Trump's latest rally speech was indeed vile and incendiary, but there was also a malefic brilliance to it. Like too many liberals, Greg Sargent
(writing in the WP) misunderstood the subtext:
In case there is any doubt about what Trump meant by the “deep state” that is supposedly allied with the news media, Trump also lashed out at the FBI and the Justice Department, claiming that “people are angry” and threatening to personally “get involved.”
What's missing from Sargent's summary? Hillary.
When Trump said "People are angry," he meant about her
. When Trump rhetorically told Sessions "do your job," he meant "go after Hillary." Trump wants her in jail.
The cultists genuinely believe that Hillary Emmanual Goldstein Clinton has committed a wide range of horrific crimes. If you were to ask these zealots to identify an actual broken statute, they'd sputter incoherently about emails and pizza. The cultists don't really care about facts or evidence; they just know in their bones that she must be guilty of something
Trump directed his speech to the Q-Anon crazies. Yes, True Believers: The Storm is coming.
For the cultists, the Storm is a matter of faith and doctrine. But how long can they retain this faith?
Rationalization has limits. Cognitive dissonance is already starting to define those limits.
Even the most fanatical Q cultists know that Jeff Sessions was an early Trump supporter and a campaign surrogate. Trump personally chose him to run the Justice Department. Yet Sessions now refuses to bring charges against Hillary Clinton. Why won't Trump's chosen warrior slay the demon?
The cultists can't yet say these words out loud, but in the secret places of their souls, they can see the impermissible answer: Hillary is innocent
. The charges against her are bullshit. All the Hillary-hate spewed by Breitbart, Fox, Rush, 4chan, Reddit: Bullshit
We've been here before.
A similar situation occurred right after the country heard Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony regarding the Monica Lewinsky affair. His approval ratings shot up
Yes, we're talking about the testimony in which he made the "meaning of 'is'" argument, which actually made sense in context. The anti-Clinton propagandists did not seize on that bit until years later, after memories had grown fuzzy.
Let me repeat: The country watched the testimony and Clinton's approval ratings rose
Why? In part, they rose because Clinton spoke reasonably and persuasively. In larger part, the country suddenly realized that the anti-Clinton propagandists had been bluffing all along.
For years, the Republican smear machine had hit Clinton with everything they had. After all the propaganda, after all the mud, after all the lies about Waco and Mena and "mystery deaths," after the incessant congressional investigations, after the Starr inquiry strayed far from its original mandate and turned into a remorseless persecution machine, after all the bombastic assurances that Clinton would face not just removal but prison
-- the country woke up.
It was as if a giant hand in the sky had snapped its fingers. A national trance suddenly ended.
The Republicans had nothing on Clinton. Well, nothing serious
. Just Monica.
Suddenly, the country saw the real guy: A brilliant, handsome young president whose only sins were of the flesh. Although he seemed to love his wife, the pair were probably no longer interested in each other sexually. That's the story of most
marriages. We hate to admit the truth, though we all know the tale: People get married, they depend on each other emotionally, they can't imagine life without each other -- but they get bored with each other in bed.
And so this brilliant, handsome young president gave in to temptation when a curvaceous, infatuated young lovely offered him fellatio. Moralists screamed in outrage. Most of those moralists (I speak now of the male ones) would have responded as Clinton did if a curvy, infatuated young lovely offered them
fellatio. Female moralists are just as likely to fall prey to a cognate temptation, and anyone who claims otherwise is a damned liar.
The Republicans promised us a conspiracy worse than Watergate and the JFK assassination combined. What we got was Monica.
Confession time: I took the Whitewater smear seriously at first. True, the initial articles (mostly by Jeff Gerth) didn't make a whole lot of sense; everything seemed amorphous and confusing. My eyes would always start to glaze over around paragraph four, and I was not allergic to hard books. Although I could see no fire, I -- like many other Americans -- retreated to the familiar axiom: "Where there's smoke..."
After all, serious-looking people on serious teevee programs took Whitewater ultra-seriously. It had
to be real, right? There must be a there
Then the first Whitewater books came out. Time to learn the details, I decided. Time to grab a burger and a Diet Coke and force myself to study a book I didn't particularly want to read.
was the text: Blood Sport
by James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize winner and Wall Street Journal
writer. Today, twenty-two years later, I can recall very little about that book's contents. (Memory! She is a funny thing, no?) But I vividly recall my initial reaction: This is shit. Whitewater is a non-issue
The whole controversy came down to a stupid, failed real estate deal in which the young Clintons got suckered by some southern-fried sharpies into losing some money. This "scandal" was a skyscraper built on a fart.
Nevertheless, Ken Starr and his band of zealots continued to investigate every nook and cranny of this pseudocrime. They found nothing to justify the frenzy. They tossed Susan McDougal in jail on a bullshit charge of embezzlement -- an unrelated matter involving my least-favorite conductor. (Fucking Zubie. Classical music buffs never talk about his recordings nowadays, and it serves him right.) They told her she would walk if she recited lies about Whitewater, about sex, about anything. But she didn't waver from the truth, and she was acquitted. An American hero, if you ask me.
Later -- too late -- came a book that told
a fuller version of the story. Conason and Lyons' The Hunting of the President
should be in every American home, because it helps us assess all of the other Clinton smears we've heard over the years, including the smears we've heard from Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick and all the other proven liars that you're probably dying to tell me about. Fuck them and fuck you.
If the accusations against Bill Clinton were valid, Ken Starr would have given us something more than Monica. Simple as that.
If the current accusations against Hillary Clinton were valid, Jeff Sessions would file charges. Simple as that.
What about the accusations against Donald Trump and co.? Ah. That's different. We don't yet know the full truth, but we know enough to say that this is not Whitewater. We have entered the realm of the real
Trump's lawyer has copped a plea and implicated Trump. Manafort went to jail because he could not restrain himself from witness tampering, and surely will spend years in prison if he is not pardoned by his crooked co-conspirator. Flynn, Gates, Pinedo, van der Zwaan and Papadopoulos have pled guilty. Roger Stone (Trump's closest friend for many years) will probably be indicted soon. Trump's lawyers don't want the president to testify because they know that the guy can't stop lying. The intelligence community has stated categorically that Russia interfered with the election. The Trump Tower meeting is but one of many indicators that Trump and the Russians were working together. Trump provably lied about that meeting and about much else. Without Russia's oligarchs, Trump would have a lot less money
. Trump made crystal clear in Helsinki that, in a choice between American intelligence and Vladimir Putin, he favors Putin. Trump's longtime "fixer" has turned against him, as has the Money Guy who truly runs Trump's businesses. I could go on
. And on
. And on
. And on
. And on
We've also learned that, when it comes to sexual sin, Donald Trump makes Bill Clinton look like Saint Bernadette.
In response, Trump and his cultists offer nothing but the lowest, loopiest sorts of conspiracy blather -- riffs that even Milton "Bill" Cooper and David Icke might have considered too wacky for use at a grade-C UFO convention. For example, Trump recently told his rubes that Lester Holt video was edited in such a way as to put words in Trump's mouth. No. It wasn't
Many Americans remain hooked on baseless conspiracy theories. Paranoia is an addiction, and we've become a nation of junkies. Yet slowly -- incrementally -- we may be working our way back to sobriety.
I get the sense that the zealots are starting to question their presumptions. Pride prevents them from voicing their doubts; nevertheless, doubt lingers.