Monday, January 14, 2019

Yet Another Reason Trump could be a Russian Asset

The NY Times published a much-lauded Max Boot article yesterday, "Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset"

Neal Katyal, Former Acting US Solicitor General, added one:
There's another one missing. A big fat honking one. What Russia wants most of all (beyond sanctions relief) is to sow division; to amplify both extremes among their enemies. Chaos!

And hasn't it been odd that Donald Trump, from day one, hasn't lifted a finger to conciliate with or appeal to anyone beyond his base? Until recently, he was an enthusiastically anti-abortion, anti-gun control Democrat. So while his positions may (or may not) have truly changed, he certainly knows how to talk to both sides. After all, he's from NYC, not North Dakota.

But he hasn't. Not once. He's played the wrestling "heel" in every respect toward his own former circle, his own former region, his own former peer group, fervently stoking the 35% and pugnaciously rejecting the rest. He hasn't just "owned the Libs" to delight his base (which is crappy governance but at least serves the discernible purpose of solidifying his support), he's governed with blinders on even in wonky policy matters where MAGA rubes would scarcely have noticed. For example, his budget stuck a gratuitous dagger in every blue state constituency.

Lots of stuff Trump does is because he's damaged goods. Other stuff is because he's shameless and amoral. And much of the rest is due to his ignorant entrancement with right-wing media and alternate facts. The seamless firewall he's erected between himself and more than half the country may superficially seem like more of all that. But this behavior doesn't fit. It's not in his interest, and it's a rare case where the man actually has latent untapped talent - in this case to broaden his support and add constituencies. To wield his charm and salesmanship, and try to increase his circle of loving admirers (an effort that should come naturally). I'm not saying Trump truly would do anything broadly helpful, but he's all about images and impressions, and he's done absolutely nothing on that front. It really surprised me back in the beginning.

His refusal to at least try - to invest one single nanocalorie in the task - serves no purpose beyond Russia's goal of chaos. So I think Max Boot missed an important reason Trump could be a Russian asset. It's the reason hiding in the plainest of plain sight.

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