I have been in New York City for the last week conducting a leadership program for a large U.S. company and have been amazed at the constant barrage of news items produced by the Trump administration.
Living in Europe, I am a bit more shielded from the constant give and take but here one is almost forced to hear about every speech, tweet and move in the drama which is slowly playing out as a result of the election of Donald Trump.
What is even more startling is that there are two alternate realities playing out across a number of issues which go well beyond the old politics of left and right.
Those issues, which for example separated someone like John Kerry from John McCain seem almost irrelevant in the current cultural wars playing out across the country.
All of this was brought to a head for me by two things which happened on Thursday.
The first was that the New York Times published a special section covering Russian interference in the 2016 election. The section was titled “The Plot to Subvert an Election” and is very well written by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti. The piece essentially lays out much of the public information associated to date with the investigation being conducted by the Special Council, Robert Mueller and does so with an editorial edge which is clearly hostile to president Trump and leads to the Inescapable conclusion that Trump has at least benefited from Russian interference and was most likely aware of some of it.
The second was that a few hours later I had lunch with an old friend and colleague who has a very different view of what is going on. My friend is a skilled diplomat and consultant who develops communications and lobbying strategies for foreign governments in the United Sates. He is a strong supporter of President Trump and is totally convinced that the Mueller investigation is nothing less than a coups d’état against the fairly elected president of the United States. In his view the proceedings are part of a larger campaign to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 and re-construct an anti-Russian narrative which is necessary to justify the enormous defence spending which has been making fortunes for the military industrial complex for many years.
In this world view, the Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department are all in the hands of the Deep State or career bureaucrats who are answerable only to themselves. Interestingly enough my former colleague is not feel in line with the “neocons” such as Nikki Hadley and John Bolton who are currently running U.S. foreign policy and sees their participation in the government as a necessary evil that President Trump has accepted in order to pursue the rest of his MAGA agenda.
Black and white. Good and evil. Truth and lies. There is no middle ground.
Exactly the same dynamic is playing out with Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Immigration and even Climate Change. Not even the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence has been enough to get the administration to admit that the scientists might be right about global warming.
The thing is that the current political climate is not about facts, truth or science. Its only seems to be about whether someone is for or against President Trump.