mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
media watch
America Shouldn’t Have an Aristocracy

Over at USA Today, Glenn Reynolds notes that the slavishness of the press establishment toward the political establishment sometimes reveals itself in reporters’ bizarre unconscious assumptions:

The United States Constitution provides that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.” But somebody needs to explain this to the courtiers in the Washington press corps.

The latest offender is National Journal reporter Ron Fournier, who — discussing the possibility of Hillary Clinton being indicted for her secret private server and mishandling of highly classified information — observed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “Legally though, there’s a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who is running for president. … I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar you have to get over because we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes. … Politically, there are severe questions about her judgment that voters really have to look into. Legally … there is a higher bar you have to get over before you prosecute somebody who is running for president. That’s just a fact.”

As Reynolds points out, journalists surely know with one part of their brains that politicians like Rick Perry and Scott Walker were deliberately targeted in political prosecutions, but that there was very little among the respectable press about this. The media doesn’t apply the same standard across the board, perhaps less out of malice than of genuine political blindness. Most elite reporters think of Secretary Clinton as a serious leader, and of people like Perry and Walker as trashy pols.

Moreover, as Reynolds suggests, this isn’t just a problem in terms of political fairness, or even in terms of the press abdicating its responsibility to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” It’s a danger to American democracy and order, because as the public recognizes that elites increasingly disregard the rules that bind everyone else, our most important institutions—including courts and the media—start to lose legitimacy.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Andrew Allison

    START to lose legitimacy??

  • rheddles

    How are courts at all comparable to the media?

  • DiogenesDespairs

    The rapidly forming political ruling class, including its media minions: “Thank God we are not as other men.”

  • WigWag

    Right; we shouldn’t have an aristocracy, but we do. Despite what Via Meadia may think, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and the rest of the clueless crew we call out political class are actually mere courtiers. So are the denizens of the punditocracy, the nitwits who who make up our foreign policy establishment (see Eliot Cohen and the band of jerks who signed his letter about Donald Trump), the journalists who regularly appear on the Sunday morning news shows, and the professoriate which has its collective head so far up their you know what that they can’t see straight.

    At best, these courtiers count as C-list elites. They crave nothing more than to bask in the money and celebrity of their betters. They are delighted if a few dollars falling out of the overflowing pockets of our real aristocracy trickle down to them. Have you ever seen those videos of a suitcase full of money opening accidentally and having the dollars contained therein scatter in the wind? Those adoring creeps rushing to scoop up every stray dollar they can get their hands on perfectly represent the courtiers I’m talking about.

    Some of those courtiers look like Hillary Clinton who made millions giving speeches to Goldman Sachs. Some, like Ted Cruz’s wife made a handsome living for her family while working for Goldman Sachs (all the while her husband was screwing every political operative in sight behind her back). Others like John Kasich worked for investment banks like Lehman Brothers that practically tanked our entire economy.

    Other courtiers like Walter Russell Mead travel the world on handouts that come from the likes of George Soros or, like Eliot Cohen are scared to death that if a change-agent is elected, their gigs are up and they will never get back into government and instead will be faced with the prospect of wasting their lives away teaching foreign relations courses to snot-nosed kids or stuck in small, windowless offices in our nation’s “think-tanks.”

    Don’t mistake the courtiers for the aristocracy. The Aristocrats are to be found in our countries hedge funds and other financial institutions. They live on Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, Central Park West or Greenwich, CT.

    Other American aristocrats live like royalty in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles or anywhere between Austin, Dallas or Houston.

    No matter what Via Meadia may think, Hillary Clinton is no aristocrat. Neither are her political opponents in the GOP. Neither are the pundits who write for Via Meadia. To America’s real aristocrats, people like Clinton and Cruz are just meat.

    • Anthony

      Hard hitting, resonating and generally accurate WigWag – Bravura.

      • WigWag

        Thanks, Anthony for your kind words. It is really remarkable to me that the candidate derided as a mental midget by America’s bipartisan elite is the only candidate in decades willing to question whether it’s time to rethink the postwar international architecture.

        It’s a debate that our country desperately needs to have and though people of good will can disagree about what course we should take, the idea that we shouldn’t question whether it’s time to reflect on NATO’s relevance or whether our country should put San Francisco at risk to protect Japan and South Korea from North Korea, is deeply disturbing.

        Actually, it’s worse than that; the desire of American political elites (including the C-level elites who run the American Interest) to stifle a debate on this topic represents exactly the kind of politically correct group-speak that prevents us from frankly discussing so many of the important topics our country faces. Of course Democrat and GOP elites want a discussion of NATO and our nuclear umbrella to be beyond the pale; they’re enriching themselves on the status quo; the thought that the status quo might be overturned freaks them out. They understand that the status quo that enriches them leaves tens of millions Americans behind; they just don’t care.

