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The Plot against America: It’s not a Novel

Once upon a time, Charles Lindbergh was a famous person in the United States. In fact he was famous multiple times and for different reasons.

He was heroically famous for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

He was tragically famous for the kidnapping of his child.

He was politically famous for leading the largest pro-Hitler movement in the United States.

In fact, on the last item, there was considerable political discussion about his running for President. What would that have meant for America’s participation in World War II if Lindbergh had been President instead of Franklin Roosevelt?

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA – THE NOVEL

The Plot against America is a novel written in 2004 by Philip Roth exploring just such an alternate reality. In the novel, Roosevelt is denied a third term. Instead he is defeated by pro-Hitler Lindbergh on the campaign slogan of keeping America out of the war in Europe. Roth told the story mostly through the lens of his own life and family. It addresses the issues of what would happen if anti-Semitism effectively became the law of the land. So the novel is less about the war itself in Europe and more about life in the United States governed by an openly bigoted President.

In this regard, the specific details of Roth’s novel are less significant that the overall message. For example, in his book radio media star Walter Winchell opposes the sell out to the foreign power and pays a big price for his vocal opposition. By contrast today, cable star Tucker Carlson praises Putin and is revered in Russia as well as in large portions of the United States. The bigger question is what would happen if a bigoted President of the United States was submissive to a foreign adversary whom he did not consider to be an adversary at all?

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA – THE REALITY

Obviously in 2004, Roth had no idea that Donald Trump one day would become President of the United States. Like Lindbergh, Trump also had become famous in various ways. He had become famous for saving a skating rink in Central Park and for his apparent business success in prominently plastering his name on multiple glitz buildings. He had become famous for his media sex-life. He had become famous for his fake reality show slogan of “You’re fired!.”

He was not yet known at the time of the novel for his political desires. Sure he had denounced the Central Park Five in what could be considered a preview of his racism. But this was still before the time of questioning the legitimacy of the birth and college education of the Moslem candidate who became President – an accusation by someone who apparently had paid people to take his college tests and write his college papers given his limited mental necessities. It also was before the cry of “Lock her up!” by someone who later flushed, shredded, and removed documents from the White House.

So while Roth was writing about an alternate past and not an unimagined future, there still is much to be learned from his speculation.

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA – UKRAINE

At the time of this post, the United States is involved in a war between Vladimir Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the Ukraine. Putin fancies himself as a defender of orthodoxy against the decadent and corrupt West. He will reestablish the glory days of the Russian Empire. Zelensky is Jewish and the leader of a country which seeks to be part of the very West that Putin condemns. The conflict is not simply a standard battle over land between alpha-males, it is a battle between civilizations.

It is this clash between opposing ways of life that makes The Plot against America relevant. Here in America, there are many people who share Putin’s antipathy towards western values. To stress the Jewish identity of the Ukrainian leader will only alienate these Americans to the Ukrainian cause. In time they will link Zelensky to George Soros, claim the suffering Ukrainians are actors, and the supposed damage is special effects by the same people who faked the moon landing and left Matt Damon on Mars. We know that the relatives of Ukrainians in Russia do not believe the words of their relatives about what has been happening in the Ukraine. Instead they believe what they have been seeing on the Russian Foxhub station complete with Tucker Carlson commentary. Roth’s alternate reality was confined to his novel; Putin’s alternate reality is that it is happening in the real world with a receptive audience in both Russia and the United States.

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA – JANUARY 6

Here is America we already have an alternate reality that is believed to be real by tens of millions of people – January 6 was a peaceful demonstration by patriotic Americans engaged in legitimate political discourse attempting to save the country from a stolen election. It is doubtful that even a novelist like Roth could have imagined such a scenario. It is doubtful any American on January 7 could have imagine such a scenario either. Yet here we are over two years and exactly such a scenario is fervently believed by millions who cannot under any circumstances be convinced that such an alternate reality is not in fact real.

Since these people actually do live in the real world and can vote in American elections, there is a real possibility that their alternate reality view will prevail. In the real world we could again have a President who is submissive to a foreign adversary but now in much more dire circumstances than in the previous administration.

Let’s recap the situation.

The President of the United States attempts to overthrow the Constitution and suffers no consequences for it.

That former President makes it a litmus test for candidates in his party that they accept this Big Lie.

Many candidates for election in 2022 openly claim that the election was stolen.

Congressional representatives who opposed the Big Lie have chosen not to run or are being primaried.

After the 2022 elections, the party in power in the House and maybe the Senate accept as true that the election was stolen.

After the 2024 elections, the President of the United States may support Putin in the war and not Zelensky assuming his is even still alive. After all, in his mind Putin is a genius who for $2 gained a country and got rid of the Ukrainian leader who would not do the American leader a favor.

At that point, Roth’s novel will no longer be a novel; it will have become fulfilled science fiction prophecy worthy of George Orwell where only names have been changed. In the novel, the head of the Fifth Column becomes President in a fictional world. In the real world, the head of one of America’s major parties leads the Fifth Column into the White House as he said he would lead the insurrectionists into the Capitol on January 6.

Putin’s COVID War: Facing His Mortality

Putin's strawberries (Reuters / Centers for Disease Control)

Why now? Why invade the Ukraine now? The previous post (Putin’s Last Rodeo: It’s Now or Never) explored his rationale for the invasion, such as there is one. The issue here is why did Putin choose this particular moment to act on that rationale no matter how farfetched and delusional it may appear to be?

Here we may have been misled by the Hollywood image of our Russian adversary. In the movies 007 always confronts a highly rational and disciplined foe with clear-cut objectives. We see the KGB operative as coolly collected. Move and counter move. Three dimensional chess. A battle of wits.

The model seems to be derailed in the current crisis. If one examined the invasion rationally, on paper, Putin could have chosen better.

RUSSIAN ASSET AMERICAN PRESIDENT

On paper, the most opportune time for Putin to invade the Ukraine occurred when the American President was a Russian asset. Drawing on the analysis of niece Mary Trump, it is easy to put the Putin-Trump dynamic in family terms that do not reflect well on the immature child president craving alpha-male approval. As I wrote (Putin’s Pence: What Does He Get from the Relationship?):

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize that he didn’t need to put the alpha male wannabee on the Russian payroll? Putin’s Pence would be a Russian asset all on his own, so pathetic was the American President’s need for Putin’s approval. The alpha male dominated the child inside the body of an adult.

On Putin’s side, it is relatively easy to determine what he gets or wants from his relationship with his American asset.

