The Lincoln Project Demonstrates How Anti-Trump Fixation Can Lead to Lousy Policy
If ever there was an advertisement for the irrelevance of authorial intent, it’s Showtime’s five-part documentary series The Lincoln Project, whose final episode airs Friday night (though you can already stream it). Co-directed by Hollywood lefties Ford Stevens and Karim Amer, the series, an inside look at the controversy-marred, anti-Trump SuperPAC immediately before and after the 2020 election, is supposed to get you pumped about voting against MAGA Republicans next Tuesday.
“We think that they definitely were effective and they got people out to vote,” Stevens recently told Yahoo Entertainment. “And that’s the goal [of the series], to get people out to vote in the midterms.”
I know there are some Democrats who will gaze upon this rogue’s gallery of self-dealing, ethically repulsive, ex-Republican operatives and dirty tricksters, and, even in the wake of a disgusting harassment scandal involving a co-founder soliciting sexual favors from would-be interns and young staffers, give them still more money to “defend democracy.” I know that because—spoiler alert!—that’s the documentary’s final nauseating scene.
But this viewing audience of one feels rather more inspired to blast every residual trace of professional politics off my skin with a cleansing fire hose, and reject with prejudice every non-federal politician still campaigning, 21 months later, against the animatronic apparition of Donald Trump. That’s because the same documentary that successfully re-horrified me about the 45th president’s bottomless awfulness was journalistically thorough enough to demonstrate, even unconsciously, the sometimes catastrophic folly of crudely reducing every policy challenge into an up-down vote on whether Orange Man is indeed bad.
“Some people think I’m pretty good at this shit,” a self-satisfied Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson says out loud to himself (and to the lurking videographer), after putting the finishing touches on a rush attack-ad script that, in mid-September 2020, made the boldly inaccurate assertion that Trump’s COVID-19 policies “will kill at least three million people.”
“Say goodbye to your parents, your neighbors, your friends. Because the Trump plan will kill millions in the next four years,” the finished product would scaremonger, flashing images of dead bodies being forklifted away behind the super-imposed New York Times headline “Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine.”
At first glance there would appear to be quite some dissonance between He’s trying to infect us all, and He’s trying to bum-rush a vaccine. Unless, that is, you start from the premise that no matter what Trump does, it will be self-aggrandizing, anti-science, and wrong. Or, in the memorable phrasing of Wilson’s 2018 bestseller, Everything Trump Touches Dies.
Such bumper-sticker cynicism can be great for campaign commercials and MSNBC hits, but it has considerably less utility when assessing life-or-death policy decisions. In September 2020, there were at least two huge COVID judgment calls—on vaccines and reopening schools—that Democrats and the Lincoln Project got largely wrong, because they couldn’t bring themselves to consider that Trump might be right.
On Aug. 6, 2020, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, “The way he talks about the vaccine is not particularly rational. He’s talking about it being ready, he’s going to talk about moving it quicker than the scientists think it should be moved….People don’t believe that he’s telling the truth, therefore they’re not at all certain they’re going to take the vaccine.” On Sept. 2 Biden said, “When a president continues to mislead and lie, when we finally do, God willing, get a vaccine, who’s going to take the shot? Who’s going to take the shot? You going to be the first one to say, ‘Put me—sign me up!’ They now say it’s OK?” The candidate made similar comments on Sept. 7 and Sept. 16.
Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, when asked on Sept. 6, 2020, whether she would take the vaccine when it became available, said: “Well, I think that’s going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability o
Article from Reason.com