A year or two ago Palmer Report was the target of a persistent, anonymous troll of whom I was the principal target. The raison d’être of his laughably phoney avatar and counterfeit backstory was to establish his superiority over me and anyone who didn’t adore Donald Trump. He went about it, in his small way, by attacking me for failings that either I didn’t possess or were of the hairsplitting variety. For example, I was, according to his narrative, a pitiable haunter of taverns where I would employ obscure historical references that would fail to impress women I was attempting to hustle, whereupon I would slouch dejectedly back to my lonely garret kept by my lachrymose, long-suffering mother.
It was a remarkably clairvoyant “reading,” and the only things that rendered it less than perfect was a) I don’t drink, b) I’m happily married, c) I own my own home and d) my mother is deceased. Other than that … Though my favorite part was when this capaciously untalented fool would excoriate me over some word I happened to use in an article. It was then that I knew — to a moral certainty — that I’d made him look it up.
My point in even mentioning this nitwit is that it made absolutely no difference what I wrote, he was going to find fault with it. As an experiment I could have resurrected a lesser-known essay by George Orwell or Kingsley Amis, passed it off as my own and he would have gleefully attacked it. It wasn’t the quality or content of my articles he found fault with, it was me by myself. Because I hated Trump he hated me. He had visions of sugar-Trumps dancing in his head, and I was brazen enough to dare to interfere with that vision.
Republicans, like our unlamented, departed troll, have an abundance of nothing. It makes their fault-finding that much more absurd, it makes their intent that much more obviously partisan, and it makes the impact of their insults that much more impotent.
For example, how can anyone take seriously Republican criticism of Jill Biden’s doctoral thesis when Melania lied that she had an advanced education in the first place? How can Don Jr possibly — and with a straight face — find any false (or otherwise) consolation over Hunter Biden’s deriving unfair advantages based solely on his sporting his father’s surname? How can Republicans tremble with phoney outrage about the “crisis at the border” when Donald Trump’s (and Stephen Miller’s) zero-tolerance policy heartlessly stole children from their parents as a deterrent against lawful immigration? We are beset by nitpicking trolls.
In short, there exists no combination of words, no combination of deeds, no amount of effort on our part that will satisfy them. Is the opposite true? Are we all, at our cores, partisan hacks?
I don’t think so. For instance, I recall a time when many of us wanted Trump to succeed. I remember a time when we hoped the transformative power of the office would humble him and make him do the right thing. Oh, it’s easy to be cynical and pretend otherwise, to pretend that you knew Trump inside and out and knew in advance what he was going to do from the very first. But for the honest among us there was, however briefly, a real sense that maybe, just maybe he might turn out not so bad. We were wrong, of course, but we didn’t set out to insist that he was bad against all evidence. We didn’t try to make it so despite the evidence of our own eyes.
Then there’s the rare occasion when we got it genuinely wrong, and the rightwing wing-nuts never let us forget it. I’m referring, of course, to the so-called Steele dossier, (so-called because it wasn’t a dossier per se but a series of intelligence reports, some of which were about Donald Trump), and the contents of which we and Robert Mueller were too hasty (supposedly) in believIng. Or were we?
It has recently come to light that there was a second “dossier,” and its contents may be every bit as damning as the first — if true. Steele’s original, 35 page leaked intelligence report contained allegations of gross misconduct, conspiracy and cooperation between Trump’s presidential campaign and Vladimir Putin’s government. It also contained the controversial and highly sensational claim that the Kremlin was in possession of a sex tape of Trump with a prostitute at a hotel in Moscow in 2013. Steele dossier 2.0 contains raw intelligence that makes further claims of Russian meddling in the US election. It says there are more sex tapes. Sources for this second dossier are different from sources for the first, and separately support the findings of both.
If there is any truth to these new revelations then a new dimension may have been added to the legal trouble Donald Trump is in. Whatever happens as a result of Steele dossiers 1.0 to 2.0 inclusive, one thing we do know, it was not originally commissioned as a Donald Trump hatchet job. Originally, Fusion GPS was contracted by the conservative political website “The Washington Free Beacon” to provide general opposition research on Donald Trump, and Steele was enlisted as a result. So the entire notion that the dossier was created from whole cloth by Democrats to smear Donald Trump is a lie.
So wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if our weakest evidence against Donald Trump turned out to be true after all and was used to help send him to prison? In the dizzying contest between truth and falsehood, Republicans can only invent and exaggerate calumnies against us while we can take them down with our very weakest weapons. Such, finally, is the real difference in strength between the righteousness of good and the pitiable impotence of evil. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.