        All of this would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The proprietor of this blog endlessly obsesses on what he calls the collapse of the “blue model,” yet he and his AI colleagues recoil in horror from the prospect that “blue model” collapse makes the Pax Americana” no longer affordable. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or to cry.

        This website has been especially complicit in dumbing down the debate during this presidential season. Via Meadia and the related AI blogs have joined the mainstream hate fest calling Trump a fascist and belittling his working classes supporters as little more than low-information racists who hate immigrants, foreigners and gays. The fact that this is a bigoted lie makes no difference to the punditocracy. They are so wrapped up in their own enormous egos that they truly believe that while they have the right to support candidates who support their interests, working people are repulsive if they do exactly the same thing.

        One would think that intelligent commentary about NATO or the American umbrella would be right up the alley of the American Interest.

        But alas no; for the pundits who publish here, the foreign policy topics that only Trump has brought up have to be swept under the rug.

        Or maybe it’s just that the people who run the American Interest aren’t as smart as Donald Trump.

        • Anthony

          Equally incisive as first post; nothing to add and very little to disagree with – you target a lot and all of it germane to U.S. interest (Domestic and International). And you’re quite welcome WigWag (I may add more commentary but presently fatigued).

        • Tom

          Okay, here’s a question: Why SHOULD we scrap NATO and encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Frankly, the person advocating a change in the status quo has the burden of proof, and always has. The fact is that the current international order does end up enriching a lot of people who probably don’t deserve it, but it’s a sight better than the pre-1914 or pre-1939 international orders.

          To be blunt, The Donald does not, in fact, support the interests of the working class, and will end up doing to them what he’s done to most people who’ve invested in his brand.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Scrapping NATO today isn’t the same thing as scrapping it in 1986 would have been. Today’s Russia is a midget compared to the Soviet Union 30 years ago, so the whole raison d’etre for NATO’s existence is in fact undermined. Right now NATO is a club that exists so the US can pay for Europe’s defense costs, and give these states a free ride. Collective security works when it is collective….and nobody who knows anything about the truly pathetic state of the European military establishments thinks that is the case. The EUnicks don’t want to pay for their defense, and they don’t want to adopt meaningful policies to encourage it…fine, but we shouldn’t be involved in propping them up. Finally, the current international order looks to be more stable, but so did the pre-1914 one, right up until the war broke out….
            As for nuclear proliferation, why not consider giving up the maximalist position of no nukes for anyone? A Taiwan with nukes (for instance) would certainly give the Chinese second thoughts about aggression, and we could easily make the same argument for South Korea, Australia, or Japan. We have thrown in the towel on Iran, so why not consider encouraging the Saudis or the gulf states (who are in the front line after all) to acquire something to use as a deterrent? If the US isn’t going to undertake to be a reliable guarantor of regional peace (and does anyone serious believe that we are doing so, or even that we should?), then perhaps some of these smaller states might want to consider taking matters into their own hands.
            Whether or not I agree with Trump, to simply brush off his suggestions as unworthy of debate reveals a rather disappointing ignorance….

          • Tom

            I think half the reason NATO’s still around is that we don’t want European rearmament, on the grounds that we don’t want to fight a third war in Europe. A functional Europe that we are propping up is cheaper, over the long run, than A. another major European war or B. the Caliphate
            As to nukes, the more nuclear powers there are, the greater the chance that some idiot will launch one, or that one will be stolen.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The idea that Europe is functional is an assertion, not a fact. Even if I accepted it as true (and I do not….currently Europe is disintegrating as we watch), I merely point to Europe’s ‘long peace’ in 1914 as an example of how things can look quite solid, just before they utterly collapse. A rearmed Europe might be far, far cheaper for the US, as it would not only work to deter the Russians, but also give other potential enemies something to think about, while allowing the US to avoid being pulled into fights that are really not their issue (Syria comes immediately to mind).
            Your comment on nukes might be true, but then again their use might have some positive effects. An Iranian invasion force destroyed by a tactical nuke used by the Saudis might be a very small price to pay. Nukes are big, nasty weapons, but ultimately they are just that…weapons. The idea that they represent some unique threat (outside of their sheer size) is not entirely clear, and shouldn’t be taken as such without some justification.
            As for weapons being ‘stolen’….we have had thousands of nukes deployed in the past, often with extremely lax security. I don’t see it as particularly clear that a distributing a smaller number of weapons among a larger number of actors is necessarily a bigger risk of theft.

