Putin might end up asking for his ball back…

“No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.”

– Viscount John Morley

It’s very tiresome writing about President Trump, the spin information war tearing America apart, “Russian collusion” and the constant chaos ensuing from our 2016 election, but these topics remain in the news, making it impossible to escape them if you’re following American politics.

Way back in 2015, when Donald J.Trump descended the escalator in Trump Tower and began his new political reality TV show, our American political system and American news media dramatically changed into a perpetual circus sideshow act. 

America, by its very independent nature, breeds plenty of eccentrics and people who break the mold, often the type of people I admire for daring to be different, daring to defy the status quo, and daring to strike a new path.

There’s something quintessentially American about loving an underdog, who beats all the odds, so it’s understandable that millions of Americans quickly flocked to join the Trump fan club. He developed a loyal following, who believe in Trump and Trump knows this. He knew it back during the campaign when he made that comment that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and they’d remain loyal.

Why Trump’s followers remain loyal to him, no matter what he says or does, will keep political thinkers and historians busy for decades. The answer(s) might be complex and way deeper than my limited understanding, but one of the basic cons Trump uses is playing a ruthless and cynical game of deflection and using the old James Carville trick of throwing as much crap at his enemies as possible and hoping some of it sticks. Some of Trump’s favorite go-to crap is his shtick about Hillary’s crimes, his shtick about respecting the American flag, his shtick about making America great again, but his numero uno shtick is always about Trump the Victim.

Trump’s spin troopers, people who should know better and many, people who spent their professional lives preaching about character and principles, well, they’ve proven themselves to be the vilest sort of hypocrites, willing to say or do anything to prop up Trump’s inexcusable behavior and bold-faced lies. Their efforts are directed to continually manipulate Trump’s followers and keep them in line. They don’t want his followers to defect, so they engage in a 24/7 massive spin effort of throwing up strawman issues and “enemies of Trump”, that is as low as the Left’s perpetual spin machine.

At this point, the Trump outrage spin cycles on the Left, followed by the Trump sideshow shticks repeat so often that there’s really no surprises in the next episode of Trump’s reality TV presidency. He spends more time watching TV and trying to keep up with the spin than he will ever spend paying attention to the details of his presidential policies and duties.

His followers don’t even waver at this point.  His cadre of spin troopers react predictably too, so in the aftermath of Trump’s deplorable submissiveness and willingness to blame America first, standing next to Vladimir Putin, the same spin messaging cycles repeated.   

The mainstream media, Left, a few remnants of the Never Trump and non-Trump supporting right flew into their predictable outrage mode. 

Hannity and Tucker Carlson gave Trump a platform, post-summit, to do victory laps. 

As night follows day,  the questions about the summit and outrage escalated. 

By yesterday the top FOX Trump spin troopers were back to ranting about Hillary’s emails and Obama scandals, the mainstream media was on fire about a Michael Cohen tape of Trump discussing paying off a woman he had an affair with and by evening Trump was back to trying to wrap himself in the American flag:

The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!

Trump lied about what he said in his news conference with Putin, but naturally he proclaimed the summit a great success.  He also hasn’t provided his staff or the American people with any clear details about the agreements the Russians say he made.  I doubt he ever will be able to provide details, simply because Trump does not pay attention to details, especially governmental policies, which he has no interest in, beyond their being fodder for his reality presidency show. 

Yesterday, there was a poll indicating that most Americans did not approve of how Trump handled the summit with Putin (his performance), but within that poll, the vast majority of Republicans did support him… even though he has yet to provide any details.

The entrenched partisan spin battle rages in the same boring cycles, but this summit opens a new, dangerous front in our endless, partisan  2016 scorched earth information war.  The Russians now have a new front to exploit – what Trump agreed to.

The word games started immediately, with Trump lying about what he said:

“President Donald Trump attempted on Tuesday to clarify his widely criticized comments in Helsinki, saying that he had misspoken when he said a day earlier that he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the election. Trump said Tuesday he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn’t have been Russia that interfered.”
That word game flap was followed by the news that Trump had discussed and was open to considering turning over a former US ambassador to Russia, to the Russians for questioning.  The WH press secretary, Sarah Sanders, acknowledged that the president had discussed this with Putin, but she had no details on the president’s decision.  This summit fall-out led to the US Senate voicing a protest:

“The Republican-led Senate effectively rebuked President Donald Trump for considering Russia’s request to question U.S. officials, giving voice to growing unease over the president’s shifting policies toward his country’s biggest adversary after his summit with Vladimir Putin.

