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Distraction free

First, a bit of a trip in the Wayback machine. As Reagan was sinking deeper into senility in the waning years of his presidency, it was revealed that he had surreptitiously sold weapons to Iran, our ostensible adversary. My guess is that had this been properly investigated, it would have been seen as payback (or perhaps the result of blackmail) for whatever deal was made with Iran by the Reagan people to keep the hostages safely in Iran until after the 1980 election. But I digress a bit.

They had Reagan dead to rights. It didn’t matter what motivated the deal, it was an impeachable offense par excellence. It was admitted by all concerned that Reagan knew all about it, though how much of it his befuddled brain understood is, perhaps, a question. But the Reaganites pulled a brilliant move. Reagan’s loathsome AG, Ed Meese, (almost as loathsome as Sessions) announced that the money from this deal had been paid to the Contras in Nicaragua, and that Reagan didn’t know anything about it.

Well, that threw everyone off the scent. Both the press and the politicians, including, of course, the Democrats, forgot all about the confessed crime, and concentrated on whether Reagan did or didn’t know about where the money went, as if it mattered. I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe they could so easily manipulate the press and, by extension, the public debate. Probably not the first time the Republicans engaged in this sort of distraction, but one that really left an impression on me.

So, it’s something of a pleasant surprise when you see signs that the press is resisting distractions. Yesterday, I didn’t get to read about Sally Yates testimony until somewhat late in the evening. The blogs I frequented couldn’t get enough of the fact that Yates had made Cronyn and Cruz look like idiots when they attacked her for refusing to defend Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. Good example here, but trust me, it’s not unique.

It occurred to me that this couldn’t be better for Trump. If everyone concentrated on the fact that Yates made mincemeat of Cruz, they’d forget all about the main event: Trump was warned about Flynn in no uncertain terms, and ignored the warning.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Cruz was intentionally making a fool of himself. He would never do such a thing for Donald Trump. Nonetheless, he was trying to distract. Cruz thinks he’s always the smartest man in the room, and he seems to believe that every man in the room is smarter than any woman in the room. It’s clear from the video that he thought he would crush Yates, and that by doing so he would change the subject of the hearing and the coverage. By making an idiot of himself, he merely unintentionally increased the chance that the distraction tactic would work, and, as I said, it seemed to work with the left wing blogs I visited, though their audience is already convinced that Trump is in the tank for the Russians.

So, I was pleasantly surprised this morning to read the Boston Globe’s article on the hearings. It was actually a reprint, or perhaps first draft, of this article from the Washington Post. It has since been replaced at the Globe (I don’t know why) by an article from the Times, which I’ll get to in a minute. The Post’s reporters appear to have made a conscious effort to avoid even mentioning the subject, at least in the printed version. It is covered incidentally in the on-line version, to which I’ve linked. In the print edition it was alluded to like this:

Her brief tenure in the top job ended days after her meeting with McGahn, when she was fired by Trump over an unrelated issue. (Emphasis added)

Over at the Times, the issue is also largely ignored, despite the White House’s attempt to shift the focus.

The Globe’s website has a bunch of articles about the Cruz and Cronyn story, and that’s okay. They are in the nature of a sidebar, not the main story.

Could it be that the press is beginning to get wise to this tactic? If so, Trump has no one but himself to blame. He engages in it in too blatant a manner. Not only does he insult their intelligence, he insults them personally. School yard bullying may work on Republican presidential aspirants, but it won’t necessarily work on reasonably intelligent adults. Also, if you threaten them, as he has done, they fight back if they can.

So, a sign, perhaps, of a newly invigorated press. On the other hand, perhaps just an aberration. Time will tell.

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