Wish You Were Here
Love and Kisses
Aardvark and Dr. Aardvark
Aardvark and Dr. Aardvark are taking a vacation. We’ll see y’all in a while, unless the world blows up in the meantime. So here’s some parting music for Kim Jong Trump and Donald Un.
It has come to Aardvark’s attention that some readers found George Will’s column—see previous post on weather conditions in Hell—locked behind a pay wall.
Will writes of the tempting choices that white people in Alabama have on offer as they go about picking a senator to succeed Jeff Sessions. He reports that three candidates have a chance:
Will enlarges on how Mitch McConnell, apparently scared shitless of a Mo Brooks victory, is funneling money to attack Brooks—for being best buddies with Nancy Pelosi and failing to lick Donald Trump’s boots with sufficient enthusiasm.
These attacks, Will avers, are driving Brooks voters to Moore, who may well win the Republican primary—and then, mirabile dictu, lose to a Democrat!
Will concludes thusly:
“Anything that comes out of the South,” said writer Flannery O’Connor, a sometime exemplar of Southern Gothic, “is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” But, realistically, Alabama’s primary says more about Republicans than about this region. A Michigan poll shows rocker-cum-rapper Kid Rock [pictured above] a strong potential Republican Senate candidate against incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Rock says Democrats are “shattin’ in their pantaloons” because if he runs it will be “game on mthrfkers.”
Is this Northern Gothic? No, it is Republican Gothic, the grotesque becoming normal in a national party whose dishonest and, one hopes, futile assault on Brooks is shredding the remnants of its dignity.
Reporting from Alabama on the upcoming Senate election, he says the grotesqueness isn’t Southern Gothic, it’s Republican Gothic.
Put that popcorn in the microwave, boys.
And get out the moonshine.
It’s axiomatic that if foreign heads of government cannot have private conversations with the President and others in our government—if they reasonably anticipate that their exact words will be printed in the press—then they will cease to have candid conversations. Either they will stop talking at all, or, if they do talk, they will only mouth the same bullshit they would serve up in a campaign rally.
This is terrible. The reasons are obvious, but David Frum’s analysis is still worth a read.
And, in addition to major injury to American interests, leaking the transcripts was a crime.
We know they are the real transcripts because the White House did not claim otherwise, or ask the Washington Post not to publish. (That, per the WaPo’s reporter, on Morning Joe.)
So who leaked the transcripts? To begin with the obvious: you can’t leak the real transcripts unless you have the real transcripts. There are, then, essentially three possibilities.
One possibility—perhaps the most obvious one—is that someone in the State Department or the military was the leaker. David Frum lays out the case:
Senior national-security professionals regard Trump as something between (at best) a reckless incompetent doofus and (at worst) an outright Russian espionage asset. The fear that a Russian mole has burrowed into the Oval Office may justify, to some, the most extreme actions against that suspected mole.
The nature of this particular leak suggests just such a national-security establishment origin. It is a very elegantly designed leak. The two transcripts belong to calls whose substance was already widely reported in the media; they give away nothing new.
Better still from a national-security establishment point of view: both calls make the foreign leader look good at home. Enrique Peña Nieto will be helped, not hurt, by his dignified defense of Mexican national interests; Malcolm Turnbull is shown being simultaneously compassionate to deserving refugees but stern in his defense of Australian law and preexisting agreements with the United States.
Best of all, from that same national-security point of view, the transcripts reveal Trump as an arrant fool without actually compromising any important U.S. national interest. Speaking to the president of Mexico, Trump claims he won the state of New Hampshire because it is a “drug-infested den.” Trump won the state’s Republican primary, but lost New Hampshire in 2016, and that quote will not help him do better in 2020. The Turnbull transcript confirms the accuracy of early reports that Trump erupted in temper—and exposes Trump’s claims about the call as untrue. …
We have it on good authority that pretty much everybody in the White House is leaking like a sieve. And some of those leaks—especially of late—seem to have come from members of Trump’s coterie who want to reveal just how bad things are getting, as a step toward protecting Trump from himself. For example, this afternoon Jonathan Chait—speaking in general terms, not specifically about the transcript leaks—had this to say:
During his very brief tenure as communications director, Anthony Scaramucci blurted out something very telling: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president.” The conviction that Trump is dangerously unfit to hold office is indeed shared widely within his own administration. Leaked accounts consistently depict the president as unable to read briefing materials written at an adult level, easily angered, prone to manipulation through flattery, subject to change his mind frequently to agree with whomever he spoke with last, and consumed with the superficiality of cable television.
Scenario number two seems like a definite possibility.
Today Morning Joe advanced another highly plausible theory: that the leak was engineered by Trump himself. And who on God’s green earth might he do such a thing, given that the transcripts make him look like an idiot?
Now, this is truly a harebrained idea. But it’s the very sort of harebrained idea that an improvisational narcissist would come up with, in the misguided view that he’s cuter than Bambi.
Under scenario three, obviously not.
Under scenarios one or two, well, as my philosophy professor used to say, if the end does not justify the means, then what does justify them?