End of the sanctions
Restoration of the G8
Approval for the invasion of the Ukraine
Approval for Russia’s actions abroad including in Afghanistan, Africa, Libya, and Syria
Permission to violate the American elections in 2020 as he did in 2016
Approval for invading the Baltics should he decide to do so.

Historians analyzing this invasion will have easy points of comparison between the previous administration when Putin did not invade and the current one when he did.

The Russian-asset President would have praised the invasion as a work of genius.
The Russian-asset President would not have sanctioned Putin or the oligarchs – They are his customers.
The Russian-asset President would not have sent arms to a country that did not do him a favor – He resisted sending the arms he was legally obligated to send anyway.
The Russian-asset President would not have organized a global alliance against Russia – He spent his administration undermining NATO.

I suspect that the secret closed-door meetings included discussions about invasions.

In short, the ideal time for Putin to have invaded the Ukraine was in the previous administration. Yet he did not do it. That attests that cool calm reasoning by a mastermind was not a factor in this invasion. Other considerations are relevant.

DOES PUTIN GET HIS BIDEN INFORMATION FROM FOXHUB?

For several years, Foxhub has disseminated a consistent portrayal of Joe Biden. If he was not already dead, then he was on the verge of death. If he was awake then it was only for a few moments before he went back to sleep. If he spoke it was nonsense babble.

Foxhub and the Trumpican-media apparatus was persistent in presenting Joe Biden as too weak for the job … especially in contrast with President Rambo, the most masculine President in American history. And then there was the Afghanistan withdrawal.

We know how popular Foxhub is in Russia. It is quite possible that Putin drank the Kool Aid and sees Biden as a weak figure whom he could dominate. If so he erred.

This mistake in judgement was not Putin’s only error.

He appears to have misjudged the Ukrainian reaction to the prospect of being freed by their Russian brothers. They were supposed to welcome the Russians. He did not anticipate the exponential growth in Ukrainian nationalism as directly result of his invasion.

He appears to have no long term plan for the occupation of the Ukraine once (if?) his military imposes Russian rule on the country. How exactly does he plan to govern the country? If his presumption of a welcome was in error, then his failure to anticipate the challenge of governing compounds that error. He did not think this through in part due to his false assumption that the Ukrainians were supposed to be happy about being liberated. Did he create his own Afghanistan?

He appears to have misjudged the reaction of the Russian people. Why are they attacking and killing their literal brothers and sisters given the intermarriages? Even with his control of the media, Putin’s explanations seem farfetched to many Russians … especially those with access to non-Russian news sources.

He appears to have misjudged how much the Russian people also see themselves as part of the West just as the Ukrainians do. Russian athletes, Russian artists, Russian oligarchs and their children are all used to travelling in the West and buying goods there. Western soft power should not be underestimated in either Russia or the Ukraine. The simple-minded former American President who equated taking over a country with $2 of sanctions missed the mark too. Not only has Putin accelerated the development of Ukrainian nationalism, he is bringing to the surface the Russian desire to part of the West (and not a vassal to China) too. He seems to forget that his hero Peter the Great opened Russia to the West.

PUTIN’S STATE OF MIND

The terms commentators are using to describe Putin’s state of mind are truly frightening. He is unhinged. He is delusional. He is isolated. He is isolated. He is isolated.

By now, Westerners have seen the strange table meeting between Putin and Macron. We are aware of the seven-hour in advance appearance demanded in exchange for a photo-op with Russian doctors and not French doctors administering the required testing. We are aware of Putin’s public putdown of his own spy chief. He sure seems to be behaving more like Donald Trump than Joe Biden!

As to the cause of this aberrant behavior, may I suggest that COVID has caused Putin to confront his own mortality and failure to achieve his life goals? The virus has not been kind to Russia. The vaccination prowess of the country is suspect.

The result has been a leader who has erected a ring of barriers to separate himself from direct human contact. True he is an aging dictator as commentators have pointed, but his behavior suggests special circumstances. He is deathly afraid of catching the disease and succumbing to it. He is taking every precaution he can to minimize the possibility of this premature death. It is as if he is watching the sands of his lifetime continually dripping down leaving with little time left to make his mark in history as he understands it. One commentator compared Putin to Captain Queeg and his strawberries. How do you think he will react if the war drags on and he cannot even claim victory? The longer the war lasts the more his grip on reality will be tested. How will the Russian oligarchs, the Russian military, and the Russian people react then?

Putin’s Last Rodeo: It’s Now or Never

If Putin stops there, he wins; if he continues ... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_Czechoslovakia)

Vladimir Putin is 68 years old.

He is closer to the end of his reign in Russia than to his beginning.

He has ruled Russia this entire century.

He has ruled Russia this entire millennium.

What does he have to show for his rule in history?

One area of agreement in the effort to predict what will happen in the Ukraine is that one and only individual is the decision maker.  Learned people and experts have filled the airwaves and websites with their prognostications. All of the points they raise are no more than ivory tower debating points. But the situation is not an academic one where the outcome can be determined by reasoned discussion, aka “negotiations.”

What is being overlooked or minimized in the plethora of analyses is the recognition that the current crisis is solely one Putin’s choosing. No Archduke has been assassinated. No ship Maine has been exploded. No missiles have been surreptitiously snuck onto an island a mere 90 miles from America. Nothing has occurred which could have triggered the encircling and invading of the Ukraine with a huge proportion of the entire Russian military. The catalyst for the event is solely in the mind of its instigator. Putin launched this threat solely because he needed to.

Putin famously has asserted that:

First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. 

The century he meant was the 20th century and not the 21st when he spoke these words. The idea that one could have a rational debate on the merits of this claim is preposterous. It is what he believes and will believe until his dying day. And even though he named the Soviet Union, he was not bemoaning the collapse of communism. Quite the country, just as Stalin called upon his people to fight for Mother Russia in the darkest days of World War II, so Putin was referring to Russia, the Russia that seemingly was the co-equal with the United States in the battle for world supremacy.

Russia today is a hollow shell of what it once was. True it has a nuclear arsenal second only to the United States and still more than China. But it has no ideology that even can provide a fig leaf to its global ambitions. It has no economic success story that it can proclaim to the world. Its only world class achievements seem to be in hacking, the military, and drugged athletes.

Putin’s concern is Russia’s role in human history and his personal prowess in making that claim real. From the Middle East to Africa to Latin America, Putin is extending Russia’s limited resources in the effort to be recognized as a giant astride the globe as China has done. Russia lacks the economic resources to compete at that level but still it tries.

So if the demise of the Russian empire was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century, what does Putin have to show for having reversed it, for having undone the havoc foisted upon the Russian people? In his 2005 speech, Putin then went on to say:

As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.

