The gambit worked.
He knew it would.
Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing. By dropping bombs in Syria and Afghanistan, and ramping up tensions with North Korea, he has driven the controversy over Russia’s interference in our election off the front pages. He knew that mainstream-media entities tend to have very short attention spans. He knew that Americans tend to have very short attention spans. He knew that all he had to do was “give ’em the old razzle-dazzle” and they would let him get away with the murder of democracy.
When he saw the millions marching against him on January 21, Trump knew that all he had to do was invoke the specter of national security and the War on Terror and those crowds would drift away. He knew that fear rules, that power dominates, that might makes right. He knew that all he had to do was keep his base satisfied, and ramp up pseudo-patriotic sentiment among enough Americans who didn’t vote for him, and his presidency would survive, perhaps even thrive.
Trump understood that we are a fearful country with a fearful media. We think a terrorist is around every corner. We think it’s only a matter of seconds before another plane takes down a tower, before another militant massacres a marathon. He knew that, in the fearful American mind, his bombs serve as a security blanket.
He’s not crazy. Anyone who thinks he’s out of his mind is wrong. This is intentional and deliberate. This is not screwiness. This is strategy.
No one remembers the Russia story now. He has erased Russia’s interference in our election from the American mind. Who dares to question the legitimacy of a President in wartime? Remember the scorn Michael Moore received when he did? No one wants to go through what he went through.
He pulled off the scam. He knew the power of imagery and emotion. He knew that Americans who aren’t paying close attention would think he’s making headway against perceived threats to the United States. He knew that with enough time and enough bombs, this country would slowly but surely start to see him as a winner.
He knew that truth doesn’t really matter anymore.
In his call for Congress to censure Trump for his manipulation of our military, Ernest Canning observes:
Although the ability of Congress to Censure a President is not expressly provided for by the Constitution and has only been used once in our nation’s history (Andrew Jackson 1834), it is generally recognized as a valid, if not binding, means for expressing the will of Congress. One would hope that, coupled with a threat of future impeachment, a mere debate over a formal Censure Resolution would be enough to persuade our irrational Commander-in-Chief to step away from the precipice.
That may be overly optimistic given the reluctance of a Republican-controlled Congress to hold this President accountable and the repeated failures of the corporate-owned media that have been soundly criticized for “cheerleading” in favor of acts of war. This was exemplified by MSNBC’s Brian Williams description of the missile launch against Syria as “beautiful” and by the utterly unnecessary question postulated on Twitter by his network: “Does the U.S. missile strike on an airbase in Syria constitute an act of war?”
How absurd! If Russia launched a missile strike on an American airbase, would any American journalist question whether that strike amounted to an “act of war?” Indeed, while it differed wildly in scope, rationale and lethality, there was little difference conceptually between Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airbase and former Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s decision to bomb Pearl Harbor.
Despite previous inadequacies in both Congressional and media performance, one would hope that the gravity of this situation would have a sobering effect on the heretofore irresponsible; that we can rely upon both Congress and the media to successfully pull this nation back from the brink of catastrophe.
Sadly, even if Congress and the media tried to “pull this nation back from the brink of catastrophe,” those entities would be resisted by both Trump’s loyal fanbase and fearful Americans “in the middle” who have fallen for the bogus idea that Trump’s just trying to protect this country.
He knew what he was doing.
That’s the scariest thing of all.