2020.01.30 No Christian Case for Trump

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The Atlantic Peter Wehner wrote a hit piece against Trump supporters who excuse his legal/ethical behavior with regards to Ukraine and attacks Wayne Grudem for defending that behavior. But Wehner is a never Trumper, the Atlantic is part of the far left resistance, and the piece omits major context (lie of omission) that kind of destroys the idea that Wehner is ethical or making an ethical argument. The best arguments made are addressing and deconstructing the opponents strongest points, not evading them or mischaracterizing them with straw men and reductio ad absurdum arguments, as Wehner did. The Atlantic was just the vehicle of disinformation, as is too often the case.

Details

I made a pointed barb that reading the The Atlantic on Christianity is like going to Sean Hannity for advice on the Democratic Socialists. (E.g. it's not their audience and forte). And the reply by someone I respect was that they were reading Peter Wehner (the author) and not "The Atlantic". Fair enough, and a valid point.

But I decided to list the reason why I still think the piece is non-credible:

  1. Is a never Trumper , writing for a left leaning publication, with a further left audience, where you’d go for the most balanced and authoritative view on Christian ethics? Not for me. Most writers both have a bias, and know their publications tone and tendencies, as well as the audience (readership), and can target it. I don’t think Wehner is excluded from that, and he seemed to have tuned his piece and his ethics to get a sellable piece that would appease that readership.

  2. This is actually Wehner vs. Grudem — with Grudem making the far more reasonable argument (in my mind).

  3. The essence of Grudem's point is does the chief law enforcement officer in the nation have the responsibility to investigate a powerful politician that’s caught on tape admitting he extorted another government. (Which is what Trump did after seeing the Biden tape). Wehner dodging that point, and attacking Grudem for making it, doesn’t strengthen his argument (for me). (He didn't go at the point head on, he attacked Grudem and distracted).

  4. The essence of Wehner’s position it is that anyone running for office, and caught admitting to a potential crime (as Biden was), should NOT be investigated, if they have a (D) after their name. While those with a (D) doing worse (think Obama and Carter Page) should be free to investigate and use the full force of the intelligence agencies to spy and leak on those with an (R) after their name. (That’s the essence, to me, by way of lies of omission and ignoring all that framing context).

  5. Wehner also went on to ignore the evidence and claim that, "The president put enormous pressure on a foreign power to intervene in an American election by harming his political adversary"... which is a flat out lie. He made one light ask, that all parties admitted was NOT coercion or high pressure, and was ignored by Ukraine with no aide being withheld. If it was enormous pressure, it was completely ineffective, and the President didn't do anything when they ignored it -- by a President that is known to be thin skinned and retributive. That doesn't make sense to those applying logic.

  6. Then Wehner goes on to play reductio ad absurdum... what if in all these future imagined scenarios (Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, Russia) where the President did the same imagined things or worse. Wouldn't that be wrong? And for good measure, Wehner ignores that the DNC, Obama and Hillary Campaign did exactly that with the Steele Dossier against Donald Trump, and there's no complaints or mention by Wehner in the piece. Accidental slip or lie of omission?

  7. Wehner mentions the concerns of a bunch of people in the State Department, without offering the context that many were Deep State actors trying to subvert Trump's reforms, and many (most) have been discredited and caught in lies and exaggerations in both reveals on this topic and others. Again, omitting context or distorting the who, what and why.

From a legal or moral ethics PoV, it seems like Wehner’s position is pretty ethics light (to me), as it is excusing/ignoring the admitted corruption by Biden, which lead to a legal and ethical ask to make sure nothing untoward happened.

Magnify that, with according to legal experts like Dershowitz, nothing rose to the level of a criminal like action, let alone an impeachable offense, and there was no undue pressure, or anything promised or withheld for Ukraine not investigating (according to all involved). So no abuse of power, no quid pro quo. Grudem's point that there's no crime or ethical violation seems valid. Wehner’s that we should ignore all that, assume the worst and assume guilt, thus the guilt of anyone that defends that behavior, seems way out there.

🗒️ NOTE:
The only way Trump is guilty of something nefarious is if you assume in an intent that's not in evidence: that he ONLY did this for sake of attacking a political rival, like Obama did, and there was absolutely no reason to be suspicious of Hunter making millions with no experience or of Joe bragging about strong arming the Ukrainians with a REAL threat of aid removal -- unlike Trump who gave them the aid without any concessions.

Then you have to flip that with Joe Biden -- despite him admitting his son made millions with no experience in Ukraine or Energy, and despite Biden admitting he strong armed getting a prosecutor fired who was investigating his son's corrupt company, there's zero reason to suspect Biden did something wrong or political: ignore that context. To quote, "There is, of course, no evidence that Joe Biden did anything inappropriate in his dealings with Ukraine"... nothing to see here, move along. That gives Biden a benefit of the doubt, despite far more circumstantial evidence, and that same benefit is not being extended to Trump. Double-standard much? Ethics is picking one standard, not having one for your side, and a different one for the opposition.

Conclusion

Ignoring that context is convenient for hating Trump and appealing to an Atlantic audience, but doesn't seem like it is the ethical way of framing the argument (to me). And that's why I think Wehner fails in ethics (in this piece).

Wehner does everything he accused Grudem of, and worse. Fortunately for him, The Atlantic audience won't care or think too deeply about that. They'll just blithely assume that Grudem is the villain for paying attention to context and facts that Wehner brushes over, distract from, or tries to Gish gallop with many unproven allegations of NeverTrumpers such as himself, and pretending those are the same as facts.

Wehner's repeated points in this and other pieces is that if you support Trump, you're a bad Christian. But I don't think his audience is Christians, as I expect they are WAY underrepresented in The Atlantic readership compared to the national average. The appeal is to those who want to diminish Christians and Trump supporters as hypocrites (The Atlantic audience), so will never apply critical thinking or scrutiny to the piece. As doing so seems to make it fall apart. But that's me making an assumption based on readership, tone, and other shrill anti-Christian articles written by Wehner.

The Atlantic
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The Atlantic is a far-left Newspaper (not by ideology, just by bias), that occasionally lets a good article or two through, and even rarely has some diversity of thought. I had some hope when they hired the prolific conservative intellectual, Kevin Williamson, away from the National Review. But like so often happens in sheep flocks, they got nervous when someone unlike them came in, that the editors actually had to defend their position -- not because Kevin is a bomb-thrower, but because the snowflakes on staff, didn't want "one of them" in their clique. Then, less than a week in, he fired Kevin after his first article. Not because of its contents, but because of the content of his character: scrupulous, intellectual, and individualist (instead of collectivist progressive). Oh, and he committed a thought crime of saying abortion is a bad thing.

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