Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Implausible Deniability: Trump Tries

One of the things I have been thinking about for about four years has been this: how implausible can a claim be and still be politically useful?  Is implausible deniability a thing?  Of course, it is the master, Vladimir Putin, who got me thinking about this.  What, Russians in Ukraine?!  Can't be.  The whole winking and nudging while saying that Crimea voted freely for annexation and from then on, all kinds of stuff.

Well, yesterday, Trump tried--changing one sentence from his disastrous press conference with his the master. The problem, of course, is that Trump didn't just say one time that the Russians didn't hack the election--he said it multiple times at one press conference.  One minor changing in wording does not erase the rest of press conference nor the rest of his statements before or since.

However, it seems to provide Republicans with just enough cover to try to put this behind him, which reminded me of the Duck and Cover video where the US government recommended that people use newspapers or picnic blankets if caught out in the open during a nuclear attack.  That is, it might provide some reassurance, but that reassurance is based on an entirely false claim. But wishful thinking is a thing, and cowardice in the GOP is definitely a thing.  Yeah, they would be risking their careers if they took a stand... so what?

Whatever peace Trump thought he would get from his minor adjustment to his Helsinki comments has been erased by his interview with white supremacist Tucker Carlson.  Trump concurred with Carlson that he doesn't see why Americans should put their lives at stake in the defense of NATO countries.  This should not be surprising from Trump, who dodged the draft, and who has been a committed isolationist.

Mrs. Spew and I got into an argument, as she is not surprised by how awful all of this is.  I said, as I have said here, that my imagination simply was not good enough.  That some of the stuff Trump does and says is shocking and appalling even if we should know better--that he will always go lower (like saying that Europe has diminished itself by letting in immigrants--not that he has paid much of a price for that).  Then again, my wife edits mysteries and thrillers and aspires to write some--so her imagination may be darker than mine.  After all, when we moved to San Diego, she could not help but note that the canyons of the area were handy places to dispose of bodies.... which is why I never invested much in life insurance..... Joking.

Anyhow, I am sure that Trump aides will dismiss the anti-NATO stance, but the members of NATO will not forget it as it is very much in line with his performance at the NATO summit.  American leaders had to spend a great deal of effort over the years reassuring European allies that the US would follow through on its commitments because those promises were, indeed, costly.  Why sacrifice Chicago for Berlin?  Because European peace is in American interests, it isn't charity.  However, all that work by Democratic and Republican Presidents is now being eroded very, very quickly by an unqualified President who has more in common with the leader of Russia than the leaders of the west.

All it takes is for the US to not show up when needed just once to do irrevocable damage to the alliance.  Does Putin know this?  Yes.  Am I worried?  Hells yeah.  Would a modest word change reassure anyone?  Not at all, although Marco Rubio would surely find a way to weasel out of it.

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