Monday, June 12, 2017

The Russian Controversy

I haven't commented on the Trump/Russian controversy yet.  Partly, I have been reticent due to the extremely partisanship nature of the debate.  On the left there is salivating at the idea that Trump might be caught colluding with our most dangerous adversary, and on the right there is rampant amnesia in regards to which country stands to gain the most from western democracies which fall too far down the rabbit hole of nationalism.

At this point, rather than wait for Special Prosecutor Mueller's probe to come to fruition, I thought I would offer my assessment of the situation, and prediction for the outcome.

First, it is certainly true that the Democrats are still reeling from their surprise defeat last November. While calling the investigation a witch hunt is certainly disingenuous coming from a party that held countless Benghazi hearings, I also think that this is more of a red herring, on both sides.  I say red herring, not necessarily because I believe the Russian connection is false, but because there is far bigger fish to fry in reference to the agenda of this president and his (current) allies in the legislative branch.

It seems clear that their is a concerted effort to undo everything President Obama accomplished, either by an ongoing stream of exaggerations and outright lies, or through executive orders and legislative efforts.   From statements referencing the "absolute mess" that Trump inherited, to the constant predictions of the failure of the Affordable Care Act which has its existence controlled by the very people who are eager for its demise, our continued focus on the Russia Controversy seems to be a classic trick of magicians and con men alike.  Look over here while what is really happening occurs over there.

I say this, because in the end, President Trump will not be impeached over this embroilment.  Perhaps a couple of his associates, Manafort and Flynn to name a few, will be found guilty of some sort of misdeed, or Sessions might be forced to resign, but Trump will escape with his supporters in tack. Not necessarily because he is innocent, but because the standard which needs to be attained for obstruction is not reachable.  Clearly, presidential candidate Trump encouraged the hacking of DNC and Clinton emails, perhaps conveniently ignorant of the fact that his election was desired by Putin, but I don't expect there to be any smoking gun to prove that he traded such activity for future easements of the penalties imposed on Russia by the west as a result of the Crimean annexation, as well as those imposed by Obama due to the suspicions of an organized cyber attack during the recent presidential election.

The fact is that Hillary Clinton and the DNC made some critical mistakes in regards to Bernie Sanders during the campaign, provocateurs under the direction of Putin's government disclosed them and Clinton (or Sanders) lost an election she should have won handily.  As a result, there are many democrats looking under any and every rock to delegitimize their loss.

On the other side, we have a president who is such an egoist that he can't fathom the idea that he didn't win the election due to his brilliance.  That he was helped in any way.  It is reflected in his exaggerations about the size of his inaugural crowds, in his constant use of phrases like "the greatest, the best, the most" and in his over riding belief that he alone can solve all the problems that we face. From there, his unwavering supporters quickly move to the premise that anyone against him is against America, any news that contradicts him is fake news.

Sometime I have real sympathy for President Trump.  He won, yet he is constantly on the defense. His attempts to fulfill his campaign promises are thwarted at every turn, and he is expected to be on point at all times, while his tweets are expected to be always factual, more presidential than whatever thought floated into his head at the time.  His behavior is no different from his successful campaign, yet it is no longer working for him.  But then I remember that he spent a number of years questioning the birth nation of ex-President Obama, while he and many of the far right news and media machine took little pains in questioning Obama's love of America in general, and white people in particular. Kharma can be a bitch!!

When it came time to vote last November, I considered Trump and Clinton two sides of the same coin.  Clearly, there is too much money being used to pervert our democracy.  Clinton, as a career politician, represented the perspective that all politicians are self serving, and so many middle class Americans chose to vote for Trump even though, in my mind, he represented the class of rich people who had enabled those greedy politicians to fill their coffers at the expense of the American taxpayer. For me, assuming both had baggage, it came down to the candidate who most shared viewpoints that I deemed most important; climate change, income inequality, access to affordable health insurance and quality health care, and a humane immigration policy.  On those issues, Hillary Clinton was more in line with my values.

Ironically, many Trump supporters thought that electing a successful and rich businessman would help reduce the flow of red ink in Washington and scale back the influence of special interest groups.
Unfortunately, Trump is a novice when it comes to governing, and his many mistakes reflect this learning curve.  Also, he appears to be loyal to those within his circle, but, as they are a reflection of himself, he cannot see their faults.  And, of course, campaigning is far easier than governing.  As a CEO and business icon, Trump is ill prepared to navigate the waters of politics where many opinions and perspectives must be considered when creating policy.

Washington, for all its problems, is not like the business world of a billionaire.  It is not an environment where Trump can "suggest" to an employee that a certain thing must happen without actually saying, knowing it will be "taken care of".  It is not an environment where Trump can dismiss the thoughts of those who disagree with him knowing that, as the boss, it is his way or the highway.  And, even more strangely, it is not an environment where rules can be ignored as long as results are produced.  Perhaps that was one reason that Trump garnered some votes, people tired of politically correct politics and decisions which consider everyone's feelings, but that is precisely the strength of our democracy.  We allow those in the minority, whether it be based on race, religion, political affiliation or gender preference, to have a say.

In the end, the Russian Controversy is just another example of Trump attempting to run America as CEO rather than as president.  We know he had dealings with Russian businesses and Russian banks, just as we know that Exxon Mobil and Rex Tillerson have/had business dealings with Russia.
If there is one thing that is true, it is that the opportunity to make large sums of money trumps politics and national affiliation.  As a private citizen, Donald Trump sought outlets to expand his brand all over the world, Russia included.  If I knew that, through such business ties, Russia would aim their nuclear weapons away from Europe and the United States, I might feel heartened.  But, alas, I think that a win is a win, and if looking away while a foreign entity works to disclose private thoughts of ones' competition while spreading half truths as well, then Machiavelli would be proud.

Sadly, regardless of the outcome of Special Prosecutor Mueller's investigation, both sides will claim victory.  The left will focus on the statement that inappropriate communications did occur but nothing illegal, and the right will celebrate the conclusion that Trump did nothing wrong.  And that is the problem, neither side willing to seek truth regardless of who is at fault, both sides willing to ignore culpability when someone else can be blamed.

Perhaps someday the American voter will stop accepting the concept that it is OK to flaunt the law if you can prove someone else did it as well, will stop believing that our problems can be solved without communication and compromise, and will begin to vote for their interests knowing that no candidate will agree 100% with their perspective, but 7 out of 10 is pretty good.  Of course, telling voters what is in their best interest is the mark of a skilled campaigner, as is connecting with the one issue voter, so actually taking our responsibility more seriously when in the voting booth might be the real, the only answer, to our shared problems.

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