine unless the prosecutor investigating the gas company that put Hunter Biden on their board was fired — the very thing that Gander and the House Democrats imagine that Trump did, but to investigate the company and the fact that Biden abused his power on their behalf to protect his son.

The case thus closed, Gander emphasizes that to be an asset does not require conscious or willing agreement nor the belief that one is doing anything wrong. And so the bulk of his essay is a stew of McCarthyite innuendo, ahistorical Putin bashing, and Cold War paranoia. It ends with a hateful and crude “joke” presenting “Russia” as distastefully clever and effective in accomplishing a brutal task that “Britain” and “America” nonetheless also attempt. That’s what it comes down to: a crude cartoon. Because that’s exactly where it started from.