George W.H. Bush, Post-liberalism, Collusion: 3 Stories You Should Read 12/4/2018
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In the category of: Where there’s smoke…
There is even reporting suggesting Mueller is approaching his endgame — and thus won’t hold back like he has in the past.
If that’s the case, both the Manafort and Flynn filings could shed new light on the more mysterious half of Mueller’s probe: collusion. We know plenty about what Trump has done that might constitute obstruction of justice — he’s even tweeted stuff that could be evidence — but collusion is a tougher nut to crack. It’s a somewhat nebulous term that doesn’t even appear in the criminal code, and the events involved often happened in far-flung places with a strange cast of characters.
All of that said, if there was collusion — and Trump has said repeatedly that there was not — how might it have gone down? Here’s a primer.
In the category of: The global threat to liberalism.
The target of this ire is “the establishment” — and the establishment is, broadly speaking, liberal. It favors the free movement of money and people, and believes these policies will generate economic growth sufficient both to give people hope for the future and to pay for social services generous enough to help those struggling to keep up. That was the deal: Elect liberals of the center-left or center-right, and they will manage the economy and the welfare state, technocratically tweaking it a little this way and that, raising or cutting taxes a little here and a little there, while for the most part getting out of the way so that the market can perform its magic, enriching us all over time.
It didn’t work. In country after country, the policies embraced by the liberal establishment produced aggregate growth but benefits that were enjoyed only by some — namely, by the relatively well-educated residents of major cities and their surrounding suburbs, very much including the major cities where each country’s political and economic elites live and work. Elsewhere, people have struggled to keep up or fallen badly behind.
In the category of: People rarely fit neatly in any box.
The news media always misinterpreted George H. W. Bush. During the 1988 Presidential campaign, many commentators mistook his preppy appearance and goofy manner for weakness. Newsweek ran a cover story called “Fighting the Wimp Factor.” Even people inside Bush’s campaign took this perception seriously. I covered the campaign, and I remember watching Bush prepare for a televised debate and witnessing the late Roger Ailes tell him to stop waving his hands around, because it made him look like “a pansy.”
This was someone who, during the Second World War, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and trained as a pilot. Flying in a torpedo bomber from the decks of an aircraft carrier, he flew fifty-eight combat missions over the Pacific, and during one of them he was shot down. For his service he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. To label him a wimp was ridiculous.
In death, Bush is now is being misrepresented again (especially on cable television) as a saintly figure and as one of the truly great U.S. Presidents. He was neither. Running for Senate in 1964, he opposed the Civil Rights Act. In the 1988 Presidential race, when he defeated Michael Dukakis, his campaign, under the direction of Lee Atwater, pioneered many of the slash-and-burn tactics that disfigure modern elections. (The racist Willie Horton ad was but one of many misleading attacks that the Bush campaign launched.)
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