Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump Traps & Integrity

If an investor was either very brilliant or very lucky, how would you tell the difference? Could you? Does it even matter?

If a general won battle after battle, seemingly by luck, at what point would we start calling him a great general?

Early during the primary run our local radio guy observed that Trump was either lucky or brilliant, and he couldn't tell which. He had a few examples to refer to. Most I've lost down the memory hole, but the one that sticks out was when Trump declared that 9/11 would not have happened under his watch. It was a dangerously bold play for anyone, let alone a Republican candidate. The media jeered wildly at the audacity and absurdity the pronouncement. After some delay he revealed that he had predicted in his own book that New York would face another terror attack similar to the first World Trade Center bombing. The was a big political win for him. Not only did he generate huge media buzz factor, but those who attacked him ultimately lost in the battle of public perception. Was Trump very lucky? Was he really just so reckless with his words and fortunate that someone was able, days later, to find backing for his statement? Was Trump really so clueless that he didn't even remember his written prediction, and thus couldn't immediately defend himself with it, as most people would have done? Or was the whole thing a ruse; a classic bait, wait, and ambush?

Let's assume the incident was an intentional political stunt. Such a maneuver would require 3 steps:
  1. Lay the bait
  2. Wait for an enemy to be lured
  3. Close the trap at the right moment
Clearly the incident of his 9/11 comments fit this pattern. If it is indeed Trump's technique (and there are a number of other examples of his behavior fitting the pattern) then he controls 2 out of the 3 steps. He lays the bait. He closes the trap. But he can't control who will enter the trap or when. Like any good trapper he'll try to operate in such a way as to effect the best outcome, but ultimately the prey must walk in of its own free will.

Of all the perplexing events of the past year the most astounding, perhaps, was watching the media and his other opponents walk into his traps again and again. At some point they had to catch on. But they didn't. They didn't because they believed they were very smart, and he was outrageously incompetent and dumb. They just couldn't fathom that he was leading them around (although there were occasional moments of clarity). It was a near-sighted presumption. Trump was a highly successful businessman, a highly successful television personality, now a highly successful politician. How far do they think luck can go? And as mentioned before: does it matter whether or not he was just lucky? If his life has really just been a decades-long streak of good fortune, why did they assume it would suddenly change on their watch?

With all that said, let's look at the big story happening right now. And this thing is big. It is looking quite likely that there is going to be "smoking gun" proof that the Obama administration spied on Trump, both during and after the election. This is looking to be bigger than Watergate except there won't be any pardons this time. But that's not the subject at hand. (I'm sure we'll be talking a lot on that issue in the coming days and weeks). What I really want to focus on is how Trump plays his cards and, even more importantly, how his opponents keep letting themselves be played.

The whole incident started with Trump's tweets that Obama had wiretapped him, which came out in a flurry on a Saturday morning. Or is that the beginning? Was that Trump's leading move? The media responded to the tweets predictably; with loud condemnation and even ridicule. The allegations were indeed very bold, very serious, and there should have been a critical response by the media; that's their job. But there was more than just objective skepticism. From the onset the media did not treat Trump's claims -- that his predecessor engaged in serious abuses of power to obstruct the democratic process -- with the gravitas that the situation might demand, but with scorn. And ridicule. Why? Yes they hate him and they're political hacks. We know that. But why would they immediately assume the claims to be absurd? Not as a matter of morality or intellectual honesty, but from the perspective of not again falling for one of Trump's traps and looking like a sad pack of amateur jerks. This was soon after the Russian dossier, the most ludicrous political story ever run by major media outlets. There was reason to be cautious, but they weren't.

I suspect this is because of the platform in which Trump made his accusations. He did it through Twitter. Something that really troubled me after the election was that Trump, for a while, continued to make seemingly petty tweets, for instance complaining about SNL's sketches. Surely he of all people should know that he was only doing them a favor by giving them so much attention. The only theory I could come up with was that Trump was accustomed to being the head honcho. When Trump the CEO complained, those in his employ were sure to quickly return positive results for their demanding boss. Perhaps his ineffectual complaining was just a habit. But here's another theory.
Hypothesis: Trump's tweets were intentionally amateurish to lower the guard of his opponents.
What if Trump intentionally sprinkled his Twitter feed with outlandish commentary that would train his enemies not to take them very seriously? It would fit into his pattern of behavior. Think of his appearance early in the primaries, with the ridiculous orange-toned fake tan, complete with a sunglasses effect. While some people saw it as a publicity gag, a way to stand out from the crowd, there was also another element to it. One of the most frequent names we heard them use against Trump early on was "clown". A stunning rebuke! Unless that was the effect he wanted. No only did they lend him more than his fair share of the spotlight, but no one would suspect he was carefully plotting ambushes against anyone foolish enough to take the bait. This is all a hypothesis, so I will venture a prediction.
Prediction: we will encounter additional behavior from Trump that is seemingly bizarre until you consider that it is intended to lower the guard of his opponents.
This is something of an open-ended prediction (we can't just interpret every gaffe as a strategy play) but this should at least allow for some future analysis of his behavior. If true this implies an additional step to the bait & wait technique: condition your opponent before laying the bait.