Not only was the Russian empire no more, Russia did not even rule all the Russian people. So many of them were beyond the borders of what was left of Russia.

In this context, Putin’s goals are clear. At minimum, before he dies or his forced to leave office, he wants his legacy to be that at least he put Humpty Dumpty back together again for the Russian people. He wants those people beyond the fringes of Russian territory to be part of Russian rule even if they are in separate countries. It is one thing for Moslems to be separate from Russia; it is quite another for God-fearing Orthodox Russians to be beyond the pale.

Eastern Ukraine is not the Sudetenland. Putin’s dominance of this Russian-speaking area beyond Russia’s borders is not a prelude to a larger campaign to seize non-Russian empire lands in Europe and to dominate a continent. There has been no invasion from the Russian perspective because the lands have declared their independence so how can the United States claim otherwise? Russia is not invading the foreign country of the Ukraine, he is assisting the independent countries formerly dominated by the Ukraine in their quest for independence. Whether this ploy makes him a genius or not is a separate issue.

For Putin, it is now or never. It is time for him to stamp his legacy in Russian history. His Russia will rule Russian-speaking people. We have seen Yugoslavia dissolve into its constituent parts. We have seen Czechoslovakia divide into its constituent parts. We have seen the ongoing debate in the United Kingdom about both Scotland and Northern Island. We have watched Sudan split.

We know that many countries in the United Nations are lines on a map and not real national entities. Libya. Syria. Iraq/Kuwait/Kurds. If Putin is willing to stop at Russian-speaking people to affirm his place in history, then he holds the winning hand in the current Ukraine crisis. If he seeks not just the Russian-speaking portions of the Ukraine but the entire country, then events on the ground may spiral out of control, the circumstances are more dire for both him and the world. We should know in a few hours which way he will go.

 

P.S. The assertion by the alpha-male wannabe that Putin is a genius is exactly what he should have been expected to say. The hope that it will be the straw that breaks the Trumpican’s camel’s back is a forlorn one. The new Congress may very well favor Putin over NATO just as Trumpicans prefer Lee to Lincoln and support the overthrow of the Constitution.

Putin’s Pence: What Does He Get from the Relationship?

THE DONALD and "Fred Trump" (courtesy https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com)

A Question That Won’t Go Away: Why Does Trump Love Putin So Much?

Following the news that Russia put a bounty on US troops, this old puzzle takes on new significance.

David Corn (June 29, 2020)

What does Putin’s Pence get from his relationship with Vladimir Putin? Everything is transactional. It’s all about the deal. Therefore it should be possible to determine what the American President gets in exchange for being submissive to the leader of America’s adversary.

WHAT DOES PUTIN GET?

On Putin’s side, it is relatively easy to determine what he gets or wants from his relationship with his American asset.

End of the sanctions
Restoration of the G8
Approval for the invasion of the Ukraine
Approval for Russia’s actions abroad including in Afghanistan, Africa, Libya, and Syria
Permission to violate the American elections in 2020 as he did in 2016
Approval for invading the Baltics should he decide to do so.

Plus whatever other actions Putin is doing or decides to do which a normal American President would oppose.

WHAT DOES PUTIN HAVE ON HIS PENCE?

In general, there is an assumption that Putin must have something on his Pence. In other words, the reason for the subordinate behavior is due to the risk of exposure or the withholding of some action that his Pence desires. While I do not agree with this assessment, it is worthwhile reviewing the potential areas of blackmail which have been identified.

1. Compromising Pictures

There has been an ongoing fascination over what happened when THE DONALD had the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. At that time, he tweeted:

Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend? 11:17 PM · Jun 18, 2013

Strange tweet to be sure. It has led to investigations into what really happened. For example:

When Donald Trump brought Miss Universe to Moscow by Michael Crowley 5/15/16

Trump in Moscow: what happened at Miss Universe in 2013 by Jon Swaine in New York and Shaun Walker in Moscow (9/18/17)

Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit by Jeffrey Toobin (2/26/18).

Something had to have happened in the swirl of money, media, and babes. How could it not have? Even if there was some skullduggery in the selection of the winning contestant and/or the finances of the pageant, could that have been enough to turn the American President into Putin’s Pence?

Besides money and manipulation, could there have been compromising pictures that THE DONALD would do anything to keep secret just as he doing with his taxes?  Titillating as the idea is, the answer seems to be “no.” Let’s put the 2013 pageant in historical perspective.

2005 January 22 marriage to Melania
2005 September, Access Hollywood tape: claims he’s still got it
2006 March 20 birth of Barron
2006 Stormy Daniels, one night stand
2006 Karen McDougal, possible next wife

As best I know between 2006 and 2013, there are no allegations of grabbing, harassment, one-night stands, or affairs. What happened? At some point did THE DONALD simply cease performing as THE DONALD? I am not familiar with any reporting on why the change in behavior occurred or when. However the cessation of even specific accusations against him leads me to believe that for whatever reason, he was a different person in his sixties than he had been earlier. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that the idea of compromising pictures is wishful thinking

2. Trump Tower

The desire to build a Trump Tower in Moscow certainly was a pre-presidential goal. Is it still one? Whatever backroom maneuverings he undertook to secure approval probably weren’t that different from the way he was used to wheeling and dealing in the New York real estate market. The differences were in location and the government involved. It’s hard to imagine that he is subservient to Putin simply in the hopes of being able to build a Trump Tower in Moscow after he is no longer President.

WHAT DOES THE CHILD IN THE BODY OF A MAN GET FROM ALPHA MALE PUTIN?

Thanks to some recent reporting by Carl Bernstein and a book by Mary Trump it is possible to better document what was known and/or suspected all along.

Mary Trump describes the child in the body of a man as coming from a truly dysfunctional family. Fred Trump’s racism evidence in KKK associations and his rental practices are nothing new. The anti-Semitism may be a bit of a surprise given his daughter’s conversion and his support of Israel, but it is consistent with his stereotype of Jews.

What’s new is the extent to which Fred Trump was a person with serious psychological problems and to which they extended to his son. Not to repeat what she has written and said in interviews, but the atmosphere in that home must have been suffocating. One son was driven to alcoholism and died early. By contrast, THE DONALD figured out a way to survive and thrive under those conditions. As Mary Trump describes it, he carried that dysfunctionality with him all of his life. One might note that he added his own shortcomings to the mix.

Future biographers will have a field day trying to determine what was nature and what was nurture (or its absence) in the upbringing of the child. Mary Trump says he has he emotional maturity of a three-year old.  But that doesn’t explain why he has the mental necessities and cognitive skills of an immature child. Being emotionally immature doesn’t explain the inability to read a briefing book or need someone to take the SATs. Mary Trump suspects a learning disorder but he may just have a child’s brain that is incapable of functioning at the adult level.

