It was a mad week, with Trump proclaiming peace with North Korea without extracting commitments from the rogue state on much of anything, least of all human rights — an attitude that was mirrored by his minions tearing immigrant families apart on the Mexican border. Also, Republicans nominated at least one more white supremacist (I mean the obvious kind) and the Trump team took a beating in the legal system.
The unifying thread of these events, apart from the criminality and incompetence of the star players, was the typically delirious conservative spin regarding all of them.
We started in Singapore on Monday evening, New York time, with Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong Un, a notorious dictator, and declaring that America and the hermit kingdom were now practically allies so his own subjects had nothing to fear from Kim’s starving people and nuclear armaments, notwithstanding the Norks have broken promises to the U.S. many times before.
In the course of this running-dog-and-starving-pony show, Trump shrugged off Kim’s legendary torture and repression of his subjects, saluted an enemy officer, and appeared to offer the dictator a beach condo deal. His new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, backed Trump’s bullshit 100 percent, his loyalty likely marginally prolonging his own tenure.
Also showing his loyalty: Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, who wrote that “the fact that the statement the two leaders signed referred only to ‘complete denuclearization,’ not ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,’ does not mean that Trump gave up verification or irreversibility in the deal, because there is no ‘deal’ yet, only a ‘communique’ that summarized what the two leaders discussed. We are at the start of the negotiating process, not the end.” Denuclearization is not a “destination,” it seems, but a “journey.”
Thiessen also said “Trump’s critics need to back off” because “every other approach by his predecessors to stopping Pyongyang’s nuclear drive has failed. So, the president and his team are trying something new; they deserve some latitude to see if this new approach can succeed.” This it’s-so-crazy-it-might-work judgment was echoed by others; the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, for example, wrote that though “Kim and his predecessors never kept their promises before…maybe Trump’s plan will work. Maybe it will work a little and not work a little. Or maybe it will fail altogether. But it’s the result of a president re-thinking a problem that desperately needed a new approach.” The important thing is he tried!
In response, some of Trump’s most loyal subjects caught a little Juche fever themselves.
“President Trump is the most energetic 72 year old in the world, fighting simultaneously on all fronts #HappyBirthdayMrPresident,” ballwashed Dinesh D’Souza, whose campaign finance fraud Trump pardoned last month. “Even Trump’s critics have to note the staggering stamina,” cheered CNN’s Dave Briggs: “+12-hour time change, 4 hours of intensive meetings w/North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, a pair of sit down interviews followed by a press conference that just surpassed one hour for a man who turns 72 Thursday.” Bet your grandpa can’t take a long plane ride and then pretend to pay attention to what’s going on around him!
“The carrot of wealth — like that of glittering Singapore, where Kim took the opportunity for sightseeing, including a lavish casino run by the Sheldon Adelson’s Sands corporation — certainly worked on the dictator,” babbled Thomas Lifson of American Thinker. “Kim Jong-un clearly loves the boys’ toys of modernity.” Guess Trump’s talk of condos on the beaches turned Kim around! Well, bribery always works great with dictators — look at how the great deal Hitler got from Chamberlain prevented World War II for a couple of months.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued its attack on anyone of foreign origin and dark skin, regardless of citizenship status, adding the innovation — unique among liberal democracies — of wrenching children, including breastfeeding infants, out of the arms of their parents and housing them in closed-down Walmarts. This, as observers have pointed out, is what wingnuts used to worry Obama would do to white Americans in their “Jade Helm 15” conspiracy theory, which would be ironic if irony had not long ago died of overwork.
The administration and its factota said it was only obeying the law, which Trump spokesliar Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed “very biblical,” though there is in fact no law requiring that the families be separated. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also cited The Good Book, quoting Romans 13, a passage commonly used by antebellum Southerners to justify holding slaves. And people say what this White House is doing is “unprecedented”!
While normal people were horrified by the obvious brutality, and at what the vicious immigration overreach suggests for the future of our Republic, conservatives asked what the big deal was — though they may be refugees fleeing certain death, these immigrants and their kids are lawbreakers and deserve whatever their nonwhite asses get.
That’s how National Review’s Rich Lowry explained it: What you squishes see as a dystopian nightmare, Lowry said, conservatives consider “a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry.” And it’s not like the family can’t later be reunited: “If the adult then wants to go home…in this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation.” See? They have a choice.
But if they persist — if, say, “the adult files an asylum claim” claiming refugee status, said Lowry — well, the children may be released before the parents. And then, “even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so,” so there’s no choice but to hand the kids off to foster care (where they sometimes disappear). But that’s per an old law, so you certainly can’t blame Trump for leveraging, er, following it. He’s very scrupulous about obeying the law!
As for Trump, Lowry sighed, “despite some mixed messages, if the administration had its druthers, family units would be kept together and their cases settled quickly.” (Try to imagine Trump actually thinking this, or using the word druthers.)
Glib legalism, though, was for those whose careers required they make their arguments look nice. For most conservatives, it was good enough that liberals were upset about the shattered families.
At American Thinker, Monica Showalter chortled, “Suddenly these leftists who’ve never liked family values in the past, are all in for family values.” Then she pulled her ace: “If the left cares as much as it says about family values, and it doesn’t, maybe they can apply that ‘families belong together’ slogan to the case of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban refugee boy who was rescued on the high seas after his mother drowned fleeing here…” Elian Gonzalez is now 24 years old. These Clinton-era grudges die hard!
Also, there were some elections last Tuesday and, while the Democrats flipped their 43rd state legislature seat since 2016 — this one in a district Trump won by eighteen points — the Republicans were nominating their now-customary crackpots for the general. Perhaps the cream of this crop was new GOP Virginia senate nominee Corey Stewart, supporter of Charlottesville Nazis, famous racists, and the Confederacy.
The big-brain response was to try to dismiss the Republican candidate for a major office as irrelevant, as did White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito: “Prediction despite several very good GOP challengers running for U.S. Senate in this cycle Corey Stewart will become the media’s standard bearer of who the GOP is,” she tweeted, “and every time he screws up, and he will, they will point to him and say, ‘see!’ ” That’s obviously why liberals made Republicans nominate him, too.
The galaxy-brain response was to deny racism even exists, at least in the whites-oppressing-blacks sense, as David Marcus showed at the Federalist. Sure, wrote Marcus, Stewart said racist things, “but do these things qualify him as a racist today? At a time when even slight, unconscious actions earn that label, indeed when many on the Left argue that racism is the natural and unavoidable state of all white people, who is a racist? And who, if anyone, isn’t?” Maybe racism is just a concept by which we measure our pain.
Oh, meanwhile former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort went to jail on credible suspicion of witness tampering, and Trump and his family’s foundation are being sued by the New York attorney general for, basically, a white-collar crime spree. Things look bad for our own Dear Leader — yet many pundits, not only right-wing trolls but New York Times liberals, told us the real issue is that Samantha Bee and Robert DeNiro say mean swears and (come on kids, it’s America’s version of a Christmas panto, everyone say it with me!) This Is Why Trump Won.
The idea seems to be that deportment beats deportation, and instead of expressing righteous indignation Democrats should impress voters with their manners. My own take is, if Americans really don’t mind that international diplomacy is being treated as just another grift, and either don’t care about children locked in cages or get a racist thrill out of the spectacle, politeness is not going to make a positive difference.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 18, 2018