Mirror Mirror and His Wall

I think I’m going to have to write a daily piece on how frantic insiders trying to squelch the populism of this year’s election (Trump, especially, but also Bernie) are, at the same time, revealing a delusional lack of self-awareness.

Today, for example, Mitt Romney will make a speech in which he will call Donald Trump phony.

And Wall Street will spend unlimited amounts of money to warn that Trump — as opposed to their own reckless practices and abuse of oligarchical position — will doom the economy.

The pitch to Wall Street titans and other CEOs is that a President Trump would be disastrous for markets and the economy. Many economists say that if the U.S. were to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants in a single year, the immediate hit to gross domestic product would lead to a depression. And slapping massive tariffs on goods from Mexico and China could dramatically increase prices for U.S. consumers and create destabilizing trade wars. “The most important thing about Trump is, he is completely unpredictable and volatile, and the one thing business needs is predictability,” [GOP strategist Katie] Packer said.

Perhaps most remarkable are the bunch of Neocons who signed a letter calling Trump dangerous. In it, some of the signers who have, in the past, argued for ticking time bomb use of coercive interrogation, here call the “expansive use of torture is inexcusable.” The guy who oversaw our last effort to build a wall signed the letter complaining that asking Mexico to pay for one “inflames unhelpful passions.” A slew of past servants to the Saudi family and other vicious dictators complain about Trump’s admiration for foreign dictators (in this case, the democratically elected thug Vladimir Putin). The author of the 16 words in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union complains that Trump is “fundamentally dishonest.” And a bunch of people who worked closely with Dick Cheney as he shredded the Constitution (and at least one of whom helped make legal arguments to do so) worry that Trump’s “expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.”

I mean, all this Sturm und Drang about Trump is nice, but maybe these folks should clean up their own act first?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

16 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    i really don’t understand the fuss about trump, particularly from republicans.

    republicans have done very well, electorally, with movie stars. star ronald reagan was elected governor of california and then president of the u. s. arnold schwartzenagger was twice elected gov of california and would probably have been president had he not been born in austria.

    donald trump is an equivalent, a teevee star. “you’re fired” was so popular a line some years ago that young guys working for me used to use it on each other when one made a mistake. “star power”, however, is the one quality i rarely see mentioned in explanations of trumps popularity. the ease and confidence in public communication that goes with that expetience is, i suspect, a major reason people take to him and tolerate him. voters may feel they know him because they have become familiarwith the donald trump teevee personality. i would expect, in particular, that avid fox network denizens would have taken to trump easily.

    that trump should be regarded as unqualified to be a candidate for president by virtue of his lack of political experience bothers none of his supporters. neither did a similar lack of experience bother the ardent supporters and fabulists who supported barrack obama’s fake populism in 2008.

    it is something of a mystery that the democratic party still seems to take governing so seriously. what the party clearly needs instead is to put forward an amiable teevee star or maybe rock musician to mouth populist sentiments. i know progressives who would full in line in a heartbeat.

  2. lefty665 says:

    Hey, listen to Mittens, phony is something he knows a lot about. The Repubs aren’t alone in turning to Romney. The Dems are as bad, they’re only an indictment or a bern away from dusting off “Uncle Joe” as their savior. Any bets on how many brokered conventions there will be this year?
    .
    With John Bolton and other dingbats advising Trump the neocon umbrage is especially ironic. That is usually not among the strong suits of certifiable war criminals. Curious that the bozos are so stirred up.
    .
    Funny we haven’t heard much about Kagan’s endorsement of Hillary. In any rational race that would be a kiss of death for a Dem, a horse’s patoot in her bed.

    • P J Evans says:

      The Dems are as bad, they’re only an indictment or a bern away from dusting off “Uncle Joe” as their savior.

      [citation needed]

  3. person1597 says:

    Up until the rise of teh Donald, epistemic closure obviated the need for Gooper self awareness.

    Now, scorched earth TV Funhouse rantings for ratings renders the eleventh commandment apostasy.

    The cargo cult of Reagan is washing away…

    Woah,

  4. Bardi says:

    It seems “they” are literally trying to crucify Trump after he spend nine months pointing out how hollow the establishment is. Good on him.

    I would love to see him win the R nomination or even go independent.

