For the last 56 years, this time in November has been an occasion—at first pious and lachrymose, latterly perfunctory—to commemorate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That event was certainly a cultural cataclysm. America was a changed place after November 22, 1963.
But for all the reams of commentary that event elicited, there is one irony that has not perhaps been sufficiently appreciated. Although the president’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a rabid Communist, the murder was almost instantly reframed as an expression of right-wing hatred.
There are contemporary lessons to be drawn from the metamorphosis of Kennedy’s assassination at the hands of a pro-Soviet Communist into an object lesson in the perils of right-wing animus.
The only Russian collusion on offer in 2016 was between the Hillary Clinton campaign and various Russian and Ukrainian operatives, but somehow we all got saddled with a nearly three-year, multimillion-dollar investigation into Donald Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia.
We can see the same dynamic at work in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) efforts to build a case for impeaching Donald Trump out of secretly wrought hearsay and tendentious interpretations of summarized telephone calls between Trump and the president of Ukraine. If you only paid attention to what Schiff said, or what the megaphones of the mainstream media said in slavish support of the narrative he is endeavoring to construct, you might conclude that Trump had done something wrong in the ordinary conduct of his duties.
Narratives do have inflection points, however, and the imminent release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on December 9 may well mark such a pivot. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already announced that he intends to open hearings on the report on December 11. Since that report will go into detail about alleged abuses by the FBI in obtaining FISA warrants to spy on Carter Page and hence on the entire Trump campaign, the possibilities for a narrative revision are prodigious.
The Democrats know this, of course, and they and their media enablers have not been remiss in attempting to meet this potential challenge…………..
I think it is time to open a book on which media outlets are going to leak and then try to repurpose the many tidbits we’ll be seeing from the IG report on the run-up to December 9. I predict that those reliable anti-Trump organs, the New York Times and the Washington Post, will lead the pack, but let’s see.
In the meantime, it is worth keeping an observation from the political philosopher John Marini in mind. Michael Anton quotes from a recent speech of Marini’s in his own superlative essay on impeachment for the Claremont Review of Books:
Many great scandals arise not as a means of exposing corruption, but as a means of attacking political foes while obscuring the political differences that are at issue.
This is especially likely to occur in the aftermath of elections that threaten the authority of an established order.
In such circumstances, scandal provides a way for defenders of the status quo to undermine the legitimacy of those who have been elected on a platform of challenging the status quo—diluting, as a consequence, the authority of the electorate.
It would be hard to find a better description of the Trump-Russian scandal or the Ukrainian “scandal” now playing at the Adam Schiff Theater……………
As it was with the Russia hoax, so it is now with the Adam Schiff Impeachment Follies: “None of the actual facts adds up to any actual wrongdoing, but the hope is that regular people won’t notice and won’t listen to those who do.”
The moral, of course, is that they—the experts, the beautiful people who populate the administrative state and their public relations outlets—they know better than us, us deplorables, us “bitter enders,” us voters.
Will it work? It has, pretty much, until now. I have to admit that. But in this as in so much else, Donald Trump has insinuated a new and disruptive energy into the narrative. With just about any other president, I would have said that the deep state’s victory was all-but-assured. With Trump, I am hedging my bets.