Andrew McCarthy & Michael Flynn — A Little More on Paranoia

Political News

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The sun rises on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 22, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Yesterday in my piece on Waco, I wrote:

The George W. Bush administration constructed a theory of unlimited presidential power in a “war on terror” in which the battleground is literally everywhere. The Bush administration was succeeded by the Barack Obama administration, which claimed for itself the power to assassinate American citizens as part of that same unceasing war. Barack Obama was succeeded by Donald Trump, who declared himself to be in possession of authority that is “total.” The pissant mayor of New York City has threatened to permanently shut down churches and synagogues that violate the city’s coronavirus social-distancing mandates. Many Republicans agree with my National Review colleague and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy that “there was no good-faith basis for an investigation of General Flynn,” that the case against him was part of a political operation masquerading as a law-enforcement operation. Many progressives take it as an article of faith that local police routinely murder young black men with no consequence, and Joe Biden recently suggested that the Trump administration intends to execute what amounts to a coup d’état by canceling the election.

Some people apparently have read this as me dismissing Andy as a paranoid crank. The intended point was the opposite: There are many good reasons to be anxious about the overreach, abuse, and dishonesty of American government at many levels — if it is only paranoid cranks who worry when Bill de Blasio threatens to permanently shutter churches and synagogues, who worry that our police resort too readily to violence, that the unlimited “battlefield” of the war on terror is a threat to life and liberty, etc., then I am a paranoid crank. But it is not only cranks who worry about these things. I have in fact found Andy pretty persuasive on the case of Michael Flynn. The unreasoning paranoia I wrote about is what converts reasonable concerns into, e.g., a “deep state” conspiracy theory. That’s why it is unreasoning. But, as I wrote, that unreasoning paranoia doesn’t come from nowhere. Much of it comes from genuine abuses of power at high levels of government, as documented by Andy, among others, and as evident in the Waco drama.

The thing is, everybody’s concerns look reasonable from his own point of view, which is why there are conservatives who believe that the FBI is capable of shocking abuse and duplicity but that a local police department in Missouri is not, and why there are progressives who believe that the police are inclined to abuse their power but the NLRB is not. Etc.

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