This is a couple weeks late, given how close we came to ending the Korean War over Easter, but no matter. If there’s one thing this administration has proven with its first hundred days, it’s that things happen quickly enough as to give the impression of incoherency or randomness. But if there’s anything the campaign that preceded it proved, it’s that very little of it is random, and that both Trump himself and his staff are more than capable of improvising whatever is random into their own favor.
Granted, this is quite a loaded assertion. Going by the mainstream media—and all million-or-so viewers that still bother listening to it—Trump’s administration has been nothing short of a catastrophe since his inauguration and the man’s general statements on the size of the crowd he drew. The Trumpcare bill was a legislative failure, the implementation of his immigration reforms has been slow-going, and he’s been plagued on all sides by accusations of Russian collusion—despite a complete lack of any evidence whatsoever. And apparently he’s trying to start a couple wars.
On the other hand, the Trumpcare bill seemed little more than some spare meat tossed to the dogs in congress who have been demanding an Obamacare alternative that’s both relevant and immediate. It was designed to fail for all of the obvious reasons: it was Obamacare, except it was worse for the people who actually needed and used their health insurance, and it was even more expensive. A lot of its problems could have been hammered out in committee, but any GOP congressman who knows how the modern press functions would have been sawing off his own legs had he attached himself to such an ugly-looking—and visible—bill in the first place.
In the meantime, it appeased Paul Ryan because Trump let him handle the healthcare problem the way he wanted to: soft replacement, something that no one actually wanted except the terrified Establishment Republicans who have a tendency to crumble any time the media so much as points a camera at them. In doing so, Ryan used up whatever credibility he had left, along with the credibility of the establishment itself. Trump looks like a fool for bullying the Freedom Caucus, Ryan looks like a shill for pushing an obviously bad bill (despite expectations of working it out in committee, which in these post-Obama years is never a guarantee), but the media cycle is tied to Trump’s twitter feed. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, and Trump will revisit healthcare in a couple of weeks or months, reformulate a stronger base, and hopefully offer up something less-despicable. Trump even used the fumble of the bill to make overtures to the Democrats, claiming he’s willing to work with them to hammer out healthcare reform—this at a time when the Democrats are so divided amongst themselves that the only thing keeping them “Democrat” is their unabashed disgust of the President and his entire administration. When Obamacare collapses, it’ll be easy to spin all of this against them.
The Russian collusion angle has just about collapsed itself, having been used to try and shift the limelight away from the growing story of the Obama administration’s surveillance of their political opposition during the 2016 election. Remember that Watergate broke over Nixon just wanting to do this; he didn’t even getting away with it. But of course, the more the mainstream press tries to spin this, the more they get caught in their own lies from a year ago. So they just pretend everything has been debunked instead—while conservative press outlets and the alt-media plunges on with investigation. And people wonder why the New York Times’ readership base abandoned ship.
Slow immigration reform? Questionable or lacking line items in the budget for the wall? It’s only been a hundred days; these are nothing-burgers and most of the public isn’t fooled. Melania and Barron living in New York City? The cost of security? Trump golfs a lot? It’s almost entertaining enough to watch them grasp at so many straws at once.
Oh right, and there’s the foreign war angle, too. Well, after eight years of a foreign policy that actively promoted terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, propped up Hamas, shuttled weapons into warzones for “rebels”, overturned stable governments and turned civilized countries into anarchic failed states, and generally took the not-great-but-at-least-useable results of G.W. Bush’s foreign policy and turned half the world into a terrorist-riddled inferno, anything that sets the United States on track is going to look like warmongering. Let’s be clear: Obama was not an isolationist, he was a bureaucrat. Isolationists don’t bomb Libya and depose a stable government, encourage warfare and bloodshed in Syria, drone strike upwards of seven countries at a time, or put special forces operators in 138 different countries (compared to about 60 or so during Bush’s last years in office). The Obama doctrine was not a matter of pulling back American influence, it was a matter of pulling back America’s visibility. Instead of the aircraft carrier that you could see off shore, there were the unpredictable Predator drones that flew overhead and maybe dropped a couple bombs on a local hospital. Instead of the submarines you knew were just off in international waters, there were commandos that you couldn’t find training the rebel insurgents that were coming to depose your government, enslave your women, and behead your men.
Obama didn’t want wars fought, he wanted things done his way. Isolationists try to avoid involving themselves with other countries altogether, but bureaucrats don’t listen to the rules except the ones that they write. Instead of the symbol of American power abroad being the aircraft carrier—huge, intimidating, and obvious—he preferred the Predator drone: unpredictable, small, more numerous, and cheaper. He wanted things done under the table, just like his Chicago-style politics in Washington. And the result speaks for itself: a world less safe now than it has been in decades.
So when Trump loudly proclaims that America is not going to encourage the operation of shadow-organizations, that America is going to stand up while it’s on the world stage, and that America is going to support our allies publically and without apology, that isn’t keeping with the Obama doctrine—nor the neocon doctrine. Not by a longshot. Bomb Syrian airbases where chemical attacks are purported to have originated? Yeah, drop fifty nine cruise missiles on it. Insurgents are hiding in tunnels beneath some Afghani foothills? Use the biggest non-nuclear bomb that we have. Make it loud and proud. We’re Americans, damn it. And when North Korea acts up, send in an aircraft carrier, meet with the Chinese president, and while you’re at it, arrange for VP Mike Pence to stand at the DMZ and shoot lightning bolts out of his eyes at the D.P.R.K. soldiers on the other side.
