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.

Bernie Sanders: Forward to the Past

Thomas FrankI don’t think it’s personal towards Sanders. He’s a hard person to hate. I think it’s ideological, but it’s complicated. The Clinton wing of the Democratic Party are the people who I described in Listen, Liberal. These are professional-class liberals. They regard themselves as being experts — as being extremely pragmatic. They know how everything works in Washington. And they look at a guy like Bernie Sanders and the constant criticism of him, that they still use, is that none of his proposals practical — that they wouldn’t get anywhere in Congress. And on that level they are realistic and he is not. By the way, this is ridiculous in a hundred different ways. But it speaks to who these Democrats are that they see themselves as the people who know how to get things done. You know: the experts.

And then there’s this other sense in which Sanders represents really the past of the Democratic Party. He represents a kind of past that these people have thought was done. They thought that Bill Clinton finished it off back in the early 90s. You remember the Democratic Leadership Council. That was the whole idea. The New Democrats, the Third Way — they were breaking with the New Deal. That kind of liberalism was dead and gone forever. And here comes Sanders, advocating this stuff as if nothing has changed. So it’s still the 1940s. That really bothers this kind of Democrat that we’re describing here.

–Thomas Frank
Interview on The Majority Report 20 April 2017