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.


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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 PelosiPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Hillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality MORE (D-Calif.), the not-now, not-ever leader of Congress. The once mild-mannered but now angry Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.). Rep. Maxine “Impeach 45” Waters (D-Calif.). Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay: AP 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 BookerGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 defends Dem lawmaker who said child migrant deaths were 'intentional' On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride 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.