I recently consumed a column by Intercept writer Peter Maass titled “Dark essays by White House staffer are the intellectual source code of Trumpism.”
The target of his invective was Michael Anton, strategic communications director for President Trump’s National Security Council. Last September, Anton wrote a widely read column under the pen name Publius Decius Mus titled “The Flight 93 Election” for the Claremont Institute Review of Books, an intellectually rigorous conservative periodical. It is an excellent exposition of our nation’s condition today, and if you have not already read it, I suggest you do so now.
But Maass saw in it nothing but stupid conspiracy theories and absurd analogies, to wit:
What are the odds you would draft a 4,000-word essay arguing that America is like a doomed aircraft that’s been hijacked by terrorists in which Trump has madly rushed the cockpit and seized the controls but we still might die because he doesn’t know how to fly the plane?…
Yet a senior member of the NSC named Michael Anton has written precisely that justification of the Trump presidency — not as an NSC memo, but as an anonymous article for an arch-conservative website, published two months before the election, when Anton was still a private citizen.
Labeling the essay and the publication it appears in as “arch-conservative” isn’t an argument. Given the Intercept’s audience, it is intended as a smear.
Anton’s essay describes America’s perilous condition. The election truly was like flight 93, where those brave souls wrested control of the plane from terrorists on 9/11 knowing they risked death, but that death was certain if they did nothing. In the last election we were given the choice between Donald Trump, who, as Anton says, “articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning,” and Hillary Clinton, a well-known figure whose awful personal qualities were exceeded only by her corruption and lethal public policies.
Anyone who does not think our nation is on the brink has not been paying attention, either before the election or since. For eight years we watched an out-of-control president defy law, betray our allies, undermine our hard-won successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and turn the entire Middle East into a cauldron of anarchy and chaos, while redirecting billions of taxpayer dollars to his friends and supporters with worse-than-useless “green” energy projects and “fiscal stimulus” pork.
As America awoke to the dangers, our government was turned against us. The Obama White House used the IRS, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, FBI, EPA, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and many other federal agencies both to undermine our laws and attack American citizens standing in their way. President Obama habitually abused his powers and should have been impeached and removed from office. He was saved by the timidity of the congressional GOP.
Voters correctly saw Hillary Clinton as a continuation of Obama’s destructive juggernaut. Anyone with a modicum of common sense could see that four more years of this craziness would likely see the end of our republic. So despite a full court press pulling out all the stops to champion Hillary — and a public mood that made it physically hazardous to even acknowledge interest in Trump, the American people took the only reasonable course: they elected Donald Trump in what in the circumstances could be deemed a landslide. I know, I know, he lost the popular vote, but that is only because of large populations in extreme Left California — now debating secession (I hope they do CalExit) — and the heavily-government-dependent major cities. The rest of the country went for The Donald.
So Anton wrote a very solid piece that honestly captured the state of our nation. But Peter Maass, winner of many left-wing fishbowl writing awards, didn’t see it that way at all. Like all leftists, he felt it necessary to not question the premise, but instead to ridicule it. See, because this is arguably a more effective rhetorical strategy: 1. it does not require you to actually make an opposing case that defends your position. Doing so is hard, we know, snowflake. It means you actually have to use logic, facts and at least a modest base of knowledge; 2. it discredits the person. After all, if your goal is to win at all costs, you don’t really care about facts. You just need to make the other guy look bad. This has the added benefit of setting him up for future ridicule based on the original calumnies. If enough people can be either convinced or intimidated by your smears and rants, it may also make your target radioactive, hobbling his ability to have any influence in the future.
Whether he knows it or not (between you and me, he probably does), Mr. Maass is simply carrying our Vladimir Lenin’s admonition:
We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us.
Well, this is one writer who is repulsed by the shamelessness of left-wing shills like Peter Maass.
They obtain accolades from their leftist peers in the media echo chamber by engaging in ad hominem attacks.