Friday, April 21, 2017

Trump’s Critics Right and Left: The Conspiracy Factor

He hasn’t flip-flopped so much as he has formed policies on issues about which he was vague during the campaign.
The inability of the Left and the alt-right to view Trump’s decisions outside the context of conspiracy theories illustrates the derangement of political discourse
Explaining President Donald Trump’s willingness to abandon positions he took during the election campaign now that he’s in office shouldn’t be that difficult. Those not overthinking the problem understand that Trump cares nothing for consistency or ideology. But that hasn’t stopped many on both ends of the political spectrum from interpreting his changes of heart on Syria, Russia, and China solely through a conspiratorial mindset in which he can be depicted as either Moscow’s puppet or the cat’s-paw of Wall Street or of his son-in-law Jared Kushner. In doing so, they are showing us that our political culture’s most toxic problem isn’t so much the fault of a president who doesn’t conform to traditional behavior as it is polarized ideologues whose only answer to a complex and confusing world is to see it through the prisms of their own bogeymen.
Trump embarked on a presidential campaign without a record to run on and generally stuck to generalities and slogans, rather than issuing position papers, as most candidates have traditionally done. We associated Trumpism with an “America First” isolationism on foreign policy and trade and building a wall that he said Mexico would pay for. The only real substance of his campaign was resentment of political elites and a belief that America was being taken advantage of by friends and allies.
Viewed in perspective and stripped of the efforts of political opponents and supporters to define him in a way that was more about bolstering their own ideological positions, Trump, it’s easy now to see, was always unmoored to any fixed position other than a commitment to his own advancement. He was neither liberal nor conservative but a populist — which means he was always likely to do anything he perceived to be popular no matter what he had said about the subject previously. If what little record he had didn’t conform to his current positions, he simply falsified the record, as when he insisted that he had always opposed the Iraq war. His current ludicrous claim that he is responsible for NATO’s devoting more resources to fighting terror, even though that change happened years ago, is just the latest example of his determination never to acknowledge mistakes or that he has changed his positions.
But rather than acknowledge that the Trump administration is either a work in progress or an improvisation with no consistent theme, his embittered foes and disillusioned supporters are heading down the conspiracy rabbit hole.
Read the rest from Jonathan Tobin HERE.

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