Noam Chomsky, Princeton University Prof. Emeritus Stephen F. Cohen, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald have all noted the devastation that Russiagate has wrought on U.S.-Russia relations — noting that even if the worst of the neo-McCarthyite allegations were true, they would amount to a “molehill” that has been made into a “mountain” (a veritable Vesuvius, threatening to go Pompeii on all our asses, with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ “Doomsday Clock” moved closer to “midnight” than ever… largely due to the rampant Russophobia that’s reclaimed American discourse, a la the 1950s — save for the sensible dread of global thermonuclear war that far-more rational and moral 1950s’ Americans had).
“Izzy” Award-winning journalist, Aaron Mate — awarded specifically for his Russiagate-skeptical coverage — and acclaimed journalist/author, Matt Taibbi, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist/author, Chris Hedges, have noted the incalculable damage that Russiagate has done to journalism itself.
Thanks to this latest media-wide debacle, fewer Americans than ever trust the media, and an irresponsible demagogue like Donald Trump can allege that the mainstream media is the “enemy of the people” and have that claim resonate with millions of perfectly reasonable Americans.
Already, on so many fronts, this Frankenstein’s monster has terrorized the land and caused irreparable harm, as the highly respected journalists I’ve mentioned — and a handful of others — have observed (David Swanson, Katie Halper, Katrina vanden Huevel, Jimmy Dore, Caitlin Johnstone, Kyle Kulinsky, and the late Robert Parry all deserve honorable mentions here, as well).
And now, Daniel Lazare’s latest piece in Consortium News, “Russia-gate’s Monstrous Offspring,” underlines how post-2016, Russiagating Democrats have done inestimable damage the left, while unraveling some of the best features of President Obama’s legacy.
Here are some key passages from Lazare’s insightful piece:
This was the takeaway from Mitch McConnell’s devastating “case closed” speech last week in which the Senate majority leader jeered at President Barack Obama for mocking Mitt Romney’s claim (seven years ago now) that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” As Obama famously replied during that presidential debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
But that was so 2012. Now, says McConnell, it looks like Romney was right:
“We’d have been better off if the administration hadn’t swept [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion and occupation of Georgia under the rug or looked away as Russia forced out western NGO’s and cracked down on civil society. If President Obama hadn’t let Assad trample his red line in Syria or embraced Putin’s fake deal on chemical weapons, if the Obama administration had responded firmly to Putin’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in 2014, to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, and to Russia intervention in Syria — maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened, maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting.”
…Like so much out of Congress these days, this was a farrago of lies and distortions. It wasn’t Moscow that started the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, but Tbilisi. While Russia has indeed cracked down on U.S.-backed NGO’s, Washington has done the same by forcing Russia’s highly successful news agency RT to register as a foreign agent and by sentencing Maria Butina, a Russian national studying at American University, to 18 months in prison for the crime of hobnobbing with members of the National Rifle Association. The charge that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “trampled” Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons is hardly as clear-cut as imperial propagandists like to believe – to say the least…
Lazare continues, observing how today’s Democrats have backed themselves into a corner, shoring up the 2012 Mitt Romney position while effectively repudiating President Obama’s more moderate stance:
…what could Democrats say in response given that they’ve spent the last three years trying to out-hawk the GOP? Answer: nothing. All they could do was try to turn tables on McConnell by charging him with not being anti-Russian enough.
Then Lazare delivers a crushing blow to those who somehow think that Democrats and Republicans are at cross-purposes, noting the bipartisan nature of the new McCarthyism:
It’s an across-the-board agreement that the long-awaited Mueller report has only strengthened by regurgitating the intelligence-community line that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and then cherry-picking the facts to fit its preconceived thesis.
Thanks to the teapot tempest that is Russiagate, rank and file Democrats are now fully on board with the Bush-era neocons and hawkish Republicans, like Romney, who’ve been pushing for a confrontation with Russia for decades.
(Walked right into that one, didn’t you, center-lefties?)
Lazare supports what anti-war progressives have been saying since the start of this propaganda parade: that post-2016 Democrats have unwittingly become the far-right’s best allies, including the rabid neocons (routinely referred to as “the crazies” in government circles, prior to 9/11 — after which they were dramatically empowered and began bathing the world in blood, under Bush/Cheney and, subsequently, Obama/Sec. Clinton… whose husband had given the neocons enough sway under his administration to murder “well over a million” Iraqis, including over 500,000 Iraqi children, thanks to President Clinton’s draconian sanctions — sanctions that denied potable water to millions of citizens of that besieged, oil-rich nation run by the late-Saddam Hussein, a former client of the CIA).
Democrats claim to oppose National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, but the anti-Russian hysteria they promote strengthens the hand of such super-hawks. It makes military conflict more likely, if not with Russia then with perceived Russian surrogates such as Venezuela or Iran.
And they do so at the expense of their party’s electoral chances in 2020, making it all the more likely that Trump will win a second term in office, something no informed, rational person wants to see.
…even though the Mueller report says “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” somehow “significant evidence of collusion” still exists, as an increasingly unhinged Rep. Adam Schiff maintains. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of congressional Democrats, no evidence does not mean no evidence. In fact, it means the opposite.
Voters are unmoved. Ten times more Americans – 80 versus 8 percent – care about healthcare than about Russia according to a recent survey. When CNN pollsters asked a thousand people in mid-March to name the issues that matter most, not one mentioned Russia or the Mueller probe…
Besides Fox News – whose ratings have soared while Russia-obsessed CNN’s have plummeted – the chief beneficiary is Trump.
Well, duh. And who didn’t see this coming? Millions of corporate news-following, mainstream Democrats, that’s who. The same casual news followers who failed to recognize that Sec. Clinton, serial racist and ultra-corrupt warmonger, was running consistently, and hard, to Trump’s right in 2016, making him seem a reasonable alternative to millions of war-weary, neoliberalism-crushed voters.
(Could there be a greater unraveling of the few good things that President Obama did in office than a second term for Trump? It’s hard to imagine… outside of the inconceivable damage that a first term for Hillary Clinton might have managed.)
But with the Democratic Party’s adamantine refusal to budge their party to the left (to the actual center, that is) or reform their blatantly rigged primary process, we can bet that another far-right “centrist” with nothing to offer the public will be running against Trump in 2020.
And that’s another losing bet.
Take it from the folks on the left who predicted that Trump — contrary to what virtually all the pollsters and pundits were predicting — stood a very good chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016.
(Did we predict that? Yes, we did.)
And didn’t we “purist” lefties constitute the bulk of the marginalized 10% of Americans who disapproved of George W. Bush’s response to 9/11, as he was laying the ground for his illegal invasion of Iraq — while 90% of the country approved, saying “USA, USA, USA!” and “Maybe it’s good that Gore ‘lost,’ after all?”
Yes, we did.
And weren’t we data-immersed wonks (aka “unicorn lovers”) also among that minuscule percentage of progressive-leaning folks who correctly predicted that Russiagate was going to blow up in liberals’ faces, strengthening Trump and the neocons, while leaving all of the left’s issues neglected and withering on the vine?
Again, we were.
And yet, despite decades of getting it right — including knowing that Bernie was our best bet against Trump in 2016 (and being brutally attacked, maligned, and cheated of our rightful victory) — we, not the reality-averse Clintonites, have been exiled to the wilderness and caricatured as basket cases.