Pop Guns On the Left Don’t Hit Their Target

Donald Trump’s enemies opened their offensive to win the midterm elections with the fortuitous McCain posthumous suicide of using his lengthy obsequies to sandbag the president. This was an imaginatively belligerent parting for a brave soldier, but an unseemly farewell to and by a patriot who was also the leader of the NeverTrumpers; it was not in that last capacity that most would wish to remember him. Bob Woodward’s stink-bomb followed, and this past week the Democrats followed up with a trifecta.

First came the disgraceful opening of the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the Democrats apparently encouraged some of the demonstrators who disrupted proceedings with screamed obscenities and heckling. They were removed without injury or major delays, and the Democratic senators continued with asinine, attention-seeking histrionics. Kamala Harris’ interruptions of the chairman, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), starting three seconds after he opened the hearings, reminded me of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s endless “points of order,” (which were nothing of the kind), 65 years ago.

The ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, normally fairly sensible but now clearly rattled by being rejected by her own party (though she won the primary) in seeking a sixth term from California, said the demonstrators’ complaints should be heard. The prize for banal posturing, however, goes to Cory Booker’s masquerade at fearlessness, invoking the 1st century B.C., leader of an anti-Roman slave revolt, Spartacus (as confected by Hollywood), and claimed to be running a risk of expulsion from the Senate for revealing documents germane to Judge Kavanaugh’s past that had already, in fact, been made public.

Senator Chris Coons (the Delaware lawmaker who told us 18 months ago that the president’s tax returns would reveal his status as a Russian puppet), was at least fluent and civil, and slightly ingenuous, as he made the hollow case that Kavanaugh was an “extremist” on several issues. There were also pathetic attempts to portray the judge as a liar. They did not lay a hand on Kavanaugh and it is impossible to believe that the country was impressed with this diehard, dismal, assault on an evidently well-qualified judge, whose confirmation appears to be assured.

A Latter-Day Deep Throat
While these hearings were underway, the New York Times breasted back into the lead in the packed race with the Washington Post, Atlantic, and New Yorker as the most rabidly Trumpohobic respectable printed publication. It ran its anonymous op-ed piece claiming a state of revolt in a chaotic White House, where the president was admittedly accomplishing significant things, though the author did not approve of them. It was indicative of the fierce and almost mindless level of combat in Washington that anyone, including the president, took this seriously.

The Times has a complete and notorious lack of integrity on Trump matters, having confessed after the election that it had deliberately reported in a partisan anti-Trump manner for the national interest, and despite the new publisher’s call on the president in July asking him to be gentler in his reflections on the press.

In the circumstances, there is no reason to believe that this resuscitated Deep Throat exists in the White House, or is one person, and who could possibly care what a source afraid to reveal itself in a free country thinks of anything?

The answer to Woodward and the Times is that no one cares what the decision-making process is as long as the administration is not violating the Constitution and is successful, as even the Times piece acknowledged to be true. No independent voter or Republican pays any attention to the Times on this subject and all that was achieved was to reveal the president’s edgy lack of a sure sense of when to ignore a provocation, as he did during the McCain funeral week, and when to respond. There isn’t any reason to involve the Justice department, on what is visible, any more than Trump should have even mentioned shutting down the government over funding for the border wall. The incoming fire was intense, and the deluge of responses by senior administration officials that each one was not the Times’ source, and the president’s overreaction, shows that the whole team is still a bit jumpy.

Smug, Slick Schtick—and Ominous Revelations
The next Democratic escalation was sending President Obama out to the lists. This was a miscalculation. Unlike the deceased John McCain, Woodward’s legion of unnamed sources, and the author (or authors) of the anonymous Times op-ed, Obama is a live and easy target for Trump and his supporters.

The ex-president made a number of demonstrably inaccurate claims for his administration last week and is the personification, even more than George W. Bush, of what the Trump supporters dislike, surpassed in this only (and narrowly) by Hillary Clinton. Because the American system, unlike parliamentary countries, has no leader of the opposition, and the Democratic congressional leaders are completely unserviceable symbols of the rot and cynicism of vote-buying and hypocrisy, and because Bill Clinton is tainted by his wife’s and his own enormities, Barack Obama got the call.

But Obama’s smug, slick schtick won’t cut it anymore. The country has not forgotten the flat-lined compensation levels, tax increases, swollen food-stamp and welfare rolls, oceanic deficits, healthcare shambles, evaporating red lines, appeasement of Iran and North Korea, disparagement of traditional Americans, and apparent indifference to rising urban violence.

In a one-on-one contest, Obama might beat out Trump in an election to lead a cotillion. But in an election campaign where neither is a candidate, Trump will tear him limb from limb on his record, as long as he sticks to the facts and doesn’t just make them up as he goes along, as sometimes happens in the exultation of the moment before large and appreciative live audiences.

Almost unnoticed in the din of the Democrats’ campaign launch were several revelations ominous for the Democrats. There is evidence that Christopher Steele, the discredited, Clinton-paid, anti-Trump dossier author, even after being fired by the FBI for indiscretion, was pipe-lining misinformation via compromised Justice official Bruce Ohr, to a senior member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s staff. It seems clear that the president is preparing to order the release of all that the congressional committees have been demanding from the Justice department. And a grand jury is in session, hearing evidence against fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, and probably others. I expect that an unacceptable level of political corruption of the FBI and Justice department under Obama will be unearthed before the election, and that the Trump media firing squad will be overcome. Their pop-guns of the last three weeks haven’t moved the ball and that’s all they have.

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About Conrad Black

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.

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