Today, The New York Times ran an unchallenging interview with Peter Thiel—the gay billionaire and PayPal co-founder who supported Trump while bankrupting Gawker. The interview made sure to mention that Thiel was “wearing a gray Zegna suit and sipping white wine in a red leather booth … over a four-hour dinner of duck and chocolate dessert”—barf.
When we say that it was “unchallenging,” that isn’t merely shade. Take this bullshit exchange:
When I ask him if he can explain to Mr. Trump that climate change is not a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, he offers a Chinese box of an answer: “Does he really think that? If he really thinks that, how would you influence that? If he really thinks that and you could influence him, what would be the best way to do it?”
Thiel utters this kind of middle school drivel throughout the interview. But instead of responding, “Haha, no but really, will you actually talk to Trump about the fact that his former Exxon CEO Secretary of State and his oil-loving Russian piss-pals are going to drown the world in melted glaciers?”, the interviewer moves on. Oh, the things we do for access.
The only shade the Times even bothers to throw at the philosopher-poet is when they say that Thiel can go live “in his libertarian fantasy of a new society of Seasteads: islands at sea with their own rules” whenever Trump starts World War III via Twitter.
Anyway, the interview is 98% stewpid, so we picked out its most ridiculous bits and added some political context so you can just Cliffs Notes it.
1. On being called a vampire:
“Out of all the crazy things in this campaign, the vampire accusations were the craziest.”
The Times mentioned that Thiel’s interest in prolonging his life inspired him to look into parabiosis, “a blood regeneration trial in which people over 35 would receive transfusions from people aged 16 to 25”. Thiel hasn’t actually done parabiosis, sadly, but he has used human growth hormones and signed up to be cryogenically frozen so that future generations will have to tolerate his insipid brand of libertarian politics.
Thiel also said that he wants the Food and Drug Administration to start allowing work on anti-aging medications; great, now geriatric Republican voters will live even longer.
2. On gay rights:
“I think Trump is very good on gay rights. I don’t think he will reverse anything. I would obviously be concerned if I thought otherwise.”
As a gay, white, cisgender billionaire focused primarily on whether or not Trump will “reverse anything”, it becomes obvious that Thiel is only considering high-status issues that have already been decided, like marriage. Forget reversing, how about moving forward? You can still get fired for being LGBTQ in 28 states, you can still legally subject LGBTQ minors to “ex-gay” torture in 44 states and you can still get legally harassed for having gay sex in 12 states.
Thiel doesn’t mention that Trump has pledged to sign the First Amendment Defense Act—a law that would allow anyone the right to discriminate against same-sex couples—Trump’s incredibly anti-gay cabinet or the fact that deporting 3 million immigrants will undoubtedly subject even more LGBTQ people to the already high levels of physical and sexual violence in deportation facilities.
3. On Mike Pence being a step away from the presidency:
“You know, maybe I should be worried, but I’m not that worried about it. I don’t know. People know too many gay people. There are just all these ways I think stuff has just shifted. For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.”
Maybe Thiel thinks about Trump being impeached less than we do.
4. On the Supreme Court:
“I don’t think these things will particularly change. It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court. You know, you’d have thought the failure to have a vote on Merrick [Garland] would be a massive issue. And somehow it mattered to Democrats, but it didn’t matter to the public at large.”
Thiel’s predictions about the Court shouldn’t put anyone at ease. Trump has promised to nominate a Supreme Court justice in about two weeks which will effectively tilt the Court’s conservative and liberal split to the conservative side.
Trump has also said that he plans on undoing Obama’s executive orders, which includes an executive order protecting LGBTQ federal employees from workplace discrimination and another allowing public school bathroom access for trans youth. If Trump does away with the latter, it could imperil the upcoming Supreme Court case that could enshrine trans public accommodations into national law.
But lastly, when Thiel says that the Supreme Court vacancy only “mattered to Democrats” and not “the public at large,” he forgets that a majority of the population voted Democrat in the last election; Democrats are “the public at large.”
5. On his thinking:
“Maybe I do always have this background program running where I’m trying to think of, ‘OK, what’s the opposite of what you’re saying?’ and then I’ll try that. It works surprisingly often,” he said. …
When I remark that President Obama had eight years without any ethical shadiness, Mr. Thiel flips it, noting: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”
“I don’t want to dismiss ethical concerns here, but I worry that ‘conflict of interest’ gets overly weaponized in our politics. I think in many cases, when there’s a conflict of interest, it’s an indication that someone understands something way better than if there’s no conflict of interest. If there’s no conflict of interest, it’s often because you’re just not interested.”
It’s really a stretch for us to call this “thinking” because Thiel is basically implying that the Obama years would’ve been a lot more fun if it had more profiteering, nepotism, crony capitalism, fraud and blackmail. To him, Obama’s lack of scandals suggest that Obama and company weren’t really interested in governing. This reasoning is beyond dumb; it’s like saying that if your house stays clean, you must not really care about your house.
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