I started writing this article Friday morning, one day after the Republican National Convention concluded business. According to their nominee Mr. Trump, the entire world outside my door should be a flaming paper bag of dog shit by now, and he is the only one who will save us from it. I am going to step outside a minute today to check on that and will be right back.
Okay. I have checked the world and confirmed it’s not entirely a flaming paper bag full of dog shit. It is, however, in a transition period between the end of the Republican National Convention and the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.
It appears as though this transition was written as a screenplay by John Le Carre and Richard Condon. For those not familiar with spy thrillers, Le Carre and Condon are (respectively) the authors of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Manchurian Candidate.
Outside of a spy novel plot, what has happened thus far in the 2016 American presidential campaign seems pretty fantastical. It all started off normally enough. On Friday, Mrs. Clinton successfully introduced her running mate Tim Kaine to the rest of the country at the Democratic ticket’s rally in Miami, Florida. Then, while that was happening, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of emails from the DNC’s servers — particularly from DNC leaders Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Amy Dacey and Brad Marshall — which showed the DNC may have colluded with the Clinton campaign against the Sanders campaign.
Although the content of the emails were individual, personal exchanges and suggestions by DNC leadership on how the Clinton campaign could use Sanders’ atheism as a means to stem the Sanders campaign’s insurgency, those suggestions were not used by the Clinton campaign. What the leak did do successfully was to throw the proverbial turd in the punch bowl of the Democratic National Convention. Its timing was perfect, ripping off the scabs from the wounds of die-hard Sanders supporters and delegates who felt cheated by Sanders’ loss in the primaries, thereby creating a contentious Day 1 for the Clinton-Kaine celebration.
But then the story gets even weirder. Over the weekend, the Clinton campaign accused Russia of tampering with American politics, citing that Russians hacked DNC email servers to benefit Donald Trump. The FBI, for their part, believe the same.
For those new to this storyline, the Putin-Trump connection started emerging long before this DNC email hack was reported by the press. Josh Marshall’s article in Talking Points Memo, the Washington Post, and Slate all cover Trump’s Putin connection and its relevance to the campaign, which in a nutshell is this: On the campaign trail, Trump has called for a new partnership with Moscow and overhauling NATO, the allied military force seen as the chief protector of pro-Western nations near Russia. And Trump has surrounded himself with a team of advisers who have or have had financial ties to Russia.
That advisory team includes Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, partner in the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelley, which is featured in the Center for Public Integrity’s Report, The Torturers’ Lobby. Manafort is a long-time friend and ally of Viktor Yanukovych, former President of Ukraine (elected 2010), who was sympathetic to Russia’s agenda for the region. He was deposed in 2014. Yanukovych now lives in southern Russia under protection of a Russian citizenship granted him by Putin.
With the exception of Deutsche Bank, major banks in the West refuse to do business with Trump. The risk is too great due to his unscrupulous business practices. Trump is a long-time admirer of Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s Russian oligarchic supporters provide capital for Trump’s projects here and abroad.
The Trump campaign’s gutting of the Republican Party’s platform against Russian tactics in Ukraine indicate how and why he would like the US to change the way we view Russian interests in the region. It supports his financial interests.
Given late June’s Brexit vote, and the failed Turkish coup against Erdogan — another strong Putin fan — acting on behalf of Putin’s interests may serve to completely destabilize an already fragile Europe and NATO. And neither Trump nor Putin gives a shit. They’re bros.
But this week is about the Democrats. As of yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) has resigned from her post as Chair of the DNC. At this morning’s Florida state delegation’s breakfast she was roundly booed. She will not be speaking first to gavel the convention to begin. Donna Brazile will act as temporary Chair for the DNC and the campaign. Senator Sanders will formally endorse Secretary Clinton, though he was booed by his own supporters today when urging their support of her.
This is just Day One of the Democratic National Convention. Four days after the Republican National Convention and we haven’t even begun with the speeches. Who knows what’s going to happen next? It all feels like worlds are colliding, and indeed they are. We are connected by global finance and interests and, in this election year, it shows itself in every way imaginable from the “R” to the “D” side. It may be a case of picking your poison. But maybe one we can recover from; choose the other one, and the world may not.
So there is no real, big flaming bag of dog poop on my front porch at least. But who knows what will happen this week? Well, let me take that back. At least we will know one thing by the end of the evening: Michelle Obama will be the first First Lady ever to have spoken at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. That’s a positive!