Another day, another “guest essay” for The New York Times. Unlike Sunday’s offering by Damon Linker, which catered in tone and form to try to convince those who viscerally oppose Donald Trump of the risks of prosecuting him, this column by National Review Editor Rich Lowry published in Monday’s Times affords us a glimpse directly into the dark mindset of the right wing in this country, albeit one seen through the hazy glass of feigned outrage.

Still, both essays have several things in common: Both authors are conservatives, taking temporary leave from their normal venues to post their pieces in the Times, a traditionally liberal-leaning publication. Both take the position that the prosecution of Donald Trump is a really bad idea, because, well, reasons. Both take special pains to either minimize or ridicule the scope, extent, and findings of criminality obtained through prior investigations of Trump. And both make dire pronouncements and paint grim scenarios should the former Looter-in-Chief be forced to endure prosecution and potential incarceration for crimes he committed against the American people.

Lowry’s piece, titled “A Defense of GOP Paranoia,” starts out as a self-serving explanation for the vituperative and violent rhetoric displayed by the right and its elected officials in the Republican Party toward federal law enforcement in the wake of the search warrant executed at Trump’s Florida residence. This reaction was completely understandable, Lowry writes, in the wake of what he characterizes as a hyperpartisan investigation of Trump’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, an investigation that Lowry characterizes as a “national fiasco.” Of course, that formulation echoes the now-standard right-wing talking point regarding the Mueller investigation as perpetrating some elaborate “hoax,” a talking point carefully drilled into Republicans’ brains by repetition and instigated by Trump himself, with a special assist from a corrupt attorney general named William Barr.

In this imaginary right-wing history, the fact that Mueller declined to prosecute Trump in compliance with a Department of Justice policy prohibiting criminal action against a sitting president magically invalidated all of the sordid details concerning communications and deals between Trump, his family members, and his associates with Russian intelligence agents leading up to and throughout the 2016 campaign. It’s as if they simply never happened! In this right-wing, upside-down fantasy, the investigation by a lifelong Republican former FBI director was all a politically motivated “witch hunt,” one in which Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn were simply the blithe, unwitting, and totally innocent observers to a systematic effort by the Russian state to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Trump’s favor.

As the American Constitutional Society’s fact sheet on the Mueller Report’s findings and conclusions explains:

Hardly a “national fiasco.” But in calling it that Lowry, of course, relies heavily on the fact that the vast majority of Americans never read the report itself. For the few who have, the degree of treachery and criminality by Trump and his cronies is a fact beyond any doubt, even after the first few pages. But rather than even mention the report itself, Lowry disingenuously dismisses the entire investigation through the device of the red herring of the Steele dossier:

The Russia investigation was a national fiasco that brought discredit on the F.B.I. and everyone who participated in it. The probe prominently featured a transparently ridiculous dossier generated by the Clinton campaign, eventually spinning into a special-counsel investigation that became, to some significant extent, about itself and whether Mr. Trump was guilty of obstruction. People who should have known better got caught up in the feeding frenzy and speculated that the walls were closing in on Mr. Trump or that he might have been a Russian asset going back decades.

It all came to naught, with almost no one expressing any regret about the unnecessary, yearslong psychodrama. It would be better if more people acknowledged — life being complicated — that even someone you hate and fear can be treated unfairly.

Actually, as noted by the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler at the time of its release, the “Steele Dossier” is barely mentioned in the 400-page Mueller report: “Mueller was looking for criminal acts, not seeking to confirm the dossier.”

But you would not know this from Lowry’s screed. The reason you would not know it is that Republicans do not want to talk about the contents of the Mueller report. In fact, that is the last thing they want to talk about. So when Lowry confidently intones “That experience guarantees that no Republican is going to take assurances about the Mar-a-Lago search, or any other Trump investigation, at face value,” what he’s really saying is that the right has effectively chosen to shut its ears and eyes to the obvious collusion discovered by Mueller.

Still, Lowry pushes on with his sophistry. He decries the “bias” of those pursuing the various criminal actions against Trump and assures us that the “novel” legal issues presented by these actions will drag the country through an unrelenting, painful ordeal. His concern is palpable, even as he backhandedly acknowledges that Trump’s conduct has been “infamous.”

But Lowry saves his piece de resistance for his conclusion, in which he musters all his concern and wraps it in a transparent threat:

If it is too difficult now for Democrats to imagine how they might react to such a prosecution of one of their own, they might have a clearer sense soon enough. An indictment of Mr. Trump would invite retaliation, and if Republicans retake the White House, a motivated G.O.P.-controlled Justice Department could be expected to aggressively pursue a reason to indict Joe Biden over his son Hunter’s business dealings.

In the tumult over a Trump indictment, both sides will accuse the other of violating the country’s norms and traditions. But there’s no doubt that a fierce Republican response, deeply distrustful of the authorities and openly defiant, would be profoundly American.

“Profoundly American?” Really? I would call it the exact opposite.

But that’s neither here nor there. Forget the weird symmetry between Linker’s piece and Lowry’s, two purported “Never-Trumpers,” appearing literally back to back, with both of them ultimately supporting Trump’s interests. Forget the fact that both pieces offer astonishingly weak arguments premised (especially in Lowry’s case) on pure right-wing propaganda, with both culminating in dark threats if Democrats actually follow what the law obviously requires.

Instead, just ask yourself why The New York Times would deign to publish these pieces, which would be far better situated on Breitbart? How is this information of any value? And what’s coming next, the concerned musings of Michael Flynn? The Proud Boys?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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The New York Times continues its new role as conduit for GOP disinformation and threats

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25.08.2022

Another day, another “guest essay” for The New York Times. Unlike Sunday’s offering by Damon Linker, which catered in tone and form to try to convince those who viscerally oppose Donald Trump of the risks of prosecuting him, this column by National Review Editor Rich Lowry published in Monday’s Times affords us a glimpse directly into the dark mindset of the right wing in this country, albeit one seen through the hazy glass of feigned outrage.

Still, both essays have several things in common: Both authors are conservatives, taking temporary leave from their normal venues to post their pieces in the Times, a traditionally liberal-leaning publication. Both take the position that the prosecution of Donald Trump is a really bad idea, because, well, reasons. Both take special pains to either minimize or ridicule the scope, extent, and findings of criminality obtained through prior investigations of Trump. And both make dire pronouncements and paint grim scenarios should the former Looter-in-Chief be forced to endure prosecution and potential incarceration for crimes he committed against the American people.

Lowry’s piece, titled “A Defense of GOP Paranoia,” starts out as a self-serving explanation for the vituperative and violent rhetoric displayed by the right and its elected officials in the Republican Party toward federal law enforcement in the wake of the search warrant executed at Trump’s Florida residence. This reaction was completely understandable, Lowry writes, in the wake of what he characterizes as a hyperpartisan investigation of Trump’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, an investigation that Lowry characterizes as a “national fiasco.” Of course, that formulation echoes the........

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