Friday, February 17, 2017

What we learned about Trump and Putin from yesterday's press conference

Yes!  We learned something!

I have been pretty skeptical that we can learn anything from these kinds of circuses, given that Trump is... less than forthcoming, but he can let things slip.  In yesterday's post, I posed three cases about what might be going on with Trump and Putin.  Either Trump is being blackmailed, he is all bluster, or he is just personally infatuated with Putin.  Cases 1 and 3 are difficult, but not impossible to distinguish from each other, while Case 2 would be distinguishable if we see a change in behavior towards Russia.

And yesterday, Trump said this:

"Because, look, it'd be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we're not going to make a deal."

Did'ya catch that?  Yes, he's still a simpleton, unable to speak of anything other than toughness and deals, and unable to explain what either of them actually are, but there is something going on here.  Trump understands that his continued unwillingness to confront Russia makes him look like Putin's pawn, and hence the worst thing a person can be, in Trump's view:  weak.  Hence the "easier" part.  Trump has at least some impulse to confront Putin in order to not look weak.  He doesn't want to look like Putin's lapdog, and he understands that, right now, he does.

That desire to resist... it almost suggests Case 1 rather than Case 3 from yesterday's post, doesn't it?  If Trump just cared about toughness and the appearance of toughness, we'd be in Case 2, and he'd flip.  The point of what he said yesterday is that he won't flip, and he is trying to turn that around, and pretend that he is actually being tough by continuing to be Putin's rentboy.

Trump basically indicated that he won't flip on Putin, but he understands that he looks incredibly weak in his refusal to do so.  He therefore wants to flip, and he is trying to pretend that he is showing strength by not doing so.  If he wants to flip but can't, that kind of vaguely does suggest blackmail.

How definitive is this?  Not at all.  Still, we got a tiny peak inside Trump's head.  He knows how weak he looks.  And he hates it.

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