          • Jim__L

            Actually, have we been responsible for gelding the EUnicks, with our military support?

          • Tom

            We haven’t been directly responsible. It’s more that the felt security of the US military umbrella has allowed them to do the slicing themselves without fear of repercussion, and we haven’t been pushing them to do otherwise.
            That having been said, I wouldn’t put all the Euros in the same category. Old Europe, yes. New Europe–the Poles and the Balts being the prime examples–still have some steel in their spines.

          • Jim__L

            Mutually Assured Destruction works. It’s not clear to me that if a small country got nukes, it couldn’t be used as a cat’s-paw for another nation that wanted to nuke, but didn’t want to provoke Armageddon.

            The more players have nukes, the riskier the world becomes. This is a bad thing.

          • f1b0nacc1

            MAD works, but only when it is credible, and it no longer is. The great paradox of MAD was that for it to work, your enemy would have to believe that you were sufficiently insane to destroy the world, but rational enough not to do so. The circumstances under which MAD worked (bipolar world system, rational world powers, relatively hierarchical power arrangements) no longer exist and assuming that MAD will continue to work in their absence is wishful thinking I fear.

            As for the proliferation = enhanced risk, it also means enhanced security. If many small states have nukes, then the threshold for their use remains quite high as a small state engaging in nuclear conflict would cease to exist quite quickly. This would also mean that even conventional conflicts would become risky, and thus undesirable for anyone facing a nuclear power, as the danger of escalation would become unmanageable. We would literally be forced down Kahn’s “escalation ladder” in much the same way the US and USSR were from the 60s through the 80s.

            Please forgive the diatribe…this was actually my dissertation topic 30 years ago!

          • Jim__L

            Hm. What is the risk of spawning dozens of North Koreas?

          • f1b0nacc1

            Comparatively small. North Korea was protected by the USSR (and of course China) as part of the Cold War, which once again brings us back to MAD and the special conditions of that period. Do you honestly believe that the North/South divide would have remained stable for 60+ years without the cold war divisions? Certainly some mad dictators with bombs would be possible, but we have no shortage of those committing all sorts of mischief without them. Nukes make a Kim family scenario less likely, as a single bomb in the hands of their enemies would be their doom.

          • MarkE

            Re the aristocracy issue, however, Donald Trump did say that he would prosecute Hillary Clinton if elected.

    • Gugliemus

      Many good points, WigWag, but not only is Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal “not exactly . . . irrelevant,” it is highly relevant to the integrity of our system of law and justice. If power, position and political party become the arbiters of what is “lawful” and what is not, what crimes and which persons are prosecuted and which are not, then we are deep into something much closer to the rule of men and not the rule of law as traditionally understood. Her case and our official response to it should be considered profoundly important. “Equal justice under law” is much more than a slogan.

      • Jim__L

        “Privilege” — it means “private law”, or a law applying to a particular class of people, typically the upper class or aristocracy.

        The fact that “privilege theory” is based on race / class / gender categories is one of the biggest acts of misdirection we’ve seen since Ultra.

  • Enemy Leopard

    Please allow me to offer the author a few words of advice, which I’ve stolen from Mark Twain: Substitute “damn well” every time you’re inclined to write “start to”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

  • PierrePendre

    Clinton should have been disqualified from the outset. Or even better, she should have had the grace not to run but that would have required a level of self-awareness that the Clinton sense of entitlement is incapable of. It will be very hard to indict her once she racks up the delegate she needs for the nomination and impossible once she’s nominated. The bar Fournier refers to is the amount of guts the DNC would need to give her the sack and it doesn’t have them. Which is why she won’t be indicted and why the MSM will loyally endorse whatever whitewash is put on the decision to let her off. The commentariat has delivered acres of ingenious analysis explaining why her case is different from Petreus’s and the reasons for Trump’s supposedly inexplicable support. Hillary is a one woman explanation all on her own. Voters have watched the government do everything in it’s power to ensure the her nomination is unimpeded despite a life-long record of sleaze that makes her unfit for any office. If anyone needs proof that the Establishment – and everyone knows what the Establishment is however much the MSM sneer at their simple-mindedness – looks after its anointed, Hillary’s your gal. And it’s not even as if making her president was a vital national interest that transcended other considerations. Whether Hillary becomes president or not doesn’t matter a damn in the long run to anyone but her and her family. Meanwhile, she will bring to the White House with her all the enablers of sleaze who have protected her career so far. The day Hillary receives her nomination will be the day that proves the grassroots rebellion against the self-serving Washington bubble was justified and will probably prove to be just the first step.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service