Useful Idiots

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Filed Under Congress, General, Trump on Nov 14 

Useful Idiots

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Although originally a term used to describe unwitting communist sympathizers, the term “useful idiot” has come to mean someone who is supposedly on one side of an issue but whose public statements do, in fact, assist the opposing side. They are referred to as useful idiots because their statements support and strengthen the opposition, but such statements do not confer any benefit or credit onto them. They are “useful” to the opposition, but “idiots” if they think there is some personal gain to be had.

In modern-day American politics, such useful idiots exist predominantly in the Republican ranks. There are many such idiots whose statements and votes aid Democratic positions, but do not result in any strengthening of their personal reputation or public perception whatsoever. Such idiots never seem to occur in Democratic ranks, assisting Republicans.  

There are many high-profile Republicans who are famous for their useful idiot status. One of the most recent and notable is Mitt Romney. Romney—the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee—is about as a high-profile Republican as there is. His continual anti-Trump outbursts and holier-than-thou high-minded pronunciations are pounced upon by liberal pundits as “proof” that even many life-long conservative Republicans are opposed to President Trump and recognize his threat to the norms and accepted conventions of our culture. The fact that Romney is actually a very soft conservative who brought Romneycare to MA before Obama even introduced Obamacare to the country is very conveniently ignored by the liberal media. They enjoy nothing more than using a putative “conservative’s” words to criticize President Trump.

When the President announced recently that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria, the ensuing Democratic criticism was immediate and predictable. But when many well-known Republicans like Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell joined that chorus, it was surprising. No parallel Democratic public criticism was heard when Barack Obama did something everyone regarded as ill-advised, such as when he allowed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad cross the “red line” without consequences or when he sent Iran 1.7 billion dollars in cash (piled high on pallets, mostly in foreign currency), coincidentally just as four American hostages were being released. No one believed the risible excuse given by the Obama administration that the cash payment was unrelated to the hostage release but was instead a settlement for a totally independent arbitration agreement stemming from 1979.

Consistent with Obama’s many other amazingly weak foreign policy actions, the cash to Iran maneuver was a straight up “cash for hostage” move, in direct contravention to long-standing American policy. Yet no Democrat came out publicly and criticized Obama. No high-profile Democrat said it was a betrayal of our values as a country or that it would grievously weaken our ability to conduct effective action in the future or that the President violated the law or anything of the sort. The public face of the Democrats was consistent and unbroken. No criticism. Nothing even remotely for the opposition to latch onto as “proof” of Obama’s misdoings.  Let’s give the Democrats their credit for knowing how to play effective hardball politics (including how to leverage the already-sympathetic liberal media for maximum benefit): Democrats do not waver. High-profile Democrats never stray from the party line.

But high-profile Republicans stray from conservative orthodoxy all the time, perhaps in some misguided desire to appear “reasonable.” Democrats never reach across the aisle, despite what some of them say during their campaign run-up to the election. Once in D.C, Democrats oppose Republican bills, proposals, policies and Supreme Court nominees with astonishing consistency. About the only time a Democrat will vote for a Republican position is when the matter was going to pass anyway, and the Democratic politician has been “authorized” by their Party leadership to vote the other way in consideration of protecting their electoral viability in their home district. In other words, Democrats vote Republican when it benefits the Democrat in future elections.

This useful idiot seems to exist only in Republican dugouts.  Only Republicans have to confirm their votes over and over again to be sure their members are checking the correct box.  The Senate is currently 53-47 Republican. (Two of the 47 are actually “Independents” who caucus with the Democrats.) Once the House passes Articles of Impeachment—and they will, even if they are reduced to charging President Trump for the crime of putting mayonnaise on a corned beef sandwich—and it goes to trial in the Senate, it will take 2/3 of the Senate to convict him. That means the Democrats will need 20 Republican votes to reach the requisite 67. The fact that pundits and the President himself will actually have to analyze the list of 53 Republican Senators and make sure they have 34 “safe” votes says everything about how many “idiots” there are in the Republican ranks and that the Democrats have none.

It all gets back to the notion of what these squishy Republicans were thinking when their public statements go against their party and their president. Are they thinking that they have such high ethical ideals that they simply have to publicly oppose President Trump?  Are they thinking that by demonstrating such even-handedness on the public stage, even the liberal national media and their home district swing voters will accord them a significant measure of additional credit, thus smoothing their personal path to re-election?

