“What do you think—our country’s so innocent?”

Some things speak for themselves.

O’Reilly: “Putin’s a killer”

Trump: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think—our country’s so innocent?”

 

Here’s what these things are they saying: President Trump’s odd comments and behavior regarding Russia merit a rigorous, bipartisan investigation of the President’s personal finances and his links to Russia.

Cold war liberals at the Chicago Women’s March

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

16 thoughts on ““What do you think—our country’s so innocent?””

  1. And for some strange reason the entire right-wing establishment is not jamming the airwaves screaming the trump hates america. Maybe they're hung over.

  2. As a fervent "#nevertrump" conservative I'm both horrified and darkly amused by the current moment. We have a President who cozies up to authoritarian dictators and besmirches the integrity and honor of America's military and intelligence services. If only the Republicans would have nominated someone who was willing to say that Russia was "our #1 geopolitical foe."

    Or put another way: October 2012 called, and it wants its smug, juvenile debate one-liners back.

    1. Are y'all ever going to get tired of relitigating trivial moments from the Obama presidency? The geopolitical situation was unequivocally different in 2012 (no Ukrainian incursion yet, different key actors in terrorism, no intervention into a U.S. election to give three obvious examples), and even now I think labeling Russia the #1 geopolitical threat to the United States is a stretch. Which is NOT to say it's not a threat.

      1. No, the geopolitical situation was not "unequivocally different" in 2012. Vladimir Putin ruled Russia in an autocratic manner, he had engaged in assassination of domestic political rivals, he had invested heavily in re-militarizing the country, his envoys had actively attempted to thwart US interests around the globe, he had deployed domestic propaganda to shore up his own political power and to crush dissent, he had cultivated close ties to corrupt oligarchs with ties to organized crime and he had talked, openly and unambiguously, about Russia's destiny to oppose the supposed corruption and decadence of the West. Mitt Romney correctly – and against the conventional wisdom of almost the entire liberal and centrist foreign policy establishment – recognized that this presented a significant danger to the United States on an ongoing basis. The invasion of the Ukraine, the intervention in support of the regime in Syria, the use of cyber attacks against the US government (which, I'll point out, long predated the "hack" of the DNC with barely a peep of protest from most people friendly to the administration) were all logical downstream events of the reality that Mitt Romney correctly diagnosed (and was mocked for to widespread delight) in 2012.

        It's would be like saying "Al Qaeda wasn't a huge threat to the United States on September 10, 2001 – at that point they hadn't flown any airplanes into buildings." The events of the following day were the culmination of the group's activities in the period prior. A person who said, before September 11, that Al Qaeda was a significant threat to the United States would be, by definition, an accurate assessor of current events.

    2. Do you understand that it is probably a good idea for the president to chart a course somewhere between abject capitulation and relentless hostility towards countries that we are not at war with?

      1. There is no evidence of Trump's having abjectly capitulated to Russia. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence of irrationally relentless hostility to both Iran and China. It is unfortunate that American liberals prefer to engage in warmed-over Romneyism than focus on the real threat of Trump's presidency, namely unfocused belligerence.

  3. But some Muslim dude donated to the Clinton Foundation, so, ya know, the Fairness Doctrine requires that we be fair and balanced.

  4. This is, I agree, a relevant issue, but there is a question not being posed by the political pundits, which, I submit, may yet prove to be as decisive as any other:

    How long will the American people continue to support a president who can't take a joke?

  5. Used to be when people said these kinds of things, you could count on the kind of people who voted for Trump denouncing them as UnAmerican and pulling out the pitchforks, ropes, and torches. What changed?

    1. I don't think there is any real contradiction here. Trump-style nationalism is not based on a cognitive judgment that America is (objectively) better than other countries. It is based on an emotional commitment to one's own, regardless of such judgments. His base just assumes that of course we should prefer our own country, right or wrong, just as we prefer our own family, without necessarily thinking that it is morally superior to other families. This is no doubt how Russians think as well. It actually makes a lot more sense than neoconservative rhetoric about how the US is morally superior to the rest of the world, since the neoconservative's loyalties obviously do not actually depend on a cool, dispassionate decision that the US (or Israel) is on the right side of some impersonal moral standard.

      1. This makes sense, but would the people who adhere to this view recognize it as their own and acknowledge it if it were explained to them?

        1. I would be hesitant to ascribe too much coherence to people's nationalist feelings. On the other hand, isn't this roughly what "my country, right or wrong" means? Trump isn't a particularly careful analytic thinker, but he seems to have the idea that loyalty to country is pre-cognitive down. For a left-wing version, there is Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country".

  6. I should preface this by saying Trump is a terrible president and a terrible human being.

    But, in context, he made a reasonable point. All states are instruments of violence. The US does not have its current landmass or position in the world by having been nice to people. The US has had a close military alliance with Stalin's Russia and a loose alignment with Mao's China. Putin is an authoritarian populist, but is undoubtedly popular in Russia. There is no reason to think that Putin is incapable of making mutually beneficial arrangements with other states.

    The problem with Trump's foreign policy is not that he is willing to work with Putin, or rethink American alliances almost forty years after the Cold War ended. The problem is he lacks self-control, knowledge, willingness to consult experts and has a belligerent personality. He also has an instinctively zero-sum view of international relations. I sort of wish that some restraint/realist foreign policy types could get in his headspace, rather than lunatics like Flynn and Bannon.

    1. I think too that he is one of the most dangerous of men when entrusted with great power: deep inside, he is ashamed of himself for never having been a soldier. He had numerous deferments for heel spurs during the Vietnam war. I think that this eats away at him, and he wants to prove how much tougher he is than that wimp Obama; hence, he sends real soldiers to their deaths rather than look weak.

      1. Other presidents undoubtedly acted out psychological harm in destructive ways — Nixon being the most extreme example perhaps, although probably not the worst president substantively. But has there ever been anyone as transparent as Trump? You have to go back to Suetonius.

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