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When American Liberals Lose The Faith

Doesn’t this testimonial from a disaffected California liberal really speak volumes about just how far the American Left is going to lose friends and alienate people?

Rod Dreher shares an email from a reader:

So I was raised a secular liberal. My college professors were secular liberals. During my journalism phase, my newspaper colleagues were secular liberals. My law school professors and peers were – in the vast majority – secular liberals. Almost everyone at my corporate law firm was a secular liberal. My California neighbors and friends are secular liberals, as are my colleagues. My mother, siblings, and their spouses are all secular liberals.

By all rights, I should be a member in good standing of their tribe, “liking” their Facebook posts and joining their candlelight vigils against the evil Trump Administration. But November 8 and its aftermath revealed to me that I am just so tired of these people. I can’t be like them, and I don’t want my kids turning into them.

I am tired of their undisguised contempt for tens of millions of Americans, with no effort to temper their response to the election with humility or empathy.

I am tired of their unexamined snobbery and condescension.

I am tired of their name-calling and virtue-signaling as signs of supposedly high intelligence.

I am tired of their trendiness, jumping on every left-liberal bandwagon that comes along (transgender activism, anyone?) and then acting like anyone not on board is an idiot/hater.

I am tired of their shallowness. It’s hard to have a deep conversation with people who are obsessed with moving their kids’ pawns across the board (grades, sports, college, grad school, career) and, in their spare time, entertaining themselves and taking great vacations.

I am tired of their acceptance of vulgarity and sarcastic irreverence as the cultural ocean in which their kids swim. I like pop culture as much as the next person, but people who would never raise their kids on junk food seem to think nothing of letting then wallow in cultural junk, exposed to nothing ennobling, aspirational, or even earnest.

I am tired of watching them raise clueless kids (see above) who go off to college and within months are convinced they live in a rapey, racist patriarchy; “Make America Great Again” is hate speech; and Black Lives Matter agitators are their brothers-in-arms against White Privilege. If my kids are like that at nineteen, I’ll feel I’ve seriously failed them as a parent. Yet the general sentiment seems to be these are good, liberal kids who may have gotten a bit carried away.

I am tired of their lack of interest in any form of serious morality or self-betterment. These are decent, responsible people, many compassionate by temperament. Yet they seem two-dimensional, as if they believe that being a nice, well-socialized person who holds the correct political views is all there is, and there is nothing else to talk about. Isn’t there, though?

I am tired of being bored and exasperated by everybody. I feel like I have read this book a thousand times, and there are no surprises in it. Down with Trump! Trans Lives Matter! Climate deniers are destroying the planet! No cake, we’re gluten-free!

These are good people in a lot of ways. But there has got to be a better tribe.

It must be disturbing to “wake up” like this and realise that you are no longer fully in communion with your tribe, so kudos to Rod Dreher’s reader for putting into words something that cannot be easy to admit. With the wounds of the 2016 presidential election still raw, many on the American Left have little time for doubters, and admitting a heresy such as this would likely be met not with understanding (let alone introspection) but rather with intolerance and fury.

The scene that comes to my mind is from the film American History X, where protagonist Derek Vinyard, serving a jail sentence for the racist-motivated murder of a black car thief, realises the flaws of his white supremacist worldview while in prison and is then utterly unable to engage with that community – his only source of friendship and support – after his release. Eventually, Vinyard confronts the group’s leader and explicitly rejects their racist ideology, at which point they chase him out of their camp.

Increasingly, one has to either buy the whole regressive leftist agenda or none of it at all. Because it is couched in such explicitly moral terms, with any departure from orthodoxy seen as a moral failure, to question just one aspect of the worldview – the identity politics, the environmentalism, the statist paternalism – is to make oneself persona non grata within that community. Imagine the pain of realising that you no longer believe every article in the leftist gospel, and then being faced either with the prospect of admitting your heresy and being actively shunned by family, friends and colleagues, or else keeping your opposition quiet and living a lie.

