Shell Game – Brilliant, Probably Unintentional

Like much of America, I anxiously awaited the results of the Mueller investigation with some hope that it would find evidence that Trump cooperated with or enlisted the assistance of Russia in order to gain the presidency.  I had that hope because I’m in favor of anything legal that gets him out of office.

Just so we’re clear, I want him out of office because, as I’ve been saying for three years longer than George Conway has, his behavior demonstrates that he has a significant mental defect which – whether we call him an extreme narcissist, a sociopath or a psychopath – makes him exceptionally unfit to be President of the United States.

But unlike, I suspect, most people who hoped for a **Collusion!!!** outcome,  I really didn’t expect one.  I always thought that while Trump and his clown-car staff (clown car: full of clowns; clowns keep leaving it; somehow, there are always more clowns) were inept enough to be unwitting dupes of those crafty Russians, they were way too inept to pull something like that off on purpose.

That said, whether intentional or not (my money is on “not”), Trump has pulled off an extraordinary misdirection play.

What became the Mueller investigation started as an FBI inquiry aimed at understanding how Russia interfered in the 2016 election so that we could keep it from happening again.  One strand of that inquiry was to ascertain whether any Americans aided Russia.  One thin strand within that strand was to ascertain whether “any Americans” included Trump or anyone in the clown car.

Yet that strand-within-a-strand became the entire focus of public interest, if not of the investigation itself.  So how did THAT happen?

What really seemed to spook Trump when Russia’s election meddling was first revealed was that it might delegitimize his election.  But the investigation didn’t become focused on Trump until he fired James Comey, and then bragged to both Russian officials (in the oval office, no less) and the American people (via Lester Holt) that he did so in order to stop the FBI from investigating the aforementioned Russian meddling (see “inept” and “clown”).

That required the appointment of a Special Counsel because administrations aren’t supposed to investigate themselves.

But what Trump did next was brilliant.  He started yelling “No Collusion!” at the top of his lungs – 231 times according to the Washington Post.

Then, instead of saying, “I am committed to the integrity of our electoral process and have instructed my staff to cooperate fully with this investigation,” he stonewalled it in every way possible.  He stonewalled it so much that it really started to look like he had something to hide, which was great fodder for the media (“Fake News! Fake News! Enemy of the People!”).

This is the shell game.  He had all of us looking at the shell called “collusion.”  Yet when Mueller finally lifted it up – guess what? – no pea.  Meanwhile, nobody is looking at the shell that matters, which is that Russian meddling very likely did have enough of an impact to sway the election, and that even if it didn’t, the dissension it has sown in America has been an extraordinary coup (see what I did there?) for them.

It used to be said that Russians play chess and Americans play Pac-Man.  We don’t even do that anymore.

We just play shell games.

5 thoughts on “Shell Game – Brilliant, Probably Unintentional

  1. Very nice.

    *Steve Smolinsky* Benari LTD Wharton School Geneva Global c: 610-324-1218

    *PAY ATTENTION • ADD VALUE • HAVE FUN*

    the Benari Blog sometimes Twitter and now… EOS Implementor

    On Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 4:21 PM Carp Diem (Fish of the Day!) wrote:

    > Dan Wallace posted: “Like much of America, I anxiously awaited the results > of the Mueller investigation with some hope that it would find evidence > that Trump cooperated with or enlisted the assistance of Russia in order to > gain the presidency. I had that hope because I’m in ” >

  2. Heck yeah. And while we’ve been watching that shell game play on its milk-crates-on-a-city-sidewalk stage, a (insert collective noun of your choice) of pickpockets in cahoots with 45 or his party have fleeced the entire crowd.

  3. Great work Dan. I always enjoy reading your newsletters. Although I think this was intentional. If you consider all your connection points between Russians and those in and around POTUS you can easily see how those who are very smart (like Putin) would create the shell game of diverting attention from the goal (subverting US elections) to Presidential collusion. Knowing the latter is a political problem that is unlikely to lead to anything meaningful happening quickly, it is a smart stroke to put attention on the latter, rather than the former. How do you create this misdirection so that the investigation goes off the rails? Have POTUS pull it off the rails. All Putin had to do was tell him to do this in one of their 1-on-1 chats. Then Putin promises to keep using his Russian tools to keep Trump and colleagues in office. Tell him to fire Comey, and tell him to keep all the attention on POTUS, so the work behind the scenes can keep moving forward. I would not give Trump credit. I would give Putin credit for knowing how to direct his lackey. And that would be something done very intentionally.

    The Trump playbook was not created by Trump. He clearly is not bright enough. It takes a mind like Hitler or Putin to take over a country. Trump isn’t that savvy. But Putin is smart enough to know how to apply a Hitler use of nationalism as a way to wrap people in the flag in an effort to undermine the foundations of democracy. CPAC once stood for balanced budgets, free trade, etc.€Now CPAC is supporting an unstable economic policy, and an unstable international trade policy sure to damage America’s world standing. Converting these “true believers” into supporting everything they once hated was done by playing the “we should be nationalists first” card. It was a smart move, and those on the conservative side were gullible enough to follow through.

    Trump is going to end his Presidency some day and return to Russia a wealthy man, or Putin will kill him. One or the other. But America will be in this war between factions for many future years, making it possible for Russia and China to make tremendous progress toward taking over world leadership. That is the success Putin wants and that looks likely to be achieved.

    Adam Hartung

    1. Thanks, Adam. Your analysis is super-sharp, as always. I can’t say with certainty that it happened the way you describe, but I certainly can’t say that it didn’t. SOMETHING happened in those 1-on-1’s. I’ve been inclined to think that Putin just wanted to throw some sand in our gears (a no-lose proposition for him) and has spent the last 2.5 years laughing in his sleeve at his dumb luck. But perhaps he planned and controlled the whole thing. For sure Russia and China are the big beneficiaries.

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