Trump and the art of (political) war

Trump and the art of (political) war
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OK, finally, we appear to have real evidence of White House collusion with Russia … and China. It’s hiding in plain sight, in the polls, in the State of the Union message, and in the United States Congress.

Trump obviously has taken lessons from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Everyone knows that Putin is proud of his judo skills, and paramount among those skills is to let opponents defeat themselves by using their over-eager momentum to propel themselves onto the ground. Also, anyone who has studied Chinese strategists — certainly Xi is an expert — knows that one principle of warfare is too look small and strike big.

And today’s political battlefield could not be better set.

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The Democratic House is charging gleefully into “investigations” with a clear aim at impeachment. The special counsel has set huge expectations and President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE’s critics await even more momentum towards impeachment from his long-awaited report. The #Resistance has made it clear there is no room to negotiate, or even seriously discuss, major issues with the president. Giving the White House even the smallest victory is considered a huge failure for the Democrats. And the president looks like an awfully small target, polling at around a 40 percent approval rating.

Smart money is on Trump going down hard. But why do we hear loud peals of laughter coming from the White House? Could this all be some sort of political theater?

The principal players have become predictable caricatures. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Hillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment MORE (D-Calif.), the not-now, not-ever leader of Congress. The once mild-mannered but now angry Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment House Intelligence lawyer Goldman leaving committee Schiff presses top intel official to declassify part of report on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Calif.). Rep. Maxine “Impeach 45” Waters (D-Calif.). Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Bloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report Biden looks to shore up lead in SC MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE (I-Vt.), who don't understand that “Medicare for All” has been studied (the National Health Insurance Experiment) and would be, in fact, Medicare for none. Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Bloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report Warren calls for changes to presidential pardon power, pledges to create clemency board MORE (D-N.J.), who evidently did not know that the real Spartacus was the only one on the battlefield who didn’t say, “I am Spartacus.”

And, the popular, progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez cuts census ad with Lin-Manuel Miranda Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Industry group warns fracking ban could cost 7.5M jobs in US MORE (D-N.Y.) and her followers among the vast crop of Democratic contenders for president, who apparently cannot grasp that the trillions of dollars spent over the past 60 years to transform the American social landscape through civil rights, aid to the poor, expansion of the economy, energy independence and security, huge strides in environmental protection, and even exploration of space, were financed on the back of the most successful economic engine in human history — a private-sector, capitalist machine that bet on human initiative — rather than the state-driven economics and dictates for which the democratic socialists advocate.

Most Americans understand that socialist Utopian dreams usually kill the golden goose.

And so Trump ambles out alone onto the battlefield to face this huge charging mob and, like a matador, brandishes his red cape. He shouts out, “Peace in Korea!” “No socialism in America!” “Let’s move America forward!” The mob shouts in return: “No!” “Resist!” “Impeach!” as it stampedes forward. At the last minute, Trump pulls back the red cape in time for the mob to rush past, missing the target and plunging headlong over the political cliff. Putin could not have executed a better judo throw. The Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu could have not created a better battle plan.

The American political electorate always swings slightly left or right of center and looks for credible candidates who seem to represent their real concerns. After eight years of progressive domination in Washington, the electorate was ready for Trump’s populist appeal in 2016. But his subsequent behavior has set the stage for more appealing centrist Democrats to seize the White House, and possibly the Senate, in 2020.

Yet, so far, the Democrats have failed miserably, allowing Trump to appear reasonable and seize more of the middle — and “middle” means “winning.” For whatever reason, the Democrats are narrowing themselves as unreasonable socialists. As 2020 approaches, the herd of Democrats, blinded by hatred, fighting each other, running the Congress and running for president, are turning a winning strategy into a herd of lemmings running over a cliff and probably losing not only the White House, but also the Congress and Senate.

Grady Means is a writer and retired corporate strategy consultant. He was special assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller for domestic policy in the Ford White House, and was an economist and policy analyst for Secretary Elliot Richardson in the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1971-73.