It only took six months of working as part of the administration of Donald Trump for Walter Shaub to decide that his own ethics wouldn’t allow him to continue working as the director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in the newly installed regime.
Since then Shaub has been a major voice on social media, pointing out the extreme lapses in ethical conduct that this president and his corrupt cronies have made a signature element of their command of the levers of power.
Hence, Shaub’s cynical reaction to the op-ed published this morning in USA Today concerning election security and written jointly by Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the acting directors of Homeland Security, National Intelligence, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security.
The op-ed — titled with the plea: Help us protect the 2020 elections and your vote — distills its primary message in its subtitle:
“Our state-based system protects us from election disruption. You can help by being on guard against social media disinformation and divisive messages,” it confidently declares.
Despite the seemingly beneficial intent and message that the editorial contains, Shaub has learned enough in his dealings with the Trump administration to get a queasy, suspicious tingling in his very bones from the aroma of freshly spread manure that he senses wafting from the pages of the national newspaper that printed the latest diversionary tactic from the White House.
I call B.S.
—McConnell shut down election security bills
—Barr's taking gossip on a political rival from Giuliani
—Grassley & Johnson are investigating the rival
—Trump retweets misinformation, including from foreign sources
—Trump's told over 16,000 lies & misleading statements https://t.co/0RwuaGzVs0
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 19, 2020
Indeed, with Donald Trump regularly tweeting out exactly the type of “social media disinformation and divisive messages” that the op-ed warns against, one could interpret Barr and his colleagues’ advice as an urgent plea to stop following the president’s Twitter feed or — as the former ethics chief seems to regard it — a red herring attempt to reassure the public that the next election will be fair and free of foreign interference while the president and his team of political trickster operatives work behind the scenes to ensure that the outcome reflects his own desire for a second term (and possibly beyond) rather than the will of the electorate.
Shaub’s litany of evidence points to the underlying hypocrisy of the op-ed’s contents compared to what the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress are actually doing to taint the electoral process and ensure that proper election security measures are not enacted and funded — an unsurprising development given the GOP’s long history of trying to tilt the playing field in their own direction through voter suppression campaigns rather than through advocating policies that benefit the majority of their constituents.
Hopefully, the vigilance of Walter Shaub and others like him will help prevent Trump and the Republicans from gaslighting those Americans who are made aware of the subtle subterfuge hidden in their feel-good election security reassurances. You all know, however, that the minute that the results of any election returns are not to the president’s liking he will be on Twitter like flies on a pile of feces bleating about how the process was rigged.
Feel free to ignore any of those sorts of tweets as “social media disinformation and divisive messages” as you watch the marshalls usher Trump from the White House to the courthouse for his inevitable criminal trial.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.