Down is Up. Trump and Putin are winning

Trump and Putin show how it is done. The media doesn’t understand they are being used. Progressives haven’t yet figured it out.

Down is up. Let me explain.

Two news stories are out and being talked about. One is the apparent mess Trump is making with our relations with Mexico. The other is the very conspicuous arrest for treason of some Russian cyber-spy people.

Big news. Controversy! On the surface the messages reflect problems and people are upset. That is perfectly fine for Trump and Putin. The more talk the better.

Coastal Liberals expected this: a New Yorker cartoon which fits the meme of Trump as a bull in a china shop. The Trump mess with Mexico involves a potential tariff on Mexican imports, which will have multiple consequences on supply chains. TV announcers say Mexico-US relations are at the worst condition in 100 years. A former Mexican president says they will never “pay for the — — ing wall!” Trump has a 3% approval rating in Mexico. Now there is a back-and-forth spat over the location of a wall and then mechanisms for extracting money from Mexico. Trump floats a 20% tariff idea. The news announces a presidential visit by the Mexican president, first scheduled and then cancelled. Big mess.

Progressives are delighted. They think it shows Trump to be incompetent, a wild man having a very bad first week. The liberal and sophisticated media was ready and waiting for this and Trump gave them just what they want. Trump is having tantrum over Mexico, making silly demands. It feeds the notion of Trump as a crazy bull in that china shop, upsetting relations with a neighbor.

Perfect. But not for progressives. For Trump.

Trump’s people want that fight with Mexico. As this blog noted yesterday, a great many people feel that America’s place in the world, one of overwhelming power, primacy, and respect has eroded. They feel that upstarts and the undeserving are stepping into line ahead of Americans and they resent it. This is backlash against affirmative action. It is backlash against uppity behavior by women, Hispanics, the poor. It is backlash against the courtly and internationalist manner of Barrack Obama.

They notice (as I personally did, when considering a new car to buy) that a Ford product was assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico. They do not want and American president to deal respectfully as a peer with the Mexican president. They want America visibly to bully the Mexican president and Mexican people. America on top. America first.

You pay for our wall. The key is to humiliate Mexico. Why? Because we can.
American voters do not understand supply chains and balance of payments with Mexico nor do they care very much. They assume that the business people and economists will more or less work things out. What they do know is whether Mexico shows America deference and respect or whether they presume to deal with us as peers. Americans want Mexico to say “Si, Senior” in some visible way.

Trump is not upsetting the apple cart. He is setting right the apple cart: America on top. We make the rules. Mexico pays for the wall, or at least appears to. Make America great again.

WARNING! Watch out for Russia. Meanwhile, Russia conspicuously arrests some cyber-spies and does it by locating them in public and putting a bag over their heads and marching them out of a room in the presence of others. It could not have been more visible. What is going on? Isn’t this showing Putin to be an authoritarian dictator? Doesn’t this confirm that Russia was, notwithstanding denials, was in fact involved with the hacking and influencing the American election? Isn’t that bad for Putin?

No. It is perfect for Putin. It confirms what the world knew. That Russia messed with the American election, that Putin would do a bald faced lie about it. It confirmed that Russia could do whatever it wanted.

It demonstrated to America and to every other democracy that the Russian ability to project power is very long and very powerful. Russia does not have to send nuclear missiles to destroy democracies in the West. Little people in faraway Siberia can do it. Russia need not send suicide squads to hijack jets to ram into buildings. Russia has far better first strike capability: cyber attacks on vulnerable spots, the power grid, the financial system, even the very democratic process.

Trump sent a blunt message to his fellow Americans: the American president bullies the Mexican president.

Putin sent a blunt message to western democracies: Russia’s reach is far and I can destroy you.

Criticism of Trump by the coastal elites only spreads the idea that Trump wants spread: America First, Mexico grovels.

Angry bipartisan investigations of Russian hacking only spreads the message Putin wants spread: Russia is dangerous.

This is from my blog, UpClose with Peter Sage. I post daily. Check it out and follow me by email.