Trump is sending a clear message: he’s not Obama, and he isn’t going to pretend like the shape the world is in right now is the shape it’s supposed to be in.
So yeah, so far so good. Now what? What’s the bigger picture?
It’s not Trump. Trump is part one, and he’ll probably continue doing what he’s already doing. Misdirecting the media, tweeting nonsense that doesn’t actually matter, and forging deals with foreign leaders, legislators, and administrators while practicing his short game. Great.
The bigger picture is the culture war, and it’s getting brutal. Trump’s mere election dealt a heavy blow to their narrative, but it was hardly a killing one. Now the left is not playing to keep the whole country beneath its heel, it’s playing to keep whatever winnings it still has. Already, we’re watching the dismantling of their faux-politeness and smug cordiality on television as it’s replaced with riots at Berkley, unrest in the streets of DC and Baltimore, and more. The Antifa narrative will be more damaging to the US social fabric than even BLM has been, because BLM at least had a platform, vile as it was. This Antifa “movement” is violence without end, resistance without purpose.
But there’s more to it than the riots. Coordinated attacks and smear campaigns against noted personalities on the right are a reality. Since Trump’s election, the forces behind the scenes have reevaluated the threat to their establishment. The right can’t be taken down and pacified as easily as it could before—a problem that, ironically, they caused in the first place with the seemingly arbitrary and lawless regime of the Obama years. But it still has weaknesses. We’ve already seen the celebrity-pundit “provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos get publically shredded over perceived comments about pederasty in the gay community, and he’s been laying low ever since. Mike Flynn was forced out of the Trump administration—ostensibly over ties with Russia that don’t seem to exist beyond a few (wiretapped) phone calls, but in realty over his dishonesty with the Vice President. That warrants dismissal, but it hardly warrants the smear campaign. Folks like Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux, and the now-notorious Richard Spencer have each been targets of internet scrutiny and smearing across the message boards and internet forums that tend to draw the most support for their channels. Most recently, Bill O’Reilly was just pushed off of Fox News over decades-old allegations of sexual harassment. And of course, there’s the whole Bannon thing.
And over the past week, Alex Jones—someone the media has for decades ignored or scapegoated as a fringe conspiracy theorist on the same level as David Icke or Terrence McKenna—has become a key talking point on places like CNN and late-night comedy television. This time, it’s not because he blew a fuse at Piers Morgan over gun rights; it’s because he’s tied up in a custody battle for his kids, and his lawyer decided to proclaim that Jones’ antics in front of a camera are basically part of an act. But custody battles are miserable affairs that typically end in knock-down, drag-out bloodbaths, and as with any legal proceeding, the attorneys are the ones who make most of the decisions and advise their clients, not the other way around. All Jones’ lawyer is doing is playing part of the legal game. And to be fair, Jones can be pretty entertaining.
Anyone actually familiar with InfoWars isn’t going to be convinced that the entire show is some kind of meta-joke, especially when the people pushing that angle are people like Jake Tapper at CNN, or Stephen Colbert. The people who watch Alex Jones—or Molyneux, or Milo, or even O’Reilly—don’t listen to nincompoops on primetime or late night TV. But alienating those demographics was never the point. The people writing Tapper’s and Colbert’s teleprompt scripts are pushing a broader narrative of instability on the right in order to sow deeper division among the American population. They don’t care about the people who already read InfoWars or support Free Domain Radio. What they care about is maintaining their vice grip of the narrative over what demographics they have left—they want to utterly discredit and shame any alternatives to their media empire to such a degree that communication between those on the right and those on the left will be utterly impossible. The only form of interaction that they want to see between these two camps is violence. And if you think I’m wrong, take a good look at the places where this has already happened: our universities. If you think a reasonable conversation between a Trump supporter and an Antifa thug is even conceivable, you should probably attend some of these demonstrations. Or just try debating someone while you’re dressed up in black and wearing a bandana over your face, and see how long it takes for them to ask you what your problem is. Reasonable people don’t have conversations wearing masks and holding cans of mace.
But the riot at Berkley last weekend—and the riots at campuses who have held conservative (or even mildly libertarian) speakers over the past year—are the wave of the future. The leftist media establishment wants this. They want BLM protestors shutting down highways and shouting anti-cop slogans. They want mask-wearing Antifa thugs lighting trash cans on fire and beaning people in the head with bicycle locks. They want our cities on fire and our population confused. This is what a Marxist revolution looks like in slow-motion. The agenda has been at work for decades.
The good news is that their successes—although numerable—can still be counted. They aren’t really winning, they just want you to believe that they are. All of these e-celebrity pundits and bloggers that the left is trying to rip apart have been strengthening their ties to each other over the past several years. They’ve been building up their networks in ways that were somewhat inconceivable a decade ago, in part because of the internet. Naturally, places like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the general basket of social media outlets are almost all in the left’s pocket, but their attempts at censorship and kicking people off their respective platforms have generally been a net loss for their agenda. It’s turning out that the Streisand effect works better for the right nowadays than it does for the left.
Trump fits in here as the shock to the diseased system. Not just the establishment political system, but the entire social system of the country. Trump, what he said, and the people who supported him—all of it is indicative of the ideological chemotherapy taking place right now to mitigate the metastasization of the cancerous hard-left tumors plaguing American institutions. A culture cannot survive when it encourages and promotes values that are antithetical to that culture’s existence. That’s common sense. Americans are finally getting that.
Now just imagine where we’d be right now had Hillary won.