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Kabuki show

I realize that this is at least slightly tongue in cheek:

As we wait to see whether Donald Trump’s unpopularity will allow a Democrat to squeak through and win a thoroughly Republican district in suburban Atlanta, let’s look at an eye-popping new poll. President Trump’s popularity has collapsed among a key base constituency: Russians.

Yes, really.

According to a new poll from state-run polling and research service VTSIOM, President Trump’s support levels among Russians have collapsed (really not an exaggeration) since his missile strike in Syria. Only 7% of Russians disapproved of Trump in March. Now that number has spiked to 39%.

Meanwhile Trump’s approval has dipped from 38% to 13%.

via Talking Points Memo

I’m not sure if the folks at TPM took this seriously, but either way there’s something seriou to be drawn from it. It’s entirely predictable that state run Russian media would make such a report, since it is in the interest of both Russia and Trump to foster the impression, illusory as it might be, that Trump and the Russians are at loggerheads. There’s an insightful article at Vanity Fair about the way in which Trump’s attempts to manipulate the media here are something like what Putin can more easily do in Russia. Read the whole thing, but this is a fair summary:

What if all the Trumpian chaos that the “mainstream media” have come to take for granted as pugilism and vanity was part of a more cunning plan? What if Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon were actually drawing from a sophisticated postmodern propaganda model developed by none other than Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Surkov, and their political technologists at the Kremlin? While Trump may not have state-controlled media at his disposal, as Putin does, to serve as 24-7 propaganda organs both domestically and abroad, his team is finding ways to shrewdly approximate Putin’s capacity to shape narratives and create alternative realities.

via Vanity Fair

It is definitely in both Putin’s and Trump’s interest to appear to be antagonistic to one another. So long as Trump can plausibly maintain that fiction, he can hope to survive the various investigations, keep the support of his base, and prevent Putin from revealing the kompromat he has on Trump.. And, so long as they can successfully employ the tactics set forth at length at the article I’ve linked to above, they can hope to achieve their real ends sufficiently under the radar to, if not escape all notice, to at least escape prolonged attention. How much attention, for instance, will Exxon’s attempt to skirt U.S. sanctions get?

At this point it’s not clear how much of this is deliberate strategy on Trump’s part, or how much is just a by product of Trump’s style, but either way, it’s working, if not to his advantage, than certainly to Putin’s.

Sidenote: I’ve linked to several Vanity Fair articles in this post. Its editor is a long time Trump antagonist (he’s the guy who gave us “small handed vulgarian”) and it looks like it will be a go to place for anti-Trump journalism.

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