The Trump Test: Fair minded liberals really need to consider what their reaction would be if Trump did it

No presidency is without problems and President Joe Biden is no exception.  The difference in tone and tenor from a year ago, however, is striking.  The cottage outrage industry has been replaced by a passive press expressing precious little concern about the disturbing news of the day.  Honest people need to ask themselves what’s changed. 

As we get deeper into the Biden Era, I’d like to propose a simple test for all fair minded liberals and other individuals who disliked former President Trump:  What would your reaction to any given news story be if Trump was President instead of Biden?  I don’t propose this test for purposes of “whataboutism” or to suggest that your reaction to a favored President should be the same as a disfavored one, only to encourage some level of fairness and open-mindedness in our discourse.  You can still dislike Trump and prefer Biden.  That’s your prerogative for whatever reason.

At the same time, healthy debate requires some perspective and perspective requires at least an attempt at objectivity.  Objectivity requires you to consider how you would react if the players involved were changed.  To choose an example outside of politics, I am a huge fan of surrealist filmmaker David Lynch.  My lovely wife, not so much, but she is a good sport and watches along with me.  She’s fond of saying that if another director did exactly the same thing, I’d call it pretentious, art-house crap, but because it’s David Lynch, I claim to love it.  There, of course, might be some truth to that and her calling me out encourages me to consider what precisely about Lynch’s work appeals when I find almost anyone who tries to imitate his style boring and pretentious.  While I certainly can’t be fully objective, asking the question at least prompts me to be more objective.  In many cases that’s the best we can do as imperfect human beings.

Likewise, I am proposing we should apply similar standards to political discourse. In no particular order, consider some of the topics and the spin dominating recent headlines, and ask yourself honestly, what would your reaction be if Trump was still in office?

Last week, the Biden Administration announced that the federal government and the Democrat National Committee are collaborating with social media companies and telecommunications providers to prevent the spread of “misinformation” online.  “Within the Surgeon General’s Office, we’re flagging posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained. “We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect medical experts with people, who are popular with their audiences, with accurate information and boost trusted content. So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.” “It’s important to take faster action against harmful posts,” she added. “As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms. Sometimes it’s not accurate, and Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts.”

Politico reported in more detail. “Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.” Biden himself said the social media companies are “killing people” and there are reports they are pushing for Facebook, Twitter, and others to collaborate on a banning process, where a person banned from one platform would be banned from all.  Ironically, this news comes a week after former President Trump announced a class action lawsuit against those same social media companies, calling them “state actors” and claiming they colluded with the government against the First Amendment.  That claim was met with outright skepticism in the mainstream media, yet now we know it’s true.  No one appears to have retracted their skepticism, nor was there much concern about the policy’s obvious potential for political abuse, not to mention the fascist overtones of asking the state to approve information prior to dissemination.

Likewise, we learned that the Biden administration is collaborating with “local leaders and state and local organizations” on a door to door vaccine program.  The goal will be to provide “targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is.”  Apparently, the program, where it appears federal funds can end up in the hands of “local organizations” for political purposes, has been ongoing since April.  “(L)et me first say that this has been ongoing since April, and the best people to talk about vaccinations are local, trusted messengers: doctors, faith leaders, community leaders,” Ms. Psaki told reporters.

“They are not members of the government,” she continued. “They are not federal government employees. They are volunteers. They are clergy. They are trusted voices in communities who are playing this role and door knocking.”  Yes, but what if they are political operatives and not just pushing the vaccine?  The potential for abusing people’s privacy rights notwithstanding, this is essentially the state paying for political speech, and here I thought that was bad.

Also last week, we also learned that the Department of Justice intentionally withheld information on an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes prior to the election.  This was already suspected when the news came out last December, shortly after Biden’s victory, but now Politico reports, “Last summer, federal officials in Delaware investigating Hunter Biden faced a dilemma. The probe had reached a point where prosecutors could have sought search warrants and issued a flurry of grand jury subpoenas. Some officials involved in the case wanted to do just that. Others urged caution. They advised Delaware’s U.S. Attorney, David Weiss, to avoid taking any actions that could alert the public to the existence of the case in the middle of a presidential election.”  Unfortunately, this reasoning makes no sense whatsoever:  Trump was impeached for encouraging an investigation into Hunter’s business dealings. In response, we were duly informed by the mainstream media and Democrats that the very idea of an investigation was a complete sham, encouraged purely for political purposes by Trump.  Further, when details about the extent of these dealings came out with the publication of materials from Hunter’s laptop by The New York Post, these articles were suppressed by Facebook and Twitter and we were told it was all Russian disinformation.

