Ambivalent Insight

What does it say about oneself that one can see into the mind of a scoundrel?  There’s little question that it’s a useful ability, but is it something to be proud of that you can do it?  “I can think like an utterly depraved wretch.”  Yeah, write that home in a letter to mom.

It appears that the general consensus is that Wikileaks is a Kremlin front-operation.  This is not something difficult to figure out, in all truth.  Just ask yourself what damaging information has been leaked as to Putin’s Russia, or to Red China, or North Korea, or Iran, or to any other communist or former-communist client state.  And how much ought there have been released, given how those countries and their rulers operate, both at home and abroad?  This is Sherlock Holmes’s dog not barking in the night, writ large and in blood.  It therefore inevitably follows that the leaks of e-mails hacked from the Democrat National Committee, from Her campaign guru John Podesta, from Her private shady operator Sidney Blumenthal, and from others near and dear to Her are in fact an attempt to influence the American presidential election.  I just don’t see there being room for intellectual good-faith disagreement on the subject.

The question is thus suggested:  Influence it in favor of whom?  The self-evident answer is “in favor of Vladimir Putin,” but that’s only the ultimate answer.  The question is which candidate is Putin trying to put into the Oval Office.

The hand-wringing class has proclaimed that the answer is Donald Trump of course, because he said “pussy” on camera.  Or something like that.

I have always thought the Conventional Wisdom on this subject betrays an extremely shallow understanding of Putin, Trump, and Her.  It looks only at the surface ripple, the splash of the moment, and ignores the deep currents and subsurface eddies of what’s actually going on.  “These e-mails are horribly embarrassing to Her; of course he’s trying to put Trump over the top.”  And why?  Well, Trump has spoken disparagingly of NATO, and implied that America’s commitment to it isn’t absolute.  Ergo:  Putin likes Trump.  And besides, Putin’s evil and Donald Trump is the Very Incarnation of Evil (or will be until four years from now, when the then-current Republican nominee will be Satan’s Mentor and Donald Trump will be an august senior statesman the passing of whom the stage is a lamentable — lamentable! I tell you — indication of Our Republic’s degradation . . . just like Bush was to Reagan and Dole, like McCain was to Bush, Romney was to McCain, and not Trump is to Romney), and because they’re both So Evil, they must like and desire each that each other prosper.

I think the above is superficial.  In asking whom Putin wants in that office, the question to ask is which candidate might Putin think it easier for him (i) to predict, and (ii) to control.  Because that’s how Putin has to operate in a world in which he does not, directly or otherwise, control overwhelming physical force.  Yes, they’ve got some nifty toys, but he understands, as he must, that in a head-to-head match-up with the American arsenal, at least for the time being, his best hardware would be left a pile of smoking wreckage.  He’s a gambler, but he’s not reckless.  So without a Real Safe Bet on physical force, what is left to him but political control?  He doesn’t have to invade the spaces around Russia if he can so direct their actions, and so constrain the ranges of their options, that they have little choice left but to do his will.  It should go without saying that if he can largely control the person at 1600 Pennsylvania, he is 90% of the way to accomplishing that.

I will observe that it must be taken as axiomatic that you cannot control what you cannot predict.  That fact alone must incline Putin away from a Trump presidency.  There’s just about nothing bad, either personally or politically, that you can say about Donald Trump that I wouldn’t freely agree to be at least plausible, if not likely, and very possibly damned near a certainty.  And among the many bad things said is that the guy’s imbalanced; that he’s a narcissist; that he’s a pathological liar who doesn’t even mind it that you falsify every single one of his factual claims.  All of those have to produce billowing clouds of warning smoke for Putin.  How in the world can Putin predict what a Trump is going to do in Situation X?  You can’t ask what will allow him to cash in on his public service after he leaves office.  Trump doesn’t need the money.  You can’t ask what will burnish his reputation.  Trump’s been squandering his reputation for over 30 years now; in fact, his Bad Reputation is precisely the reputation he’s proudest of.  You can’t ask what will offend his base of support.  Trump was only slightly exaggerating when he allowed that he could shoot a man dead in broad daylight and his people would still vote for him.  You can’t ask what will help him to perpetuate his machine.  Trump doesn’t have a machine; hell, he’s just barely got a campaign organization.  Who out there is riding Donald Trump’s coat tails?  About whom does Donald Trump give enough of a damn that they could go to him and say, “Listen, chief; you gotta stop this business or you’re going to wreck us come next November.”  You can’t examine his record in public office because he’s never held any such office.  You can’t examine his public statements because he’s completely comfortable boxing the compass on just about any issue you can name, and you can’t embarrass him by pointing out that he’s done it once more.

