The New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd sat down with tech billionaire and avid Trump supporter Peter Thiel in order to give him a chance to-as the headline put it-“explain himself”. Without bothering to run a search from 2008-09 it is probably safe to say that the Times didn’t press any Obama supporters to explain themselves back in the day. It is disconcerting that the most prominent newspaper in America is comfortable vilifying a private citizen for his political choices, all the while pretending that it’s the new president who is the scary one. In fact, this entire interview reads as if Thiel is merely a prop used to give the interviewer a slightly different forum in which to regurgitate MSM anti-Trump rhetoric.
Let others tremble at the thought that Donald J. Trump may go too far. Peter Thiel worries that Mr. Trump may not go far enough.
“Everyone says Trump is going to change everything way too much,” says the famed venture capitalist, contrarian and member of the Trump transition team. “Well, maybe Trump is going to change everything way too little. That seems like the much more plausible risk to me.”
Mr. Thiel is comfortable being a walking oxymoron: He is driven to save the world from the apocalypse. Yet he helped boost the man regarded by many as a danger to the planet.
The subject matter in the questioning is indistinguishable from the daily Twitter angst offered by the most ardent #NeverTrump types. Billy Bush, global warming, intolerance, blah, blah, blah.
To his credit, Thiel graciously indulges Dowd, and offers some insight about how his Silicon Valley colleagues reacted during the election that could equally apply to the press:
“I think, early on, everybody was worried that they would be the only person to show up,” Mr. Thiel says. “At the end, everybody was worried they would be the only person not to show up. I think the bigger tech companies all wanted to get a little bit off the ledge that they had gotten on.
“Normally, if you’re a C.E.O. of a big company, you tend to be somewhat apolitical or politically pretty bland. But this year, it was this competition for who could be more anti-Trump. ‘If Trump wins, I will eat my sock.’ ‘I will eat my shoe.’ ‘I will eat my shoe, and then I will walk barefoot to Mexico to emigrate and leave the country.’
“Somehow, I think Silicon Valley got even more spun up than Manhattan. There were hedge fund people I spoke to about a week after the election. They hadn’t supported Trump. But all of a sudden, they sort of changed their minds. The stock market went up, and they were like, ‘Yes, actually, I don’t understand why I was against him all year long.’”
Thiel also politely shows how silly the “group feel” approach among the anti-Trump people was/is.
He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”
That really sort of explains the last eight years, not just the way people reacted to Trump’s candidacy. Throughout Obama’s tenure, substantive discussion was replaced by oft-repeated catch phrases designed to stir up feelings.
If you were worried about the costs of Obamacare, you were a racist.
Thought the administration was soft in some responses to domestic terror threats? Islamophobic.
And on it went.
The only difference going forward is that the same tactic will be used to smear the president, rather than protect him as it was for the last eight years.
Creative Commons/Flickr/Steve Jurvetson