In the mind of Glenn Greenwald, there is no greater threat to the future of humanity than centrist Democrats. They are surveillance loving, neoliberal shills who have sworn fealty to the overlords of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama. No matter how bad Donald Trump gets or how much evidence there is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he colluded with the Russian government to swing the election, Greenwald refuses to be distracted.
He’ll even go on the Alt Right’s favorite little fascist Tucker Carlson’s ludicrous nightly show on Fox to claim there was no collusion and propagate his evidence free assertion that the Democrats are trying to foment a new Cold War (it has nothing to do with the fact that Russia meddled with the US election, you see).
Itching to be proved right that the dastardly centrist Democrats are trying to go to war with Russia/destroy Bernie Sanders/rig the Democratic primaries etc, etc, etc, Greenwald will pick up on the slightest provocation to prove his theory and has been mining Twitter to find any evidence to bring this to light. Enter Chelsea Manning and her announcement that she will be running for the US Senate against Sen. Ben Cardin in Maryland. According to Greenwald there is a “smear campaign” being launched by “centrist Democrats to keep an old, straight white man in power”. Sounds ominous! So what evidence does Greenwald have for this atrocious behavior? He writes:
Establishment Democrats wasted no time in mocking and denouncing Manning’s bid to become the first ever trans woman in the Senate, instead quickly lining up in support behind the straight white male who has wielded power for decades. To demean Manning, many of these establishment Democrats invoked the primary tactic they now reflexively use against anyone they view as a political adversary: they depicted her as a tool of the Kremlin, whose candidacy is really just a disguised plot engineered by Moscow.
Leading the way in spreading this obviously deranged but acceptable-in-DC conspiracy theory was Neera Tanden, the president of the largest Democratic Party think tank in Washington. Last night, Tanden spread a viral tweet that strongly implied – without even pretending to have a shred of evidence – that the Kremlin had engineered Manning’s candidacy as punishment for Cardin’s hard-line position on Russia:
The first link claiming centrist Democrats are depicting her as a “tool of the Kremlin” is to a tweet from John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and columnist for the New York Observer (the pro Trump paper formerly owned by Jared Kushner):
Cardin releases anti-Kremlin study, suddenly he has a traitor as primary challenger. Who's paying for this?https://t.co/NAPqXJhXya
— John Schindler (@20committee) January 14, 2018
So when Greenwald refers to anti-transgender/homophobic “centrist Democrats,” he is talking about two relatively obscure people that tweeted something. That’s it.
His entire column portrays the smearing of Chelsea Manning as some sort of coordinated effort by centrist Democrats to propagate the theory that she is being paid by the Russian government. Granted, the theory is bonkers and anyone buying into it needs to learn about the rules of evidence, but it’s hardly a mainstream idea being spread by prominent Democrats. But that doesn’t appear to matter to Greenwald who must stick to his narrative at all costs. He continues:
Why have so many establishment Democrats so quickly decided to back a white, straight male politician steeped in privilege, while devoting themselves to opposing a candidate who would make history by becoming the first trans woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, in the process inspiring trans youth around the world and helping to erode the stigma that has made them so vulnerable to discrimination and violence?
They’ve decided to do this presumably because they find Cardin’s centrist ideology and politics more appealing than Manning’s more radical politics, and believe that this trumps what could be the historic value of Manning’s candidacy. They’ve apparently decided to prioritize their own centrist ideology over the important gender, sexual orientation and trans equality progress that Manning’s victory would ensure.
Who are these “establishment Democrats” smearing Chelsea Manning? And if they do exist, so what if they prefer an incumbent Democrat to stay in the Senate? Cardin is not perfect by any means (Greenwald correctly hammers him on his shameful record on blindly supporting Israel), but then neither is Chelsea Manning. She is an unproven entity with no political experience who would likely be destroyed by any Republican candidate after the primary. She would not be able to attract anywhere near enough support from Democrats (who many rightly or wrongly believe she is a traitor to the country), and could cost them the entire Senate if she were to beat Cardin. It is perfectly reasonable to not want a candidate with a track record of literal treason running for office, and Chelsea Manning’s gender has absolutely nothing to do with it. But then this is Glenn Greenwald we are talking about here, so there are no shades of grey or complexity to navigate. It is his way or no way — the same mindset that saw millions of leftists refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump because she voted for the Iraq war and gave a speech to bankers.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.