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize these shortcomings?

Mary Trump writes of his uncle as the “court jester from Queens.”  She mocks his inability to succeed in business without his father’s help. One might add that after Fred’s death, the Russian mob filled in the financial gap. Mary Trump writes of the tension between the dependent son in the real world with image of THE DONALD he wanted to be real. She claims his bragging and false bravado were really directed towards his long-dead father: Look at me! I made it! Look how tough I am! Look how I beat up on women! Aren’t I a real man!!?

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize that Little Donne Waney was an alpha male wannabee and not the real thing?

Mary Trump asserts that her uncle was trained to hunger endlessly for daddy’s approval. Now she claims that father has been replaced by father figures who remind him of his real father, father figures like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. Once Kim Jong-un was little rocket man and THE DONALD bragged of having a bigger rocket and button. Then they became “lovers.” Who knows what they are now. But Jong-un is a son who succeeded in his father’s business.

Putin is the number one alpha male on the world stage. People who observe Putin and his Pence together readily ascertain which one is the dominant male and which one is subservient. Bernstein writes: “Putin ‘just outplays’ him.” The alpha male wannabee is focused on building himself into a macho-macho man who Putin will respect. And it was always about him, never about the United States, its allies, or being leader of the free world.

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize that he didn’t need to put the alpha male wannabee on the Russian payroll? Putin’s Pence would be a Russian asset all on his own, so pathetic was the American President’s need for Putin’s approval. The alpha male dominated the child inside the body of an adult.

The three-year old will never grow up.  He will yell at governors for being weak. He will demand that they dominate the protesters. He will insist they not be losers. Then he will show them the way by dominating Lafayette Square as no President in American history ever has done. Wouldn’t Fred be proud of his son’s success?

Putin undoubtedly realizes that the time of his Pence as President may be nearing an end. He can read briefing reports. Putin’s window of opportunity for exploiting the complicit President is closing. What will he do before his Pence leaves office? Will he seek a final hurrah when he knows the United States will not respond? Invade the Baltics? Given the weaknesses of his own country, there may be limits to what he can do. When all is said and done, this brief interlude when his Pence presided over the United States may be remembered as the time when an immature child in the body of an adult desperate for the approval of his dominating father tried to the best of his ability to help make Russia great again.

Putin Declares Candidacy for 2020: “Make Russia Great Again”

Little Donee Waney will never be a macho macho man

Vladimir Putin declared his candidacy for the American Presidential elections in 2020. His campaign theme is “Make Russia Great Again.” He is running for re-election in 2020 based on his success in his first administration. Putin cited as examples of his triumphs:

  1. the destabilization of NATO
  2. the destabilization of the American-European alliance
  3. the destabilization of the United States
  4. filling the vacuum left by the United States in Syria
  5. filling the vacuum left by the United States in Africa
  6. making the United States an unreliable ally who will only provide assistance if compensated
  7. the abandonment by the United States of its leadership position in the world
  8. the abandonment by the United States of its view of being a “city on a hill” and American Exceptionalism.
The Shining City on a Hill: Commentary on Reagan by Bryan Caplan
Quarantined

Putin champions the “American Alone” approach where the United States has no allies, provides no leadership, and takes no action. He is not there yet but he has made remarkable progress during his first term and is dedicated to completing the job in the second.

Open items include:

1. removal of the sanctions
2. occupation of the Baltics
3. return to the G-7
4. the withdrawal of the United States from the global arena except when it suits Putin’s purposes.

Despite having a weak hand, Putin has played it remarkably well. I do not mean to suggest that he has some carefully developed highly detailed plan worthy of a spy novel or a Hollywood movie. But he has stumbled into opportunities and taken advantage of them. So even with a second-tier economy he strides the world as if he is as significant a threat to the world order as mainland China is. At some point the gig will be up and he may even face a Russian spring. In the meantime, he can take advantage of the opportunities presented him by a weak America.

Putin foreshadowed his campaign platform in an op-ed piece “A Plea for Caution From Russia” in the New York Times printed September 12, 2013.  He wrote:

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.

His candidacy is based on opposition to Obama, opposition to American Exceptionalism, and opposition to America thinking it is better than everyone else.

Putin is well aware that since he is not a native American, he cannot appear on the ballot. Technically, he cannot run for President of the United States. Therefore it is necessary for him to govern through someone who is eligible to be President but who will be submissive to him. In 2016, Putin was strongly against the Democratic candidate. Her “John McCain, Republican” attitude towards Russia was completely unacceptable to Putin. She was a threat to him politically and economically given the wealth he had accumulated running an oil-and-gas kleptocracy. While he knew little about her opponent, obviously he was not a “John McCain Republican.” Far from posing a threat to him, Putin soon learned that he was desperate to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. This person was someone Putin could work with.

Everything that has happened since then has only confirmed the unexpected bonus of the Trump presidency to the “Make Russia Great Again” theme that defines Putin’s agenda. It did not take long for skilled KGB agent to get the measure of the man, or rather the immature child, after meeting with him. Putin quickly realized that his American counterpart was a passive, ignorant, simpleminded child who could be manipulated to fulfill Putin’s “Make Russia Great Again” agenda.

How hard is to figure out that Putin is doing a superb job of dominating the weeny child desperate to be a macho macho man? Think of the real photograph of Putin riding a horse bare-chested compared to the weeny faking a photoshopped “Rocky” body. Bonespur boy loves to play with his soldiers, “win” rigged professional wrestling matches, insult people, and champion Hollywood-cast SEALs. He especially loves being a bully. Putin is well aware that Bonespur boy will never go into the arena in the real world. No matter how many times Little Donee Waney plays YMCA, he will never be a macho macho man in the real world.

His shortcomings as a man are hardly a secret. An American letter-writer to The New York Times wrote:

President Trump is Vladimir Putin’s patsy. Blinded by a compulsion to become the first American oligarch, Mr. Trump cannot see how expertly he is being played. The American president struts around attacking those he perceives as weak. Yet it is the bully who is vulnerable….

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin, the master manipulator, knows a bully’s ways and sees how he can exploit Mr. Trump’s desire to be an omnipotent ruler like himself.

While this Texan does not realize Little Donee Waney is an immature child, she is spot on in her assessment of the Putin-Trump dynamic. Is there anyone in the American intelligence services who lacks the mental necessities to have figured out what this ordinary American knows? How stupid a human being would you have to be not to know that Putin is the dominant male in the relationship?

