– First published … November 17, 2016 –
The first thought that popped into my head after the political nuclear bomb went off in the US on election night with Trump’s taking the presidency, was “Where do we go from here?”
As with all newly elected presidents, what they promise on the campaign trail, and what they do after they win is often a legacy of broken promises.
Trump skillfully manipulated massive free media coverage during the first half of the campaign by making provocative policy statements to openly separate himself from the Republican pack. The bedrock of his early campaign was, “I’m not one of them,” and it was successful from the start.
Trump pulled an audience, so ratings-hungry media rode him for their own benefit, never expecting that he had any chance of winning. Many waited for him to crash and burn, which he did a few times, but like the Phoenix, rose from the ashes of his past.
With a large field of primary opponents, Trump sucked up so much of the media oxygen that he literally starved the others out, to the point where they were all viewed as “the establishment” that Trump was running against. He offered himself to the public as a battering ram to get them some payback revenge for years of humiliating treatment by an elite political class.
I first saw how effective the campaign was when the Trump expenses for winning the primary vote was running at the same low level as Bernie Sanders’ tight budget. He was wining despite being outspent by the professional Republicans. It seemed hard to believe, watching it all.
One of the earliest provocative foreign policy statements Trump made was his opposition against the US using Russia as a punching bag for NATO. That elicited a quick response from Putin that Trump’s views were a breath of fresh air on the American political scene. Trump’s campaign opponents fired back at him for being a Russia lover, a play on a cold war smear.
But it did not stick, because Trump kept making more provocative statements which the press focused on, and the follow up attacks on what he had said the week before never caught an audience. Trump became a constantly moving target, to the frustration of those wanting to shoot him down politically.
Fast forward to the days after the election, with protest marches and mini anti-Trump riots in some cities.
Out of all that chaos comes former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, putting the Russia issue right back on the table for Trump, by stating that a complete reset of America’s relations with Russia is needed, and he went even further by saying it had to be done man to man between Trump and Putin.
Hagel is no stranger to bruising political battles. Powerful independents, serving the people’s interests directly are usually hated by both parties. Hagel was savaged during his Congressional hearings, and then later by Obama’s staff, since, as Secretary of Defense, he competed with them concerning strategy and the best use of the US military.
He described Susan Rice wanting to conduct four-hour meetings, with endless detailed inquiries, where meeting attendance would balloon to several dozen people, which is where the leaks usually come from. Hagel always preferred small meetings focused on the big topics, and hence his jumping out in front after the election with his hard-earned advice to both leaders, one old, and one new.
Trump and Putin have now had their first post-election phone call, coming after a congratulation letter from Putin that Trump described as “beautiful”, which is not a term used in describing diplomatic correspondence. Trump did not tell us why, but we know he used the word to make a point, that the Russian Bear hype flag would no longer be flying on the White House pole when Obama left.
Their discussion topics were meat and potatoes, “uniting efforts in the fight with the number one enemy, international terrorism and extremism”, and the term “constructive cooperation” was used, the opposite of Russia bashing. That is the kind of language that has the pro-sanctions Europeans worried.
The EU press was openly discussing how hard it would be for the anti-Russian factions to hold the line on sanctions if Trump were to turn the US boat around. Despite the hurdles Trump would face with the career Russia haters in Congress, the sanctions cannot be dealt with without resolving Crimea, the mythical Minsk accords, and the US and NATO regime-change assault on Russia’s borders.
The makeup of Trump’s administration could also undermine his verbal plans, as Washington’s hotels are filled with Bush-era Neocons looking for work, and one of them being the arch American Russia hater himself, John Bolton. Rudy Guliani comes in second in the category, and if he gets the Justice Department, scary times could be ahead for us all, as he still has a shadow hanging over him concerning 9-11.
We will see how much Mr. Trump is the man of the people before his swearing in, as he fills in his first-tier team. All indications are now that he will not be draining the swamp, but joining it, and going after opponents to be the goats for his cleaning up pledge.
He is already backing off some of his campaign promises, and many expect him to subcontract the running of the government; he can enjoy being the front man, knowing that lending his image is his strength. Even the major Russian politicians realize that we have to wait and see.
Trump’s picking Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus for his chief of staff was understandable, as he needs a solid person to handle the powerful career politicians that he beat in the primaries. He will still have a love-hate relationship with most of them. They love it that he beat Hillary, but they hate that he beat them.
Choosing former Breitbart Media Chairman Stephen Bannon as his strategic adviser has just stirred up more controversy. Yes, successful campaign strategists are usually rewarded with a good job, but having him at his right arm is going to be a walking billboard for all the Democratic bad blood spilled in the feuds during the campaign. Trump will use them as his good cops, bad cops.
While both Bannon and Priebus had been in the running for chief of staff for its gatekeeper power over access to the president, Priebus has the sophistication skills critical for that job, which Mr. Rough and Tumble Bannon did not. But Trump made a point in showing he wanted them both, to hopefully watch his flanks, as both the country and Mr. Trump are in uncharted waters with his presidency.
If Trump brings the NeoCon gangsters in, they will do what they live to do; and having already done it to the country, they will rape and pillage it some more. That will require a screen of other “nice” things being done as a distraction. The mortgage banking collapse, plus 9-11 with its subsequent multi-trillions in expenditures were years in the making, and during the boom times of the 90’s. Remember?
All of these gold-plated insiders who are contending for the top slots hid from the public during the primaries — a sign even a modestly competent Intel analyst would have picked up on — because they would have spoiled Trump’s “drain the swamp” pitch by being visible. But here they all are. Color me suspicious.