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The Wall Street Journal as a non-recovering addict



Did you ever know a drug addict or alcoholic who hit bottom and swore they’d seen the light and would never do it again? Then you see them a day or two later, and they’re drunk or stoned and out of their minds, as if their previous promise had been a dream. It makes you realize: Addiction is a disease. You can never believe what an addict says, because they’re not in control.

That’s how I felt this week reading two lead editorials in the Wall Street Journal. Monday’s was called The Trumps and the Truth.” Tuesday’s was “The ObamaCare Republicans.” When I read Monday’s column, I thought, “At last Rupert Murdoch has grown a pair. He’s brave enough to admit he’s been wrong, wrong, wrong in failing to rebuke an insane president.” The extra-long editorial was scathing in its denunciation, not only of Trump but of his family and especially his “dunce” of a son, Donald Jr., for their fast-and-easy approach to truth. I’ve been wondering for a long time when rightwing Republicans would finally ditch the disaster of Trump. This editorial gave me heart.

Alas, 24 hours later my optimism was crushed, as I realized that addicts can’t change their stripes overnight. In “The ObamaCare Republicans,” the same editorial space that only a day before slammed Trump reverted to full-on Democrat bashing, in the form of an unprovoked, nasty attack on the Senate Republicans who handed Mitch McConnell the defeat of his political career. While most of us applaud the efforts of Collins, Capito, Portman, Moran, etc. to derail a bill so senseless and stupid that even Trump called the House version “mean,” the Wall Street Journal just couldn’t help itself from reverting to its old addiction of hating on Obama and Democrats, and resisting any bipartisan cooperation at all in Washington. The editorial contained the usual attacks on “liberals” and “the entitlement state,” more dire warnings about “single-payer health care,” and, for good measure, it even managed to get in a snide reference to “Bill Clinton’s impeachment,” as if that has anything to do with the current situation.

How is it possible to explain such a schizophrenic shift in a mere 24 hours? On Monday the paper seemed to have finally discovered sanity and patriotism, in realizing the bizarre, destructive and dangerous behavior of the President of the United States and his enablers. That was the Wall Street Journal’s sober day—a time of clear-eyed understanding and coming to grips with reality.

And yet a mere day later, here’s the Wall Street Journal rolling in the gutter, vomiting all over itself, stumbling glassy-eyed and reeking of booze, ranting with the delirium tremens of the tea party. Repeal ObamaCare! The Clintons! Liberals! Death panels! Nancy Pelosi! The only thing missing was Benghazi.

Rupert Murdoch, you see, just can’t help himself. A day after swearing off the bottle, he remembered he’d hidden a quart of cheap booze in the floorboards, and poured it down his, and his staff’s, throat. That’s an alcoholic for you: incorrigible. And it’s why you can’t trust a diehard Republican to come to his senses. The addiction to hatred has robbed them of those senses.

In the case of actual drug and alcohol addicts, there’s always treatment. They can go someplace and dry out, surrounded by helpful souls and a loving family to walk them through their recovery. In the case of recalcitrant Republicans, what is the treatment? Sadly, there is none. Nobody can help Rupert Murdoch and the hardliners at the Wall Street Journal, who can’t seem to go two days in a row without falling off the wagon and stumbling back into their comfort zone of fanatical embrace of a failing political ideology. Tea party-style conservatism was the temporary result of a bizarre cult the Wall Street Journal and its misshapen sibling, Fox “News,” helped create. We see it now dying, the victim of Donald J. Trump, whose specter it conjured well before he existed as a political force, and that it now has to own. There may be time for Murdoch to take the plunge and commit to sobriety, but he’s 86 years old, so that’s unlikely. He’ll probably have to die before we see his media outlets even begin to shift from sycophantic GOP codependency to real journalism.

  1. I think you’re seeing an inconsistency that isn’t there.

    The WSJ hates Obamacare and loves the idea of taking away poor people’s health care to fund tax cuts for the rich. Mitch McConnell is their ideal Republican, or close to it.

    The WSJ can recognize that the Trumps are a clownish crime family of incompetents without suddenly changing their long-held views on domestic policy. The denunciation is still worth noting, though, because it may indicate that the Murdochs’ patience with Trump may not be infinite.

  2. I don’t think the Murdoch’s patience with Trump is infinite. I wonder, though, what the first real break will be. There are a number of players: the “base,” leading Republican politicians in Congress, governors, the Cabinet, the Wall Street Journal, Fox “News” hosts and other rightwing radio talk show jocks, and so on. A breach in any one of those could burst the dam.

  3. Bob Henry says:

    The embedded link for The Journal article redirects to The Australian newspaper.

    So reproduced in full below, the cited editorial.

    From The Wall Street Journal “Opinion” Section
    (July 17, 2017, Page Unknown):

    “The Trumps and the Truth”


    By The Editorial Board

    Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling. Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.

    That’s the lesson the Trumps should draw from the fiasco over Don Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians peddling dirt on Mrs. Clinton. First Don Jr. let news of the meeting leak without getting ahead of it. Then the White House tried to explain it away as a “nothingburger” that focused on adoptions from Russia.

    When that was exposed as incomplete, Don Jr. released his emails that showed the Russian lure about Mrs. Clinton and Don Jr. all excited—“I love it.” Oh, and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Beltway bagman Paul Manafort were also at the meeting. Don Jr. told Sean Hannity this was the full story. But then news leaked that a Russian-American lobbyist was also at the meeting.

    Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere—the best case—the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide. They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct. And they handed their opponents another of the swords that by now could arm a Roman legion.


    Don’t you get it, guys? Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the Russia story. Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything. Denouncing leaks as “fake news” won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.

    Mr. Trump seems to realize he has a problem because the White House has announced the hiring of white-collar Washington lawyer Ty Cobb to manage its Russia defense. He’ll presumably supersede the White House counsel, whom Mr. Trump ignores, and New York outside counsel Marc Kasowitz, who is out of his political depth.

    Mr. Cobb has an opening to change the Trump strategy to one with the best chance of saving his Presidency: radical transparency. Release everything to the public ahead of the inevitable leaks. Mr. Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations.

    That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or email. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which the President will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway.

    Then release it all to the public. Whatever short-term political damage this might cause couldn’t be worse than the death by a thousand cuts of selective leaks, often out of context, from political opponents in Congress or the special counsel’s office. If there really is nothing to the Russia collusion allegations, transparency will prove it. Americans will give Mr. Trump credit for trusting their ability to make a fair judgment. Pre-emptive disclosure is the only chance to contain the political harm from future revelations.

    This is the opposite of the Clinton stonewall strategy, which should be instructive. That strategy saved Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990s at a fearsome price and only because the media and Democrats in Congress rallied behind him. Mr. Trump can’t count on the same from Republicans and most of the media want him run out of office.

    If Mr. Trump’s approval rating stays under 40% into next year, Republicans will begin to separate themselves from an unpopular President in a (probably forlorn) attempt to save their majorities in Congress. If Democrats win the House, the investigations into every aspect of the Trump business empire, the 2016 campaign and the Administration will multiply. Impeachment will be a constant undercurrent if not an active threat. His supporters will become demoralized.


    Mr. Trump will probably ignore this advice, as he has most of what these columns have suggested. Had he replaced James Comey at the FBI shortly after taking office in January, for example, he might not now have a special counsel threatening him and his family.

    Mr. Trump somehow seems to believe that his outsize personality and social-media following make him larger than the Presidency. He’s wrong. He and his family seem oblivious to the brutal realities of Washington politics. Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don’t have much more time to do it.

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