The American Left has, with too few exceptions, given up on trying to win by persuasion, seeking instead to achieve victory by shaming and bullying dissenters into a sullen, resentful silence. That approach is no longer working and delivering benefits, to the extent that it ever did. When people like Rod Dreher’s reader are leaving the tribe in disgust at the sanctimonious echo chamber of questionable values then clearly something has gone wrong.

None of this is to say that American conservatism is in fine fettle – clearly not, as this blog has repeatedly warned. The fact that Republicans have closed ranks behind a profoundly authoritarian and un-conservative President-elect Donald Trump is evidence of the challenge faced by small-C conservatives in trying to maintain their influence and steer the Trump presidency away from endless pitfalls.

But it is the slow-burning revolution on the Left (particularly the growing elitism and the lethal embrace of identity politics) which fed the populist Right to the extent that Donald Trump won the White House. And until the American Left learns to moderate its many excesses and accept ideological diversity together with all the other kinds of diversity they champion, they will continue to alienate crucial allies and accelerate their march into irrelevance.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 46 – Purging Catholicism From A Catholic University In The Name Of Social Justice

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When academic or religious freedom is at stake, principled pro-free speech professors can expect no cover or support from their spineless university administrations

We have already seen how the leaders and administrators at one American Catholic university – DePaul University in Chicago – have demonstrated that they would sooner purge their own faith from campus than do anything which might risk upsetting the SJW cultists and their new secular gods of social justice and identity politics.

And now Rod Dreher brings us news of another persecution taking place, this time at Providence College in Rhode Island, where literature professor Tony Esolen finds himself besieged by vengeful students and hung out to dry by his superiors for having written a thoughtful essay for Crisis Magazine, questioning the current cult of Diversity At All Costs.

Was the essay rather provocative? Well yes – it was titled “My college succumbed to the totalitarian diversity cult”. But at one time university professors were expected to do and say provocative things. It was part of creating a climate of no-holds-barred intellectual debate, the kind which seems to have become so unfashionable of late.

But Esolen made a compelling argument in his essay – writing, remember, from the perspective of an orthodox Catholic teaching at a supposedly Catholic educational institution:

I understand what it is to have a Greek festival or an Italian festival, or a parish festival where fellow Catholics come out to enjoy good high-calorie food, play some innocent games of chance, and try to get the priest to sit in the dunking machine. For man is always united from above, not from below, and that includes even the make-believe transcendence of the local baseball team, which is harmless enough if not taken too seriously. When Catholics come to Mass to pray, they do so as members of one Church, not ten, not fifty, praying the same prayers all over the world, because they give thanks to the one Lord and Savior who died for them on one cross, on the one hill of the Skull, on that one Friday long ago. This was the same Lord who prayed that we would be not ten, not fifty, but one, even as he and the Father are one.

But the watchword at Providence College right now is not unity, but “diversity,” as is made evident by the four-page Diversity Program featured prominently on our website. When I see the word “diversity” in its current use as a political slogan, I ask myself the following questions:

What is diversity, as opposed to divergence?
What is diversity, as opposed to mere variety?
What goods, precisely, is diversity supposed to deliver?
Why is intellectual diversity not served by the study of a dozen cultures of the past, with their vast array of customs, poetry, art, and worship of the gods?

Immediately one can see how this would offend the SJW ideological enforcers, who preach that we are not one, but many, and that we must continually emphasise and acknowledge our differences – often to the extent of resegregation – rather than highlight our common bonds.

Esolen concludes his essay:

But there is no evidence on our Diversity page that we wish to be what God has called us to be, a committedly and forthrightly Catholic school with life-changing truths to bring to the world. It is as if, deep down, we did not really believe it. So let us suppose that a professor should affirm some aspect of the Church’s teaching as regards the neuralgia of our time, sex. Will his right to do so be confirmed by those who say they are committed to diversity? Put it this way. Suppose someone were to ask, “Is it permitted for a secular liberal, at a secular and liberal college, to affirm in the classroom a secular view of sex and the family?” The question would strike everyone as absurd. It would be like asking whether we were permitted to walk on two feet or to look up at the sky. Then why should it not also be absurd to ask, “Is it permitted for a Catholic, at a college that advertises itself as Catholic, to affirm a Catholic view of sex and the family?” And I am not talking merely about professors whose specific job it is to teach moral philosophy or moral theology. I am talking about all professors.

