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Getting Trump Disastrously Wrong


International elites are almost as steadfastly opposed to Trump as America’s!

DAVOS, Switzerland — No one was declaring President Trump a changed man. Privately, executives and global leaders who had gathered in Davos continued to worry that the American president could yet indulge his worst instincts — and his penchant for shock on Twitter — to deliver a geopolitical crisis, open up a new front in trade hostilities or offend a vast group of people.

But a rough consensus emerged over Mr. Trump’s two-day visit that his administration had shown itself to be more pragmatic than advertised. Many were inclined to view the president’s most extreme positions as just aggressive bargaining postures.

“There’s a very constructive mind-set in the Trump administration to find the best path forward,” said Vas Narasimhan, global chief of drug development for Novartis, who attended a dinner Mr. Trump hosted on Thursday night with leaders of more than a dozen European companies. “I’m optimistic that, with other world leaders, most of these issues can be tackled in a productive way for the global economy and for global businesses.”

While I endorse Rob’s analysis of the New York profile of Greenwald, I think there’s one piece of the puzzle missing. To push points 6 and 7 further, I think it’s clear that while Glenn doesn’t like or affirmatively support Trump, he saw him as a real threat to the NEOLIBERAL ORDER and would rather have seen him win than Clinton. How else to explain his repeated, howlingly wrong insistence that American political elites uniformly oppose Trump? This figment of his imagination really the key to everything — his unwillingness to consider the possibility Russian interference (combined with the preemptive assertions that even if evidence emerges it won’t matter), his relentless Both Sides Do Itism, and his at-best indifference to the outcome of the election. Hillary Clinton was the agent of neoliberalism; Trump, whatever his faults, was a threat to the neoliberal order; and discussions of Russian influence are a DISTRACTION from this and are hence wrong.

There is one really obvious tell, given Glenn’s usual focus on the national security apparatus. Imagine if less than two weeks before the election the Director of the FBI had violated rules and norms to issue a highly prejudicial letter announcing an investigation of Trump based on immaterial emails, creating a massive negative wave of media coverage that changed the outcome of the election? Does anybody think that Glenn would think it’s wrong for anyone to even discuss it as a causal factor? The fact that he’s still furious about some ex-CIA officials writing some anodyne, uninfluential op-eds criticizing Trump provides the answer. That he objects to the DEEP STATE only when it’s anti-Trump tells you what you need to know. If Comey had kneecapped Trump, Greenwald would be still denouncing him on every appearance on Tucker Carlson’s House of Smarm and White Nationalism.

In addition, consider this remarkable if inadvertent confession of bad faith from the profile:

And even if claims about Russian meddling are corroborated by Robert Mueller’s investigation, Greenwald’s not sure it adds up to much — some hacked emails changing hands, none all that damaging in their content, maybe some malevolent Twitter bots.

I completely agree that there the hacks were substantively a whole lot of nothing, and they were damaging to Clinton only because 1)they fit neatly into the media’s bizarre EMAILS obsession and 2)many journalists were suckered by Wikileaks’s strategic slow leaks and tendentious framings. But…this is certainly not what Glenn was saying about them during the election; he was instead treating “revelations” of the most banal campaign practices imaginable and hyping them like he had gotten his hands on the Pentagon Papers. He acted this way because he wanted Clinton to lose.

I emphasize all of this in part because it should also make clear that claims that Glenn must be a PAID RUSSIAN AGENT are really silly. As anyone who’s spent time online knows, people who position themselves on the left and whose political identities are largely based around hating the Democratic Party are not terribly unusual. Glenn’s belief that Clinton was the more neoliberal evil isn’t fundamentally different the views of Thomas Frank, Doug Henwood, Jackson Lears, Cornel West, Salon’s army of preppie Bernie Bros, etc. etc. Nor is it unusual for people to use hostility to the Democratic Party as a litmus test for Real Leftism. Erik, an actual labor radical, is constantly accused of being a neoliberal shill for having a preference order of Sanders > Clinton >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Trump rather than the more Authentic Sanders > (Trump = Clinton) or some similar variant. On the other hand Ralph Nader, a standard-issue 60s liberal technocrat, is often assigned radical credentials by virtue of despising any Democrat capable of achieving elected office. None of this is a puzzle demanding a special explanation. So while I guess I don’t know to an absolute certainty that the Russians aren’t playing a long game by [looks at card] installing a random lawyer in a Blogspot blog and then [squints at Telepromoter] having noted Kremlin stooge Joan Walsh hire him for an undercapitalized online liberal publication, in the absence of any evidence it doesn’t strike me as a very productive discussion. Glenn’s view of American electoral politics is wrong and pernicious, and it’s worth explaining why, but there’s nothing about it that requires any special explanation. The views are pernicious because they’re not that unusual.

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