Three Stupid, Annoying Things People Often Say When Defending Trump

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As things get even uglier in Syria I’m seeing some Trump supporters struggling to justify or dismiss the completely indefensible acts of human butchery that this administration has been inflicting upon that country. They’re arguments I’ve seen recycled in the MAGA crowd every time news breaks about the president once again continuing the reprehensible neoconservative policies of his predecessors and doing the exact opposite of what he pledged to do on the campaign trail, and I thought I’d like to address a few of them here.

For those unfamiliar with my work, I have written extensively about the many legitimate grievances that can be leveled at this administration herehereherehere, and elsewhere. I have also written extensively about the completely illegitimate accusations that have been leveled against this administration herehereherehere, and elsewhere. I don’t see Trump as good or helpful, let alone as the populist savior his supporters hold him to be, but I also don’t see him as the psychotic Nazi Putin puppet his detractors try to paint him as either, or even significantly different from his predecessors in any way that meaningfully impacts America’s policy and behavior. I would now like to write a bit about some of the bad arguments that are made in support of this administration.

I’m going to address a few arguments I see a lot which are just plain stupid, from a nonpartisan, non-ideological perspective. Depending on your personal opinions about immigration, fiscal policy and so on you’ll certainly have plenty of reasons to argue for or against the current administration; I’m not interested in addressing those here. I just want to focus on the few stupid, annoying arguments I keep seeing made in defense of the sitting president that are based entirely on bad logic and poor understanding, which stagnate real debate about real concerns. Here are three of them:

1. “ Hillary would have been worse.”

I happen to agree that Hillary Clinton would have been worse in some very important ways. Her campaign pledge to install a no-fly zone in an area where Russian military planes are conducting operations was horrifying and disqualifying, and she would have put less inertia on the war machine in a few key areas. Nevertheless, pointing this out is never, ever a legitimate defense of the things that Trump is doing.

Okay, sure, Hillary would have been worse. So what? How is that a legitimate response to someone condemning this administration’s nuclear escalations with Russia, keeping thousands of troops in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, approving arms sales to Ukraine, working to shut down WikiLeaks and arrest Julian Assange, perpetuation of the Orwellian surveillance state, keeping troops in Afghanistan, escalating tensions with Iran and North Korea, etc? All you’re doing is disingenuously trying to take the target of criticism off the sitting president’s head and drag the conversation kicking and screaming into a moronic partisan debate about who would have been worse. You’re killing legitimate debate with an irrelevant red herring.

Responding to criticisms of this administration’s depravity with “yeah but Hillary” is like a lawyer trying to defend an accused murderer by pointing out that Jeffrey Dahmer did way worse. It’s stupid. It’s annoying. Stop doing it.

2. “Trump is playing 57-D chess!”

We’ve talked about this before. The above video depicts Cenk Uygur on MSNBC alongside Glenn Greenwald in 2010 ranting about the way Obama supporters were defending their president in exactly the same way the MAGA crowd defends Trump today.

“Because you remember what they told us: Obama’s a genius! I couldn’t possibly understand his genius — he’s playing three-dimensional chess!” Uygur exclaims in the eight year-old clip. “Well what part of three-dimensional chess do you give away your queen, your knight, your bishop, and the House of Representatives? No! They were wrong, we were right. It’s time to fight.”

Yes, it is time to fight. It’s time to stop defending your president’s nonstop capitulations to the swamp as some great feat of strategic wizardry.

While we’re on the subject, I often see Bernie people making the same “chess” argument about Sanders’ promotion of the new cold war and other dangerous establishment kowtowing. It’s not a legitimate defense of Sanders any more than it’s a legitimate defense of Trump now or Obama eight years ago.

There is a powerful unelected second government that is controlling the behavior of your elected officials, and by dismissing it as brilliant strategic maneuvering you are actively shoving that urgent problem out of the spotlight. It’s stupid. It’s annoying. Stop it.

3. “Trump is fighting the Deep State!”

No, he is not. Trump isn’t fighting the deep state, he’s collaborating with it. He’s continued and expanded the same warmongering Orwellian policies as Bush and Obama, and he’s playing right along with the deep state’s new cold war escalations as well.

Trump isn’t fighting the deep state, and the deep state isn’t fighting him. There is no “coup”. Everything has completely changed since certain factions within the FBI and CIA had agendas against him prior to his taking office. The leaks from inside the intelligence community during his transition and the early days of his administration have completely stopped. For many many months now whenever you hear about a new leak it’s coming from congress, from inside the administration, or from people who interacted with his campaign.

The only people fighting Trump at this point are Democrats and Never-Trumpers, and that’s not what the deep state is. The deep state is the unelected power establishment consisting of a loose and often conflicting collaboration between plutocrats (including war profiteers), intelligence and defense agencies, and the corporate media which serves as their propaganda wing. It is completely nonpartisan and uses America’s elected government in whatever way will best advance its many agendas. The Democrats and John McCain types working to weaken Trump isn’t a deep state agenda, it’s normal politics.

This is a crucial distinction. Russiagate was constructed by the US intelligence community and pointed at Trump in 2016, but now that he’s demonstrated he’ll be a good little boy and play along with pretty much every one of their agendas they haven’t been targeting him. They don’t need to. They never cared about impeaching Trump, they cared about getting their new cold war and crippling the Russia-China tandem. Since they don’t have to get the sitting president impeached to accomplish that (a very risky move anyway), they’re content to work with him until the next presidential puppet rolls into office. It’s the Democrats and their allies who are fueling the Trump-Russia collusion narrative at this point, not the deep state.

If you want to support Trump, that’s fine, but don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Don’t tell me you support this president because he’s working to overthrow the unelected power establishment which uses the US government as a weapon to advance its agendas. That argument is contradicted by the raw facts of everything that has happened in the last year. It’s stupid. It’s annoying. Stop it.


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About the Author
Caitlin Johnstone
is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician.

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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 


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2 thoughts on “Three Stupid, Annoying Things People Often Say When Defending Trump

  1. The following message has been relayed to us from colleague Patrick Walker:

    just wanted to check back into this highly interesting discussion. I DO
    consider myself a serious leftist, much as I’ve differed with some on
    framing the movement currently needed as “the overthrow of capitalism.” I
    think Patrice welcomed me at TGP based on his realization that my
    leftism is DAMN serious.
    passionately defended Caitlin Johnstone based on her persistent,
    cleverly populist attacks on U.S. imperialism and Democrats’ using
    Russiagate as a shameless defense of their own refusal to reform. In
    that regard, she’s EXTREMELY useful to the REAL left in attacking
    faux-left propaganda. I actually know of virtually no one else who does
    it as well before the most relevant populist audience. That’s why I’m
    very inclined to forgive her misguided (and largely ineffective)
    overtures to the alt-right. I think Eric and Vanessa show proper balance
    of judgment here.

    current sense is that we need an American version of Naomi Klein’s
    climate justice movement with a set of demands comparable to the
    Canadian Leap Manifesto. Through my newly acquired UU Church (they
    create community based on great principles with demanding ANY particular
    set of religious dogmas, I’ve started to work with a New York State
    interfaith climate justice group. I could only wish they understood certain points about U.S. imperialism and the disgusting propaganda of Russiagate as well as Caitlin does. In
    any case, MLK brilliantly understood the potential of organizing
    politically through churches; I just needed one that didn’t offend my

    Anyway, that’s what I’m now up to. I sense it will soon produce related writings (I needed a reevaluative break from activism).

    In solidarity,

    Patrick Walker

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