by Conrad Black
The election campaign, now finally approaching its climax, will long be studied because of the paradoxical reactions of American public opinion to an astonishing series of events and revelations. It is now clear from intelligence declassifications—now temporarily taking the place of indictments by the special counsel on the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation—that the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, knew that she was transmitting reports compiled by Russian intelligence agents and transmitted via former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. These were presented to the U.S. intelligence and justice communities and ultimately to the public through the media as hard intelligence evidence of treasonable conduct by her opponent Donald Trump. The solid evidence of these facts is now in the public domain.
Yet the Trump-hating media dismiss it all as an insane conspiracy theory. The special prosecutor, John Durham, was supposed to enable the voters to make an informed decision this autumn.Instead, he is dawdling along at his own pace—enhancing the possibility of the election of a regime that will as a first priority try to sweep the whole ghastly outrage under the rug yet again.
This administration was hobbled for the first 60 percent of its term with an investigation that should never have taken place, and which was conducted with the chief purpose of provoking its innocent target into acts that, with the help of a national press corps amounting to little more than a bloodless presidential assassination squad, could be translated into grounds for an impeachment trial for obstruction of justice. No such impeachment could succeed, any more than the spurious attempt that did occur, but it might at least turn the page and the attention of American voters, leaving the crimes of the Democrats largely unsuspected. That was its purpose.
The current Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, obviously was aware of and effectively approved large commercial payoffs to his son by a corrupt Ukrainian natural gas company and a state-connected Chinese investment operation, yet President Trump was submitted to the absurd indignity of an unfounded impeachment trial in the Senate for an unexceptionable telephone call to the Ukrainian president. He was accused of acts which were not in fact impeachable or illegal, and which in any case, he was not linked to by any probative evidence that was adduced.
This nonsense was scarcely over when the coronavirus was unleashed upon the world by the People’s Republic of China (deliberately or otherwise). Nobody knew anything about this virus and testing for it had to be done by appointment in hospitals and the tests sent to Atlanta, Georgia for analysis. There were chronic shortages of every category of medical equipment from facemasks to ventilators. Many state governors were calling for emergency assistance of every kind including more hospital beds to cope with what was quickly declared to be a pandemic. The president utilized war and emergency powers legislation to produce within a few weeks a world-leading production capability for ventilators and other equipment and a testing system that in volume and speed exceeds the entire world. Trump accepted almost unanimous scientific advice when he largely shut down the economy to break the momentum of the virus, but he promised a quick reopening.
About 60 percent of those who lost their jobs because of the virus shutdowns have now regained them and the others have been generously compensated. We now know that over 90 percent of people in all age brackets who contract the virus suffer minimal or no symptoms. We know that of those with sound immune systems and generally all those beneath the age of 70, 99.997 percent of those afflicted survive, and that of those above 70, 94.6 percent of those afflicted survive, now including the president himself who is 74 and is nastily described by leading Democrats as “obscenely obese.”
He was overoptimistic at the onset of the virus, and allowed his daily press meetings—during which he shouldered aside the vice president to deal with the press—to degenerate into bear-baiting sessions with a mockery of the respect ordinarily due to the holder of his great office. The Democrats demanded a total and prolonged shutdown from the start, for the obvious purpose of hanging around the president’s neck the albatross of a Great Depression, (although in the real Great Depression the level of unemployment reached 30 percent and there was no direct relief for them).
Even now, Biden says he will shut things down if the “scientists” (who are far from united in their views), advise him to do so. The president came through the illness in four days and has made the point that while fatalities have been reduced by 70 percent, the incidence of infection has indeed increased with reopening of the economy and increased testing. Yet for every hundred new coronavirus cases, there are 99 new cures and substantially immunized people. The “scientists” told us at the start that a vaccine would take 18 to 24 months and it is now, by the president’s efforts, likely to be available this year. Yet polls indicate that the majority of Americans think Biden, who severely criticized the suspension of direct flights from China at the end of January, would handle the coronavirus better than Trump has done.
Trump eliminated oil imports and 90 percent of illegal immigration; the porous southern border beloved of Democrats who want the votes of the illegal immigrants even though they aren’t citizens, and of Republican employers addicted to cheap labor, is one of the greatest scandals of bipartisan government failure and cowardice in American history. Trump reduced the taxes of 83 percent of taxpayers, and created full employment where the lowest 20 percent of income earners were gaining proportionately more quickly than the top 10 percent.
Biden would assault the oil and automobile industries in his Green New Deal enthusiasm, and would increase the taxes of millions of people. And while he waffles about it, he probably would attack frackers, gun owners, and middle-class taxpayers with the same scattershot enthusiasm. He was decisively rejected by his own party in the early primaries and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), fumbled away a promising level of popularity at the opening and did not even make it to the primaries.
The burning question that historians will pose is why this president who has achieved so much and has been so unjustly assaulted by perversions of the justice system and unprofessional press biases is now in what appears to be an uphill struggle for reelection. The foibles of his often overly bombastic and even self adulatory personality do not alone explain this.
In running against the system that he said had substantially broken down, Donald Trump has revealed just how badly it has broken down; the FBI and the intelligence agencies were politically corrupted for the first time in the history of the country. The media has reduced itself to an almost subterranean level of dishonesty. The public is clearly having difficulty seeing the issues distinctly. It is not just high office but the right of Americans to be confident the system works as it should and as it was intended to do that are at stake.
Improbable as it often seems, and whatever his failings, in this election Donald Trump is the candidate of honesty, competence, and legality. A Biden victory would be a crushing defeat for all of these traditional American ideals.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada.
Photo “President Trump” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.