Of all the unusual moves that President Donald Trump’s administration has had the audacity to make, perhaps the most unusual was Trump’s 6 a.m. tweet claiming that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump’s home.
It was a ludicrous enough suggestion that former CIA Chief Leon Panetta felt the need on March 20 to demand that Trump apologize to Obama over the unsubstantiated accusations. However, soon after the FBI announced that there was no evidence to suggest any kind of wiretapping, officials also stated that public hearings would be held to determine whether Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election.
The announcement incited demands from democrats that the investigation be as nonbiased as possible to determine the full extent of Russian interference.
It was also around this time that the final points on Trump’s new budget plan were being proposed, a plan that received the ire of his own party as well as the Democrat minority in Congress for the draconian measures it suggested undertaking in order to “balance” the budget. To Trump, this means drastically increasing already-inflated military and intelligence budgets and slashing just about everything else.
With this in mind, it is likely that this nonsense regarding potential wiretapping was an orchestrated public relations smokescreen created to divert attention from the more malignant aspects of his administration.
Whether it is in regard to the legitimacy of his administration or the implementation of one of the most reactionary and damaging budget plans in U.S. history, there has become a need to fuel the media blitz of outlandish and ridiculous news to divert attention away from his more dangerous agendas. Trump knows what it means to put the camera’s eye on something else. Indeed, his entire campaign strategy was built on misdirection and outlandishness.
It should be no surprise, then, that his administration follows suit in tactics befitting someone more in line with the ethically dodgy days of Nixon rather than the iconoclastic beacon forward Trump promised to be during his campaign.
However, rather than impose a stream of patriotic propaganda encouraging a foreign war, the new tactic is to make people forget the hypothetical foreign war is even happening. Distraction has become the new means of propaganda, a diversion instead of a grayed-out lie. The influx of information that the administration has the power to release is a glut of contradictory yet overwhelming news that cleverly hides anything potentially important or damaging. This should be expected in the years to come if Trump is not reigned in to any extent, which, by all appearances, will not happen anytime soon.
For all the jokes about Trump being a child in a president’s body, he is far from that. He is incompetent but self-serving to a point where anything that he achieves, no matter how outrageous, is fair game. His use of distraction via Twitter has become the strongest political weapon he could yield. With less than 140 characters, he can set the internet ablaze in order to mask actual fires. The simplicity of his language and almost gonzo rhetoric that makes every word pop are the tools of a demagogue with a flair for media manipulation. The greatest thing that the Republican Party ever allowed its new figurehead was the privilege to keep the account he now uses to alternatively discuss policy and make people shout and shake.
Under normal circumstances, such frighteningly manipulative behavior and evidence of collusion with a foreign power for personal ends would lead to preliminary discussions of an impeachment, especially of a man as deserving as Trump.
The Senate has proceeded with a business-as-usual attitude despite being in the middle of such a monumental scandal. The FBI was convinced that its members needed to investigate an accusation that had no basis in a reality outside of Trump’s mind.
Now, as investigations regarding the realities of Trump’s own administration begin to take on some level of serious discussion, it is time to turn off the social media feeds and try to stick to the one thing that matters right now: that the president’s office is being manipulated by a man and a group of his cronies for their personal enrichment and must be saved, without hesitation, from itself.
Reuven Glezer is a sophomore studying Literary Form and Writing. He is a frequent contributor to The Ticker and an editor for Refract Magazine.