Now, we learn that the Department of Justice had the facts of the matter ready to go, and yet they remained silent for purely political reasons.  It’s one thing to not announce details about an investigation that isn’t already an issue in the campaign, the facts of which are under dispute.  It’s quite another to withhold crucial information when those facts are actively in dispute and when people, from the mainstream media, to social media, to the Biden campaign, to other government officials, are flat out lying about when the truth is easily found.

Also on the Hunter Biden front, we learned the President’s son is now calling himself an artist and selling his work for big bucks, from $75,000 to $500,000 to unknown purchasers; yes, that is the plan, no one except the gallery will know who bought what and who paid what.  How many first year artists do you know that fetch that kind of money?  How many artists period do you know short of Banksy that can command $500,000 for a painting?  “The president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a prime example,” Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the White House, claimed.  A reporter asked Ms. Psaki, “Did the White House play any role in crafting the sales agreement with the New York gallery to protect the…purchasers’ identity?”  She replied, “Well, I can tell you that after careful consideration, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards. Of course, he has the right to pursue an artistic career, just like any child of a president has the right to pursue a career…The gallerist will not share information about buyers or prospective buyers, including their identities, with Hunter Biden or the administration, which provides quite a level of protection and transparency.”  I sure feel better, don’t you?  I’m equally sure the media reaction would be the same if Donald Trump’s Jr.’s scribblings started going for half-a-million a piece.  Once upon a time they were concerned about the undue influence that might be caused by booking a hotel room on a Trump property.

Last month, Americans received a letter from President Joe Biden, on official White House letterhead in an IRS envelope paid for by the taxpayer.  “A key part of the American Rescue Plan is direct payments of $1,400 per person for most American households,” it read. “With the $600 direct payment from December, this brings the total relief payment up to $2,000. This fulfills a promise I made to you, and will help get millions of Americans through this crisis.”  He continued tooting his own horn, “I am pleased to inform you that because of the American Rescue Plan, a direct payment of $5,600.00 was issued to you by paper check/debit card.”

This was pure politics on the taxpayer dime.  What if Trump did it?  Actually, something similar happened just last year, when then President Trump had his name printed on similar stimulus checks.  How did the mainstream media respond? The Washington Post reported as if it were a huge scandal, “The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, ‘President Donald J. Trump’ will appear on the left side of the payment…It will be the first time a president’s name appears on an IRS disbursement, whether a routine refund or one of the handful of checks the government has issued to taxpayers in recent decades either to stimulate a down economy or share the dividends of a strong one.”  Yet, there was not a word when Biden did essentially the same thing.

Last month was also another record or near record for border crossings.  Close to 180,000 individuals were detained by immigration crossing the southern border, continuing a surge that began shortly before Biden took office.  All told, border crossings have increased by ten times in a short period:  Since January of this year, there have been 866,884 encounters with law enforcement, and over the past three months the number has been consistently over 170,000 per month.  The children are back in cages, some 22,000 of them at last count, the cartels are back in the human smuggling business, and the entire Biden Administration has proposed not a single, solitary policy that will stem the tide.  Instead, they plan to funnel money to South and Central American countries to address the “root causes.”  This is nothing short of a massive humanitarian crisis, entirely of the administration’s own making, made worse by their inept handling since day one.  Neither President Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris has truly visited the border yet and actually witnessed the damage their policies are doing with their own eyes.

Likewise, a crisis of confidence in the Cuban government has caused an uprising of mass protests on the island nation and even in the United States.  President Biden has officially declared that refugees from the oppressive regime, many of whom might well face imprisonment, torture, or execution, aren’t welcome in America, even if they succeed in a dangerous journey by boat, they will be turned away.  Can you imagine if Trump closed the country to refugees from an actual, unfolding crisis?  Actually, we don’t have to.  Trump closed the country to refugees from war torn Syria and Libya in 2017 to endless outrage, challenges in court, and claims of racism.  Amnesty International called it a “license to discriminate,”  The Washington Post claimed he caused “heartache and suffering,” and The New York Times said the “harm” outlived his administration.  Biden, however, does the same thing with a neighboring country and I cannot find a single article from any of these outlets questioning or criticizing the decision.

I could go on, from extreme demagoguery for purely political purposes on mild measures to improve the integrity of our elections to missed goals on the vaccine rollout and the possibility of declaring victory too early.  Biden has problems, some of the major, some of them minor, as do all Presidents.  The difference is once upon a time less than a year ago, everyone of these “problems” would be front page news for days, accompanied by endless drama on social media, claims about fitness for office, and even puerile third-party psychological analysis.  This cottage industry of outrage has been completely replaced by a cone of silence, all in less than six months.  Fair minded people should consider why and at least make an attempt to check their own bias in the name of public discourse.  Therefore, everyone should take The Trump Test and share their answers for the record.

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