Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Politico's Jack Shafer thinks we'll get a big Trump distraction soon:
The usual Trump Twitter bullshit, which he resorted to Wednesday morning, won’t be enough to stay the criticisms and calls for an independent counsel. As Daily Beacon Editor Matthew Continetti tweeted, you don’t make the Russia story go away by banishing its top investigator.... Trump knows he has to do something more dramatic to drive Comey off Page One, like pick a verdant valley or desert oasis in Syria to bomb. Maybe he’ll announce a trial separation of his marriage and then reveal a new love interest. Or he’ll turn Washington upside down by declaring a terrorist emergency and extend the White House security boundary to 17th Street NW, 15th Street NW and H Street NW. Or he’ll appoint Roger Stone to head a presidential commission on something. Or he’ll expunge his bad karma by making scapegoats of Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner by firing them on national TV.
Most people regard Trump as a master of distraction, but remember that he often attracts attention to damaging stories when you'd think he'd try to distract us from those stories. For instance, during the campaign, his attacks on Alicia Machado, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the Khan family were multi-day stories -- Trump kept the controversies in the news instead of doing damage control or providing a distraction. Often it seems as if he's tossed out a calculated distraction, but he might just have so many ideas for how he can draw attention to himself that they just pile up, like cars in a multi-vehicle collision. The second one isn't a distraction from the first, or the third from the second -- he just wants all the attention, all the time. Trump seeks attention the way some animals are said to seek food -- he does it constantly, relentlessly, every waking hour. He seeks attention even when he has attention. That makes some of his efforts to gain attention seem like distractions. But I don't think most of them are.

I've noticed some surprise at Trump's failure to grasp the "optics" of the Comey firing. Today he really seems blind to the optics -- he met with the Russian foreign minister and excluded the U.S. press from the meeting, while allowing in members of the Russian press, and then he allowed the U.S. press in and he was meeting with ... Henry Kissinger. Does this seem like a guy who's looking for a distraction? Or who thinks he needs one?

Trumps idea of the optics here seems to be what it often is: Yeah, I'm doing this. You gonna do anything about it? No, I didn't think so. So here you are doing nothing while I get away with this. There's your optics, tough guy. Yes, he knows that some bad stories hurt him, but he oftens leans into those stories, as if he understands that letting them dominate the news for days is a good way of exhausting our interest in them. And then all we're left with is That damn Trump -- he got away with another scandal that would have killed an ordinary person.

It's tremendously helpful that the Republican Party will never stand up to Trump -- Trump could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not one GOP member of the House or Senate would abandon him (though some might briefly say that they're "troubled" by the shooting). Under those circumstances, who needs distractions or optics?

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