If you believed that you’d been wronged on social media because someone had erroneously described your tweet on purpose, wouldn’t you stand by that tweet or post? Apparently not if you’re Michael McFaul. At least not for a while.
And his activity on Twitter in the last few days is worth highlighting because even though you haven’t heard of him, McFaul is a card-carrying member of the bipartisan globalist U.S. foreign policy Blob. A recent tweet of his, moreover, epitomized the views of this group of current bureaucrats, former officials, Mainstream Media journalists, and think tankers that even President Trump’s partial implementation of a fundamentally different foreign policy strategy he calls “America First” poses such a mortal danger to both national and international security that any means justify the end of defeating it.
In addition, McFaul’s reaction to criticism also adds to the thoroughly Orwellian spectacle that’s been staged this last week by these and Never Trumpers in politics in (a) charging (based entirely on anonymous sources) that Mr. Trump has privately expressed contempt for Americans servicemen and women who have risked their lives for their country; (b) claiming that this unsubstantiated report, published Thursday in The Atlantic, proves the President’s contemptible character; and (c) insisting that some or all of the Atlantic piece’s allegations have been confirmed because they’ve been repeated by other anonymous sources to other journalists. (BTW, for all anyone knows – and for all these other journalists know – the sources they’re using may be the same accusers.)
As indicated above, McFaul is not your every day, garden variety tweeter. He’s considered a leading academic authority on Russia who served in the Obama administration for five years, including two as ambassador to Moscow. He’s got nearly 517,000 followers. He also tweets a lot: 85,000 to date! (Almost as much as yours truly!) And if you spend more than thirty seconds on his feed, you’ll see that he really doesn’t like the President or his policies.
Which is his right. It’s also his right to have tweeted the day the Atlantic article came out that “Trump has lost the Intelligence Community. He has lost the State Department. He has lost the military. How can he continue to serve as our Commander in Chief?”
But Washington Examiner political correspondent Byron York was just as entitled to respond on Twitter the following morning (Friday) that “This tweet has disturbing undertones in our democratic system. Trump is commander-in-chief because he was elected president, and he will remain commander-in-chief as long as he is president, for a second term if re-elected.”
McFaul, not surprisingly was outraged. He tweeted back to York that evening : “Byron, you know DAMN well that I was not advocating a coup! You know damn well that I support democracy 100%, at home and abroad. Of course Americans voters, including 2 million federal workers, determine who the CiC is. I tolerate such nonsense from trolls. But from you? Wow.”
But here’s an even bigger “Wow.” When you clicked on the York cite of the original tweet, Twitter told you it was no longer available. McFaul had deleted it.
The plot sickened yesterday afternoon when McFaul himself evidently recognized how feckless his actions looked. He sent out the following Tweet, which added a sentence to the original: “Trump has lost the Intelligence Community. He has lost the State Department. He has lost the military. How can he continue to serve as our Commander in Chief? Our soldiers, diplomats, and agents deserve better. We deserve better. #Vote.”
Which returns us – and him – to Legitimate Opinion-Land. But McFaul needed prompting, as several of his followers and others had previously asked him why he deleted the original if was so indignant over York’s comments. Moreover, McFaul is hardly inarticulate. Why didn’t he include this qualifier in the original?
Even stranger: In a follow up tweet, McFaul stated “I retweeted with a clarifying sentence. 50,000 + people understood exactly what I meant. But trying to be more precise to the handful who I confused or deliberately distorted my views. But I know @ByronYork personally. There’s NO WAY he could believe that I’d support a coup.” In other words, lots of furious backtracking for a confused or mendacious handful.
Or was it a handful? Shortly before that tweet, McFaul had told his followers “Im deleting this tweet below. It has been misunderstood –whether deliberately or unintentionally — too much. Here is what I meant to say: If you believe Trump has not served our country well as Commander in Chief, vote him out of the job in November. https://twitter.com/McFaul/status/1302071499914842112”
At the same time, McFaul’s clear and ongoing belief in the fundamental illegitimacy of Mr. Trump’s presidency can’t legitimately be questioned. Just late last month, in an on-line op-ed , he wrote that a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report had shown that:
“Far from a hoax, as the president so often claimed, the report reveals how the Trump campaign willingly engaged with Russian operatives implementing the influence effort.”
Even worse, in his eyes,
“[S]ome of the most egregious practices from the 2016 presidential campaign documented by the Senate investigation are repeating themselves in the 2020 presidential campaign. Once again, Putin wants Trump to win and appears to be seeking to undermine the legitimacy of our election. Just like in 2016, Putin has deployed his conventional media, his social media operations and his intelligence assets to pursue these objectives.
“Most shockingly, Trump and his allies have decided to — again — play right along.”
To McFaul’s credit, he at least acknowledged that “China, Iran and Venezuela now in the disinformation game” as well. (For details on China’s massive efforts, see my recent American Conservative article.)
He added that “it will be up to American voters to decide when and how cooperation with foreign actors during a presidential election crosses the line,” but indicated that the main reason was “Because waiting for criminal investigations or more congressional hearings will be too late….”
Most ominously, McFaul continues to maintain that the President has remained loyal to Putin, not once criticizing him in public and often undermining policies from his own administration to contain and deter Putin’s belligerent behavior abroad.”
In contrast, Democratic nominee Joe Biden “has affirmed that his campaign will not use information or accept assistance provided by foreign actors….In addition, Biden has assured Americans that he would retaliate in response to any foreign interference.”
So when McFaul declares that “Trump and Biden’s contrasting positions on Russian interference in American elections are clear. Whether voters care about these differences, however, is not as obvious,” it sounds to me that if the President is reelected, the de-legitimization campaign by McFaul and the rest of the Blob will continue. You don’t have to call that a coup to recognize it’s not democratic politics-as-usual, either.