Thursday February 23, 2017
The following was published last week by long-time Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass under the headline “Whatever happened to liberal Democrats, anyway?” It was syndicated on the usual right-wing sites as well as more mainstream media like The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The bold-faced annotations are mine.
Whatever happened to liberal Democrats, with their concerns about civil liberties and government surveillance of American citizens? Out protesting Donald Trump's anti-refugee/immigration executive order, I guess.
Liberals once hated the CIA. And they loved the Russians. You can look it up. Where do you look that up? It's not really a thing that can be looked up, can it? Liberals are more diverse than you make them. The world is more complicated than you make it.
Their liberal friends in Hollywood made movie after movie about the dangers of The Deep State and its awesome surveillance powers. One of the best was “Three Days of the Condor,” with liberal icon Robert Redford fighting the malevolent CIA boss John Houseman, who longed for the “clarity” of world war. That's ... just wrong. First, Houseman's character was talking about 10 years after the Great War, adding “Before we knew enough to number them,” which is more a critique of world wars than a longing for one. And the clarity he missed was for a simpler world in which we knew we were on the right side. We all longed for that clarity in the 1970s. You could say that such longing led to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, who tried to fit such clarity onto a more complex world.
Years later, Edward Snowden became the liberal demigod and WikiLeaks their winged chariot of truth. Another overstatement, and never true for me. Some leftists still feel that way about Snowden.
Liberals fretted about the powers of the intelligence community being used on citizens for political reasons. Don't we all?
So what happened to the ideals of these liberal Democrats? Donald Trump was elected president, that's what. You're fucking kidding.
And now you can clearly see the change in them as Trump's now-former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has become feast for the crows. You're fucking kidding.
Flynn deserves his punishment. Make no mistake about that. He reportedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his phone conversations with a Russian ambassador that included discussion of the Obama administration's sanctions against Russia. As a former general officer, as a former Defense Intelligence Agency boss, Flynn understands the chain of command. There is no lying to a superior officer. That's the lesson you pull out of this? We have evidence of possible collusion between an incoming administration and a hostile foreign power, and you're concerned about chain of command?
Kass goes on. It's not worth detailing the rest of the overstatements and misreadings because they can be flicked aside with the following rejoinder: Circumstances matter. Also this: Where was Kass during the debate of the USA Patriot Act, which allows the type of wiretapping that caught Flynn? Also this: The hyprocrisy belongs to the GOP, who spent decades winning elections by claiming to be more patriotic than thou and are now turning a blind eye to an obscenely cozy relationship between the current Republican administration and the foreign power that helped elect them.
Let me repeat that: Between the current Republican administration and the foreign power that helped elect them.
That's serious shit, but it's completely bypassed by Kass. Then again, he can't even recall “Three Days of the Condor” correctly.
I don't know Kass, so I asked Chicago-area friends about him. I got this:
He's a joke. Basically a phony “regular guy” “man of the people” who isn't funny or clever or insightful but thinks he is. He's a pathetic Royko imitator with none of the talent or intelligence.
He's a troll. Shame the trib gives him a platform
He's a meatball that can type.
I miss greater clarity from The Chicago Tribune.