Are they thinking that President Trump is truly focused on changing the incestuous ways of insider lobbying and deal-making by which so many politicians derive personal financial gain, so they need to stop him before their gravy train ends? In politics, self-interest usually rules the day. Democrats already publicly oppose President Trump for all these reasons, but they have the convenient cover of “opposing his policies” when they do so.

Seemingly “disloyal” Republicans very likely fear that President Trump—beholden to no special interests, intent on draining the swamp and not using his elected office for self-enrichment as are the majority of other politicians of both parties—will put an end to their cushy financial ride and self-indulgent D.C lifestyle, their celebrity and personal power and their sure-fire path to a soft, luxurious retirement.

Or perhaps, they haven’t thought it through at all.  They’re just unthinkingly shooting from the hip, without regard for how their remarks will be received.

In which case, they are indeed idiots. Although how “useful” is certainly debatable.

Republicans Are in Danger, Not the Presidency

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Republicans, who are continually naïve and politically inept, have taken to saying recently that the Adam Schiff-led impeachment proceedings are dangerous to the country because they put the very institution of the Presidency at risk. Republicans’ reasoning goes something like this: Impeachment is supposed to be the Congressional remedy if the president commits “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Serious transgressions that put the country at risk: selling military secrets to an adversary for personal financial gain, being party to a premeditated murder or heinous felony, or perhaps some blatantly immoral behavior while in office that distracts the president from adequately discharging his responsibility to the country.

Obviously, according to current Republican thought, nothing like that even remotely applies to President Trump. He is guilty only of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 and also perhaps of exhibiting a rough, direct personal/verbal style along the way.

Republicans make two mistakes:

  1. They think that the fundamental/legal illegitimacy of the Democrats’ impeachment charges will eventually lead to them failing or being dropped and
  2. They think that by pursuing an impeachment based on political animus rather than legal solidity, the Democrats are paving the way for any future Congress—regardless of which party is in control—to initiate impeachment action against a future president strictly because of political hatred and jealousy, thus de-stabilizing our political system and putting the very institution of the Executive Office at risk.

The Republicans are wrong on both counts. First of all, the popular (and undeniably accurate) saying around Washington DC is that, “High crimes and misdemeanors are whatever the Congress say they are.” If a majority agrees with the charges, then they go forward. There is no outside legal governing body that authorizes or disallows it. There is no NFL ref who is going to throw a flag and have the play recalled. If a majority of Congress wants it, Congress gets it.

But in order for impeachment charges to have any chance, they must have a stamp of legitimacy from the popular media. If the major media “sanction” the impeachment effort as being at least worthy of investigation, it lives on. If the popular media dismiss such charges as being born strictly from political acrimony and bitterness, it has no legs to stand on and the ordinary casual political participant—upon whom any necessary broad-based popular support will eventually rest—remains uninterested and disengaged.

Democrats enjoy favorable media treatment that Republicans can never hope to duplicate in the current media environment. According to research by the Media Research Center, major media coverage of President Trump has been 90% negative. His positive accomplishments—including a great economy with 50-year low overall unemployment, the lowest-ever Black and Hispanic unemployment, record domestic energy production and near-complete freedom from global energy pricing pressures, a newly-strengthened military, solid job creation and rising wages, getting NATO to step up and pay their share—are continually ignored and suppressed by the liberal media. His so-called “crimes”—imaginary though they are—are brandished about by this same media like fait accomplis, as if they’re well-known, accepted fact.

No such reciprocal situation would ever exist for a Democrat President facing a Republican-majority Congress. These days, if a Republican Congress attempted to bring empty impeachment charges against a sitting Democratic president, the Republicans would be excoriated by the liberal mainstream media, which includes all the highly-influential social media platforms that truly drive public opinion among the critical Millennial and Gen X voting blocs. If the Democratic president happened to be a minority, a woman or a non-heterosexual, then the media would savage the “old, white, straight” Republican Congress to a degree never seen before in the modern media age. The liberal media would take advantage of the opportunity to fire broadsides of bias accusation against the Republican brand, with the intent of inflicting permanent damage to the conservative image. It would be a media feeding frenzy the likes of which American politics has never seen.

Perfect example: Just recently, Democratic Representative Katie Hill resigned after it was discovered she had conducted a bi-sexual 3-way affair with her husband and a female staffer. Yet the liberal media was wholly uninterested, save for a few quotes defending her right to a “private life” and saying that Republicans were trying to use Hill as a distraction from the impeachment investigation. If Hill were a Republican, it would be Mark Foley all over again.