I submit that to Vladimir Putin, Trump must appear to be an unguided rocket with at least two of five motor nozzles that are partially plugged, and a short circuit in the launching system.

But would She be so much easier to predict and therefore control?  I suggest She would.  And why?  For starts, we know for a fact that She will joyfully sell the highest public offices in the land for cash to hostile foreign actors, including foreign state actors.  I will remind Gentle Reader that the U.S. Secretary of State is fourth in line for the presidency, after the president, the vice president, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  There can be no honest argument, after the recent releases of e-mails, that She was not perfectly willing to sell access to Herself, and to take official action (or refrain from it, just ask Ericsson) in exchange for cash donations to Her foundation and/or direct payments to Her husband.

But more to the point:  She has a passion, verging on a mania, for secrecy.  She could have run all of Her pay-to-play scams on that private server, and still run all of the State Department’s legitimate business across an official, secure government server.  She chose to do otherwise.  When discovered, She chose to destroy all the evidence She could.  She chose to have her underlings commit perjury for Her protection (Huma swore under oath that she had accounted for all e-mails in her possession or control . . . and now they find while investigating her husband a further 650,000 e-mails on a shared laptop).  She chose to lie, and lie, and lie about the entire episode, when She must have known that eventually it would all come out.  If there is a depth to which She will not sink in Her efforts to shield what She does in public office from the scrutiny of the public, no one has ever identified it.

As has been pointed out, the Clintons — He and She — make nothing.  They provide no intrinsically valuable service.  They have no valuable skills to sell.  All they have to peddle is influence in government.  And my o! my have they done well at it.  Millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in personal net worth, between two people who, as of January 20, 2001, had not held a real job in the better part of twenty years or more, but rather had worked a series of very modestly-paying government jobs.  So if you destroy Her, and Her network of supporters within and without government, you destroy Her livelihood, a livelihood to make which She has, as mentioned, joyfully sold the highest offices of the land.

Which is why I am convinced that Wikileaks has not come anywhere close to releasing the most damaging materials in its possession, and will very carefully not do so before the election.  It is in Vladimir Putin’s interest to have in office a crippled president.  It is in his interest to have a president across the table from whom one of his operatives can sit and read from materials so incriminating that not even the American “news” media will be able to avoid the compulsion to publish.  Material so damning in its lay-it-out-in-black-and-white-on-Her-own-keyboard terms that only the Al Frankens, Nancy Pelosis, Alcee Hastingses, and Chuck Shumers of the House or Senate will be unwilling to vote for her removal from office.

What are the exact odds that, should She be elected, within a few weeks at most, a very quiet meeting will not occur, quite off the record you understand.

“Congratulations on your election, Mrs. President.  You’ve worked your whole adult life for this and now you’ve accomplished what no woman before you has.  You are to be commended.  Now let’s talk about this e-mail.  <reads aloud>  Or perhaps this one.  <reads aloud>  Or, gosh darn it, perhaps this one.  <reads aloud>  Now Mrs. President, you and I both know those aren’t even anywhere close to as bad as they get, don’t we?  And you and I both know that there are many, many news outlets in this great wide world which would gladly take these stories and run with them.  Aren’t there?  And you can’t stop any of them, can you?  So let’s talk about how you’re going to run your office, is that OK with you?”

And so forth.  At that point we have a U.S. President who is owned, from the top of her noggin to the soles of her sensible shoes, by any of several hostile foreign intelligence agencies.

I have to say I’m proud to see that at least one other person seems to be thinking along lines similar to the above.  There is almost no level on which it is in Vladimir Putin’s self-interest to see a President Donald Trump sitting in that office, squinting at him with those porcine eyes of his.  Her?  Putin can work with Her, can work on Her, can . . . and will . . . own Her.

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