In fact, Putin, himself, may have been astonishingly surprised at how easy it has been to manipulate the American President. The Ukrainian maneuver will be remembered as one of the great deceptions in American-Russian relations. Putin undoubtedly knew that Little Donee Waney would fall for this concoction. But he probably never anticipated how far the “Chosen One” was willing to go to act on this non-existent conspiracy. The subsequent wild goose chase led to Russia’s most valuable American asset being impeached. Surely that can be what Putin had in mind when he fed this bull-trump to the American President.

Still the Ukrainian maneuver has proved that Putin could control Congress through the simpleminded President. At least the Trumpican members. How long did it take for Congressional Trumpicans to start babbling about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections? Historians will compare the John Kennedy of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the John Kennedy who recites Russian talking points and wonder what happened to America. Remember when Fox angrily asserted the need for “due process” in the kangaroo-court so-called impeachment hearings sham? Yet what evidence did it take to convince Fox of the Ukrainian involvement in 2016?

Putin’s dominance extends then into the American people…or at least those who accept his Pence as their lord and savior. The polls showing that Trumpicans prefer him to Abraham Lincoln as the better president testifies to the complete subjugation of the Trumpicans. It also shows that that there is a residue of Republicans left in the Confederate-dominated party. Fortunately for the Trumpicans, the Democrats have no interest in reaching out to the Lincoln-admiring Republicans. If the Democrats had an alternative for whom Lincoln Republicans could vote, the 2020 election would be a Democratic landslide by even more than 306 Electoral College votes.

In the meantime, in the 2020 elections all roads lead to Putin, especially Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

P.S. In less than a week, Duped-by-Russia Hannity’s wait will be over and the Deep State, scared for its life, will be running for cover.

Making Russia Great Again

"You the Man!" Trump honored to be in the presence of alpha-male Putin (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty)

“We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’ You’ve heard this one. You’ll say ‘Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don’t want to win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’” Vladimir Putin said. “And I’m going to say ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning, We’re going to make Russia  great again.”

Russia is on a roll. Despite limited economic resources, it is moving ahead to disrupt the Western Alliance and the United States. Where it can divide peoples, it does so. Where it can fill a void, it does so. Where it can reap the benefits from the America Alone policy, it does so.

Recently Putin’s Pence handed Russia a win. The sudden and abrupt withdrawal of the United States from Syria was an unexpected gift. Putin could not even take credit for it. He could not claim to have initiated the sequence of events that led to this victory. Out of nowhere, alpha male Erdogan in a phone call to the submissive child president of the United of the States suggested that it was time for America to go home and let Turkey take care of business. He readily agreed to the surprise of everyone who was an ally or enemy of the United States.

Let’s look at what this strategically brilliant, dare one say “perfect,” decision led to.

American allies know they cannot rely on America anymore

Roger Cohen: “Europeans now shrug when they don’t laugh. The consensus is that the United States has lost. There is nobody home.” (Trump’s Gut, and the Gutting of American Credibility, NYT 10/19/19, print).

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, former Iraqi national security advisor: “This guy is all emotional. It is unpredictable….For Americans, their friends are disposable. The Americans, you look for them and they look for the closest exit. You turn around and you don’t find them.” (“Policy Zigzags by Trump Put Mideast in Fog,” NYT 10/13/19, print).

Shimrit Meir, Israeli columnist: “If you are someone that is a rival on the other side ⸺ you’re Iranian, Russian, Turkish, ISIS, Hezbollah ⸺ you understand that this is a time for gain.” (“Policy Zigzags by Trump Put Mideast in Fog,” NYT 10/13/19, print).

Who is the reliable partner to whom countries should turn? Who is it who touts its stability and consistency over the years?  As America bombs its own military facilities before the Russians can occupy them, who is exulting? Besides the Russians there are others.

Now, let’s consider what Putin has done and gauge whether he has overplayed his hand. I am not referring to his ventures into Africa. Trumphole countries that do not want to be vassals of China cannot turn to the United States for assistance. This bigoted President has no interest in them not even to build a resort. He will accept no refugees from them since the United States is full up…and he does not want any immigrants either. The result is void for Putin to fill. And he gets to test the disinformation techniques he will use in the 2020 elections.

Instead, I am referring to the Ukraine. As I previously stated, What Do Seth Rich and the Ukraine Have in Common? Answer: Sean Hannity, Putin’s tried and true tactic to discombobulate America is to give people what they want so they can make a mess of it.

It worked with the Seth Rich story on Flying Monkey Sean Hannity.

It worked with the Steele Dossier for the Democrats. The disruption still has not ceased after the Mueller report. Secret testimony now disclosed is shedding more light on the activities within the Trump campaign and White House on what they did. Meanwhile Flying Monkey Bill Barred-for-Life is traveling the globe seeking to indict the Deep State in part as a result of the Steel Dossier.

It probably worked with some voters when exposed to social media telling them exactly what they wanted.

It worked with the Ukraine.

Did it work too well? Putin advanced on three fronts in the Ukraine. First, it was the Ukraine and not Russia which interfered in the 2016 election. That initiative commenced in 2016 though the manipulation of Paul Manafort. Recall the press conference where the two national leaders joked about whether the Russians had violated the United States. Now we know that not only did Putin say “no,” but he steered the gullible American President towards the “true violator” that even the American intelligence services had yet to discover: it was the Ukraine.

The second Putin ploy was that the Ukraine had the infamous server that the longtime-Democrat-and-Clinton-supporter now pretending to be a Republican sought. We are beginning to be able to see how much he really wanted to locate those 33,000 emails. Somehow all Duped-by-Russia Hannity’s tirades about how crooked Hillary had acid washed the server and destroyed the emails was ignored. They had not been scrubbed, they were in the Ukraine! What a perfect example of the child-mind at work. And this is the very stable genius who is steering the ship of state.

The third Putin ploy is that Joe Biden and son were involved in a corruption scandal just waiting to be exposed. Unearthing this scandal would make Ridiculous Ruddy, attack mutt, the hero as he once had been after 9/11. His discovery of the reality of what originated as a figment of Putin’s mind would validate Ridiculous Ruddy’s shallow life. Clearly Putin knows how to play the conspiracy-minded President.

In each instance, Putin was providing the exact false story that the mark would eagerly embrace. But the results in the Ukraine maneuver may not be to Putin’s liking. The would-be hero is now facing potential indictment. His assorted cast of lowlife associates may now be ready to spill the beans. Never-Trumper and Deep-State operative Sondland posing as an ambassador-buying Trump-donor may now be ready to tell the truth and expose the abuse of power, cover-up, and obstruction even more: Of course, it was a quid pro quo. Get real. Sondland thought he was purchasing a nice cushy job where he could enjoy the good life in Europe. Little did he know how the Trump State operates. He apparently wants no part of it. Would that Vice President Brown Nose reach a similar epiphany! (Will Mike Pence Become a Profile in Courage?  so Nancy Pelosi won’t become President?)

