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Apr 21

Apparently Trump Won’t Protect Julian Assange

Apparently Trump Won't Protect Julian AssangeI just saw this headline at CNN, Sources: US Prepares Charges to Seek Arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. I thought it a bit strange because I thought that Assange would be most safe if Donald Trump became president.

Look, I understand that Hillary Clinton lost the election due to a kind of political perfect storm. There are so many single things that could have gone differently that seem like they would have given the presidency to her. But I’m convinced that this isn’t really true. There is one thing alone that assured her defeat. You could take everything else away, but with the WikiLeaks drip, drip, drip of substanceless innuendo, she would have lost regardless.

Julian Assange’s First Problem

So Donald Trump owes his current job title to Julian Assange. Now if Assange had done such a great favor to men as vile as Dick Cheney or Newt Gingrich, I firmly believe they would protect him. But there are two major things that stop Trump from doing so. One is that he’s delusional. I doubt that he knows what a huge favor Assange did for him.

Oh sure, Trump said that he loved WikiLeaks. But Trump’s attention span is about that of a gnat. And loving the sabotage that WikiLeaks was doing to Clinton doesn’t mean that Trump had or has any idea of just how much help he was receiving.

And Assange has said he has nothing against Clinton personally. In an interview with Jeremy Scahill, he said, “I think I’d probably like her in person… In some ways she’s a bit like me, She’s a bit wonkish and a bit awkward. So maybe we’d get along.” That certainly can’t endear him to Trump.

(For the record, I don’t think Assange wanted Trump to win so much as he just wanted to mess with the United States. And although I understand that urge, a lot of poor people, who have never had his advantages will die because of his meddling. Power is extremely dangerous in anyone’s hands. I know it would be a bad idea to give it to me.)

Julian Assange’s Second Problem

If Julian Assange rots in a prison for a decade — Or the rest of his life! — I’ll feel bad for him, just like I feel bad for almost everyone in that situation.

The second issue, of course, is that Donald Trump just doesn’t care. I’m sure if he were capable of seeing that Assange made him president, Trump’s response would be, “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?”

I know that there has been a lot of reporting about how loyal Donald Trump is to his friends. But he’s kind of the anti-me. I find it almost impossible to stay angry at anyone if they are not continuing to make me angry. So I hate you while you’re kicking me but once you stop, I’m not angry for very long.

For Trump, it’s that he likes you as long as you smooch his bottom. But that has to keep going. If you don’t say anything bad about him, he won’t go after you. But if you aren’t actively saying what a great guy he is, he isn’t going help you out. And I don’t think that Julian Assange is inclined to smooch his bottom, nor is he in a position to do so if he were so inclined.

I Used to Feel Sorry for Julian Assange

The truth is that Assange has been treated very badly — especially by the United States and then all the countries that will do its bidding to stay on its good side. And I do think that bad things will happen to Assange and that they will be unjust. But I’ve gotten to the point of not caring. He’s done a lot of good work, but he threw it away in what was nothing but a partisan campaign to keep the media constantly talking about Hillary Clinton’s email, even though there really wasn’t anything of substance there.

If Julian Assange rots in a prison for a decade — Or the rest of his life! — I’ll feel bad for him, just like I feel bad for almost everyone in that situation. But I won’t feel anything special for him. I won’t feel for him the way I did for Chelsea Manning and the way I do feel for Edward Snowden.

(And for the record: Edward Snowden is an American hero. And those who don’t see that have been blinded by the power elite. The arguments against him are so pathetic that I can’t even bear to get into them anymore. But let me say this. For all of you out there who claim that he should come back to the US and stand trial, remember this: he won’t be able to defend himself. The courts will find that everything he wants to use to defend himself will endanger national security. So I don’t want to hear it. All of you can stand up and call for transparency — as long as it is in theory or in the past. Otherwise: blah, blah, blah. Just admit that you don’t believe in transparency — “I believe in the the transparency that the power elite want to provide to me!” — and we’ll get along a lot better.)

The Future Is Unknown

Of course, Julian Assange might make it out of all this without much discomfort. There seems to be more sympathy in this country for the man who gave us the worst president in recent history than the man who informed the nation about the bad actions of our government.

Regardless, I will not be crying any tears for Julian Assange. Just like Donald Trump won’t.

7 comments

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  1. James Fillmore

    Charlie Pierce got it right, as usual: “The only court in which Assange rightly should appear is in Sweden.”

    1. Frank Moraes

      If that. It hasn’t been clear to me that the whole thing isn’t a government set-up. But it is wrong that he can’t go there and face his accuser because he will certainly be handed over to the US. Still, as I said, I no longer pity him because there is a big difference between being for transparency (Snowden) and trying to affect elections.

  2. paintedjaguar

    I’ve mostly avoided commenting on politics lately, as the revisionism, neo-McCarthyism, and obligatory hate sessions are wearing me down. “Drip, drip, drip” is nothing compared to the post-election avalanche of conformity, mendacity, and flimsy apologetics from those who had invested themselves in a Hillary win. I don’t think the hyperbole and juvenile name calling are doing Trump much harm either.

