On the Sad State of Truth in Politics: Perhaps We Should Just Eat Cake
There is a sad phenomenon in conflict adjudication when those who ought to win attempt to buttress their position by lying and consequently lose on the basis of their lack of credibility. It is a frequent occurrence that defense lawyers know well how to exploit. The same seems true with most of today’s opposition to President Trump, not only with respect to the utterly hypocritical, staged, pseudo-Russia scandal but now, even with respect to the President’s comments regarding the “possibility” that tapes of his conversations with the formerly disgraced but now strangely rehabilitated, former director of the FBI, James Comey.
Public personalities in both the Democratic Party and the mainstream media are distorting the President’s tweet that there may have been tapes of Comey related conversations into a very different statement, some sort of assurance that such tapes existed but now purportedly proven inaccurate, another “lie”. What the President said of course was that such tapes might exist, to Mr. Comey’s regret, and then recently that he knew of none and had not taped the conversations himself, but that given the intelligence community’s proclivity for intercepting conversations he would not have been surprised had they existed.
The President’s statements are not only “not” inconsistent but very troublingly accurate. They mirror the concerns of civil libertarians everywhere except within the Democratic Party. Of course, given the fact that the Obama administration may have curtailed civil liberties and promoted eavesdropping on the conversations of American and foreign citizens (including world leaders) more than any other administration in history (but, purportedly, not through wiretapping so it’s OK), the Democratic Party’s lack of concern is understandable. The obviously real conclusion is that the Obama administration, much more so than any Russian operatives, was the one that invaded our computers, computer servers, cellular phones, televisions and any other media capable of interception. That together with the destruction of Libya and Syria enabling the explosive growth of ISIS is its real legacy. But no outrage there.
One wonders: if the Russians sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections against the candidate who most wished them ill (Hillary Clinton), wouldn’t they have done the same during the 2012 presidential election, when Republican Mitt Romney would have been the victim? Given Congressional testimony that the Russians have been at their purported electoral villainy for some time, wouldn’t that be even more obvious? Or was there collaboration between the Russians and the Obama administration at that time on that issue, making it OK. If “Russiagate” were accurate, wouldn’t it have had a stage one (versus Romney) as well as a stage two (versus the Clintons)? If so, why the utter lack of mainstream noise on that theme, a logical and consistent perspective, although in each case probably based on false premises. By the way, on the issue of state sponsored cyber-attacks on other governments, does anyone remember the US — Israeli cyber plot that invaded Iranian computers, the “the Stuxnet attack”?
But back to the premise of this article: credibility problems where a case ought to have been winnable. The GOP political platform on many, many issues, has serious deficiencies that make it vulnerable to legitimate criticism. Mr. Trump’s most negative policies are all based on GOP premises. He is most defensible in the areas where he at one time broke with the GOP (e.g., with reference to the continuing relevance of NATO; with reference to non-interference in foreign conflicts that do not pose a threat to the United States, with reference to improved relations with Russia and China, with reference to avoidance of purported free trade agreements that surrender national sovereignty to corporate interests, etc.). Many of the most pressing current criticisms are mere partisan canards: like the sudden interest in immigrant rights violated in the exact same manner by the Obama and Clinton administrations in areas from expulsions to extreme vetting of applicants from predominantly Muslim states; or like failed educational policies, or like the role of money in politics. Indeed, the most legitimately criticized aspects of GOP — Trump policies have their genesis in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, there is plenty to massively criticize about Trump — GOP policies and to oppose with better alternatives, like single payer healthcare instead of Obamacare or the current GOP alternatives. Like the need for real immigration reform consistent with both the rule of law and the United States tradition of liberal immigration. Like the need to minimize racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Like electoral and constitutional reform. Like removing money from politics and elimination of gerrymandering. However, every valid point of contention is being negatively impacted by the aforementioned “sad phenomenon in conflict adjudication when those who ought to win attempt to buttress their position by lying and consequently, lose on the basis of their lack of credibility”. Lack of credibility today impacts every major American political institution, from the mainstream media to pollsters to the Congress to the judiciary to the presidency, to the honesty and goodwill of the electorate (us) itself.
Positive conflict resolution and the positive design and implementation of effective public policies for the attainment of the common welfare requires honesty as a starting point. That’s the only valid why to identify problems and test proposed solutions. But that is what is most sadly lacking everywhere. It seems much more fun to the strange groups that comprise our entertainment and information dissemination media to distort and ridicule than it does to play their role in the circulation of the accurate and complete information which democracy needs to function. But their ludicrous games are so ludicrously profitable to them and to theirs that, well, …
Perhaps we can just eat cake.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved
Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia. Until recently he chaired the Political Science, Government and International Relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science, law, international legal studies and translation studies and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.