Whatever happened to liberal Democrats, with their concerns about civil liberties and government surveillance of American citizens?
Liberals once hated the CIA. And they loved the Russians. You can look it up. Their liberal friends in Hollywood made movie after movie about the dangers of The Deep State and its awesome surveillance powers. One of the best was “Three Days of the Condor,” with liberal icon Robert Redford fighting the malevolent CIA boss John Houseman, who longed for the “clarity” of world war.
Years later, Edward Snowden became the liberal demigod and WikiLeaks their winged chariot of truth. Liberals fretted about the powers of the intelligence community being used on citizens for political reasons.
So what happened to the ideals of these liberal Democrats? Donald Trump was elected president, that’s what.
And now you can clearly see the change in them as Trump’s now-former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has become feast for the crows.
Flynn deserves his punishment. Make no mistake about that. He reportedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his phone conversations with a Russian ambassador that included discussion of the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia.
As a former general officer, as a former Defense Intelligence Agency boss, Flynn understands the chain of command. There is no lying to a superior officer.
So Flynn is gone, forced to resign, his head high on a spike upon the Democratic Party ramparts.
Democrats jeer at his head up there. It’s as if this episode were street theater in olde England, with Punch and Judy entertaining the small folk.
But what victory are they celebrating, exactly? And at what cost to the republic?
What would have been bothersome to liberals of old (the pre-Trump kind) is that Flynn may have been targeted for a takedown by the Deep State intelligence operatives liberals once loathed.
Flynn and Trump warred with the intelligence community during the campaign, and Trump called out the CIA, tweeting at them, provoking them.
Most recently, Trump was furious that his private conversations with the Australian prime minister became public and were used as a club to pound him in the pages of the “Never Trump” Washington Post and other establishment newspapers.
The damning news was that there are reportedly transcripts of Flynn speaking with the Russian ambassador — before Trump was inaugurated president. This indicates that Flynn was most likely the subject of a warrant issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. His conversations were recorded. The American public should know what this is about.
What’s astounding about this is that news reports on Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador also mentioned something else. They mentioned the existence of many intelligence community sources, and these many intelligence sources presumably read the transcripts and leaked their contents to reporters.
The intelligence community records the conversations of a private citizen and leaks them to damage a president. And liberals — who once prided themselves on being civil libertarians — are overjoyed. They don’t question their good fortune. They celebrate.
Now Trump is in open, public war with American intelligence, and liberals cheer on the intelligence community leakers.
Democrats are on the outs, so they love this story about Flynn. It feeds into their belief that Trump is some tool of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. It’s not whether they believe this that matters. What matters is that they see a way to sear this deeply upon the American mind before the 2018 elections.
Democrats will continue to push this theme, even if it means celebrating a possible takedown of administration officials by American intelligence, and the many sources of those reports.
Why aren’t liberals more concerned, when once they’d be outraged about authoritarian tactics?
For the same reasons they weren’t concerned about presidential overreach when their guy was president, with his imperial pen and his phone.
Because for many Democrats, just like for many Republicans, it’s all about power, isn’t it? And ideals — even those that help preserve the republic — be damned.