Yesterday, after Salon published what she believed was an irresponsible hit piece on Hilary Clinton, the publication's former long-time, highly-admired editor Joan Walsh sent out a few funny but very pointed Tweets about how she might take editing Salon off her resume, quipping that she wondered how a 12-year break in one's work experience would look, adding "Asking for a friend."
I suspect we'll see some more from the good lady today -- except that they might not be as funny.
This morning, I read a Tweet that Salon itself seemingly put out to promote an article, and thought that maybe it was actually The Onion, writing a satire. Or perhaps it was the kind of sizzling promotions for an article that are meant to look controversial in order to get attention, but when you actually read the piece it tears down every fake-controversy.
Then, I read the full article. It wasn't The Onion. And it supported the premise. It was serious. And that's not all it was -- it was naive, ghastly and irresponsible.
The article, which you can read here, takes as its premise that "sizzle" line which asked the question "What if Donald Trump really is the lesser of two evils in this election" against Hillary Clinton -- and then goes on to somehow, inexplicably try to make a case that he is. And not just any old general case, but a case from a supposedly liberal point of view. No, honest. The article is titled, "A liberal case for Donald Trump: The lesser evil is not all clear in 2016."
And yes, you read that title right.
The thing is, the big problem here isn't that that it makes a case for supporting Donald Trump. Or that it's supposedly a liberal case to supporting Donald Trump. Yes, those are problems, but they're also personal opinions and fair enough to make, no matter how much one might think they are woefully misguided, the "big problem" is that the case it makes is so...well, naive, ghastly and irresponsible.
I'm not going to dissect the full article written by Walker Bragman (which I’ll assume is not a pseudonym), but will just note a few points. After all, when you build a wall and just one of the main supporting buttresses collapses, the whole structure risks crumbling. So, a few supporting buttress will suffice.
Indeed, the very first argument he makes -- in fact, the very first sentences of the very first argument -- are: "Perhaps the best thing I can say about Trump is that he speaks his mind. This sometimes leads to some pretty outlandish things, but not always."
Okay, let's stop there a moment and look at that, closely. Hmmm, no, it doesn't even have to be all that close. But I stared at it and immediately wondered just how many "sometimes outlandish things" it's okay Mr. Bragman and Salon think it's okay for a freaking President of the United States to do???!! I can't speak to their standard, but my limit is ZERO. Presidents do make mistakes and do things that many disagree with, and some have awful results. But even that is worlds different from going out and doing something outlandish. And we're not just talking once here, a single "outlandish thing," but rather "sometimes," which means...ongoing. And to defend his point, Mr. Bragman adds, "but not always." Not always? He doesn't even say, "not usually." Or, "almost never." No, he says, "not always." Which means, a lot. And much of the time. Or even, God help us, most of the time.
Okay, here's a question. How many of you reading this would hire a plumber who a friend recommended by saying, "Sometimes his work leads to some pretty outlandish results, but not always"?? I'm guessing almost none of you. Even if it was cheap. Even if it was free. Well, if we wouldn't tolerate that level of incompetence in a plumber -- or bus driver -- or dog walker -- how in the world, then, are we supposed to even dream of accepting it in the President of the United States??!! The Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Military??!! The most powerful man in the world???!!!
Mr. Bragman and Salon also make the case, in the second point (yes, we're only at the second point, and that's will leaving out a lot more in the first point...), that we don't have anything to worry about with Donald Trump because he won't be able to get his worst policies through Congress. Swell, that's certainly deep thinking. After all, if Donald Trump actually got enough support to win the presidency, doesn't it follow that it's at least possible that the Republican Party would not only sweep in to majorities, but even win veto-proof majorities? But even more to the point, the thoughtlessly naive "argument" about dealing with Congress misses the reality that presidents can make executive signing statements that avoid dealing with Congress entirely.
When it comes to foreign affairs, Walker Bragman even gets bizarrely dismissive there, as well. He notes that Donald Trump has "alienated some of our allies" (something the author says we shouldn't take lightly, but then does, because it's all he says about the global problems such alienation can cause) -- but he suggests that that's okay because, after all, "it has also earned praise from Vladmir Putin." No, really. He wrote that. His one big defense of Donald Trump's foreign policy is that he's alienated our friends, but our nation's biggest adversary likes it!!!! Dear heavens above. In fairness, I think it's a good thing when we can reach accommodation with others who we usually have disagreements. But when those closest to us and most supportive to us are horrified, and those with whom we tend to have contentious discord give us a thumbs up and a wink, usually it's good to step back for at least a moment to reflect.
Beyond naive and thoughtless, the article is even inaccurate in some of its statements. "She voted for the Iraq War, he opposed it," the author writes. In fact, no, Donald Trump supported the Iraq War. Alas, it appears that Walker Bragman has spent much too much time believing what Donald Trump says and dismissing it as "sometimes" unimportant, but that's the problem with not recognizing that Mr. Trump doesn't just "speak his mind," but actually lies a lot. It doesn't take a lot of effort though to do a quick, 15-second search and find the truth and reality. But you do have to at least look. Or try.
There's a lot more -- A LOT -- that's horrifyingly empty in the article, but I'll leave it at that. You can check it out yourself in the link above. In the end, it appears that the basic premise is, don't worry, for all we know, maybe Donald Trump might possibly not be as disastrous as we think, and even if he is, then that'll be good for Democrats and liberals in four years.
Forgetting for a moment whether that is merely wishful thinking and a pretty massive gamble to make, more to the point it's a pretty thoughtless and galling position to take for what will be good for the country.
Donald Trump is not the lesser of two evils with Hillary Clinton. One can like Hillary Clinton's policies and personality or detest them. Fair enough, and understandable. That's what opinions are about. But to put her on a level of "evil" standing with Donald Trump -- a man with literally zero experience in politics, the military and international statesmanship; who wants to build a wall with Mexico and ludicrously suggests that they will pay for it; who has demeaned Mexicans, who has demeaned all people of the Muslim faith and wants to ban the world religion from entering the United States; who has supported bullying and violence at his rallies; who has quipped he'd like to kill some reporters; who has said he could shoot someone and get away with it; who has demeaned and mocked the disabled, who has regularly demeaned women; who has supported torture; who leaves open the use of nuclear weapons; who has promoted racism: who has on and on and on and on, fill in the blank -- for Walker Bragman and Salon to put that on the same platform of "evil" (whether the word is meant hyperbolically or metaphorically or however) shows a level of political insight that isn't remotely as substantive as they think it is.
Joan Walsh, we can't even begin to feel your pain...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor