Diversionary Tactics

Donald Trump clearly didn’t want to blame the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen and others on the alt-right because they are critical components of his political base, so as is his fact-free style, he blamed the media and the left.

That led him to declare a [non-existent] moral equivalence between the hate groups and the counter protesters as he declared there were “fine people” on both sides.

Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough told him, “You said Barack Obama was afraid to call Radical Islamic Terrorism by its name. Will you call White Supremacist Terrorism by ITS name?”

That is at the heart of Trump’s failure – or refusal — to condemn the August 5 bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, MN. Gov. Mark Dayton branded it “an act of terrorism.” However, Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka, a defender of white supremacists, attributed Trump’s silence to the possibility that the bombing might be a leftist hoax to smear the alt-right.

What we can take from Gorka’s defense is that if Muslims are the perps Trump is quick to condemn, declaring it justifies his anti-Muslim immigration ban and blaming it on Barack Obama. But if Muslims were the victims, that’s another story. In the past Trump hasn’t bothered waiting for any bothersome facts before blaming Islamic radicals for attacks.

Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor, is one of the White House’s favorite attack dogs for attacking the media for disseminating “fake news,” the Trumpian term for news the President doesn’t like to hear.

In defending his boss on the North Korean nuclear standoff, Gorka attacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for trying to calm the roiling waters. “You should listen to the President,” Gorka said derisively in a BBC interview. “The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical,” the Washington Post reported.

All the while, the tough talking commander in chief is pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war in a confrontation that may have less to do with Kim Jung-Un than with Robert Mueller.

Legal scholar Lawrence Tribe tweeted,” Trump may have fabricated a faux nuclear standoff with North Korea to distract attention from what Mueller is finding out about his crimes.”

Jonathan Chait recently argued in New York magazine that war would provide Trump with a much-needed diversion from scandal, the New Republic reported. “Trump could regain public standing through the rally-round-the-flag effect that usually occurs following a domestic attack or at the outset of a war,” Chait wrote.

More evidence of that can be seen in Steve Bannon’s interview with American Prospect magazine shortly before his lost his job as Trump’s top strategic advisor. He said there is no military option to North Korea, leaving little doubt the nuclear sabre rattling was a bluff.

Diversion is a popular Trump tactic. Often done in bursts of 140 characters. Some favorites seem to be attacks on the physical appearance of women he’s feuding with at the moment, claims that he might have taped an Oval Office conversation with FBI Director James Comey, charges that Barack Obama tapped Trump Tower phones, and more.

His latest diversion, in the face of rising criticism of his North Korean nuclear brinkmanship, appears to be a threat to use military force against the leftist, anti-American regime of Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro.

Trump is planning a campaign trip to Arizona to rally the faithful this week, where he will no doubt once again trash the state’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, for not being loyal sycophants. He is also threatening to use the event to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people he suspected only of being illegal immigrants.

A pardon for the xenophobic former sheriff is sure to spark another firestorm that will energize Trump’s shrinking base and again divert attention from the many scandals surrounding his administration, particularly Russiagate, and his inability to work with his own party to enact his legislative agenda.

Before leaving for Arizona Trump will unveil his Afghanistan policy; a couple of years ago he wanted to close it down but now he will be expanding it.

What’s next?

Keep your eye on the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump would like to rip it up, not because the Iranians are living up to their commitments but because the deal was an Obama achievement and that’s reason enough for Trump to kill it.

Stay tuned. At Trump’s troubles mount, look for another early morning tweet to shift the debate.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.
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