When future historians look back upon this era it will be very hard to conclude that the Russiagate tale did not drive the country completely, and perhaps permanently, off the deep end. It’s become virtually impossible to have a rational discussion on the topic, because the debate isn’t about facts, it’s about politics.
Let me state here — as one still must do when writing about Russiagate while not simultaneously demanding the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump — that I’m not a fan of the president. I spent most of 2017 working on a project for Global Witness that looked at a Trump project in Panama and how he benefited from a massive inflow of funds from Russian criminal networks and Colombian narcotics traffickers.
So I must be in the tank for the Democrats, right? On the other hand, I wrote a lot of critical pieces about Hillary Clinton in 2016 — hey, I thought she was going to be president — so clearly I’m pro-Trump. In today’s environment, if you don’t explicitly take one side, you must be on the other side. (Disclosure: My side is I hope Trump gets voted out of office but I’m against impeachment unless someone can show he committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”)
Liberal paranoia and craziness on the topic of Russiagate has not matched the right’s lunacy during the Obama years, i.e. Birtherism, but it may yet. And just as right-wing hysteria about Obama proved to be a cash cow for conservatives, plenty of liberals are cashing in on the anti-Trump movement.
Just over the weekend, came fresh signs of duplicity among some in the #Resistance. Eric Garland, who became a hero to the anti-Trump crowd with his deranged “game theory” tweet “storm,” had a new thread where he proposed that the Ferguson protests and riots in 2014 may have been a “PsyOp.” Why did anyone ever take this guy seriously?
Then there was a tweet from Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive who has attracted quite a following among liberals. “Well, this is telling: The Economist has downgraded the US from ‘full democracy’ to ‘flawed democracy because of a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials under Trump,” she wrote.
What was more telling was that thousands of people retweeted her post even though she linked to the magazine’s 2016 “Democracy Index,” released over a year ago, during Trump’s first week in office, and which specifically said Trump was not a factor in the downgrade. “By tapping a deep strain of political disaffection with the functioning of democracy, Mr. Trump became a beneficiary of the low esteem in which U.S. voters hold their government, elected representatives and political parties, but he was not responsible for a problem that has had a long gestation,” said the Index.
By the way, The Economist‘s 2017 Index recently came out. The U.S. is still rated as a “flawed democracy” and it’s overall score remained the same as it was for 2016, and for the same reasons. Trump may be a danger to democracy, but our political system was broken for a long time before he took office. indeed, that’s why he holds it.)
Democratic consultant Scott Dworkin, another top #Resistance figure, tweeted over the weekend that he had an “exclusive” story about a decade-old interview Eric Trump gave to the Russian publication Home Overseas. In the interview, he said, “in the New York hotel-condominium Trump SoHo the bulk of buyers are foreigners, among whom there are a lot of Russians…We very much count on good demand from the Russians.”
It’s an interesting quote, but this “exclusive” was reported by Seth Hettena in August 2017, so there is nothing exclusive about it. But it’s part of a pattern by Dworkin, who raises a lot of money, much which goes into his own pockets, and uses “scoops” like this to raise his standing, and more money.
“The liberal grift is on,” is the headline of a new story by Ryan Cooper in The Week. He writes “that the fact of people being totally unhinged about Russia does not mean Russia did not interfere with the 2016 election in various ways.” (In fact, he believes Russia did interfere and that figures in the Trump administration asked for its help.) But, he adds, it’s “critical to remain grounded and not give into the cheap dopamine hit of hysterical conspiracy nonsense.”