Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Clintonistas' Allegation That Trump Is Putin Finger Puppet Is Classic Dead Cat McCarthyist Dirty Politics

In politics these days, everything is professionalized. Messages are crafted by hired-gun spindoctors rather than party true-believer apparatchiks at bar-room brainstorming sessions. Internal offices of some standing are increasingly filled by folks remunerated for their services instead of pure unprofessional volunteers. In fact, in these tumultuous times even the absolute donkey-mule grunt-work of responding to and engaging with people on social media can be farmed out to bought-and-paid-for staffers.

This last point has been a particularly big (and understandably contentious) part of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and is worth mentioning in light of the recent deluge of comments appearing on articles covering the 20,000 DNC internal emails recently published by Wikileaks.

The basic gist of these comments runs along the lines of demanding to know why people aren't questioning the source of the hacked emails, and then sketching out some cockamamie conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is a foreign finger-puppet of the great Vladimir Putin.

This line has also been picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets, and the Clinton campaign's evident fall-back line that its present challenges are largely the result of offshore interference would appear to be swiftly gaining ground.

Now on the face of it, the question as to precisely who hacked the DNC and decided to make the Democrats' own anti-democratic internal machinations public is decidedly secondary to the fact that the material thusly exposed appears to be factual. Nobody but the most ardent Clintonista appears to be arguing that the DNC has behaved with full propriety when it came to overseeing the Democrats' presidential primary contest; and the official apology from key DNC personnel as well as the Head On A Platter of former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz go a certain distance towards establishing a transparent 'mea culpa' for the organization.

But this attempted re-direct of attention by Clinton supporters from what has actually happened (the DNC being caught out attempting to rig internal processes to favour the Establishment-Insider candidate) through to some cursory elements as to why it might have happened and completely hyperbolic speculation as to the wider geopolitical implications of the event (Russian intelligence service involvement, and Trump apparently being a Manchurian Candidate by way of Moscow, respectively) ... is simply breathtaking.

Perhaps it is an instance of Crosby-Textor's favoured electoral stratagem - the Dead Cat effect. A large and flagrant accusation like the circulating and percolating questions as to Trump's alleged international allegiances does certainly help to distract people from asking the serious question as to what extent the Clinton campaign was actively complicit with the DNC's evident conspiracy against Sanders.

It may also be an example of a sort of latter-day McCarthyism in American politics. Communism may have fallen more than two and a half decades ago, but Russia remains a big scary international boogeyman in the eyes and minds of many American voters. Presumably, particularly those in the Heartland and more overtly patriotic demographics to which Trump's message is otherwise especially appealing. How better to attempt to 'wedge politics' these people away from their putative political messiah than by insisting that he is naught but merely a bought-and-paid-for agent of America's prime international antagonist, the Great Russian Bear.

The broader import of the allegations against Trump is clear, then. Having concluded that they face an uphill battle to be sure of victory in November, the Clinton campaign (or some parts thereof) has decided it must fight dirty - and smear and besmirch Trump via association with an offshore undesirable rather than continuing to attempt to debate him on the issues.

There is also another limb to this. One of the clear areas upon which Clinton has a weakness to Trump is in the field of foreign policy. Nobody doubts Clinton's formidableness on the international stage - but her demonstrable record in this area on everything from voting for the Iraq War through to the more recent flurry of messy (attempted) regime overthrows (and, for that matter, the negotiation of the TPPA) as Secretary of State is that of an avowed Hawk. See, for example, her comments here about the desirability of the US working to fuel continual unrest, instability and armed conflict in Syria in order to advance Israeli interests. Or the earlier, much-cited lines about America going to war with Iran if she were President. And while it would be lovely to write all of this substantial weight of evidence off as prior mistakes which she's learned from and repudiated, it would sadly appear that this is not the case. Whether present, future or historic - Clinton is inarguably to the Interventionist, Neocon Right of even a large swathe of the Republican Party. No wonder godfathers of the Neocon movement like Bill Kristol are endorsing her.

Juxtaposed against this frightening background, the Trump campaign's emphasis of isolationism and non-interventionism sounds not just comparatively rational, but outright desirable. Particularly to the large numbers of war-weary Americans who are justifiably miffed that their country can apparently spend billions prosecuting imperialistic adventures overseas - yet can't seem to find the spare change to make meaningful improvements to infrastructure or educational and healthcare spending in their own country.

But one of the key arts of politics is to be able to master a technique fairly common in Judo - the 'throw', wherein an opponent's salience and momentum is turned against them via a skillful pivot which renders their previous strong-point a weakness.

The Clinton campaign's assertions that Trump is an avowed agent of the Russians are a masterful example of exactly that.

Suddenly, it casts Trump's position in a different light. Instead of being a principled and integral stance, it becomes a deliberate Russian ploy to give themselves undisputed and unchallenged mastery of the world stage.

Note that this is not what I believe Trump's foreign policy is actually motivated by - but it is difficult to deny the rhetorical and narrative logic which Conservative and Clintonite talking heads will be able to bring to bear in arguing exactly this in front of the electorate.

But knowledge of Clinton's woeful record is spreading, and it is questionable whether the spin line of posing Donald Trump as a Putin finger-puppet will be enough to offset the obvious and tumultuous detrimental impact upon Clinton's Campaign which the Wikileaks disclosure will almost certainly have.

In any case, the Clintonista assertion that Trump is unelectable due to this unproven Putin allegation seems laughable.

As one of my associates put it:

"How dare Putin think he can meddle in the internal politics of a foreign country! Who does he think he is?! Hillary Clinton?!"

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