In my now extensive experience, Catholic professors in Catholic colleges have been notably tolerant of the limitations of their secular colleagues. We make allowances all the time. We understand, though, that some of them—not all, but then it only takes a few—would silence us for good, if they had the power. They have made life hell for more than one of my friends. All, now, in the name of an undefined and perhaps undefinable diversity, to which you had damned well better give honor and glory. If you don’t—and you may not even be aware of the lese majeste as you commit it—you’d better have eyes in the back of your head.

So naturally, outraged SJW students at Providence College went running to the college president in tears, claiming that they had been “harmed” by these thoughtful and completely non-malicious essays.

Equally predictably, the university authorities rolled over in the face of this tyrannical power play by the band of wobbly-lipped permanent victim students, and effectively censured Esolen. As Esolen recounted to Rod Dreher:

My friends of course were outraged, and I was stunned — basically, I had been singled out and exposed before the whole faculty, very few of whom were probably even aware that there was such a thing as Crisis Magazine; and of course they and the students are not my audience when I write for Crisis or whatever. Then, as if that were not bad enough, the President met with faculty on Wednesday afternoon, and all they did for a solid hour was to revile the evil Professor Esolen, with a few old-fashioned liberals defending my right to express my opinions, and several of my stalwart friends from philosophy and theology defending me personally and criticizing the president for his decision and for his handling of related matters. When the president said that he believed that he had to act “for pastoral reasons,” they replied that it was a strange form of pastoral care that pits every member of a community against one.

And it is still not over. The faculty have circulated a “petition,” or a resolution, or something neither flesh nor fowl, to the effect that though we all have academic freedom, it has to be exercised responsibly, and reviling “some part of the PC faculty” that is “unabashed” in publishing articles that are racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, and religiously chauvinistic. The petition has been signed by various faculty members and students. And STILL I hear that they are not satisfied, but are trying to figure out if they can use my articles to nail me for “bias” and hate, basically asserting that I am not capable of teaching certain categories of students — gay, female, and so forth.

Though he remains able to appreciate the bitter humour in the situation:

As I’ve said to people, authors don’t choose the titles for articles for Crisis Magazine; the editor does that, for the sake of “traffic” on the page. His title was a bit provocative. But everything that has happened since then has shown me, alas, that the editor saw more than I did, or more than I have been willing to admit. The irony would seem to be obvious: “How DARE you suggest that there is a totalitarian impulse in our behavior? You should be FIRED!” And then of course there is the brazen cheering of the faculty when it is proposed that we should not be Catholic after all.

The strange irony of it all is that I’m the one who believes that a wide diversity of cultures and of institutions is a good thing, and they really do not. I do not WANT all colleges and universities to be basically the same; they do.

The list of demands presented to Providence College by the student protesters is full of all the demands for compulsory re-education (of students and faculty), gutting the core undergraduate curriculum to de-emphasise the Western Canon and make it more SJW-friendly, pumping more money into ethnic and gender studies, aggressive hire of minorities on an affirmative action basis, trained counsellors to minister to the delicate emotions of the student snowflakes, the building of a “multicultural center” and – naturally – the hire of new dedicated Diversity Professionals to oversee the new regime.

We are becoming accustomed to reading these laughably impertinent demands, but this document really does take one’s breath away with its sheer scope. And given the fact that the president (Fr. Brian Shanley) folded faster than Superman on laundry day when students first protested professor Esolen – sending them a grovellingly conciliatory letter which basically threw Esolen under the bus – I would not bet against the list of demands being implemented in full, unquestioningly, within the space of a decade.

When spineless university administrators are forced to choose between academic freedom or facing down the minority of SJW agitators who are determined to turn academic life into a pointless, totalitarian dystopia of identity politics totalitarianism, academic freedom loses every time. And when Catholic university administrators are forced to choose between defending the right of orthodox Catholics to express their faith or bowing to endless demands from the most privileged generation of college students in history, again there is no question. The demands are implemented and Catholicism goes out the window before you can say “that’s oppressive”.

Hopefully the new attention focused on this case – plus the fact that Professor Esolen has tenure – will mean that his job remains safe. But the long term outlook is bleak. Academia having nearly completely fallen to the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, Catholic universities across America may soon become safe spaces for everyone and everything, save Catholicism itself.

 

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Donald Trump Has Been An Unmitigated Disaster For American Conservatism

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Donald Trump’s floundering presidential campaign is a self-inflicted disaster of the Republican Party’s own making

Of all the major American commentators, I think that Rod Dreher of The American Conservative comes closest to describing my own feelings about the rise of Donald Trump and the current wretched state of American conservatism.

In this great piece, Dreher blasts Trump’s ongoing refusal to state that he will accept the validity of the election outcome:

Donald Trump is going to lose on November 8, and he is going to lose badly. He is going to be soundly beaten by a terrible Democratic nominee, a woman who is unliked, tainted by corruption, and the most divisive figure in public life other than … Donald Trump. I believe it is true that the Democrats are capable of engaging in voter fraud, and I take it as given that somewhere in America on election day, it will happen.

But.

If the current polls hold up (Clinton ahead by seven points), the scale of Trump’s loss will far exceed anything that could be credibly attributed to fraud or any other kind of “rigging.” It is extremely reckless for Trump to be seeding the nation with doubt about the validity and legitimacy of the election. The only reason he’s doing it is to protect his own vanity when he is walloped, and walloped by a woman at that – and not only walloped by a woman, but walloped by Hillary Clinton, who would have been a pushover for any other GOP contender.

The Republican establishment has to realize that Trump didn’t rig or otherwise steal the party’s nomination: he won it fair and square, and he won it mostly because the party establishment itself fell badly out of touch with the mood of the country and its voters. You don’t have a fool like Trump defeating what was once touted as the deepest GOP candidate bench in history if Trump didn’t know something that that allegedly deep bench did not.

And yet, Trump has blown this race entirely on his own. In truth, he never really stood a chance, because the only way he was going to win it was to pivot towards being someone he’s not. No 70-year-old man is going to be able to do that, especially given that he has made his public reputation by saying outrageous things on camera. We all know Trump’s many weaknesses, so I won’t rehearse them again here. The point to be made, though, is that Trump gave Americans who might have been persuaded to vote for him 1,001 reasons not to. Hell, he rubbed the nation’s face in them.

Yes. Just as establishment Republican types must concede that Donald Trump won the GOP nomination fair and square – and then ask themselves some searching questions about how their “deep bench” of talent fell so flat with the primary electorate – so Trump supporters must concede that he is losing this election all by himself, through his own long-known and well documented personality flaws.

There have been occasional tantalising moments from the Trump campaign which hint at what a broad-based, anti-establishment candidacy might have looked like if it was headed up by a decent person of principle and moral standing rather than a vulgar and selfish man-child. Some of the stuff at Gettysburg was quite good. But Trump’s much-promised second, more presidential gear never materialised (as some of us warned it would not). And now Trump is thrashing around, lagging behind Hillary Clinton in nearly all polls and in most swing states, saying irresponsible things and weakening the collective trust in American democracy as a balm to his raw ego.

The great pity is that these anti-establishment moments do not always come around often. Britain was lucky inasmuch as that voting to secede from the European Union was a moral, democratic and small-L liberal thing to do; and because we were endorsing a political action, not electing any of the various goons who claimed to “lead” the Brexit movement. In America, no matter how much some conservatives may have agreed with Trump’s current positions (or the policies he now claims to support), the inescapable fact is that you don’t just get the policies. You also get the pugnacious, unstable man himself. For at least four long years.

And so whatever relief we might all feel when Donald Trump is defeated and the stench of his candidacy (hopefully) begins to recede, the fact remains that this electoral cycle has been a disaster for conservatives.

At a time of rising and often legitimate anti-establishment feeling in America and across the world (see Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and Brexit) they put forward a man who embodies the very worst aspects of populism, and who actually manages to make morally compromised establishment cronies with 30-year Washington careers look like vaguely sympathetic characters.

With the economic recovery unfelt by millions of middle class Americans and Hillary Clinton representing nothing so much as Barack Obama’s third term with an additional steer to the left, this election should have been eminently winnable for the Republican Party. Even Mitt Romney would have been a lock for this one, gaffes or no gaffes. But through a toxic combination of abusing, mocking, ignoring and working against its own lower middle class support base, the Republican Party caused a mutiny which saw Donald Trump become the face of American conservatism. And Donald Trump, utterly predictably, has steered SS American Conservatism into the path of a giant iceberg.

I recently wrote:

This blog has been intermittently banging on about the need for small government conservatism to come to terms with our modern, globalised world – a world in which supply chains and labour markets are international, and the kind of mass, semi-skilled manufacturing work which once paid well enough to support a comfortable middle class life has either permanently disappeared, or else barely pays a subsistence wage.

This is a particular challenge for conservatives, who believe in empowering the individual and restricting the overbearing hand of government. Left-wingers can simply wave their arms and promise a new government programme to retrain vast swathes of the population, or buy their silence with benefits. Conservatives do not have this luxury.

But the eventual answer will, I am sure, have to come from conservatives. Cranking up the size of the state until it is all things to all people is unsustainable, squelching innovation at best and provoking economic crisis at worst, as proven every single time it has been attempted. Globalisation continues apace and the burning question continues to go unanswered.

This is what the Republican Party should be working on. The political party which cracks this issue, or which is the first to present a viable-looking policy solution to the American people (assuming either of the two parties step up to the challenge) could enjoy an entire generation in power, and the opportunity to permanently stamp their mark on both the economic and political life of America.

If the GOP could only find it within themselves to stop flirting with dangerous populists or reverting to type and promising their voters an unattainable land of milk and honey, then instead they could impose a new Thatcherite / Reaganite consensus on American politics, one which the more statist Democrats would struggle to defeat.

But now the Republicans are the party which nominated Donald Trump in 2016. Their moral and intellectual standing has never been lower. And the uphill climb back to respectability and influence is a punishing long one.

 

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Conservatism, Behind Enemy Lines

Rod Dreher reports on a fascinating (and depressing) exchange posted on the wall of Princeton professor Robert P. George, between Professor George and a closeted conservative colleague.

The recounted exchange is worth posting in full:

Closeted conservative colleague: “I don’t feel I can say what I think, at least not at this stage. I have a family to care for and other responsibilities, you know.”

Me: “Sure. I’m not criticizing you.”

CCC: “I’ve seen people’s careers ruined for saying what they think.”

Me: “I have, too. I’m really not criticizing you. I assume you’re following your conscience.”

CCC: “You say what you think and you’ve survived. But your the exception.”

Me: “I’ve been very fortunate. That’s true. But there are plenty of others. I’m not unique. There’s Harvey Mansfield, Hadley Arkes, Mary Ann Glendon, Jim Ceaser, and others. Even some people they’ve tried hard to destroy have survived. Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas, Austin,” for example. They threw everything they could find at him, every calumny imaginable. They tried to get him formally investigated and fired. But he has beaten them. I predict he’ll be promoted to full professor this year.”

CCC: “Yes, but there have been lots of victims, too.”

Me: “Yes. Alas. Lots of victims.”

CCC: “You think I should say what I think.”

Me: “I think you should follow your conscience.”

CCC: “That’s just your way of saying I should say what I think.”

Me:; “Look, as I said, I’m not criticizing you. Only you can discern the demands of your own conscience. I didn’t even bring this whole subject up, you did.”

CCC: “I know what you tell your graduate students to do. You tell them not to hide their politically incorrect views.”

Me: “Well, yes, I hardly hide my advice to them. They initially find it counterintuitive. Their natural instinct is to hide their dissenting beliefs or downplay them. I think that’s risky from a character point of view and also not the best strategy for success.”

CCC: “You ARE judging those of us who keep our opinions to ourselves, then.”

