Impromptus today covers a range of subjects, as the column is meant to do. I begin with H. R. McMaster and end with Ronald Reagan and a deodorant ad, 1953. (This is pretty interesting, IMO.)
On his way out the door — the White House door — General McMaster gave an important speech, before the Atlantic Council. It was a cri de cœur, filled with warnings. Here are just two passages:
“Even in the United States and in other free nations, some journalists, academics, public officials, and saddest of all young people have developed and promulgated idealized, warped views of tyrannical regimes.”
Yes, very true — I see it every day, and little is more disspiriting. Okay, the second passage:
“The Kremlin’s confidence is growing as its agents conduct their sustained campaigns to undermine our confidence in ourselves and in one another.”
Again, very true (and you see it almost every day). But no one — no outsider, no foreign government, no foe — can undermine our confidence in ourselves and in one another as well as we can.
Talking to voters in West Virginia, President Trump said, “In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that.” (Yes, we have heard it from him, repeatedly. We also heard that Obama was born in Kenya, etc.) “They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
When you have to say “Not a conspiracy theory, folks,” maybe it is a conspiracy theory — and an attempt to mislead. The president and his staff have offered no evidence for the allegation. And I think of a couple of questions:
Is it only in states that Trump lost that “millions and millions of people” committed electoral fraud? And if Trump had not lost the popular vote — would he be talking this way, making this explosive charge?
Putin and America’s other enemies must cackle themselves to sleep every night. No amount of damage they can dream of can inflict as much harm as we are prone to inflicting on ourselves.
End of sermon — but an apt sermon, I think.