The Email Scandal cum Russia Probe cum “Spygate” is something, save for a few general comments, that I have tried to steer clear of. In some sense too much rests on a few very obscure facts. But no lesser a light than Michael Barone said some pretty potent things over the weekend:
So much for those who dismissed charges of Obama administration infiltration of Donald Trump’s campaign as paranoid fantasy. Defenders of the Obama intelligence and law enforcement apparat have had to fall back on the argument that this infiltration was for Trump’s — and the nation’s — own good.
It’s an argument that evidently didn’t occur to Richard Nixon’s defenders when it became clear that Nixon operatives had burglarized and wiretapped the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in June 1972.
That’ll get your attention. But it is Barone’s conclusion that I think says the most:
Has an outgoing administration ever worked to delegitimize and dislodge its successor like this? We hear many complaints, some justified, about Donald Trump’s departure from standard political norms. But the greater and more dangerous departure from norms may be that of the Obama officials seeking to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
I think with this whole mess we have moved past questions of criminality, which is where the obscure few facts really matter and the lawyers rule the day, into a realm of much larger questions about truth. Barone’s point is that at bottom there is little practical difference between Nixon and Obama other than spin and cover.
Juxtapose this with a truly amazing piece from Mark Steyn, also over the weekend, about recent events in the UK. It is a story of the arrest and jailing of a journalist trying to cover the trial of a gang of Islamic men who were charged with “grooming,” which Steyn describes as “the useless euphemism for industrial-scale child gang rape and sex slavery by large numbers of Muslim men….” According to Steyn, the UK authorities do not want it widely known that this sort of thing is going on.
If you are of a certain age you will recall, with a smile on your face, The Mel Brooks masterpiece “Young Frankenstein,” in which the hunchbacked assistant to the mad doctor is played by Marty Feldman and who denies the existence of the most pronounced hump in cinematic history. Or if you are a Monty Python fan you recall the Black Knight who, upon having his arm slashed off by Arthur and Arthur pointing out, “Your arm’s off,” responds simply “No, it isn’t.”
We used to find this kind of stuff uproariously funny, but now it seems to be the basic stuff of our politics and media. No longer does relativism merely affect our conclusions about situations where the evidence may be strong, but inconclusive. Nowadays relativism allows us to ignore basic facts.
Fact – Islamic immigrants into Western Europe have engaged in practices regarding women that are unacceptable, heinous and criminal. Fact – the Obama administration used organs of government to gather information about (spy upon) the Trump campaign. You can argue with my word choice, you can discuss motivations, you can spin and obfuscate to your hearts content, but those sentences remain fact.
Now, I will be the first to admit that the widespread revelation of such facts would likely prove deeply embarrassing to both government officials and members of the media. However, one need look no further than the current President of the United States to understand that people are generally quite forgiving of someone that is willing to face a fact, and/or a problem, straight on and deal with it.
Secondly, I understand that people can be prone to irrational and unpredictable behavior when confronted with unpalatable and problematic information. That said, such irrationality and unpredictability is often the result of a lack of information or inconsistent information. Put another way, people know when they are being b*&^s@#$$ed and they don’t much like it. People are far more prone to “acting out” when things do not add up than when they do.
Finally, I am fully cognizant of the cacophony that would result from a full frontal acknowledgement of these facts and other facts like them. But isn’t that the democratic process? Attempts to limit or control information are a failure to make the process work like it should – a failure to lead. Not to mention such efforts limit the wisdom of the crowd. We have come to view governance more as a settling of disputes than a solving of problems. Were we to focus on working the problem there is a value in a large number of voices. Real wisdom can be mined from the noise.
The time has come to face facts. We’ll be better off for it.