The Manchurian President: On Trump’s Unconditional Surrender to Putin

ON FRIDAY, at long last, Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin: the prime beneficiary of Russia’s act of cyber warfare against the United States convening with his audacious benefactor. This is, at least, the consensus view of the 17 agencies that comprise the US intelligence community. Trump, unsurprisingly, has other ideas:

Because of Trump’s insistence on a small, intimate gathering, the details of the meeting are a bit murky. What appears to have happened is: Putin denied having anything to do with tampering with the US election; Trump accepted this denial on its face, complaining about “fake news” outlets making so much of Russian election tampering and blaming Obama; the two decided to join together some sort of task force to ensure the integrity of future elections:

In other words, the chief executive in charge of the defense of this country announced that he holds with the view of the hostile foreign power who perpetrated this act against America, and not that of his own intelligence community…and, worse, that he intends to ally with the former, ostensibly to prevent further cyber attacks.

This is such an egregious act of capitulation that it demands further unpacking.

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Twitter is so abuzz with comparisons, it’s like a Verbal SAT for Treason:

Or like a rape prevention task force with Bill Cosby, or a fiduciary integrity task force with Bernie Madoff, or a winning football task force with the New York Jets.

It may well be the most preposterous idea Trump has ever floated. Or, to put it more bluntly:

This is the part in the Manchurian Candidate where Angela Lansbury suggests playing a little game of solitaire. The sleeper agent has been activated.

A few months ago, Glenn Greenwald made fun of me for calling Trump a compromised asset of Russian intelligence. After today, it’s not possible to make the argument that he’s anything but.

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Modern right-wingers have an antecedent in the John Birch Society, an ultra-conservative group whose original members included Fred C. Koch, father of the Koch brothers.

You know whom the Birchers hated more than anyone? Communists. They were key players in fanning the flames of anti-Communist rhetoric in the 60s.

You know whom they held in the highest regard? Intelligence agents. The eponymous John Birch was an intelligence agent who died fighting the Communists in 1945—allegedly the first casualty of the Cold War.

For the Republican president of the United States to repudiate his own intelligence agencies, his spy army of John Birches, and instead kowtow to the Rooskies of all people, is something that would have been unimaginable to Fred Koch sixty years ago.

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The Left tends to be distrustful of the intelligence community, which itself tends not to be staffed by Left-leaning agents.

In the battle between privacy and security, the Left unequivocally favors the former. After 9/11, it was the conservatives who demanded that privacy be sacrificed for security, who set up the Department of Homeland Security, who made trips to the airport so unpleasant.

I can remember foolish Leftists publishing long essays about how PRISM was dangerous and how Obama was laying the foundation for a totalitarian presidency. Now those same Leftists, having seen the error of their ways, are cheering on the so-called Deep State, which is under attack by…conservatives?

This is unheard of.

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“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is the Second Amendment, the summation of our Constitutional right to bear arms.

The NRA and other 2A advocates are quick to point out that they need assault rifles and other heavy weaponry not to hunt elk, but to rise up against the government in the event of a tyrant coming to power. That’s what the Founders most feared: being under the yoke of another mad king.

“The Second Amendment is not about hunting at all,” the NRA website proclaims, on a surprisingly well-argued FAQ page. “The Second Amendment is about protecting the right of a free people to defend that freedom and to protect their families and communities from threats.”

Yeah, so we have a mad king now, guys, and he’s just given Vladimir Putin the national SSL keys. If you NRA/2A folks defend Trump now, after this brazen act of kingly madness, then your entire raison d’etre is a sham, and you might as well admit that you exist, as Trump does, to enrich your corporate benefactors.

Come on, NRA. Prove that you’re more than hot air. Be true patriots. Join the Resistance. We need you. If you guys lobby to have Trump impeached, our national nightmare will be over by Labor Day.

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Do I have to get into how Putin kills journalists, and how Trump would like to do the same, as per the violent CNN memes he disseminates? Or how Putin orchestrated the “terrorist” attacks in Chechnya so that he could impose martial law? Just read the Kasparov book, and trust me: Putin is an evil motherfucker, no matter what Sean Hannity might tell you.

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I was at Yankee Stadium on Friday, as it happened. I haven’t watched baseball for years, because the conservatism of the MLB puts me off, all the quasi-religious reverence for tradition, but Friday night, I was stirred by the patriotic spectacle.

I found myself not only singing the National Anthem, but also being moved by it. And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Those lyrics were written during the War of 1812, when the British, then our mortal enemy, were bombing the shit out of Baltimore harbor. We survived that, as the song reminds us, and we can survive Trump/Putin, too.

But the time has come for us Americans to recognize the real enemy, and unite to fight against him. Trump this weekend revealed himself to be the puppet of Putin that Hillary Clinton accused him of being during the campaign. To argue otherwise is to repudiate values conservatives traditionally hold dear—national security, high esteem for the intelligence community, the foundational principles behind the Second Amendment, antipathy towards Russian autocracy, and unequivocal contempt for tyranny at home.

As Jesus remarked: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” You’re either with the patriots, or you take orders from Vladimir Putin, like Trump. Time to decide.


  1. Molly Jong-Fast 

Greg Olear

About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
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