January 3, 2018

The Fusion GPS Op-Ed

The New York Times, which is probably the third-best newspaper in the country behind the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times (all with left-leaning editorial boards!), published one of the most compelling op-eds I’ve read in months.

The op-ed, written by Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, are calling on Republican committee heads to release their testimony. Why? In their words:

“The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release the transcripts of our testimony, so the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.”

The founders, whom worked previously for the conservative Wall Street Journal (probably the sixth-best newspaper in the country behind the three above, the libertarian Chicago Tribune and the progressive conservative Dallas Morning News) defended their work and what they told Congress, presumably under oath. This was clearly written with a nothing to lose standpoint, considering that they’re largely calling the GOP’s bluff.

Not much about this has made the rounds on conservative media, and most of the reaction I’ve seen on social media has been from anti-Trump liberals, progressives, and moderates essentially still calling for his head.

I do believe that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the incumbent and Russia. And most in the mainstream, left, and right-wing media have been asking the wrong question(s). If there’s a case for collusion — and I personally do believe one exists — it wouldn’t be political; it would be mostly financial.

And those that are bewildered that the Republican Party would go out of their way to protect the incumbent should not be surprised. Pardon the more — colorful descriptions such as “treasonous behavior” (it isn’t, because Russia is not a declared enemy of the United States). The real reason is much more mundane: Republicans have far more to lose.

The root of the incumbent’s unpopularity is not Russia; it’s the fact that a) he’s a fake right-wing populist, b) he’s right-wing trash, c) he’s in over his head, and b) he’s an idiot. There are some, including some of you that may read this, that are ardent supporters of the incumbent. However, there’s a clear common thread as to why the support is so strong: it’s less about him and more about what he symbolizes. More of his supporters care about the incumbent as a political (and culture war symbol), rather than the man himself. His supporters are willing to put up with any degree of foolishness from the incumbent (even embracing it as a redeeming trait!) as long as he, as a symbol, remains in power.

Republicans know this. Even the incumbent knows this. His Twitter feed is a steady diet in this reality. But while the incumbent focuses on his base, Republicans in general are hedging a bet that if the Russia scandal turns out to be a whole big “nothingburger”, the anger of the anti-Trump resistance movement would subside into a less motivated turnout in November. That, and they know, that the incumbent is more popular than them, and they definitely want to avoid fights with far right (pro-incumbent) extremists during primary season.

The only issue for them about the said resistance movement is that — there are a lot of people on the left, middle left, and center that really, really, really hate the incumbent (that does include your centrist truly). The vast majority of us either never liked him, never cared for him, and — Russia or not — think he’s a piece of shit as a man and as a symbol. These are individuals that will never, ever be won over.

Which brings me back to the GPS op-ed:

“Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators.”

We already know what will happen next.