Impeachment was the consequence Putin did not factor into his Ukrainian subterfuge. True if the red wave had not been successful in the 2018 elections in drowning House Republican candidates, impeachment never would have happened. Unfortunately for Putin, the Democrats now are in charge in the House and Putin’s most valuable asset in the United States is now at risk. Even though Putin will not lose his Pence though Senate removal, it is quite possible that a majority of Senate will vote for removal. The American people will see that the President of the United States exploits the power of the presidency for personal gain, lies about, and orders people to obstruct justice. Fortunately for Putin, Trumpicans do not care what this President did or did not do as long as he remains in office fighting for them. Putin has played weak hand well exploiting the submissiveness of the simpleminded immature child President but he may have overreached with the Ukraine since the United States may still be governed by the Constitution.

What Do Seth Rich and the Ukraine Have in Common? Answer: Sean Hannity

A beautiful mind can connect dots that do not even exist (https://i.imgflip.com/2fg4dr.jpg)

Sean Hannity has a beautiful mind. His skill in connecting the dots is unrivaled. If there was a Nobel Prize for connecting the dots, he would be the winner.

Who can forget his performance in the Story of Seth Rich? Night after night, week after week, month after month, duped-by-Russia Hannity would regale his rapt audience with the story of how this murdered individual that no one had ever heard of was the critical lynch-pin to exposing the evil shenanigans of the Democrats and the Deep State to undo the legitimately-elected President.

In his performance, duped-by-Russia Hannity was insistent, consistent, and persistent. In the time Rachel Maddow would have spent on one of her long opening essays before getting to the point, duped-by-Russia Hannity would have delivered his message multiple times. All the pieces fit together. All the dots were connected. Buckle up and hear the truth.

There was only one slight problem with duped-by-Russia Hannity’s performance – there was no truth to it. The unfortunate murder of this individual who happened to have worked for the Democratic Party was one of the chance events that sometimes occur in the big city. It was not part of some Jason-Bourne-007-Jack-Clancy intrigue….unless you wanted it to be.

Russia wanted it to be. Give credit where credit is due. The Russian “KGB” quickly seized on this seeming minor event and made it into a political thriller. According to the “real story,” Seth Rich was on his way to talk to the FBI about corruption by the Clintons when he was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for them. It was right there on the web. You could read it for yourself. The alt-right did. So did Fox. What was the source of the story? The Russian “KGB.”  Fox had been duped.

What are the lessons to be learned from this experience?

1. The Russian “KGB” is very good. It responded very quickly and very decisively to concoct a story and to disseminate it on the web. It “proved” that the alleged Russian collusion was really Democratic Party dirty tricks led by Crooked Hillary. These actions demonstrated a familiarity with the American political arena, the willingness to act in it surreptitiously, and the skill to do so successfully.

2. It also demonstrated a technique that the Russians would use again and again to meddle in American politics. It succeeded in duping Hannity because it gave him exactly what he wanted. The Russians knew their audience. They crafted a story that appealed to the conspiracy people eager for a story that confirmed all there predispositions. The Seth Rich story did exactly that.

So why not use that approach again?

The Russians did with the Steele Dossier. That really had originated as a Democratic-funded initiative to get dirt on the Republican opponent. In effect, the Democratic Party had broadcast exactly what it wanted. The effort made clear it was looking for precisely the kind of information that would undermine the political prospects of the Republican candidate.

Guess what the Democrats got in the Steele Dossier?

The Steele Dossier provided the Democrats with exactly the information they wanted. The Steele Dossier was nothing if not dirt on THE DONALD. If the allegations made in the Steele Dossier were true, they would be more than embarrassing, they might even prove fatal. Now the Democrats had been duped.  How much time was spent on the elusive and illusory meeting in Prague? And what about Carter Page?

The Democrats had been played by the Russian “KGB” just as the alt-right, Fox, and duped-by-Russia Hannity had been. Remember how Democrats were practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation of a great victory by destroying THE DONALD thanks to the Steele Dossier. How did that work out? Not so well for the Democrats. As it turns out, they were just as eager to believe what they wanted to believe as duped-by-Russia Hannity was.

The Russians were not done. Why not try offering dirt to THE DONALD on Crooked Hillary? We do not know what “dirt” the Russian “KGB” had manufactured in this effort. It does not seem to have amounted to much. But the words of the son who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer says it all: “I love it!” Although this particular gambit failed, it highlighted the validity of the Russian effort to manipulate the American election: give the people what they want and they will run with it even when there is no truth to it whatsoever.

The Ukraine is the final example of this approach…at least so far. The Ukraine maneuver suits Putin’s needs. It assigns the blame for the intervention into the American Presidential election to his enemy the Ukrainians. Therefore the sanctions levied against Russia should be removed and Russia should be restored to its rightful place in the world just as his American asset has been trying to do. The Ukrainian ploy solves the problems of both leaders. It legitimizes the election of the current present and gets the Russian leader off the hook. All the problems are due to the Ukrainians. Seth Rich lives. The Steele Dossier is accurate. The Americans have been played.

Putin was a former KGB agent. How long do you think it took him size up THE DONALD? How long did it take the alpha male to recognize that the immature-child American President was a submissive, simpleminded, ignoramus? If your answer was more than a nano-nano second, then you are not fit to write about American politics and should never be invited as a talking head on a TV or radio show.  Putin does not watch Fox, he dupes Fox. He quickly realized that the weak, superficial, narcissist was a person he could manipulate. Russia did not intervene in the American election, it was the Ukraine.

There are consequences to being the victim of the Putin’s ploys. For Fox, it is being sued by the Rich family. For the Democrats, it was following a bogus trail and undermining the Mueller report. For THE DONALD it was being impeached and watching his whole stack of lies being undone. The drones used to bomb the Saudi oilfields did not cost much. Neither did Russia have to spend much to totally disrupt the American political process. Who knew it would be that easy?

Hotspur versus Bonespur: Having the Right Stuff to Go in the Arena

Statue of Henry Percy "Hotspur" 1364-1403” Alnwick Castle (tripadvisor.com)

According to the Constitution, the American President is designated with one specific task: to serve as commander in-chief. In the 20th century, the title was expanded in the popular culture to include “commander in-chief and leader of the free world.” The expansion was due to America’s role in World War I, World War II, and World War III (the Cold War). We were on the winning side in all three wars and had a leading role in those victories. The abandonment of that role by the current President will be the subject of another post.

