Chris Uhlmann went viral and liberals lost their minds.
The ABC political editor’s two-minute “takedown” of US president Donald Trump for the Insiders program on 9 July was masterful, they said. It was shared and retweeted tens of thousands of times.
Like the fallen, crushed of heart and emotionally destitute individual alone on the floor, simultaneously crying and masturbating, here was fleeting ecstasy in a pit of liberal agony. In Uhlmann, the infernal repetition of the thought of what might have been – Clintonism, stable neoliberalism, predictable imperialism – was momentarily interrupted by something so mundane yet so satisfying to the liberal mind.
Uhlmann lamented that Trump’s G20 performance showed that “he has no desire and no capacity to lead the world” and that he has diminished America. This was the usual plea for the president to be presidential. Yet there was more content to Uhlmann’s perspective that made it far more right wing than just some vapid liberal yearning for competence.
Several days earlier, Trump had given a major policy speech (for “family, for freedom, for country, and for God”) in Poland to an adoring crowd stacked with supporters of the ruling reactionary Law and Justice Party. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive”, he said. It was a far right call to arms.
US conservatives gushed that Trump had broken with the universalist delusions of his predecessors. Finally, there was a president who acknowledged the superiority of Judeo-Christian culture and faith and was prepared to build walls rather than bridges.
Uhlmann’s Insiders report made no criticism of this ultra-reactionary address. Worse, he noted, positively, that Trump “did make some interesting, scripted comments in Poland about defending the values of the West”. He lamented only that the billionaire bigot has the power to “do something about it” but instead “wastes his precious days as president”.
In a follow up interview with US network MSNBC, Uhlmann expanded on his thoughts:
“When we see that the president of the United States takes some time – any time at all – taking issue with a couple of reporters [a reference to Trump’s bellicose Tweets against two US morning show hosts] … you wonder what his priorities are … He should be using all of that time to try and do the things that he believes are of value to the United States and to the world.”
“Really, really good point”, nodded the interviewer, after Uhlmann lectured the US about its need to lead and the wonderful role it played in creating the institutional architecture of Western imperialism following the Second World War, which has allowed it to dominate, oppress and exploit most of the planet ever since. Even without offering a critique of that global dominance and its effects, put in perspective this plea for the US under Trump to double down on its efforts.
The new president encourages white supremacists, wants to further enable Wall Street’s extortion of the globe, believes global warming is a Chinese conspiracy to cripple US coal barons, wants to reinvigorate the nuclear weapons industry, wants to ban Muslims from entering the US and thinks the rest of the West should do likewise, suggests that US imperialism is an oppressed victim in the global order, lies through his teeth to get anything that he desires minute to minute and brags about sexually assaulting women.
His primary skill is in the art of self-promotion; a silver spoon daddy’s boy who never toiled a day in his life and knows only how to cheat and steal from others. This is the creature Uhlmann believes “should be using all [his] time to try and do the things that he believes are of value to the United States and to the world”.
Fuck that. Who other than a right wing tool or a simpleton suck for power would want this president to get down to business and deliver “results” that would make the “alt-right” drool?
Anyone with a snifter of solidarity for their fellow humankind would take the opposite view to that of this ABC chatter class journalist. Better if Trump spends every minute of every day on Twitter and ignores his official responsibilities. Even better if he spent the time reflecting on some of the genuinely compelling takedowns that his superior Judeo-Christian tradition has bequeathed us:
“Hear this word, ye fat kine … you that oppress the needy and crush the poor: that say to your masters: bring, and we will drink. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that lo, the days shall come upon you, when they shall lift you up on pikes, and what shall remain of you in boiling pots.”