President Flash Bang

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Life . . . is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing ~ Macbeth

The website of Combined Systems, a manufacturer of security products, describes a flash-bang device: Flash-Bangs are used by special tactical units during hostage rescue and high-risk warrants. It is an ATF controlled Class-C explosive device that emits a bright light and thunderous noise to distract potentially dangerous individuals . . . The crowd is temporarily “stunned”.

With his need to distract portions of the public incensed by his antics, aka “potentially dangers individuals”, President Trump has learned to use a weapon against the infidels. With menacing intent, he lobs flash-bangs into the public sphere every few hours, giving rise to a new national conversation starter: “Did you hear what he did today?” A virtual fireworks of news alerts clutter the airwaves. We are stunned by the barrage.

The President, though his ability to learn suspect, has picked up a trick or two from other flash-bang artists, especially the notion that yesterday is quickly history for most. Hitler, for example, opined: “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous.”

Trump’s presidency has turned the public into third graders, easily distracted by a loud noise or a bright, shiny object. This may be more than an off-hand trope. Researchers have provided evidence that children feel less pain when a distressing experience occurs if they are distracted rather than comforted. Something to think about.

Like so many authoritarian bullies before him, Trump surrounds himself with accomplices. White House shills - the flash bang army - protect their leader no matter how preposterous the pronouncement or how outlandish the predicament. Spicer, Conway, Huckabee, Pence, and the rest of the amen chorus, bereft of conscience, herald the President’s non-sequiturs with a cheerleader’s enthusiasm. And then there’s the bauble heads standing behind the President in photo ops, feckless politicians, led by Paul Ryan, nodding approval of every absurdity.

Trump’s arsenal of bizarre announcements, unfathomable proclamations, sudden piques of anger, downright stupid remarks and gestures - and other “weapons of mass distraction”, as the Washington Post calls them - has become epic in a short time. The stockpile comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

There’s the exaggerations, lies and assaults on democracy.

Insisting that Obama wiretapped him; claiming his inaugural audience the largest ever; declaring that millions of undocumented aliens voted for Hillary – the reason why she won the popular vote; decrying “fake” news; installing cabinet members who are enemies of the positions they are sworn to uphold; instituting the refugee ban; cozying up to Putin; building the wall; demonizing the judicial system as a “threat” to national security; standing by his tax return evasion; firing Sally Yates; firing James Comey, otherwise known as the “nut job”; appointing his son-in-law leader of the free world.

Then there’s the juvenile type.

In thrall with “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” as he recounted his meeting at Mar a Lago with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President; pushing aside Dusko Markovic, the prime minister of Montenegro, at the NATO alliance headquarters as he moved to the front of the group to be more prominently positioned for the photo shoot. (Cable news pumped out a steady stream and associated commentary of these two beauties.)

The truly dangerous ones.

Launching 59 Tomahawk missiles; dropping “the Mother of All Bombs; a willingness to revive the nuclear arms race - “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass”; alienating countries that have been our allies since World War II, threatening to disrupt world order; withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. (This last one certain to be a high water mark of his presidency.)

Occasionally, Trump has the rest of the world to count on for distracting headlines. When a high profile event occurs, his team is delighted the masses have another topic of conversation. Breaking news of the congressional candidate who body slammed a reporter was received with glee by Trump’s handlers. They knew they were off-duty for 24 hours.

And all of this enshrined in tweet storms.

Trump’s strategy, such as it is, seems to be working. We are frightened, disgusted, amazed, incredulous, sickened, confused, bemused, mystified. As we pause to take a closer look at one incendiary comment, he lobs another. We get dizzy – and giddy – from the assault. The capacity for probing and intelligent criticism is eclipsed by a thirst for more inexplicable and clownish theater.

Trump now faces his greatest challenge. His Russia connections, despite his vehement denials that there’s no there there, threaten his presidency. Some are even using the “I” word. Revelations about his associates’ ties to Putin-like oligarchs dominate the headlines. His attempts to quash investigations are looking more like obstruction of justice every day. A rising chorus of outrage has taken up residence even in some Republican circles.

Our President is not used to feeling the heat. He is flummoxed by reports that his empire may be weakening. He is terrified his next rally may not draw “thousands and thousands” of worshippers. Worse, he may be told that there is no long line of fans impatiently waiting to get into the stadium.

He is the deal-maker. He uses the best words. How can this be happening?

One can only wonder what goes through his head when, awakening at 3 AM, ready to fire off another crazy tweet, he realizes he is the object of scorn and derision. Could it even be possible that at some level of his unconscious he knows he’s creating havoc because he knows he’s clueless? He knows that he’s duped the American people? Could it be? Is he actually feeling shame?

A major distraction - one that is so ferocious it will make the others pale by comparison – may be in the works. Watch for it.

This time let’s not get distracted by the sound and fury.

The village idiot is playing with matches.