Me: “For heaven’s sake, I’m just saying that there is a certain moral hazard in not speaking your mind. As scholars, we’ve got a special obligation to truth and a vocation to truth-telling. Of course, everybody has a basic obligation to honor the truth, as best they grasp it, but our obligation is even more central to who we are. So, speaking for myself, I don’t see what the point of being a scholar is if we’re not willing to speak the truth as best we understand it. I mean, there are lots of other fields we could go into. We could be lawyers, or doctors, operate hedge funds. There’s the insurance business. Wendy’s franchises. Anyway, again speaking for myself, if I felt I couldn’t speak the truth out loud, I would abandon academic life and go do something else.”

CCC: “You’re not afraid to say what you think because you’ve been able to get away with it without your academic career being ruined.”

Me: “That’s exactly backwards. I’ve been able to get away with it because I’m not afraid to say what I think. Fear empowers the bullies. They’re far less bold and aggressive when they know you’re not afraid of them.”

CCC: “Well, I am afraid of them.”

What emotion do you suppose is primarily motivating CCC? I think that the answer is quite clear: terror. Sheer, unbridled terror at the thought of being purged not only from one’s current job but from one’s profession field altogether if one so much as questions the progressive, social justice/identity politics dogma which has descended on academia like a suffocating blanket.

Where else in history have we seen such terror, such fear of having one’s heretical personal beliefs exposed and punished by the state or the mob? It’s hard not to give way to hyperbole, but this is literally the stuff of Orwell’s 1984, or (back in the real world) Soviet Russia during the purges.

And for what? To bring about forced adherence to the new orthodoxy on gender identity, racial politics, climate change, immigration and any other left wing cause du jour. Left-wing academics and students have abandoned any glancing interest in persuasion as a tool, and have jumped straight to brutal enforcement. Some academic fields will take longer than others to fall under the jackboots of this new authoritarianism – the STEM subjects are still relatively free, the humanities dangle over the precipice while the social sciences have long since fallen – but all are heading in the same direction.

And this is why Robert P. George’s own stance matters, and is correct. Just as there can be no equitable accommodation with people who want to establish a fundamentalist Islamist caliphate across the West, neither can conservative academics and other defenders of free speech split the difference with the authoritarian, petty tyrants who are busy consolidating their control over the university campus. One either has academic freedom and the right to free speech, or one does not. There is either censorship and an ideological test for working in certain professions, or there is not.

The time for keeping one’s head down and trying to avoid trouble is over. Those of us who believe in free speech and unrestricted academic enquiry have an obligation to speak out in defence of those being persecuted or intimidated for their beliefs, today and in the future, whether we agree with the particular speech in question or not.

They can’t arrest us all and they can’t fire everyone simultaneously. Conservatism needs to make a stand, to boldly assert that it will not be intimidated and purged from academia without a fight, or without exposing the progressive, social justice cultists as the modern day tyrants that they are.

 

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Is Hillary Clinton Suffering From Something More Than Pneumonia? Her Campaign’s Evasiveness Makes It Impossible To Discount

Even if Hillary Clinton’s collapse at the New York 9/11 memorial event was a one-off consequence of reported pneumonia, everything that the Clinton campaign has done and said in the aftermath invites scepticism and disbelief that this is the extent of the issue, raising more questions than answers

For the first time, I am nervous that Donald J Trump might just do it – that he, rather than Hillary Clinton, might be the one taking the oath of office on January 20 next year. Not because Donald Trump has in any way become more palatable or presidential – far from it – but because of the growing, gnawing feeling in the pit of the stomach that the Clinton campaign is perched atop a huge unexploded bomb of negative health revelations.

Until yesterday, such discussions about Hillary Clinton’s health were largely confined to the sensationalist or alt-right press, with online journalists such as Mike Cernovich and Paul Joseph Watson collating video “evidence” of what they claimed to be some underlying neurological condition. While Clinton’s behaviour in some of these videos certainly appears strange, none of them met a convincing standard of proof that something is definitely awry.

But then yesterday came shocking footage of Clinton swaying alarmingly as she waited for her motorcade to appear and whisk her to safety after she “overheated” at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York City, before her legs finally buckled and she appeared to faint and topple forward into the vehicle, being dragged the remainder of the way into the van by aides and Secret Service personnel.

