Tuesday, July 17, 2018
It's the end of the world as we know it
Trump may have been onto something when he played REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It" over and over again at his rallies. It's an incredible song as it foreshadows a Trump administration, even if Michael Stipe was pissed off he received no royalties from its use.
The chaos and confusion that spills out in the song is a very close approximation to what we see day to day from Trump. We think it couldn't get any worse, but somehow he finds a way to top himself, or bottom himself as the case may be. As bad as his NATO summit and meeting with Theresa May went, nothing compares to the Helsinki summit, in which he capitulated to Vladimir Putin in the worst possible way, laying our country prostrate before the Russian leader's feet like a vanquished opponent in a virtual reality Medieval battle.
We have no way of knowing what deals were struck, what level of infiltration occurred, what degree of collusion took place during and after the 2016 election, but it is clear beyond a doubt that Putin has something very big on Trump. Something so big that Trump is utterly powerless to offer any resistance in Putin's presence.
Stood up for over an hour, all Trump could do was privately huff at Putin's lack of respect for him. In the end, Putin tossed him a football as if to say "good boy."
Trump looked lost on stage, painfully reading a speech that seemed more like a ransom note written by Putin himself. You could see this in the way Vlad carefully followed Trump's reading, checking each word to make sure there were no omissions. When Trump did object, he objected to questions regarding the ongoing FBI investigation, meandering all over the place in his defense of Putin.
When Putin was asked if he had something on Trump, the Russian leader paused for a moment, letting the question sink into the room, before dismissing it as nonsense.
It was an impeccably stage-managed event with Russia clearly in control. Mind you this is a country in economic turmoil, which probably will go deeper into debt after its lavish World Cup, and whatever influence it has on the world stage is along its borders. Yet, somehow Putin is able to project himself as a world leader that all of us should defer to.
Maybe it is that video Vlad shared with Donald, showing how easy it would be for him to blow Mar-a-Lago off the face of the planet. Several times, Trump referred to Russia's massive nuclear arsenal and how the two countries controlled 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons. But, it is more than nukes that is eating at Trump. Putin's GRU appears to have created a cyber-world par excellence, able to reach anywhere and exfiltrate a foreign leader's deepest, darkest secrets, making him easily compromised.
Donald was willing to give up everything to Putin. He nodded his head as Vlad suggested that the two countries should join in a cyber-security network without even a touch of irony. Vlad went so far as to invite Mueller to Moscow to question the 12 GRU officials listed in the indictment, but of course that would mean reciprocal arrangements in which Russian authorities would have access to the material.
A crestfallen Trump was publicly shamed in front of the whole world, and the worst part is that he knew it. His hangdog expression, the way he slumped in his chair, the indifferent reading of his script, all suggested a man who was well aware he had no say in the matter. This was a beaten man.
At this point, only Russia feels fine.