Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Thud Thud Thud

Don't tell me the guys and gals in the intel "community" and the press don't know how to work the long knives.  Dumping everything they know at once would create a cacophony of charges and countercharges.  Chaos.

Instead they are timing the revelations to drop at intervals.  Some of this may be beyond their planning, too, as various actors in the drama flip or come forward.  It looks like TPM may have a scoop about a Trump ally pressuring the RNC to soften language on Ukraine.  Twitler was loose this morning, talking wildly about Schumer having met Putin and Pelosi and Obama having met Putin and why won't the press investigate them.  This is Trump as his most WATB.

The issue is not "Have you ever spoke to Russians."  We know that people speak to Russians as part of their job.  Maybe Jeff Sessions did speak to the Russian ambassador as part of his job as Senator.  If so, why didn't he admit as much in his testimony?  If he later discovered that he had forgotten about the meeting, he could amend that testimony.  Why not?

This is where the "Cover up is worse than the crime" fits in somewhat.  It is not, in fact, that the cover up is worse.  The cover up is merely the sign that the crime likely exists.  People don't cover up innocent behavior.  I went to a jazz concert last night; it was great.  I'm not going to lie about that.  If I went to the concert and shot the musician...yeah, I might lie about that.

Trump lies so casually and so frequently, that he can't even discern the difference between a substantive lie and a mistake or an innocent omission.  He can't differentiate between Chuck Schumer having a doughnut with Putin in 2003 and members of his campaign having back channel discussions with the Russians while formulating plans to help Russia.  Trump's reflexive mendacity has rendered him incapable of basic distinctions like that.

Josh Marshall has been "studying" Trump for years now, and he has put forward the most innocent explanation that gibes with the currently known facts.  Basically, Trump did a lot of business with Russians, because no American banks would lend to him, because he's a shitty business who goes into bankruptcy the way my son changes his underwear - every week whether he needs to or not.  Trump's reflex is that whatever is good for Trump is good for everything and everyone. Therefore, Russia is good.  In this interpretation, Trump is fawning over Russia, because he thinks Russia is good and that leads to policies that Putin would prefer. The lack of critical thinking about Russia is, of course, terrifying, but let's leave that aside for now.  After noting that more information could change this interpretation into something more sinister, Marshall concludes with this:

Here's the big final point. Let's assume some version of my narrative above is accurate. On its face its mainly about bad priorities and bad values. But anyone trying to make this chain of events happen in real life - not just Trump but his various business associates, hangers-on and supporters - would have a very difficult time not committing a large number of bad acts in the process. Maybe very bad acts. It may not be inherent in the storyline. But it's just the way that world works, especially when you have a principal who has a vast ability to justify what satisfies his self-interest, his desires, his need to dominate and be right. As we've already seen, even the fairly innocent stuff is hard not to lie about. Eventually that will get someone in trouble. There's too much dirty money, too many things that may be narrowly legal but need to be lied about, too many scams and bad actors.

And that would explain the lying about any and all meetings with the Russians.  My worry is that Marshall is right and when it turns out that Trump stumbled into bad decisions because of his ineffable Trumpness, the press and public will be disappointed that it isn't MORE sinister.  Trump and his people did illegal, immoral and poorly thought out things that would disqualify anyone else from being president.  But just a Trump managed not to tweet out insults in the middle of his Congressional address last week and get praised for that, so too would Marshall's theory produce a shrug in the face of very real and damaging revelations.

However, the shoes are going to keep dropping.  The revelations will keep coming.  And as last night showed, Trump will enter his Orangenrage and start hate tweeting in the wee hours of the morning.

He couldn't help himself with Russia and he can't help himself now.

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