Nothing that the Clinton campaign has done since the emergence of that video has assuaged the entirely reasonable concerns of journalists and American voters. Among the litany of questionable actions:

  1. Clinton’s handlers left her press pool stranded at the 9/11 memorial event, leaving without them and giving them no knowledge of what had transpired
  2. Rather than taking Hillary Clinton to a tier-1 trauma centre hospital for evaluation, which is apparently correct Secret Service procedure in the event of a protectee falling ill and potentially losing consciousness, Clinton was instead driven to her daughter Chelsea’s Manhattan apartment to recuperate
  3. Approximately 9o minutes later, Clinton emerged from the apartment building all smiles, remarking upon what a beautiful day it was in New York before getting into her waiting vehicle unaided
  4. The Clinton campaign’s story kept changing throughout the day – first she had simply decided to leave the event due to “overheating” (on a rather mild day), then it was reported that she was dehydrated, and only once she had returned to her home in Chappaqua, New York was it revealed that she was suffering from pneumonia
  5. The diagnosis of pneumonia was apparently made on Friday 9 September after weeks of speculation about Clinton’s persistent and severe cough (previously attribute to allergies), and yet the campaign never made this public and it would presumably remain a secret even now had Clinton not been filmed collapsing on Sunday
  6. No further details as to the type of pneumonia suffered by Clinton have yet emerged, even now. If it is the bacterial type Clinton may well be contagious and yet participated in numerous fundraising events, as well as hugging a young child who ran up to greet her in the street
  7. In a failed attempt at damage control, Bill Clinton told the media that Hillary has suffered from this type of dizziness on several occasions in the past, though the campaign’s official story is that the collapse was pneumonia-related
  8. In a failed attempt at damage control to the damage control, Hillary Clinton called into the Anderson Cooper AC360 show on CNN, and upon questioning was unable to recall the number of times that she has had these spells in the past five years

This is not good. The millions of Americans who saw one of their two main presidential candidates collapse between the kerb and the open door of her waiting SUV and have to be dragged inside, feet trailing behind and losing a shoe in the process, might reasonably wonder why her entourage and the Secret Service thought it fit and proper to drive her to Chelsea Clinton’s apartment rather than a properly equipped medical facility.

They might also reasonably wonder why that same candidate then breezed out of the apartment building with a beaming smile and seemingly not a care in the world a mere 90 minutes later, exclaiming that she was “fine” and making absolutely no reference to the troubling scene we had witnessed earlier, leaving it to her campaign to make the pneumonia revelation only once she was safely ensconced in her home.

Many more Americans might wonder why so much of the mainstream media, from CNN and MSNBC to more predictable web-based outlets like The Guardian, Slate and the Huffington post, are determined to run interference in defence of Clinton, downplaying the incident as a mere “stumble”angrily exclaiming that climate change “denialism” is worse than misleading voters about one’s state of health or that past dishonesty by presidential candidates like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F Kennedy effectively excuses any similar dishonesty in 2016.

Worse still from Clinton’s perspective, speculation about her health is now rife within the respectable conservative media – no longer something to be hinted at or linked to on Twitter late at night, but occupying the minds of American conservative thought leaders.

Here’s Rod Dreher, no Clinton or Trump supporter and not normally given to hyperbole or conspiracy theorising, admitting:

Until this weekend, I thought Clinton health rumors were just right-wing conspiracy mongering. That confidence collapsed when Mrs. Clinton did, on the streets of New York. The story now has two narrative lines: 1) How sick is Hillary, really?, and 2) Why did she lie about it?

The Clintons lie to protect their power. Clinton partisans will tell themselves, and the rest of America, that whatever happened on Sunday, and whatever series of tales the Clinton campaign has been telling to manage the story, we have to push it all aside to keep Donald Trump from winning. Feminists did the same thing back in the 1990s with Bill Clinton’s abusive, exploitive relationships with women. But not everybody who dislikes Trump hates him so much that they are willing to overlook Clinton’s lies, especially if they are not about things that happened in the past, as with her husband’s lies in the 1990s, but about things that weigh on her ability to perform as president.

Plus, Bill Clinton had a lot of charisma with which he shielded himself. Hillary has none. People may admire her, but they do not love her. That matters.

