Friday, August 04, 2017

A White House Run By Remote Control

New from the Daily Beast: an article about National Security Advisor McMaster's efforts to rid the White House of a dangerous infestation. It started me thinking.

Imagine a personal enemy had a remote control device so he could get you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, like walking up to a stranger and picking a fight or phoning your most important friend and accusing him of things, destroying the friendship, or behaving irrationally in public causing a loss of confidence and trust.

I worry that Russia has a whole array of remote control devices they’ve implanted in our collective brain, in our national Republican leadership, in our White House, and implanted by White House appointment in various other top strategic posts.

Reading this DailyBeast article this morning suggests this concern may be shared by some of the national security professionals, including General McMaster, who is trying to remove people put in place by General Michael Flynn, who was himself removed once his ties to Russia were revealed. What ties might Flynn’s appointees have with Russia, or with Russian proxies? How did these White House officials land where they did? Who put them there? Who are they loyal to? Who pulls their strings? People being manipulated from outside should not get into top White House posts.

There is a lot we don’t know, but we are the public, it’s not our job to know. We trust the government to do this. The vetting and clearing of key national security appointees is a serious task, and it appears that it was not done fully and responsibly. Who was in charge of this? Who ran the transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration? Whose job was it to check the new people out? That means not accepting the word of some friend of the president who gave a million dollars or was hired to run his campaign. Several people ran Trump’s campaign. One of them is now the focus of a grand jury investigation, possibly two, as is the former general who was Trump’s global strategic mastermind. Who vetted these people? Nobody, apparently. They came in on the nod.

The person charged with taking resumés and deciding who filled what role in the new administration was Vice President Mike Pence. Pence has spent the past year looking interviewers in the eye and praising the expertise and trustworthiness and honesty of the president and everyone around him, and the president and staff have mostly turned out to be dishonest, non-expert stumblebums no sane person would trust with anything. (This embarrassing incompetence may be separate from the apparent manipulation by the Russians, but they might be part of the same thing. One thing the Russians would like is for us to malfunction. We are malfunctioning in a major way now.)

Mike Pence is like the upright, square-jawed, white haired, cardboard figure we've seen in hundreds of corruption scandals, the handsome plausible stooge the crooks put in place to mollify the shareholders while they loot the operation. The role President Warren G. Harding served during the Teapot Dome Scandal.

There are indications that Pence is being positioned as the hero who will ride in and replace Trump when he resigns or is removed. He’s been touring our eastern European allies reassuring them that the U.S. is not as unreliable as President Trump is. However disastrous Trump has been for our alliances and our global security, Pence has been part of that, enabling him, defending him, fending off questions which should have been answered months ago but weren’t because the Republican Party in control, if they didn’t feel entirely comfortable with Trump, did feel comfortable with Mike Pence, the plausible white-haired square-jawed cardboard former governor who stumbled out of that job into this one because nobody else wanted it.

Does the White House have a dangerous rat infestation? Maybe the word mole should be used here instead. Echoes of LeCarré novels and the Burgess/Philby/McClean/Blunt/Blake infestation the Brits didn’t figure out for decades. The Brits also had a serious vetting flaw. I can hear Pence saying the same thing about the applicants for various jobs in the White House security staff: “He’s O.K. He’s 'one of us.’”

There are those who trust Mike Pence to deal with any succession plan like he dealt with the serious work of vetting the Trump team. I’m guessing Pence did this by praying about it. Praying didn’t work so well. And I don’t think you can pray away an infestation like the one they’ve set in place. First of all, moles pray to a different god entirely.

The mindset of the entire Republican apparatus in Washington has been the old familiar one that always fails: If they ignore it and keep people from mentioning it, maybe the problem will just go away. Rather than expending any diligent effort on it, they pray over it. But it won’t work. Trump and his GOP have made the U.S. unreliable and unlikable and a laughingstock around the world. If an enemy of ours had implanted a remote control device to make our government malfunction they probably hoped it would turn out this way but they didn’t expect it to turn out so well.

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