The fortuitous discovery of perhaps thousands of emails exchanged with Hillary Clinton’s private email server, recovered from the computer belonging to sexual cluster bomb Anthony Weiner and his estranged missus – Clinton Chief of Staff and vice-chair of her election campaign Huma Abedin – has once again interrupted the manufactured momentum of Clinton inevitability. First and foremost, it reemphasizes the transient nature of Clinton’s understanding of ‘truth’; she clearly did not turn over to the FBI all emails on the server which were not of a personal nature. Or perhaps it is the concept of ‘personal’ with which she has an imperfect understanding, so that it includes ‘things which might get me in trouble’.
Several sites have attempted to make sense of this election campaign, which is noteworthy as it pits perhaps the two most despised people in America against one another for the increasingly tawdry prize of President of the United States. Let me say that again – the only thing unusual in these times of negative campaigning and character assassination is that a popular candidate has not emerged – it remains to be determined only who is less hated. Anyway, of those sites, the best I have seen can be found at the Archdruid Report (thanks, Cortes); poignantly entitled, “The Last Gasp of the American Dream”, it is at pains to explain – among other things – that the claim this is the most important election in American history is simply a flailing attempt to lend some dignity and appearance of deliberation to a process that has become nine parts entertainment mixed with one part immature graduation kegger. There’s an old military parable which is a cruder analogy of “You can’t put lipstick on a pig”, and it’s, “You can’t buff a turd”. It is, frankly, impossible to invest the ongoing election process in America with anything like dignity, and it is instead increasingly apparent to uncomfortable Americans and gobsmacked internationals that it is a desperate contest by a serial liar to prevent an interloper from outside the insular American political class from occupying the highest office. The Clinton campaign’s subtext that repudiating Clinton is spitting in the face of women everywhere is a cheap trick – no further demonstrations are necessary to prove women can do anything men can do which does not require superior upper-body strength, and there are a few women who can do even that. Speaking in the broadest and most general terms, there are some fields in which women are a little better than men, and some in which they generally do not perform as well. But there are virtually none women just can’t do, and it should be clear that gender has nothing to do with a natural ability to assume the office of president.
Having led in with that, we’re going to change direction a little. Things here generally have a Russian angle, and this is no exception. We’ve all seen the ludicrous accusations that Russia is backing Donald Trump, and is inveigling to rig the election for him – might even tamper with the votes counted by voting machines which are not connected to the internet, while Moscow feeds Trump a steady stream of hacked emails it steals from honest politicians, which begs the question of how they could be incriminating if that were the case. But that’s not the angle I want to look at, either. Nope – what I’d like to review today is the unremitting demonization and public vilification of Donald Trump, in the framework of America’s political dissections of how autocratic and savage Russia treats its political opposition. So what I’d like you to imagine is that Donald Trump is running against Vladimir Putin, for the presidency of the Russian Federation.
In 2007, onetime chess champion and part-time aggrieved political dreamer Garry Kasparov told the New York Times that the Russian government led by Vladimir Putin had blocked his presidential run by putting the word out that nobody in Moscow was allowed to rent a building to him, so that he and his unregistered political organization could hold a nominating convention, without which he could not register as a candidate. Since those who own such buildings in Moscow take their rental orders directly from the Kremlin, it is impossible to imagine they just don’t like Kasparov and don’t want to rent to him; no, “It was clear that there had been an order from above to prohibit us from gathering anywhere.” Couldn’t have had anything to do with his holding Bosnian citizenship at the time and living in New York.
What would the New York Times think, I wonder, about an article in Russian activist media which suggested Garry Kasparov was a threat to Russian national security because of a comment he had made about another politician’s dangerous access to classified information, owing to his inability to control his sexual appetites? An article which went on to say that since Garry Kasparov had had a number of affairs and bragged about them, he was in effect admitting that he himself was a national security risk? That’s the article RedState published on Donald Trump. Who was the politician he assessed had dangerous access to privileged information? Anthony Wiener. Was Trump right? You tell me.
In 2014, Russian real-estate lawyer and self-professed anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was arrested for breaking the conditions of his house arrest by appearing at a demonstration. The Washington Post was openly admiring of his chutzpah. When he was given a suspended sentence with no jail time for a fraud conviction, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke called the Moscow court decisions a “disturbing development designed to punish and deter political activism.” The following year, the daring political activist sawed off his ankle bracelet and announced he would not comply with the conditions of his house arrest, and he was fined the equivalent sum of $10.00 for destroying state property. Barbarism!!
I wonder what those publications would think about an article in the Russian press which announced that Alexei Navalny might be sent to prison for three years because the registration on his private jet had expired three months before. An article that managed to work in the opinion that Alexei Navalny was an odd colour. I suspect they might scream as if they were being microwaved alive.
Look, you get it. The American press demands the coddling of opposition politicians in Russia to the extent that the ruling government must almost help them win, while at home a standard prevails which mocks and reviles the political opposition in everything from ads for underwear which will let women menstruate on a picture of Trump’s face to articles which announce the dropping of a rape lawsuit against him as if it were affirmation of his guilt.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence. Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters.” Once the possibility of holding influential public office in the United States of America uplifted, inspired. Now, as the character of Colonel Nathan Jessup spits in “A Few Good Men”, politics is a punchline.
That might not be so hard to understand if America did not have such lofty democratic demands of its enemies.