Hillary’s lies about her health and her “deplorables” remarks do not make Trump a better person, or a better candidate. But they do make him a slightly more plausible one with some voters than he was going into the weekend. When an election is as close as this one, that kind of thing matters.

And the National Review’s David French:

Taken together, these facts say nothing good about Hillary, her campaign, or the prospects for transparency in a potential Hillary Clinton White House. One of the oldest Americans ever to run for president has had repeated, significant health events, has concealed the true extent of her health problems from the American people, and continues to engage in a pattern of deception to this day. Does anyone really believe that Hillary would have admitted either to a significant health episode or a pneumonia diagnosis had cameras not caught her appearing to pass out on a perfectly temperate September day in New York?

Compounding the problem, not only will she conceal the true extent of any health problem until the facts emerge on their own, she’ll empower her allies to mock those who raise health concerns, to cast them as nothing more than crazed conspiracy theorists.

Anyone can, of course, find crazy things on the Internet easily enough. But the notion that a 68-year-old woman with a history of blood clots, a recent serious concussion, and obvious public discomfort (including apparently passing out at a public event) might not be fit enough to withstand the rigors of the presidency is hardly a fringe thought. Age and health weren’t fringe worries when Bob Dole or John McCain ran for president. When Ronald Reagan was campaigning for reelection in 1984 (especially after he performed poorly in his first debate), age and health dominated the public conversation.

To be clear, this is a preview of how Hillary would conduct herself in office. You can be sure that if she lies and minimizes her health challenges as a candidate, she’ll do so as president. (If past practice is any guide, she’ll lie about anything that makes her look bad.) If she falls ill, the American people risk experiencing the same thing Soviet citizens experienced — being fed the official line that their leaders simply had “colds” (or, in Hillary’s case, “allergies”) until the truth could no longer be concealed.

If it were some other candidate, someone with a more open relationship with the press and minus the history of lawyerly evasiveness, one might accept the belated pneumonia explanation at face value and chalk the confused messages emanating from the Clinton campaign as understandable confusion within the team. But we are not dealing with 2000-era John McCain. Hillary Clinton’s life is not an open book – it is a lengthy tome where several sections are torn out while others are heavily redacted, the censor’s black ink sometimes still wet as one turns the page. And those asking to be made leader of the world’s most powerful and consequential country don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

It brings me no joy to write any of this. While this blog is on the record as being unimpressed bordering on despairing of both candidates, when it comes to choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump there is simply no contest – Clinton represents four more years of dreary continuity with a background hum of ethics concerns whereas Trump, hardly the picture of honesty himself, threatens a truly authoritarian dystopian future with a new crisis every week. Given the binary choice, this blog would choose Hillary Clinton without apology.

But there appears now to be every possibility that the Clinton campaign is perched atop a powder keg of dynamite, and that every public appearance for the next two months will be a heart-in-mouth ordeal of wondering whether she will make it through to the end or else cause what would surely be terminal damage to her campaign by tripping, choking or passing out again on live television.

There are questions which appear to be legitimate and not from the lunatic fringe, asking whether there is something much more significant wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health. And yet the Clinton campaign continues to stonewall and use Trump’s refusal to release full medical records as cover for being equally secretive. Making campaign decisions (like not allowing a full protective press pool) simply because Donald Trump has done the same is unbecoming of a candidate like Hillary Clinton, who should aspire to a standard of transparency significantly higher than that set by the reality TV star.

This is no time for further evasions. If there is a more serious, as-yet undisclosed health issue affecting Hillary Clinton, it needs to be made public. Now. And if public reaction is particularly negative then an urgent discussion needs to take place about replacing Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket while their is still time for the replacement Democratic Party nominee to have a fighting chance against Trump.

Pneumonia can happen to anyone. But this palace intrigue and the swirling conspiracy theories surrounding Hillary’s state of health are entirely self-inflicted, a product of the Clinton campaign’s pathological evasiveness and secrecy not only relating to health matters but other issues too. And it simply can not be allowed to continue.

Hillary Clinton is one more “medical episode” away from effectively gifting the presidency to Donald J Trump. Her campaign needs to decide whether they are happy to have that on their collective conscience.

 

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