Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Getting Ever More Surreal

I am referring to a comment Sean Hannity made on his show earlier this evening in his monologue. The reports tht  President Trump was under  invesdtigation by FBI Counterintelligence as being a possible "Russian asset" supposedly taking orders from Vladimir Putin has pusheed uber Trump defender Hannity to ever more surreal forms of defense, in this case one especially bizarre given the cloase association in Trump's early career between him and Roy Cohn, the lead attorney for the late anti-communist scourging Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.

This new more surreal position has Hannity after declaring that "the walls are closing in" on former FBI Director James Comey over his supposed role in this investigation, although apparently it was the ircumstances around Trump's firing of Comey that initially triggered this reported conterintelligence investigation, Hannity then compared Comey to the late anti-communist scourge, J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director for 48 years.  In particular he pinpointed Hoover's investigation of the late Henry Wallace in 1948 for his reputed ties to the Soviet Union, highlighting that Wallace had served as vice  president during FDR's third term (and was pushed out of that position to be be replace by Harry Truman in FDR's fourth term by conservative Democrats worried about his perceived to be friendly attitude to the Soviet Union).  In 1948, when Hoover was making his investigation and allegations, the Cold War was starting, and Wallace was the candidate for president of the Progressive Party, running heavily on a platform of opposing the Cold War (and certainly the anti-communist positions of McCarthy).  The sight of Hannity of all people praising and defending Wallace against the supposedly evil Hoover was quite a spectacle.

As it  is, I am sympathetic to the view that Wallace was unfairly treated and smeared.  Also, the Progressive Party and Wallace supported many, well, progressive policies that were and remain reasonable, such as national health insurance.  All of that adds to the irony of Hannity now defending him as he has no use for such policies.  The exact nature of Wallace's relartions with Soviet leaders and of the connection between the Progressive Party and CPUSA remain controversial to this day, but but ceetainly Wallace opposed the incipient Cold War and publicly supported Soviet positions in 1948.  I do not know if it was possible to avoid the Cold War or not, and it is impossible to know what would have happened if Wallace had won, especially given that he came nowhere near dong so.  As it was, Hoover was correct that Wallace was very friendly with various Soviet leaders and agreed with their views, for better or worse.

So, here we now have this surreal spectacle of Sean Hannity defending Henry Wallace for being accused by Hoover of being too friendly with Stalin's Soviet Union after WW II.  It would seem that this is tied not just to the accusations that Trump is a "Russian asset," but the report today that he has been actively talking about pulling out of NATO.  There is no doubt that would please Putin, and, perhaps, it might even please the ghost of Henry Wallace as well.  Getting more surreal all the time.

Barkley Rosser


Sandwichman said...

Hannity's strategy is similar to the Nigerian 419 scam. They are deliberately trying to weed out anyone with an ounce of critical reflection so that they can sell the utterly outlandish tale to the hard-core gullible. My guess is the bottom line is a grift -- "send us your MONEY so we can save America from these Trump haters." said...

OTOH, I fear the ultimate bottom line is a declararion of martial law.

Sandwichman said...

It would be invalid because Trump would misspell martial. "I hearby proclaim Marshall Law!" said...

Ah, this would be his Martial Plan, :-).

Sandwichman said...

Or Martian Plan.

Anonymous said...

My impression after reading a biography of Wallace was that he
was a millionaire businessman who always opposed Communism
and even fired leftists in the agriculture dept in the early 30s.
The issue was that, like FDR (who, like Wallace consistently opposed
Communism), he didn't explicitly refuse communist support during
the '48 election, I thought. I am curious as to what Soviet policies
Wallace "publicly supported", during this period, exactly? said...

Oh dear, Anonymous, do you really want me to dredge through Wallace's pro-Soviet positions? Well, in May 1944 he visited the Kolyma camp in Siberia, largest of all in the Gulag, which he praised as showing "clear evidence of the most outstanding and gifted political leadership." Of course the Soviets put on a staged show for him there that he did not catch on to at the time, and changed his tune in 1951 after reading an account by a former prisoner, accepting that he had been duped, and that it was awful place.

In 1948, positions he took supported by the Soviets included opposition to the Marshall Plan, support for unilateral disarmament, ending of the draft, and supporting a Soviet conspiracy theory about a right wing plot in Czechoslovakia that they used to depose the democratically elected government of Masaryk (who was tossed off a balcony) when Masaryk wanted to become part of the Marshall Plan.

As it was, indeed in the 1950s he moved away from his pro-Soviet positions, notably after the 1951 piece about the Kolyma camp.

It might also be noted that the 1948 Progressive Party was distinct from the older one founded by T. Roosevelt and later led by Robert M. Lafollette, Sr. It was founded in 1948 specifically to run Wallace and disappeared not long after that election. It had many CPUSA members in high positions in it, with the CPUSA officially supporting Wallace, which support he did not refuse. It remains unclear how aware he was of the degree to which high level people in the Progressive Party were CPUSA members, but then this was the last point when the WW II US-Soviet alliance still had some sway before the Cold War and the anti-Communist purges in the US took hold, so there was not the automatic anti-CPUSA attitude then that soon thereafter pretty much took over, and which Wallace would reluctantly join in the 1950s.

Enough for you, Anonymous? Again, my bottom line is that Wallace was effectively smeared and was an independent progressive political leader, if arguably somewhat naïve and poorly informed.

It might also be noted that part of the opposition to him remaining as FDR's VP was due to him very strongly supporting civil rights for African Americans, a clearly progressive position he campaigned on strongly in 1948, and which obviously alienated the southern racist conservatives in the Dem party, who pushed to replace him with Missouri's Truman, who in 1948 did support a Dem civil rights plank introduced by Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, which led Strom Thurmond to walk out and run as the openly racist Dixiecrat (taking several southern states). Many say that having Wallace running against him on the left and Thurmond doing so on the right allowed Truman to paint himself as the embattled center left candidate enough to eke out his victory over moderate GOP Dewwy of New York, who had been the GOP candidate against FDR for his fourth term in 1944.