Back to the story. Trump's enemies fell for his wiretapping tweets hard. They aren't just calling him names. They're calling for impeachment. Most mainstream media outlets have gone on the record to call him a liar. Many Democratic politicians have gone on the record to call him a liar. They have competed with each other to have the most prominent position within Trump's lure. Now all he has to do to slam it shut is to produce evidence. It's so easy if he has integrity, and has evidence as he claimed.


Let's talk about that word a minute. The Air Force describes integrity as doing what you should be doing even when no one is watching. That is a decent interpretation, although it falls a little heavy on the side of obedience. I would phrase it as acting in accordance with your own values and the morals of your society. Or to really water it down, doing the right thing. That's super subjective but we get the idea.
Tenet: integrity is safety when dealing with Trump
I suspect that Trump values people who maintain integrity and despises those who forego it. I suspect he takes personal pleasure in burning people when they could have easily avoided the traps through personal integrity. Let's look at some examples of people who have been, or are about to be, burned by Trump.

The media has been burned by Trump too many times to mention. Each time they could have avoided it by simply doing their job of honest and objective reporting, coupled with fair analysis. That's their job, and if they did it properly they'd never look like a pack of raging assholes like they do today with this Russia narrative which should end up finishing off any remaining amounts of plausible credibility they may have had.

The Democrats could avoid being burned by not making every single facet of their existence a matter of trying to weaken Trump. You know, like doing their jobs, governing, and representing their constituents. They could have avoided being burned in the election, not by preventing collusion with Trump and Russia (lol), but by not being repeatedly revealed as totally unethical, corrupt, and criminal. It's really that easy. Stop breaking the law assholes!

The Rinos turned their backs on Trump whenever it seemed politically expedient to do so. Trust me this burns Trump up more than anything else. He will exact his revenge on any of them if he ever gets the chance, even if it takes years.

Michael Flynn would not have been fired by Trump if he had been honest.

James Comey is probably about to get burned in a way that will surely cost his job, perhaps his liberty. All he had to do was (a) do his job right to begin with, and (b) not go out of his way to make it look like Trump was lying. He could have said, "I can't comment" when asked about Trump's statements, like he did everything else. But no, he lied to try to damage Trump. Did Trump lay a trap for him? Trey Gowdy's questioning leads me to believe he did. He (and some others) asked some very specific questions about the unmasking process before the bombshell allegations by Nunes came out. Do you really think Trump didn't know what was going on when he made his tweets, and that he has had no interaction with leading House Republicans?

Barrack Obama & friends might have a world of trouble coming their way. All they had to do was not commit egregious abuses of power. It's as simple as that. They were more interested in political power plays than in making ethical or even legal decisions. It is the crux of tyranny. Not only did the power plays fail, but they are now subject to massive blowback from it. Take a minute to think of why they were wiretapping Trump to begin with. Why are these things done? Why do states abuse surveillance capabilities? It is always to find incriminating evidence they can use to blackmail or destroy their opponents.

Imagine this. You're a powerful Democrat in the Obama administration. You're corrupt as hell. Every time there is an email leak or secret recorded video your team gets exposed for doing something shady, unethical, corrupt, or illegal. Since no one is leaking damaging information on your opponent, you decide to get even by using the state power at your disposal to spy on them to find their shady dealings so you can ignite scandals against them for corruption similar to your own. That's it. That's the master plan. Just collect all their communications and get ready to start broadcasting all the inevitable scandals as they start rolling in.

But what if your opponent actually has integrity? What if he is not highly unethical and generally does what he says he's doing? What if there is simply no scandal to be found? Do you think Obama's shady cronies even considered such a possibility? What would you do, if you've thrown all your eggs into that basket and nothing hatches? You create a scandal! That's what all this Russia fiasco has been. The Democrat-media machine was primed to run with a Trump scandal. Nothing was discovered, so Russia it was, reality be damned. But now it is all blowing up big for them.

This whole ordeal is amazing, and it's way better than anything I've ever scene on TV or the big screen. Power plays, intrigue, and an underlying moral to the story. There will be so many books written about the current timeline. I look forward to reading them for years to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment