Unintended Consequences

How could he ever have imagined the phenomenal results? It was like winning the lottery every day for three years running. He did not have to invest much or really risk anything. When Vladimir Putin put his thumb on the scale of the 2016 Presidential election it only cost the time of some of the army’s cyber warfare hot shots and intelligence service tricksters. It was a million to one long shot, but they managed to flip just enough votes in three states to win for an Electoral College victory for Donald Trump. What a weird institution, the Electoral College: totally designed for tampering.

Over the Russian Financial Barrel

Putin knew he had Trump over the very large Russian financial barrel. How many billions did he owe to Russian banks and oligarchs? How many times had they bailed him out of his dismal business fiascoes? Plus, Trump was desperate, salivating, to build a hotel in Moscow. Egotistical narcissists are the easiest to manipulate and, true to form, once in office The Donald was a very responsive puppet on Vladimir’s very tight strings. He did a total reversal on American policy toward Russia in everything from the annexation of Crimea to removing sanctions for that take-over.

But that was just a start. What he did to the U. S. government warms the cockles of a dictator’s heart. Trump hollowed out the Justice Department and put a sycophant in as Attorney General. William Barr, in turn, stopped all meaningful investigations into Russia’s meddling and turned the process around to prosecute the investigators. Trump hollowed out the State Department, fired anyone with extensive knowledge and experience and replaced them, if at all, with not-even-marginally qualified toadies.

According to Vladimir’s Script

He turned the corporations loose by erasing clean water and air regulations and silencing or firing the scientists whose research demanded them. Wow, great economy. He followed the Dictator playbook by attacking America’s heralded free press as purveyors of fake news and threw red meat to his racist and xenophobic devotees by becoming a master of conspiracies and dark innuendos. Long festering social and cultural divisions were exploited, and the nation was at war with itself. The list could go on and on. Vladimir could not have scripted it better.

The President was impeached by the Congressional House of Representatives, but escaped conviction because he had so successfully intimidated Republican Senators, whose names will live in infamy. But before he could take a much undeserved victory lap, news of a deadly virus started making headlines. It is a threat that not even Putin could have anticipated, but he had in place the very American President to make matters worse. Trump’s arrogance, laziness, ignorance and insatiable need for adulation are tailor made to make this crisis into a national catastrophe.

Who Benefits?

It is always wise to pause and ask, who benefits? Some pharmaceutical corporations and others who manufacture medical supplies will. Perhaps Democratic Party candidates will win in November and inherit the mess that Trump leaves behind, though that is more like a booby prize. Think about trying to restore sound government and a working economy given the massive national debt that has been accumulated through tax cuts for the wealthy and massive expenditures to try to keep the country afloat in the wake of the gross mismanagement of the pandemic. Imagine doing so while the Republicans who created the debt are loudly carping about deficits and the necessity of cutting programs.

No, the biggest beneficiary is Vladimir Putin. It is far beyond his wildest dreams. He gets a weak and divided America and the dream of world ascendency he has always craved. It is the most extraordinary of unintended consequences.

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