People wondered if Trump would tone down his belligerent declarations and tweets upon becoming President-elect.
Well, he hasn’t.
He’s still the Donald.
Last night yath00m and I puzzled over his most recent twitter storm: revoking citizenship for those who burn flags. It’s well-established that Trump makes bold opening offers to expand the realm of negotiation before ratcheting back his proposals to get what he wanted all along. If you’ve ever been to the souks of Jerusalem you know the game. Arab: “Oh, sir, that carpet is very special to me, my mother made it, I’m not sure I even want to sell it!” Smart Tourist: “How much?” Arab: “$1,000!” Smart Tourist: “I’ll give you $100.” Arab, looking insulted: “Oh, sir, do not insult me! $900!” Smart Tourist: “$200.” Arab: “$800.” Smart Tourist: “$250.” And so the game goes. Thing is, if the Arab had started at the actual price he wanted, say $400, he would have had no room to negotiate. That’s Trump to a T. He demanded mass deportations and a wall. Now when he moderates he looks reasonable and he still gets what he wanted all along: the wall.
But this flag business doesn’t seem to make much sense. Ok, sure, he doesn’t really mean he wants to strip people of citizenship, but why is he spending political capital on flag burning? Is that really a top ten issue?
Plus, he’s not in campaign mode anymore. He doesn’t need to whip up his base in the same way, so what gives?
Surprise, surprise, there is a method to his madness.
Simply put, he’s a verbal processor who shoots from the hip but for effect: while his opponents become hilariously exhausted running around objecting to crazy parts of his proposals (and continually insisting he’s crazy), he ends up dropping the crazy parts (as he intended) thereby making himself look reasonable and what he really wanted all along floats on through relatively unmolested. That’s his method.
In this particular case, he’s using this method to run interference for something completely unrelated to flag burning and MSM has completely fallen for it. The real stink: he’s selected a Goldman Sachs banker as Secretary of the Treasury. That is something to be concerned about and is awkward for a guy that said he was going to drain the swamp. And yet everyone is talking about flags.
But it gets better. Folks have been wringing their hands over whether Trump will divest himself of his business interests. Trump said he wouldn’t. That also is a cause for concern, but the day after this flag burning business, he announced he was getting out of his business dealings. He planned to do this all along. He was just waiting for the right moment to put the whole thing to rest.
While everyone is talking about flag burning and Trump divesting, Mr. Goldman Sachs floats through.
Now, I don’t happen to think this is ominous. You need guys like Mr. Goldman Sachs who actually have experience with high finance. But rhetorically, in the toxic, anti-banks atmosphere we have, you have to placate the masses a bit with absurdity.
It’s Trump at his best.
Remember, this is the man who wrote the book the Art of the Deal.
He’s playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.