The Strange Perspective of Justin Amash on the Helsinki Summit
The last time I commented on "libertarian" congressman Justin Amash was in 2013, when he refused to take higher taxes off the congressional negotiation table. I don't follow him closely. It is only when something hs says climbs to the surface of my newsfeeds. It has happened again as a result of this very odd series of tweets from Amash about the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki.
For my part, I have urged presidents to meet with the leaders of Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and other countries to build better relationships. These interactions make it possible to change behavior, to turn foes into friends.
We must not, however, fall for the logical fallacy that because diplomacy and dialogue are good, @POTUS’s performance at the press conference was good.
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What was wrong with the performance of Trump? He is often inarticulate. There was nothing new here. But his position was one of advancing less hostility between the two countries, what was wrong with that?
Yet, that’s precisely the false conclusion some are making. I’ve heard it said that anyone who disapproves of what took place at the press conference is pro-war or anti-Trump. No, some of us are just concerned about the bizarre behavior of our president at a press conference.
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Bizarre behavior? That was typical Trump. He comes out of the New York City real estate environment, Those guys are street hustlers, not polished academics.
I suspect that many of the people defending the press conference performance did not watch it in its entirety—or at all. If they had, they would know that it didn’t achieve the desired effect of bringing America and Russia closer; in fact, it did just the opposite.
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The reason it did not achieve the desired effect was the immediate attack from establishment media, talking heads and politicians. Trump said nothing other than he wanted peaceful relations with Russia.
The impression it left on me, a strong supporter of the meeting, is that “something is not right here.” The president went out of his way to appear subordinate. He spoke more like the head of a vassal state.
Perhaps it was just the president showing insecurity, once again, over the legitimacy of his election. Perhaps it was a sign of a more troubling entanglement with Putin. Whatever the case, the press conference was counterproductive to the goal of improving relations.
Even the president ultimately recognized that the press conference did not go well, as he tried to correct his remarks that exonerated Russia. Oddly, it took him more than a day to do so. One wonders why the White House didn’t act more quickly if it were simply a misstatement.
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POTUS did his usual vacillating when confronted on an issue. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth. The problem is that Trump is not a good communicator and does not have the intellectual or historical knowledge to defend his original position. Other such as Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson have done that for the President rather than abandoning Trump's clumsy effort to ease tense relations between the U.S. and Russia.
The virtue being signaled is opposition to all things “neocon.” If someone doesn’t like how the meeting transpired, it must be because that person is a Deep State anti-Trump neocon warmonger, etc.
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Well, neocons are a big problem and they are as anti-Russia as one can get. It is not virtue signaling to support peace between the U.S. and Russia. That is a sane position. It is insane to hold an opposite view or to attack the President for his clumsy effort to ease tensions.
The general public are not more likely to see themselves as libertarian when, for the sake of “owning the necons,” prominent figures associated with libertarianism conflate libertarian-style governance and Trump-style governance.
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Prominent libertarians and near libertarians such as Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson are not conflating libertarian-style governance and Trump-style governance when discussing the Helsinki Summit, they make the very sound point that good relations with Russia is a smart policy position that can keep us away from nuclear war. How is that going to scare away the general public?
The widespread reaction on Capitol Hill, for example, has been to rally around the intelligence community. People are proposing resolutions of support for the FBI, despite its dubious track record and unconstitutional activities, particularly with respect to the #4thAmendment.
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You mean the deep state intelligence community that told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?
Worse yet, thanks to the press conference, we’re likely to see more ineffectual sanctions bills and resolutions of condemnation against Russia, which will serve primarily to stunt further efforts at diplomacy and dialogue.
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Again because of the establishment attacks on the summit and conference.
We libertarians need to be smarter and more effective in our approach. Acting like partisans—pushing demagoguery and tribalism—is a self-defeating proposition. Stand strong on your principles; you’ll find most Americans standing with you.
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Be smarter by supporting the Deep State intelligence community?
Bottom line: Remarkably, when it comes to the big question issues taxes or the Deep States, Amash seems to always side with the establishment. Keep that in mind.