The phrase “in the arena” comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt on April 23, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

One famous example of a story of a person going into the arena consistent with the popular image did not actually err again and again but proved quite successful against all odds. The story of David and Goliath has become part of the vocabulary in the American culture. Closer to home, another figure did go into the arena again and again, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. Rocky has become a mythic figure in the American Civil Religion. His iconic image has become a tourist site at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In America, even ordinary citizens can attain the heights once reserved for the kings.

The phrase “the right stuff” comes from a book by Tom Wolfe with that title. It later became a movie with the same title. It refers to the military pilots in Project Mercury when America began its journey to fulfill a presidential challenge to have a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Mission accomplished.

Together these terms and images call upon the American President and the American citizen to reach for the stars, to fulfill the American Dream, and in this instance at least, to risk one’s life to do so.

How does President Bonespurs measure up against this standard?

Unlike John Kerry and John McCain but like William Jefferson Clinton, President Bonespurs did not serve. As always, he has not told the truth when referring to this event in his life.

His first real experience of going into the arena was not even a real event at all. It occurred in the professional wrestling arena, still his favorite venue. Here he followed a scripted sequence and faked having the right stuff to go into the arena in the real world. Thus his combat experience is as fake as his hair.

His second experience going into the arena occurred during the second presidential debate in 2016 (Predator in Chief, Our Lady of Perpetual Victimhood: A Presidential Election Retrospective). In this competition he was pitted against the champion of the opposing political party. If you heard the encounter on the radio, then you probably would conclude that the Democrat won the war of words on the debate stage. Democrats frequently conclude that their side won and that mistake contributed to their defeat in the election.

Simultaneously with the debate “war of words,” a second confrontation occurred. This was the reality game “Survivor.” In this battle, the fight is not with words. Instead, it is a physical struggle. During the Presidential “Survivor,” a large male predator stalked his smaller female victim. As he prowled the stage, he marked his turf and asserted his dominion over this domain. People who watched THE DONALD in action came away thinking that he was the real deal. They still have not caught on that THE DONALD is an act, a persona Little Donnee-Wanee developed precisely for the purpose of conning people into thinking he had the right stuff to go into the arena.

Later the Democratic victim acknowledged her mistake in again being the victim as she had been for decades. Democratic observers took her to task for not standing up to the predator and putting him in his place. Unfortunately for the Democrats it was too late. Even to this very day, there are still people, especially Republicans, who think THE DONALD is not only a successful fighter but a real one…even as he cannot say “You’re fired” in person face-to-face and hides behind tweets instead.

His third experience occurred on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, in a press conference with Vladimir Putin (Putin and the American President: Who Has the Right Stuff to Go into the Arena?). He can now legitimately claim to have participated in the most humiliating summit with a Soviet/Russian leader in American history. Under ordinary circumstances such a pathetic performance would doom a president. He came across less manly than Dukakis in a tank. But for him it was just another embarrassment before moving on to the next one.

Now Bonespurs is faced with a real political battle against NanChuck. For the first two years of his administration there was no direct challenge to him. No Day of Infamy. No Cuban Missile Crisis. No 9/11. And no politician who confronted him in a showdown at high noon. So far the only person who may do so is Robert Mueller but President Bonespurs is girding up to prevent Mueller from exposing him.

With NanChuck the situation is quite different. The television reality show he hosted at the White House blew up in his face. Without even trying to, NanChuck got him to accept responsibility for the government shut down over the funding to build his wall. In that one public failure, he proved why he should not be allowed to testify under oath under any circumstances.

When Bonespurs subsequently was willing to reach a deal with NanChuck he was undermined by his own team. Fox, Ann, Rush, and the RHINO Freedom Caucus read him the riot act. They put him on notice that if he caved on his signature issue there would be hell to pay come election time. Instead of calling their bluff (whom else would they support in 2020?), he caved and boxed himself in. They forced him to toe the line but offered no way to get out of this showdown.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN on December 20, presidential advisor Stephen Miller became quite agitated and intense in conveying the urgency of the current situation:

Right now as we speak there is a surge of illegal immigration heading toward our country that presents a national crisis now.”

Not a month from now, not a year from now, right now. And this president took an oath, like every lawmaker in Congress to defend the citizens of this country. How many more innocent people have to die in pursuit of an open-borders agenda?”

According to Miller and the various acolytes on the Bull Trump network, there is a crisis RIGHT NOW! Drug dealers are pouring across the border RIGHT NOW! Terrorists are pouring across the border RIGHT NOW! Criminals are pouring across the border RIGHT NOW! They are pouring across the border because Democrats believe in open borders so illegal aliens can vote not just once but multiple times by changing their hat and shirt as they run around the polling places.

Left unexplained in this emotional tirade about the desperate need to save the country RIGHT NOW is how a $5 billion spending bill will change anything RIGHT NOW! Will the $5 billion spending build a new wall RIGHT NOW! Will the $5 billion spending even build a teeny-tiny part of the wall RIGHT NOW! How will this authorization stop this NATIONAL CRISIS RIGHT NOW!

Do you Stephen Miller have a plan to stop this national crisis not a year from now, not a month from now, but RIGHT NOW?

Do you Fox, Ann, and Rush, have a plan to stop this national crisis not a year from now, not a month from now, but RIGHT NOW?

Do you RHINO Freedom Caucus have a plan to stop this national crisis not a year from now, not a month from now, but RIGHT NOW!

The advantage Bonespurs has during the shutdown is that he no more cares about the Americans than he does the Kurds or the Israelis whom he threw under the bus. Besides, the government employees who are furloughed or working without pay are Democrats and they support the shutdown for border security anyway. The very stable genius knows this because he is the smartest person in the room.

We have learned the hard way, from Charlottesville and Harvey, that Bonespurs is not capable of rising to the occasion. The difference now is that he has an actual foe in NanChuck. Plus he is boxed in. If the world’s greatest negotiator creates a deal and claims victory even though he has not won, Fox, Ann, Rush, and the RHINO Freedom Caucus will be there to call him out. He won’t be able to get away with conning his own side this time.

What then should he do?

What does an immature child do when cornered? He lashes out. “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I’ll show you who is in charge! I’ll shut down the southern border.” The mind boggles imagining the world’s worst manager supervising the shutdown of the border. Can you imagine the chaos that would result? He does not even have 1% the managerial skills Herbert Hoover had. He lacks both the competence to shut down the southern border and the mental necessities to understand the consequences. Democrats should call his bluff just to expose his shortcomings and inadequacies for even Republicans to see.

There is a better solution.

