Inauguration Day draws near and finds Donald Trump in a bind. At first it looked like he would be Paul Ryan’s puppet. Since Trump will be in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause the second he finishes repeating the oath of office, the Speaker of the House holds Trump’s fate in his hands. As long as Trump signs whatever bills Ryan puts in front of him and throws up a smokescreen of Tweets, Ryan will whisper sweet nothings in his ear and let him be “President.” As soon as Trump balks at any of Ryan’s agenda items, like his hobby horse of privatizing Medicare, the sweet nothings will become gentle reminders that Ryan can bring a bill of impeachment against Trump at any time and send him back to Trump Tower more shamed even than Nixon. And Republicans like Pence better anyway.
But now there are indications that Trump’s bromance with Putin was perhaps motivated more by fear than love. Trump says he is very careful when traveling overseas. “There are cameras everywhere,” he says and added that he’s a germaphobe. More lies. We know from the Entertainment Tonight tape that Trump is NOT careful, even when he knows cameras are around. Though the most famous part of the tape involves his bragging about grabbing, the footage starts earlier. It begins with Trump being interviewed on camera on the bus. Then the cameraman gets off so he can run ahead and get a shot of Trump exiting the bus; that’s where the bragging began. Trump forgot he was still miked. He knew he was miked when the interview began—the sound technician had to run the wire and hook the battery on his belt or put it in his pocket—and he knew he was miked when he got off the bus and saw the cameraman again. If he is not careful when he knows he’s on tape, how careful do you think he is when he doesn’t know who’s listening? And a germaphobe? He was quick to hug the actress who greeted him when he got off the bus. Later, a dozen women came forward to complain he grabbed them, tried to kiss them, etc. Not one reported that he demanded she shower first. So, not a germaphobe.
But even if Trump is as careful as he says (but not acts) journalists, businessmen and diplomats who have traveled in Russia report they are frequently the victims of scams by the security forces. The process was called kompromat and its purpose was to give the authorities a handy excuse if they wanted to expel a pesky reporter or an insistent diplomat. In the New York Times, Serge Schmemann describes (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/that-time-the-kgb-slipped-me-vodka.html?ref=opinion&_r=0) how when he was in a Moscow bar, a woman suddenly threw her arms around him while a photographer quickly snapped a compromising picture. Another time, he was slipped vodka in a tea room, then arrested for drinking illegally; a colleague was slipped a Mickey Finn so he would appear to be drunk. All this to blackmail run-of-the-mill journalists. Who knows what the Russians planned for Trump? Or what he-who-is-always-trying-to-see-what-he-can-get-away-with tried to get away with in Russia?
So the good news is that while Trump appears to be soft on Russia because Putin might blackmail him, Paul Ryan won’t let him get away with being soft on Russia because Paul Ryan can blackmail him. Even stevens, see? Maybe this was Trump’s plan all along.
With the two blackmailing sides canceling each other out the new “President” will be able to pursue his agenda as independently as other Presidents.
Now all he has to do is figure out what that is.