21.7.18

VITO CORLEONE, VLADIMIR PUTIN?

Perhaps, American Spectator columnist Dov Fischer argues, Donald Trump learned in the course of negotiating contracts for concrete delivery in New York City the art of not speaking ill of one's host.
If you insult Putin in public, like by telling the newsmedia just before or after meeting with him that he is the Butcher of Crimea, and he messed with our elections, and is an overall jerk — then you will get nothing behind closed doors from Putin. Putin will decide “To heck with you, and to heck with the relationship we just forged.” Putin will get even, will take intense personal revenge, even if it is bad for Russia — even if it is bad for Putin. Because there are no institutional reins on him.

But if you go in public and tell everyone that Putin is a nice guy (y’know, just like Kim Jong Un) and that Putin intensely maintains that he did not mess with elections — not sweet little Putey Wutey (even though he obviously did) — then you next can maintain the momentum established beforehand in the private room. You can proceed to remind Putin what you told him privately: that this garbage has to stop — or else. That if he messes in Syria, we will do “X.” If he messes with our Iran boycott, we will do “Y.” We will generate so much oil from hydraulic fracturing and from ANWR and from all our sources that we will glut the market — if not tomorrow, then a year from now. We will send even more lethal offensive military weapons to Ukraine. We can restore the promised shield to Eastern Europe that Obama withdrew. And even if we cannot mess with Russian elections (because they have no elections), they do have computers — and, so help us, we will mess with their technology in a way they cannot imagine. Trump knows from his advisers what we can do.
We shall see. But Mr Fischer notes behaviors that you wouldn't expect of a suck-up to Russia. "Meanwhile, Trump has expelled 60 Russians from America, reversed Obama policy and sent lethal weapons to Ukraine, and is pressing Germany severely on its pipeline project with Russia."

Oh, but those angry, ungrateful Europeans!
Trump did what any effective negotiator would do: he took note of past approaches to NATO and their failures, and correctly determined that the only way to get these penny-pinching-cheap baseborn prigs to pay their freight would be to bulldoze right into their faces, stare them right in their glazed eyes with cameras rolling, and tell them point-blank the equivalent of: “You are the cheapest penny-pinching, miserly, stingy, tightwadded skinflints ever. And it is going to stop on my watch. Whatever it takes from my end, you selfish, curmudgeonly cheap prigs, you are going to pay your fair share. I am not being diplomatic. I am being All-Business: either you start to pay or, wow, are you in for some surprises! And you know what you read in the Fake News: I am crazy! I am out of control! So, lemme see. I know: We will go to trade war! How do you like that? Maybe we even will pull all our troops out of Europe. Hmmm. Yeah, maybe. Why not? Sounds good. Well, let’s see.”

So Trump stuffed it into their quiche-and-schnitzel ingesting faces. And he convinced them — thanks to America’s Seedier Media who are the real secret to the “Legend That is Trump” — that he just might be crazy enough to go to trade war and to pull American boys home. They knew that Clinton and Bush x 2 and Kerry and Hillary and Nobel Laureate Obama never would do it. But they also know that Trump just might.
Again, we'll see.

Perhaps, though, Our President is simply trolling people who are easily trolled.
Maybe he has noticed that being open with Putin and Russia causes his Democratic opponents to fixate on this issue and crank up the hyperbole about treason, rather than focusing on bread-and-butter issues such as health-care policy or the tax increases also known as tariffs. Talk of Russian collusion turns American politics into a kind of brutal, depressing circus. Perhaps Trump feels most comfortable, politically at least, in that kind of polarized and highly emotional atmosphere.
That's Tyler Cowen, taking a pessimistic view. Such explanations "leave Americans with a president willing to sacrifice reputation of the nation, and the stature of his office, for his own reasons." The office has an excessively exalted stature, but I digress.  Note, though, that great countries overcome bad politicians.  "We are conflating loyalty to our elected leaders with patriotism, and it scares me."

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