In 2006, Republican Congressman Mark Foley (white, middle-aged) was accused of sending “inappropriate messages” to teenage Congressional pages and forced to resign. The Democrats and the liberal mainstream media pounced on this story, flogging Foley and the Republicans mercilessly with unrelenting public attacks, severely damaging the Republicans’ image and contributing in no small measure to the Democrats re-taking the House in 2006. Hill’s transgressions were far worse than Foley’s. While Foley was merely accused of sending suggestive messages, Hill actually admitted to having engaged in a 3-way affair (coined a “throuple”) with her husband and a female staffer. However, the entire Hill matter faded from the liberal media headlines in astonishingly quick time, with no lasting damage whatsoever to the Democrats.

Another excellent example: Early in 2019, Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was discovered to have worn blackface in a yearbook picture. Yet despite the offensive picture, there was no liberal media outcry for his ouster, and he didn’t step down, in stark contrast to how the situation would have developed and been resolved had Northam been a Republican.

These are ironclad examples of the media double standard that favors the Democrats and hurts Republicans. Republicans are absolutely delusional if they think that in this media environment an impeachment action by them against a Democratic president could possibly be presented as being legitimate.

The Presidency as an institution is not in any danger from the Democrats’ Trump impeachment efforts. It is the Republicans’ continued existence as a meaningful American political party that is in danger, as they face a potentially crushing defeat brought about by the Democrats’ vastly superior use of the liberal media to their advantage, their devastatingly effective use of street-fighting political tactics, and their remarkable ability to remain unified as a party. Meanwhile, the Republicans foolishly, stubbornly adhere to their self-imposed, stiff, restrictive obedience to a Marquis-de-Queensbury approach to a political life-or-death struggle. If the Democrats are successful in overturning the legitimate results of the 2016 election and they force President Trump from office, the Republicans will have only themselves to blame. If the Republicans fail to come together and stop this, they cannot be considered a viable, functioning political party.

Sink the Clinton

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

In early stages of World War II (1939-1945) in Europe, Germany, after invading Poland to its east in 1939, turned its attention westward and conquered the “Low Countries” (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) on its way to vanquishing France in spring 1940. With almost all of western Continental Europe now under German control, Britain alone stood against Germany.

America had not yet entered the war and wouldn’t until December 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The United States was, however, supplying Britain with a very significant amount of both war materials and domestic goods under the “Lend-Lease” program. These goods were sent by ship convoy to England across the Atlantic Ocean. German U-boat submarines extracted a huge toll on this vital shipping lifeline, but even though the losses were high, they were survivable, and these supply lines—critical to Britain’s very existence— persevered.

However, in May 1941, Germany introduced a new element into the North Atlantic equation that threatened to bring disaster to Britain. This element was the new German battleship Bismarck. It was a huge, state-of-the-art warship, equipped with the very latest long-range heavy cannon, new stereoscopic range-finders that promised unprecedented accuracy, then-new ship-based radar, and it boasted an intricate system of armor-plating and honey-combed water-tight compartments that rendered her virtually unsinkable.  If Bismarck broke out into the vast, indefensible shipping lanes of the North Atlantic, it could wreak catastrophic havoc with the war-sustaining convoys coming across the ocean

The very existence of Bismarck hung like a sinister shadow above the Allies’ war effort. In 1941, it was widely believed that this single weapon might determine the very course of the war in Europe. Where the entire Luftwaffe (German air force) had been unable to cripple Britain’s warfighting capability with their aerial assault in the summer of 1940 and bring her to the negotiating table, now—in the spring of 1941—a single warship was threatening to do that very thing. The allies, especially Britain, were horrified. The British rallied around a national cry of, “Sink the Bismarck!”

As the Bismarck and her companion, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, headed towards the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, they were intercepted by the British battleships Hood and Prince of Wales. Those two ships were all that stood between Britain’s invaluable but vulnerable shipping lanes and what they thought was national survival. In the next few minutes, perhaps the most famous and consequential surface engagement of all time occurred.  The big ships fired on each other, their 14- and 15-inch guns booming with unimaginable destructive potential. It was the naval equivalent of two fearless, big-punching heavyweight boxers standing toe-to-toe, trading lethal knockout blows.  Something had to give.

Hood—the pride of the British navy—was struck by a perfectly-aimed salvo from Bismarck and exploded violently, breaking in two and sinking with just three survivors out of a crew of more than 1400. Observers on the Prince of Wales were awestruck in disbelief and horror.  One officer is reported to have simply uttered, “Blimey.”

After barely ten minutes of fighting, “The Mighty Hood,” as she was known, was gone. But Prince of Wales, despite suffering significant damage herself from Bismarck’s guns, scored some telling blows of her own, such that Bismarck was forced to disengage and head to home for repair.