    Frank, events have shown that those of us who thought Hillary was a terrible candidate were right and you were mistaken or disingenuous to claim she was a “perfectly fine” choice. Yes, I know you liked Bernie — who in the end damaged his own credibility by getting up in public and painting a rosy portrait of Hillary that was manifestly untrue — and which he knew to be untrue.

    It’s odd for you to be implying that you value transparency more than others when you literally just got through dismissing Hillary’s email server contretemps as “[not] anything of substance”. She set up a personal server to avoid FOI and other inconvenient scrutiny of her communications, in defiance of established protocols. Keeping some of that material on a private server was demonstrably illegal as were some of her attempts at a coverup. Her response to the public exposure of her actions showed further poor judgement, massive entitlement, and a willingness to lie about anything and everything. This is the opposite of transparency.

    Further, one can speculate about Assange’s motivations but no one has proved the Wikileaks releases to be anything but factual, much less “substanceless innuendo” as you would have it. Of course this material was damaging, since it demonstrated collusion among Hillary’s campaign staff, media outlets, and DNC apparatchiks as well as Hillary’s cosy relations with Big Money and her fundamental contempt for honesty and the general public. Saying everyone does it is no defense, even if that’s largely true.

    To put a cherry on top, the leaks also revealed the “Pied Piper Strategy” followed by Hillary’s campaign and their collaborators in the media — a conscious decision to “elevate” whom they considered the worst of the Republican candidates, thereby making Hillary seem more appealing. It’s arguable that as much as anything else, this was actually what cost her the election.

    1. James Fillmore

      IMO the Wikileaks stuff wasn’t much. Sure, the campaign strategized to beat their opponent; what campaign doesn’t? The most damning stuff was internal memos describing Clinton’s absolute loathing of leftist activists (such as environmental activists) and that was barely reported at all. The FBI stuff, and the timing of it, was more destructive.

      I personally think Clinton was the best candidate against any Republican except Trump, but that’s old news, now. Nothing we can do to change it.

      1. paintedjaguar

        Trump won both the nomination and the election much the same way Obama did – by promising disruption (followed in both cases by business as usual). I don’t see much use in debating the particulars of Hillary’s loss, since the Dems do not intend to change anything. There were plenty of reasons for her to lose, the most telling of which was just an inability to convincingly pass as anything but what she is. I was provoked into responding by some of Frank’s framing of events. Like many Clinton supporters, he seems to have switched from “there’s no way she can lose” to “there’s no way she could have won and none of it was her fault.”

        To be honest, I expected her to win too, given the entire weight of the Dem establishment, the media, and most of the Republican establishment behind her. Seeing both Clinton and Jeb Bush lose was the most hopeful development in quite some time. Trump is bad of course, but hardly the coming of the antichrist or even uniquely awful. Plus, the combination of Bernie and Trump has led the Dem establishment to expose their real nature to more people than at any other time in my adult life. I might even feel hopeful if the current zeitgeist didn’t remind me so strongly of both the Watergate aftermath and the runup to our Iraq invasion.

        1. FDChief

          “Trump is bad of course, but hardly…uniquely awful.”

          You’re really gonna go there? Really?

          Read the man’s interviews. He’s as loopy as Reagan in his last term, and, unlike the Gipper, he’s surrounded not by hard-eyed sonsofbitches but loons like Miller, Gorka, and Bannon. And, unlike Reagan, he’s got a Republican Congress and a Republican majority SCOTUS. You REALLY think this idiot grifter can’t wreck the U.S. to a degree we haven’t seen since the original Gilded Age?

          Which, let’s recall, required a massive and sustained effort to push back to get even the early 20th Century equivalent of some sort of actual democratic republic. It took a violently activist labor movement (which is deader’n a doornail), muckraking journalists (who now compete to suck up for access), Progressive politicians of the LaFollette breed (see “labor movement”, above) and the utter lack of a need to consider race or gender other than as objects of contempt…

          I mean, I’ve heard about this idiotic “sharpen the contradictions” sort of belief, but never really met anyone capable of feeding themselves who actually believed it.

          The simple mechanics of first-past-the-post voting means that the U.S. has two large parties. The Democratic Party has long been far too beholden to corporate interests. The GOP is fucking bugnuts. So to ensure the final extinction of Killary Klintoon you’re fine with handing the car keys to Crazy Uncle Liberty?

          FFS…

          1. James Fillmore

            Compared to a President Jeb, or Rubio, or Cruz, is Trump that much of an outlier in today’s GOP? He’s certainly more deranged, dumb, and dangerous. Assuming he doesn’t start WWIII (bit of a big assumption on my part!), the worst harm he’ll do is probably exactly what any Republican would do now — poison our planet, damage public education, harm the poor, empower the cruel, etc. The party which supported the Americans With Disabilities Act is dead and buried. And base Republican voters support viciousness for viciousness’ own sake. They barely care who the targets are, so long as there’s somebody powerless getting picked on. Even if it’s them.

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