I’ve been thinking a lot about the comment from Scissorhead 9ThousandFeet yesterday.
And just as a refresher, here’s the thesis 9K has been running:
“My theory about the overall strategy of progressively immunizing us all against outrage is holding up pretty well I’d say, and the argument that he’s too stupid to even have an overall strategy, while perhaps comforting, is increasingly implausible.”
9K’s first clause, about immunizing us is absolutely spot-on. No arguments from me, only a slight change: I’d use numbing. I think it is more like Novocain at the dentist. The pain is still there, we cannot feel it just yet, but we will.
Personally, I don’t think Comrade Trump has a strategy, but I do think he has a tactic. He’s a pickpocket who knows only one trick: make everyone look somewhere else, create a distraction, etc. If he had a strategy, then he would not walk-back (even clumsily) his remarks in Finland throwing in his lot with his KGBFF (God, I loved that!) Vlad.
Unlike Comrade Trump, Comrade Putin is a strategist and a tactician. He can design a plan and execute to it, and so I think instead of wondering about Trump having a strategy, we need to be looking to Russia to see what the game really is.
Now all that said, this morning’s Axios email thingie supports the numbing part of 9K’s thesis.
Let’s just say Mike Allen might be reading MPS! or at least reading 9K’s comments…
1 big thing: A case study in Trump’s GOP mind-control super power
Yes, almost every elected Republican we talk to privately thinks President Trump’s warm embrace of Vladimir Putin was unexplainable, unacceptable and un-American.
Yes, they wish they could say this publicly.
No, they won’t — not now, and probably never.
The cold, hard reason: They see no upside in speaking out — and fear political suicide if they do, numerous Republican officials tell us.
Why it matters: This is the mind-control power Trump has, thanks to 90 percent of Republicans approving of his tactics and performance.
These 90 percent empower and are empowered by Fox News and a pro-Trump social media ecosystem that always comes to the president’s defense, even if they flinch for a moment or two.
We just witnessed this power on full display:
You had a rare moment where virtually every Republican was aghast at Trump’s words.
But almost every Republican — except those leaving the stage — softened their direct criticism of Trump and ran from TV or reporters like the plague.
GOP lawmakers’ immediate complaints about the press conference were quickly tempered. Trump’s cleanup and turnaround yesterday (“I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t'”) had one audience: Capitol Hill.
Senior staff saw a real risk of backlash — worse than after Charlottesville — if the brewing rebellion wasn’t nipped in the bud quickly, per sources close to White House.
Be smart: Most Republican members of Congress don’t need to do anything so radical as actually believe Trump is sincere about correcting himself, Jonathan Swan points out:
They need a fig leaf so they can justify quickly returning to support their president, who is vastly more popular with Republican voters than any of them are.
P.S. Two tweets illuminate this phenomenon:
Mike Murphy, GOP strategist: “I’m furious R’s are cowardly about Trump. But here is what they say in private: 1.) Trump is a disgrace. 2.) I give fiery press conf tmmrw saying that. 3.) Nothing changes, Trump remains nuts and remains POTUS. 4.) A nut beats me in next primary. So how does my pol suicide help?”
Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report: “Most Republican members are willing to admit POTUS doesn’t operate in reality, but know they’re doomed in their next primary if they say so publicly. As long as that’s true, we’re headed for a world w/ zero accountability.”
And that’s the end-game: zero accountability. Are you numb yet?