Russiagate, that fraudulent fable wherein Russian President Vladimir Putin personally subverted American democracy, Russian intelligence pilfered the Democratic Party’s email, and Donald Trump acted at the Kremlin’s behest, is at last dead.
No, nothing sudden. It has been a slow, painful death of the sort this destructive beast richly deserved. But its demise is now definitive — in the courts and on paper. We await the better historians to see this properly into the record.
Three key operatives in the construction of the Russiagate edifice are indicted for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about aspects of the Russiagate tale. The Steele dossier, the document on which much of the case against former President Trump rested, is now exposed as a Nixonesque “dirty trick” authorized and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Some mainstream newspapers — certainly not all — are busy in their archives, editing out the worst of the falsehoods they reported in 2016 and 2017 as unassailable fact.
This is a wholesale collapse now.
There are, as one would expect, those who seem determined to hold out no matter what the factual evidence. These go well beyond MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, whose record I will let speak for itself.
I am thinking of people such as David Corn, the Mother Jones correspondent in Washington, and David Frum, a staff writer at The Atlantic. Both invested big time into the Russiagate junk, and both published books filled with the ridiculous, evidence-free piffle of which it was made.
Corn, Frum and numerous others like them are now industriously throwing good money after bad to go by recent publications. Here is Corn’s latest, and here Frum’s. One finds the same tired combination of presumption, useless innuendo, and spoon-fed, evidence-deficient falsities derived from the intelligence agencies that were key to fomenting the Russiagate hoax. Yes, Messrs. Corn and Frum, it was a hoax.
To these diehards, people such as your columnist, given to rational, disinterested consideration of what is known and what is conjured from thin air, are “denialists.” Strange it is that those denying established facts and truths call those who accept these facts and truths by this name.
But this is a measure of the extent Russiagate has plunged us into Alice–in–Wonderland depths where what is up is down, what is dark is light, what is true is to be buried, what is false is to be held high — where blindness is preferred to sight.
This leads us to the essential question we now face, or one of them. What are the consequences of the Russiagate scam? If it rested on lies start-to-finish, this is not to say it did not exact its price. It did. The price is high, and we are fated to pay it for some time to come.
The Damage Done
An inquiry of this kind must begin with the damage Russiagate has done to the prevalent American consciousness. The last five years have delivered Americans into a culture of unreason of the kind they have been prone to indulging periodically throughout their history. It is made in equal parts of a native insecurity and anxiety, of paranoia and of irrationality.
This is at once a pitiable and dangerous state. All is reduced to the Manichean distinctions characteristic of the old Westerns (not to mention most of the good guys vs. bad guys Dreck that comes out of Hollywood these days).
No subtlety of thought survives in the culture of unreason. Public space is populated with poseurs, cutouts, and imposters. Public discourse, with some exceptions, is much of the time not worth bothering with.
To understand this condition, we must recognize it as the work of a diabolic alliance comprised of the Democratic Party’s corrupt leadership, the F.B.I. and other law-enforcement agencies, the national security apparatus and its many appendages, and the media. It is no longer in the slightest objectionable to speak or write of a Deep State that controls this country.
The elite minority this alliance represents derives its power from its claim to speak for the majority — an absolutely classic case of the “soft despotism” Alexis de Tocqueville warned Americans of 190 years ago. Liberal authoritarianism is another name for what has consolidated itself in the years since Democrats, in mid–2016, first raised the phony specter of Russia “hacking” into its mail systems.
In effect, Russiagate has tipped the American polity upside down. It is the illiberal liberals among us, righteous as the old Puritan ministers of New England, who now prosecute a regime of censorship and suppression of dissent that is at least as severe and anti-democratic as what conservatives had going during the Cold War (and in my view worse).
It is they who seek to cow ordinary Americans into the new, weird idolatry of authority, no matter that those to whom the nation is urged to bow are proven liars, law-breakers and propagandists.
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