How about asking China to fund the Great Wall of Trump? They would even build it too, if only Bonespurs would ask.

Ronald Reagan versus Vladimir Putin: Presidential Campaigns and the 2018 Elections

Reagan-Anderson Presidential Debate September 21, 1980 (https://quotefancy.com)

The countdown to the midterms is under 100 days. It still proceeds on a day-to-day basis but mentally a threshold has been crossed. A bigger one to come on Labor Day is only a few weeks away. The primaries are drawing to a close. The intensity of the showdown for control of Congress and various states will ratchet up.

The current president has vowed to campaign as much as necessary in targeted areas throughout the country. Indeed, he feeds on the energy of the professional wrestling arena just as we feed on food. But what message will he be delivering as he crisscrosses the country in his determination to stave off the dreaded blue wave and avoid being impeached?

In this situation it is appropriate to examine the campaign of another president. In 1984, Ronald Reagan, the incumbent president, campaigned throughout the land. At that time, Republicans could win at the state level even in California and the color on the TV maps for Republicans was blue. Times have changed.

Although the campaigns in 1984 and 2018 are not exact parallels, it remains instructive to examine the message Reagan delivered and compare it to where we are today. A lot of my information comes from the book The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army Second Ranger Brigade by Douglas Brinkley as excerpted in U.S. News & World Report in the June 6, 2005 issue, a year after Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004. Reagan’s speech on June 6, 1984 at Normandy was on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

According to Brinkley, the idea in the visit to England and France included showcasing Anglo-American unity between Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Needless-to-say, the contrast between the present president mocking the present prime minister of England or Great Britain or the United Kingdom or wherever, could not be greater. And our current president of course, then denied that he had done so as fake news, another example of the trouble he would be in if he ever testified under oath.

Turning back to 1984, one theme of Reagan’s talk was how the postwar coalition had kept the peace for the longest period in modern European history. One might add, that for Franklin Roosevelt who had grown up in a world where war against Germany was the norm (Franco-Prussian, WWI, WWII), the idea of decades of peace among the same nations was wishful thinking and inconceivable. Roosevelt understood the need for allies and why defending Montenegro was important.

Brinkley then turned to Peggy Noonan, Reagan’s speechwriter. She would become most famous for her “thousand points of light,” a vision our current president mocks. Brinkley reported that Reagan was at his best when he told heartfelt stories about real people. He was blessed with a genuine showbiz gift for a lively narrative and fabulist history. These last words of Brinkley strike us differently today now that we have a president who resides in the artificial reality of Trumpietown.

But Noonan suspected that during the speech Reagan would choke up. He would be overcome by the experience – its setting, the audience, and his words. I suspect Reagan did not feel your pain to exploit it but more drawing on his actor background, he internalized it. The emotion of his audience became his genuine emotion as well. In other words, his own ability to bring out the emotion in others created a feedback loop to himself. He was a person of empathy who helped create the very emotions he was to feel.

D-Day then became a metaphor for the campaign message of 1984. The Americans in the audience had helped reclaim the European continent. Americans had fought for freedom against the Nazis in the past; Americans had an obligation to fight for freedom against communism and the Soviet Union in the present. Others would express the sentiment that “some people are communists, some people are capitalists, why can’t we all live together”, the Soviet Union will endure forever. Reagan felt differently. The Evil Empire must be defeated if we are to be free. As it turned out, the clueless elites had no idea the Iron Curtain would fall, Putin’s worst day in history, one he wishes to reverse today.

Shortly after Reagan’s death in 2004, staff writer Roger Simon for U.S. News &World Report, wrote “Sunny Side Up, Always” (June 21, 2004). He wrote of Reagan knowing that movies were fantasy and that Americans loved fantasy. Fantasy was a world in which Reagan like to dwell. According to Pat Buchanan, “For Ronald Reagan, the world of legends and myth is a real world. He visits it regularly.” It was a can-do world of optimism, smiles, and a can-do attitude.

Reagan expected everything to work out because it always had for America. What Americans needed was a leader who could give them a sense of confidence, inspiration, and hope.

“’LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ HE SAID.”

Simon reported that Reagan’s “morning in America” and “city on a hill” were designed to stand in marked contrast to the gloom and doom of President Jimmy Carter’s malaise.

Simon closed his article with two quotations, one from 1994 when Reagan announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I am combining them here.

And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will recall that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for the future. I know begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright light ahead.

In the same issue, David Gergen, advisor to multiple presidents and regular talking head today, wrote:

Last week, as we heard so often, Regan repeatedly told audiences that America’s role was to be “a shining city up on hill.” He spoke lovingly of that vision in his farewell address, as he prepared to leave the White House. What should not be forgotten is the farewell address to Massachusetts that a fellow member of his generation, John F. Kennedy, gave as he was preparing to move into the White House. “I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella 331 years ago, as they too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill-the eyes of the world are upon us.”

Gergen closed with a sigh that “We mourned last week not only for Ronald Wilson Reagan but for the spirit we miss so much now.” How much more must he miss that spirit today?

One last “city on a hill” citation by an American before turning to a Russian. In his eulogy, former Senator John Danforth said:

Winthrop believed that the eyes of the world would be on America because God had given us a special commission, so it was our duty to shine forth. The Winthrop message became the Reagan message. It rang of optimism, and we longed to hear it….

If you have had your fill of this sunny optimism and the vision of America as a city on a hill that the eyes of the world are upon, then now let’s turn an alternate version. This dismissal comes from someone familiar with the concept of American exceptionalism and who strongly opposes it. It was written shortly after then President Obama had delivered an address to the American people in the tradition of American presidents up until our current one touting America’s place in the world and in human history.

Here is what Vladimir Putin said in an op-ed piece printed in the New York Times on September 12, 2013 following Obama’s address:

I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation….We are all different, but when we ask for Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

“Amen,” says American President Donald Trump. When Putin and Russia are accused of evil deeds, Trump is the first to say we have done bad things, too. He never exclaims on American exceptionalism or its role in history except to denigrate it.

Donald Trump does not share with Barack Obama a belief in American exceptionalism.

Donald Trump does not share with Ronald Reagan a belief that we are a city on a hill that the eyes of the world are upon.

Donald Trump does not share with Abraham Lincoln a belief that we are the last best hope of humanity.

Donald Trump does not believe in the American Dream.

When Donald Trump campaigns in the 2018 midterm elections, he will espouse the vision of Vladimir Putin and not that of Ronald Reagan. And he will do so to cheering Republicans. Who would have predicted a generation after the Iron Curtain fell, that Republicans would have abandoned the sunny optimism of Reagan for the dismal deception of Putin’s Trump?