Is Trump "the useful idiot?"
It's a fair question, I think.
It hit me as I had lunch with my lawyer friend (who picked up the tab!), just the other day.
His theory, which I found quite interesting, is that former President Donald Trump, is, well, a useful idiot.
That forces behind the scene, are using him to change the system in Washington, once and for all, in the Republicans' favour.
Ultra-conservative billionaires aiming to dismantle the social welfare system and the state, wage war abroad and make the rich even richer.
Perhaps this isn't fair comparison, but this is not something new.
President George W. Bush — who preferred to hang out at his Texas ranch clearing brush — handed the foreign policy reins to Dick Cheney, who had worldly ambitions.
As Secretary of Defence, he would initiate and supervise counterterrorism programs, including electronic surveillance, detention and interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.
He also helped plan and manage the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, including making the case for preemptive military action based on Iraq’s so-called weapons of mass destruction.
And yet ... “They weren't personally close,” Ari Fleischer, the president's first White House press secretary, once told the New York Times.
“Cheney didn't go jogging with George Bush. He was everything that Bush designed when he chose Dick Cheney to be counselor” — meaning a veteran Washington hand who would give him straight advice.
One thing is certain, is that the political team behind the Trump campaign is a super talented and motivated bunch.
Robert Lighthizer and Russell Vought, are two of the architects of the former president’s populist first-term record.
Trump’s former trade representative and White House budget director, respectively, are part of a cadre of allies helping him shape policy proposals across a range of topics, laying the groundwork for what would be an aggressive and controversial second-term agenda, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Just what that agenda entails is the question of the day. Aggressive could be an understatement, depending on who you talk to.
Which raises the question, is there a deep state? As the old saying goes, four rich guys on a golf course in Palm Springs, control the world.
It's a joke, really, but it may have some truth to it. But let's get to that later.
Some even believe in the Illuminati, a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious.
Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1 1776 in Bavaria, today part of Germany, according to Wikipedia.
Secret societies in black robes and bizarre rituals, aside, I think I know exactly who controls things.
Follow the money.
Yep, follow the money and see where it takes you. It might even be a handful of people and lead you to a golf course in Palm Springs, but it definitely involves money. Lots of it.
And it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent or a Martian, money talks.
It should also be asked, which think tanks are supporting whom. Nothing secret about that.
Think tanks are extremey useful, as they produce expert knowledge on key policy issues. They can sway public opinion.
Political parties can use this knowledge to develop their party positions on issues that are important to the electorate and to provide the technical backing for their policy proposals.
And speaking of The Donald, according to one insider, when it comes to the ones he trusts most, "The one thing about Donald Trump is that he loves the infighting.”
Like President Kennedy, Trump doesn't like yes men, believe it or not. He just wants it short and sweet. No long and deep Kissinger analysis. Keep it simple.
Trump's management style “pits people against each other, but he sits back and it’s like entertainment for him,” this person told NBC News.
“No matter what the campaign wants or says, he likes the spectacle of people jockeying for his attention.”
Trump’s success is, surprisingly, due in part to his willingness to entertain a range of viewpoints, said Jason Miller, a spokesperson for the campaign.
He isn't, as he seems, a bull in a china shop.
“He likes to get multiple opinions from people who have distinctly different perspectives, because far too often, political leaders will only get opinions from one side and only get opinions from people who have personal interest in how a decision plays out,” Miller said.
“Getting input from a number of places and then coming to his own conclusion has always been one of his strengths as a leader.”
Other figures in Trump's immediate orbit, include: Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, who serve as de facto co-campaign managers; Miller, a veteran strategist; and longtime adviser Boris Epshteyn.
Guys like LaCivita know how to wage a difficult 2024 presidential campaign alongside fighting his growing criminal charge sheet in court.
The Trump team sees benefits to the media spotlight, which energizes his supporters while drowning out his rivals’ efforts.
LaCivita, known as the GOP's hard-charging commando operative, said: “We are going to fight like hell, and we’re going to hang it on Joe Biden every day that he did this.”
There’s also Ric Grenell, Trump’s former U.S. ambassador to Germany, who is often spotted on the road with him these days, and Kash Patel, a former top Defence Department official.
Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host whose prime-time polemics drew blockbuster ratings, is another influential voice.
Tucker's recent tour of Alberta literally blew Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party out of the water, with his hard hitting, scathing insights.
Getting back to the question, is Trump a useful idiot for others with a darker purpose? Warmongers who want to profit, from unending war, or who have other malevolent goals.
We may never really know, but none of the above mentioned Trump advisers seem to fit that mould. They are what they are.
Is Trump any different in that regard, from previous presidents? No, not at all. I think Biden, Trump, Obama and Bush, were all financed by people with deep pockets.
That's your deep state, if there ever was one. And political affiliation has nothing to do with it.
But it does make good fodder, for political authors who see conspiracies, where there are no conspiracies.
For example, one theory has it that the infamous Koch brothers are backing Nikki Haley to make the GOP primary process "look legitimate," when in actuality, the fix is in for Trump.
Going by the golden rule, that almost everything goes to hell in a handbasket anyway, it's literally impossible that a secret cabal controls the world, let alone Donald Trump.
They once asked comedian John Cleese how he named his comedic tour: Why there is no hope.
It actually grew out of a question he asked his therapist 15 years ago.
"How many people in your profession really know what they're doing? And he said, about 10%. And it was a shock."
"I then started asking other people, how many people in your profession know what they're doing? And this figure is 10 to 15%. I think a couple of times it went as low as five, or once or twice it went as high as 20."
"But it means that six out of seven people really don't know what they're doing."
A sad truth I fear, so we can all relax and have another drink.