“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” – R.L. Stevenson
Not long ago, the adjective “bully” meant superb or wonderful. Indeed, Teddy Roosevelt coined the phrase “bully pulpit” to describe the Oval Office, an ideal perch from which to define or support policy. Like so many English words, over time, meaning often migrates to the opposite pole. Today, a bully might be rhetorical thug, a demagogue who uses the political pulpit to demean, belittle, or humiliate opponents – or abuse pretty much anyone who departs from the prevailing orthodoxy.
Alas, political issues that require orthodoxy today are as numerous as they are varied: pandemics, Russia, China, Israel, Islam, Donald Trump, race, addiction, immigration, public education, climate, and even gender (nee sex) pronouns/adverbs, just to name a few hot buttons. If you challenge mandates on these issues, you do so at the risk of being “cancelled” on-line, in the press, in the workplace – or even at the ballot box.
Hecklers with cameras recently pursued a Democrat congresswoman into a restroom because she refused to vote for the latest “Christmas tree” spending legislation.
Bullying is now a standard tactic in the public square; at the same time, a kind of political Russian roulette. “Blowback” is a term Intelligence operatives use to describe operational folly that produces unintended consequences, sometimes catastrophic failure.
The IC should know. American Intelligence fails litter the historical landscape from Pearl Harbor, to Vietnam, to the Bay of Pigs, to 9/11, and on to the recent fiasco in Afghanistan – just to name a few.
Unaccountable as they are, the IC and the FBI are not above bullying either – or beyond the reach of blowback. Indeed, you could argue that excess and overreach in the Beltway ghetto, a cabal of federal institutions, internet mandarins, and mainstream media produces the kind of voter blowback that produces national sea changes.
Call it the Richmond effect.
Blowback is probative today in more than a few venues.
Of the many ways to assess Trump phenomena today, two stand out. He is either self-made or created. The truth is probably some of both. Clearly, long before politics, Donald Trump courted publicity and made hay with it. Early on, Trump learned to exploit his press, often a step ahead of critics.
Now that Trump has been unseated by coup-plotting and Covid, he is still every troll’s obsession, a permanent inflection in local and national politics.
Where you stand on Trump matters in November.
Bullying by establishment Democrats, Republicans, and a venal media designed to cancel Trump has only made him bigger, more influential; now both a national whipping boy and a political martyr to his many constituents. Trump is seen as a more candid and courageous alternative to the usual Democrat and Republican establishment dissemblers.
In Virginia recently, you might believe that Trump was running against Terry McAuliffe if you listened to Democrat 2021 campaign rhetoric. Midst phobic hate, political excess, and feckless Biden policy; Donald Trump is a larger, and savvier, political presence today than he was in 2016. Biden, Obama, and the American left ran against Trump the other day – and Democrats lost the entire top tier and legislature in the state of Virginia.
Of all Oval Office veterans, no former President has more political juice today than Trump; thanks, in large measure, to blowback.
Nothing exceeds like excess. Haters are a suicide cult on both sides of the aisle.
Were it not for the weaponization of the Wuflu pandemic and election shenanigans that Covid hysteria enabled, Trump probably would have won in a 2020 by a landslide, given his rude pragmatism and policy hutzpah.
Regretfully, the opportunity costs of politicized science and health care are now measured in body bags and headstones. Andrew Cuomo (D) takes a bow here. Remember when Trump was bullied relentlessly as the grim reaper and Cuomo was held up as the “gold standard” governor or “only adult in the (pandemic) room?” Remember when Joe Biden was the second banana who would put an end to Trump and the plague – and immunize the universe?
Biden and the gauche lobby are now the poster children for promises not kept. Andrew Cuomo has been cancelled; dumped by woke women in his own party. Biden now has lower approval numbers than Alex Baldwin. Bullying about mask mandates and vaccinations by Democrat governors and the White House has produced a backlash of morbidity statistics. The blowback from shaming, bullying, and mandates has alienated mothers, health care workers, cops, firemen, and even rank-and-file military; just to name a few “resisters.”
Nanny state nitwits have prolonged the Covid epidemic with confusion and counterproductive public bullying. Biden’s handlers have him on a short leash, however, seldom allowing the President to speak directly on any subject. When Joe does have a go at the teleprompter, he makes Donald Trump look like Demosthenes.
The amalgam of national Covid backlash and local school board bullying of children and parents, alone, puts the 2022 Congress and 2024 White House in play.
All the while, sport fans nationwide chant: “Let’s go Brandon.”
You could argue that American Intelligence agencies, which include the FBI, created today’s norms of political bullying. Indeed, since 1947, CIA and affiliates have pretty much undermined or toppled any Third World government that did not pass some vague political smell test. That kind of global bullying, alas, is now a feature of domestic American politics, where national security fixtures and apparatchiks alike scheme to undermine any people’s choice, like Trump, that doesn’t merit insider approval.
Messrs. Clapper (DNI), Comey (FBI), and Brennan (CIA) take a bow here.
The American deep state, that tenured trough of civil servants and affiliated national security camp followers, is hard-wired to liberal ideology too, if not de-facto socialism. The federal octopus, and all its tentacles, is now well left of the American center and will probably do anything to preserve that ideological chasm.
Unfortunately, tainted domestic politics and elections are mere down payments on blowback. The real cost of deep state bullying is assessed in foreign policy and national security coin.
Anti-Trump scheming and mendacity since 2016 has so completely absorbed Russophobic haters that the Chinese and Islamic threat has metastasized in a global defense vacuum. Totalitarian opportunists smell blood, weak American sisters in troubled foreign policy waters. Appeasing Beijing, Mecca, and Moscow is now the default setting for European and American elites. The bully boys of Beijing and the hit men of Islam have run a timid Uncle Sam, and Europhiles, off the international high ground.
Chinese and Islamic totalitarian imperialism is on the move, and winning. US national security mandarins still fake a cold war in Europe, hype vintage Moscow conspiracies, while obsessing about Trump. Withal, the fall of Hong Kong and Kabul are mere harbingers of worse to come from the dragon and the simitar.
Taiwan, Pakistan, and Israel; you’re next.
The broken link in the global security chain now sits in the White House torn by mandates, correctness, fake Intelligence, and clueless apathy.
In the age of sexual ambiguity, Uncle Sam seems to have exchanged his global cutaway and muscular elan for knickers and a frock. Fair enough, given today’s fey American cultural memes. Alas, for the next few years, Joseph Robinette Biden will probably sputter in place blaming Donald Trump – wondering when “Brandon” gets to Pennsylvania Avenue.
G. Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security. This essay appeared previously in the 14 November 21 edition of American Thinker.