First Lose All the Moderates

By Andrew Levine

November 01, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - Is there anyone in the Trump Party, formerly known as the GOP, who is not worthy of contempt?

Perhaps somewhere within the Fox News demographic there are a few. Thanks largely to that propaganda outfit and other rightwing media, there are people who don’t know better, who are that dumbed down and disinformed.

But the GOP’s Trump toadies and enablers, its Senators and House members especially, have no excuse.

Like Trump himself, they have to be taken seriously – for the power they wield. Otherwise, they would not even be worth despising.

Anyone who is paying attention at all to the political scene who doesn’t realize this has a serious problem. If anything, the Republican Party nowadays is worse than contemptible; more often than not, it is beneath contempt.

This is worth bearing in mind when sanctimonious politicians and pundits call for “bipartisanship,” for working “both sides of the aisle.”

Of course, Democrats are not so great either. However, they are a lot less odious.

Thus, in 2011, when Barack Obama ordered Navy Seals, his very own Murder Incorporated, to “take out” – extra-judicially murder – Osama Bin Laden, he seemed somber and almost regretful that the man had to be killed rather than brought to justice.

By all appearances, he was mindful of the fact that a country purporting to be “the city on the hill,” a country that once championed modern notions of international law, could not, or would not, be civilized enough at least to try to appear law abiding. He was also humble, not taking all the “credit” for himself.

Needless to say, this didn’t stop him from exploiting the Bin Laden assassination to the hilt when he ran for a second term. But that was almost forgivable; “hypocrisy is,” after all, “a tribute vice pays to virtue,” just as de la Rochefoucauld said it is.

Nevertheless, how shameful that no one anywhere near the mainstream called him and his assassins to account; all they did, and still do, was pile on praise.

This is not nearly as surprising as it ought to be because civilization was already in retreat long before Bush the Younger and Dick Cheney launched their war of revenge — not exactly against Al- Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11, but against the Taliban and, worse, against Afghanistan itself, not for being involved directly in 9/11, and not, like Saudi Arabia, for providing most of the terrorists who carried out the atrocity, but for sheltering those who were calling the shots.

Perhaps, in the cosmic scheme of things, the moral decay of the ambient political culture should count as a mitigating factor. By the time Obama came along, this sensibility had become so pervasive that hardly anyone even bothered to notice how worrisome revenge killing is from a moral point of view.

It is like the African slave trade and the extermination of the native populations of the Americas was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For a very long time after Columbus, hardly anyone in Europe or in the settler cultures of the New World thought any of that problematic, much less objected to it.

Could it be that moral obtuseness will always be with us? However that may be, Obama’s position is morally fastidious in comparison with Trump’s.

Trump made the extra-judicial murder of Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi all about himself – no surprise there! – while he gloated over the blood and gore, in much the way that a troubled adolescent boy might act out after knocking off an enemy avatar in a violent video game. Even as his body has aged normally, Trump’s mind never matured beyond that stage.

Thus, although they are both guilty of more or less the same thing, Trump’s moral level is worse than Obama’s. Therefore, so is the moral level of his Republican toadies, especially the ones who echo the barely literate rants and tweets of the Dear Leader without a hint of irony or shame.

This about says all there is to say about Democrats and Republicans, except that while all or nearly all Republicans are by now damaged beyond repair, there are Democrats who are not. Some of them – many more since 2018 than before — are not merely lesser evils. They are our best chance for emerging intact and in a good place from the morass Trump, even more than his predecessors, has laid upon us.

Unfortunately, the vast majority, including the party’s leaders, are not among them. Thanks to their penchant for moderation, they are Trump enablers too.


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