She never got there.

Thanks to the Royal Navy’s Herculean effort to track her down and the lucky breaks of war, the British managed to catch up to Bismarck, whose speed and mobility had been impacted by damage she suffered in the engagement with Hood and Prince of Wales. British carrier torpedo planes inflicted further damage and now Bismarck was a sitting duck as the superior British forces closed in on her. Led by the battleships King George V and Rodney, Bismarck was pounded into a non-functional hulk, slipping beneath the surface on May 27, 1941.

In both 2008 and 2016, Hillary Clinton was the modern-day political equivalent to the Bismarck of nearly 70 years ago. Like Bismarck, Clinton was widely-regarded as purpose-built to a deadly end: Highly-capable in the ruthless art of political war, evil-intentioned, single-minded, intent on disrupting civilized society with a full complement of destructive policies and above all, looking to entrench herself as the uncontested holder of power, reigning supreme above all others. Her political presence hung like a malevolent curse over American society. The specter of her being in office, free to run roughshod over our culture and economy with her destructive, corrupt policies was as horrifying to freedom-loving Americans today as the prospect of a Bismarck on the loose was in 1941, raiding the life-giving shipping lanes.

No one had the ability to truly defeat her. It can be very convincingly argued that her loss at the hands of Obama in 2008 was a demographic-based defeat, the result of a never-to-be-duplicated confluence of conditions and circumstances along with an overriding “It’s time” sentiment among the Democratic primary electorate.

She bided her time, the political equivalent of a battleship waiting in port before embarking on its next combat mission. She launched her mission for the 2016 campaign, confident of juicy pickings and easy conquests. Using every unfair advantage and dirty tactic, she enlisted Russian assistance in the form of that totally false “dossier” on Donald Trump, kept a blatantly illegal private e-mail server to hide and control all her illegal communications and activities, got the FBI and Justice Departments to look the other way and leave her alone, and she completely rigged the primary election process to slough off that pesky Bernie Sanders.

She seemed to have every advantage: The unstoppable, battle-hardened political machine, Justice and FBI so totally cowed by her—for reasons we will likely never know—that they gave her free reign, access to unlimited funds, notably from the craftily-hidden but undoubtedly corrupt Clinton Foundation and, of course, the liberal mainstream media relentlessly cheerleading on her behalf.

The Bismarck also seemed to be unbeatable in 1941. Yet its final undoing came at the hands of an embarrassingly obsolete weapon, one that no one could have predicted in advance would play the telling role that it did: The carrier-based Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber. This was a biplane aircraft that looked more like Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel WWI fighter plane than a sleek modern attack aircraft. Wobbling unsteadily towards the Bismarck at barely 100 MPH, the Swordfish flew so slowly that the Bismarck’s modern, sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons could not track their motion slowly enough to get an accurate bead on them and shoot them down. The Swordfish was too slow for the Bismarck to hit them accurately. Amazing.

And like Achilles and his vulnerable heel, so too was the Bismarck critically unprotected: Its rudder, which controlled its steering—was exposed and easy to damage. A Swordfish-launched torpedo struck the Bismarck in the rudder, leaving her impossible to steer. So ended her dash for safety and the British fleet caught her the next day and finished her off.

Hillary Clinton was well-prepared for political battle against any modern Republican opponent. Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush, whoever it was would have had the battle of their lifetime against Clinton and her political weapons. She was the Bismarck. It would take the unlikeliest of weapons to defeat her.

Donald Trump was that weapon. He was the Fairey Swordfish that Hillary couldn’t shoot down. Like the Swordfish, Trump may have appeared unsophisticated and easy to dismiss, but he found her weak spots and struck hard, with crippling effectiveness. To extend the analogy, her campaign sank in ignominious defeat.

Germany did build another battleship just like the Bismarck, called the Tirpitz. The Allies watched her like a hawk, wary of her every move. Now, as was the case with the Tirpitz, speculation is running rampant as to whether Hillary may put to sea once again in 2020, looking to engage President Trump in a return match. She and her acolytes still regard the President as easy pickings. “I’d be happy to beat him again,” she bleats.

But the Tirpitz never made a meaningful combat voyage. It spent pretty much its entire career in port. Its biggest contribution to the war was getting its adversaries to wonder what it might do and causing significant resources to be arrayed against it just in case. However, it never actually did anything. British Lancaster bombers finally blasted it into oblivion in November 1944, six months before the war in Europe ended. The betting here is that Hillary is more like the Tirpitz than the Bismarck—dangerous on paper, but unlikely to do anything impressive in real life.