In a resolution adopted 98-0 on Thursday, senators called on the U.S. to refuse to make any officials available for interrogation by Putin’s government. Minutes before the vote was scheduled to begin, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement rejecting the Russian proposal.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-19/senate-readies-vote-against-trump-letting-russia-grill-americans

By last night, someone in the WH was concerned about facesaving and a CYA action. The Hill reported:

“In a report the Wall Street Journal published on Friday, a White House official said Trump was advised to take the Justice Department’s recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers over election interference and “shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it.””

Just a few minutes ago, I caught a bit of Cavuto with two guests, when I walked into the sunroom where my husband watches FOX news all day long.  These two guests were spinning that there’s no need for details of Trump’s meeting with Putin and the lady guest, a true idiot, made some inane comment about this being Trump’s style, as if that absolved him of informing the American people of what he agreed to on our behalf.  It’s an obvious spin effort to downplay the demands for details and the alarming likelihood that no one in the Trump White House knows exactly what Trump agreed to (probably not even Trump).

Unlike this unwinnable, endless, domestic partisan scorched earth spin info war, tearing away at the fiber of our American political system, Putin and the Russians now have a means to ruthlessly and openly play the American president against his own cabinet, against Congress, against top US military officials, against America’s intelligence agencies and against America’s closest allies.  Putin will engulf Trump in a new front in this spin info war, which will throw him into constant collision with his own cabinet, by slowly rolling out all the things they manipulated Trump into agreeing to in that private meeting with Putin.  Each time Trump is forced into backtracking, another hysterical spin cycle will erode the credibility of, not only Trump, but of America.  The American president represents all of us.

The Russians play all sides when trying to destabilize other countries. Trump will be played by Russian information operatives, who will feed Russian talking points messaging to Trump, via advisers among Trump’s top spin troopers and on FOX news.   The Left will be played with Russian influence messaging too, to foment constant Trump hysteria.  The Russians, being the Russians, will also probably look for ways to use Trump as the lightning rod to ignite more Charlottesville type racial clashes.  They’ll leap at ways they can work to turn American against American, using the American president as their stooge.

Putin has a winning hand to launch a classic Russian covert influence operation model in America (ala the Willi Münzenberg model) with this endless, partisan 2016 scorched earth info war still raging in America. The Trump-Putin summit offers the Russians a brand new front, where they will slowly be rolling out what agreements Trump made. 

There’s no way to shut down all the ways messaging can take hold in a free society and while we have premiere intelligence operators, it’s a long, grueling process to catch spies and even in the internet age, tracking the origins of  messaging often remains heaped in a dark web of mystery.

Identifying and countering the Russian messaging  quickly with calm, positive, unequivocal American messaging  remains more imperative than getting caught up in fueling a Red Scare in America or trying to silence people.   This really will boil down to who wins the hearts and minds of the American people.

How long Trump and his cabinet can play this dangerous, destructive game to prop up a president, who speaks out both sides of his mouth and refuses to offer any clarity of where he stands, remains to be seen.  How far Trump will go to save face, lie, try to find footing between what he agreed to, while being led around by Putin, and his own cabinet’s tough line with Russia remains to be seen too.  That the Russians really do have some other dirt on Trump seems very possible, but what is abundantly clear is that Putin masterfully stroked Trump’s ego and grievances to play Trump against previous US presidents and America’s closest allies.

As Trump is  prodded and manipulated by the Russians to stick to his agreements, he will simultaneously be prodded to take a hardline on Russia by his cabinet & US government officials, so we will quickly see if and what hold the Russians have over Trump, because they will begin to start exposing that, to put more pressure on Trump to cave.  Even worse is there will be many more of these demeaning Trump being “trapped by what he said” scenarios.  This will also create enormous pressure on his cabinet to resign or be continuously compromised by the embarrassing details of Trump’s “agreements” with Putin. 

Putin might end up asking for his ball back…after scoring as many points as he can kicking around “what Trump agreed to” for months to come.

The Russians are out to destroy the credibility of the American political system… as they have been since 1919.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Information War, Politics

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