  5. RUKidding says:

    The Donald refuses, at least at this point, to be on the leash/marionette strings of the other billionaire Oligarchs, and it is apparently driving them nuts. They’ve lost control of their precious purse strings, they believe, along with their rubes that they so love to fleece. Now the rubes are all up for being fleeced by the Donald. Hey: Unfair!
    *
    That’s sort of the way I see it. The so-called GOP “establishment” is madder ‘n a wet hen that they’re not in on the grift. The Donald’s calling the shots, not them. A lot of powerful people, after first hesitating, are now jumping the GOP “establishment” ship to jump on board the Donald’s grifter express. Witness the Donald’s new bitch, Chris Christie, willingly playing BetaBoy to his alpha Male new boss.
    *
    Protestations from the usual rightwing outlets about how Trump refuses to hide behind “politically correct” racist dog whistles – in favor of shouting out loud his racist, sexist, whateverist terms – sound hollow to me. All of the media is rightwing nearly 100% of the time, and the few times I ever dip my toe in any of it, all I hear, endlessly, are racist dog whistles. So go cry me a river about Trump’s racism and alignment with David Duke and the KKK. At least Trump is out loud about who he is. I don’t like it all, but I will confess that it’s somewhat “refreshing” to witness someone fessing up loudly about exactly who he is. Gotta give the Donald that. Love him or revile him: we all know exactly where he stands… at least in terms of racism.
    *
    Frankly, I think it’s a lot of jealousy amongst the GeeOhPee politicians and establishment. It has been wonderfully entertaining to witness the usual drek “pundits” twist and turn to try to figure out which overlord and master they should please to stay on the wingnut welfare gravy train.
    *
    I have enjoyed gallons of popcorn witnessing this display. Well I might as well get my yucks where I can.
    *
    Mittens RMoney giving a lecture tonight may also provide some light entertainment. Oh save us from ourselves Bishop Mitt, you racist, sexist, lying, business & job destroying, soulless, entitled bastard. Wheeeee!

  6. orionATL says:

    donald trump is not the only republican populist – just the only overt and noisily xenophobic populist.

    ted cruz is, in my opinion a republican populist too, but a covert populist, a populist of self-righteous american christianity.

    cruz announced his candidacy for president at liberty university in 2015 signaling his religious populism in the same way ronald reagan made his first campaign speech from philadelphia, mississippi signaling his intention to use race in his 1980 campaign.

    liberty university in virginia is a college created by the rev. jerry falwell, manufacturer of the anti-abortion (and control of women’s sexuality) movement in the u. s.

    ted cruz’s candidacy speech at liberty:

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0MI0G720150323

  7. Bitter Angry Drunk says:

    Wait till Hillary’s surrogates get in on this “Trump is too dangerous” line of attack and really start ramping up their shaming of Sanders voters. Then we’ll reach peak bullshit.

    I still think there’s a way Sanders could win (what with the polling showing that he does better vs. Trump than Clinton), but it involves him going independent and Warren being his running mate. Probably won’t happen. Probably nothing good will happen from here, so I guess we bask in the schadenfreude for now.

    • Bitter Angry Drunk says:

      Wow, check out Greenwald’s tweeter. I’d forgotten/didn’t care that Mitt happily accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012. Lack of self-awareness doesn’t even begin to describe these twits.

  8. orionATL says:

    the “responsible republicans for america” gang are certainly conducting a de facto attack on populism, but i doubt they care about populism directly. if it would work for one of their kind, they’d use it in a blink.

    what i suspect is happening is neither a principaled attack on populism nor an attempt to save the republican party from the unwashed. it is an attempt to help one candidate over trump. since most of the out-spokesmen are recidivist bush-cheney gang members, i suspect the intended benefactor is el chapo cubano, rubio. jeb bush is rubio’s political godfather.

    on the other hand, the fact that willard filmore romney is involved front and center suggests the possibility of a behind-the-scenes plan for a brokered convention with romney the party compromise candidate – “i had no intention of running, but the nation needed me”.

    just what all this might do for republican turn-out will make fot interesting speculation.

    • orionATL says:

      addition –

      as far as mainstream republicans having used populism and populists themes repeatedly:

      1- the fol-da-rol about the national debt, generated by teabaggers then exploited by republican congressional leaders to hold federal programs, especially for the poor, and federal budgets hostage to republican ideology. the populism involved pandering to the economically unfounded belief that the debt of a sovereign nation is comparable to household, or state, debt. this “debt populism” was also employed to do political harm to president obama.

      2. the fol-da-rol about terrorism’s threat to citizens living in the u. s. the actual threat to individuals over the last 15 years has proven minimal; the cost in lost freedoms and funding due to republican populist rhetoric has been enormous. it a variant of this populist congressional pressure that changed the san bernardino shooting from focus on an obvious gun crime to focus on a psuedo-terrorist act.

      3. these two in addition, of course, to continuous anti-hispanic and anti-muslim rhetoric.

      “populism” is used here to refer to political rhetoric designed to exploit fear or animosity.

      • orionATL says:

        “populism” is used here to refer to political rhetoric designed to exploit fear or animosity.”

        in addition to populist rhetoric exploiting fear and animosity, i will add a third category of exploitation, hyper-moralism/religiosity. exploiting this tendency, on the left as well as the right, requires rhetoric supporting, for example, the “right” of a public official to refuse to issue a civil marriage license to a gay couple or the moral necessity of a $15/hr minimum wage.

  9. lefty665 says:

    Biden said no to campaigning for the nomination last year. He never said no to accepting a coronation at the convention. All for the good of the party and the country you know.
    .
    If things come unglued with Hillary, as is possible, the party establishment will be frantic to have an alternative to Sanders. Who is right there, tanned, rested and ready to serve? “Uncle Joe”, and only a few of us old and unkind enough to remember that used to finish with “Stalin” when we were kids.
    .
    He’s the sitting VP, currently out showing the flag and making speeches. Delaware can be pretty grim in January, it would be a lot cozier just to move down the hill to Pennsylvania Ave.
    .

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