The Three Impossible Things Trump’s Base Must Believe before Breakfast

By William K. Black
July 19, 2018     Bloomington, MN

The Republican Party, for over 70 years, did not simply oppose the Soviet Union; it demonized Democrats as ‘soft’ on Russia.  This history makes the Republican Party’s increasing embrace of Putin’s Russia particularly bizarre.

Forty percent of Republican’s now consider Russia “friendly” or an “ally” of the United States.  That percentage is nearly twice as large as in 2014 despite a large number of Russian attacks on the U.S. and the West (and Russians) since 2014.  Seventy-nine percent of Republicans had a positive response to Trump and Putin’s infamous (to most Americans) Helsinki press conference.

Vox reported the results of a recent (highly regarded) poll on public opinion about Russia’s attempt to interfere in our 2016 election with the goal of aiding Donald Trump’s election.

Only 10 percent of Republicans strongly agree that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump. Another 22 percent somewhat agreed with that statement.

On the flip side, 31 percent of Republicans strongly disagree that Russia got involved on behalf of Trump, with another 19 percent “somewhat” disagreeing.

That’s compared to 58 percent of Democrats who strongly agree that Russia tried to interfere, and 23 percent who somewhat agree. (A mere 2 percent strongly disagreed.)

The US intelligence community concluded in a 2017 assessment that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton; they did not evaluate whether it influenced the outcome of the election.

In addition to the intelligence community’s consensus, we now have substantial additional evidence confirming that consensus.  The recent indictment of twelve GRU intelligence officers that hacked the DNC and released information to harm Hillary Clinton’s electoral prospects is so detailed and revealing that there is no reasonable basis for doubting that consensus.  The consensus is also that Putin directed the attack.  Other forensic work on Russia’s social media operation and the only real congressional investigation also support the consensus.  Putin admitted at the Helsinki press conference that he hoped for Trump’s election.

The critical questions are:

Why so many Republicans deny the demonstrated reality of Putin’s attack on our Nation’s election,

Why so many Republicans do not believe the (often) Republican leaders of the agencies whose investigations formed the original intelligence consensus in 2017,

Why so many Republicans do not believe the Republicans Trump appointed to run the intelligence agencies (who unanimously agree with the consensus based on their own investigations), and

Why the Republican base, which loves Trump, does not believe Trump when he repeatedly (purports) to support that consensus?

Commentators have largely focused on the first two questions, but the last two questions are far more telling.  It is truly bizarre and logically insane that Trump’s base will not believe Trump’s appointees.

It is beyond bizarre that Trump’s base does not believe Trump when (reluctantly and ephemerally) he admits the obvious that Putin interfered with our election with the goal of electing Trump as President.  Only ten percent of Republicans “strongly believe” Trump when Trump tells them that he endorses his own experts’ unanimous agreement that Putin interfered with our elections to aid Trump’s election.

Descending into the Rabbit Hole

The ‘logical’ explanation of how Trump’s base overwhelmingly does not believe Trump’s endorsement of the unanimous intelligence findings reveals how pathological the base’s support of Trump has become.  The base must believe that when Trump (briefly and under pressure from his senior staff and even the likes of Newt Gingrich) admits the truth about Putin’s effort to interfere with our election to try to elect Trump – Trump is lying.  That scenario puts us deep in Wonderland.  In Wonderland, the Trump base believes:

  1. Trump appointed disloyal, anti-Trump liars as his top intelligence and Department of Justice officials seeking to discredit the validity of his election and force him from office
  2. These liars’ strategy is foisting a false account of Putin’s actions and goals on the public that they know is untrue and harmful to Trump
  3. Trump’s disloyal top appointees are so powerful that Trump cannot fire them or expose their disloyalty and must instead appear (periodically and grudgingly) to support their lies.

Trump’s base has to believe three impossible things – only half what the Red Queen told Alice she often believed “before breakfast.”

Trump’s base really believes that when Trump endorses the finding that Putin interfered with the 2016 election to seek to elect Trump – the result is actually a ‘hostage video.’  Trump’s disloyal senior appointees really have the ability to force Trump to make these public lies.  The base sees Trump’s impromptu deviations (“It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds”) from the ‘hostage’ scripts his senior staff periodically force him to read as brave signals to his base that his scripted message is a lie he is telling under duress.

10 responses to “The Three Impossible Things Trump’s Base Must Believe before Breakfast

  1. financial matters

    To start, I think it’s important to see Trump’s base as a response to the ills of neoliberal globalism. The right is building more of a response to this issue as mainstream Democrats are still pretty deep in neoliberalism. For a counter, Bill Mitchell is doing some great work. “Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World.

    Also many people have come to question the veracity of our intelligence agencies. A good starting place is “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters” by James Douglass. I see John Brennan as nothing more than a modern day Allen Dulles.

    And of course many people would like to see a more peaceful interaction between ourselves and Russia and appreciate that Syria is being resolved as it is.

  2. A fascinating point that I never thought of, his base has become so used to his lying and just accepting of it that when he tells the truth they just assume he’s lying. I must say we all know about partisan politics and how being in power can the influence people’s thinking but this whole Russian display really has been fascinating it’s mind-boggling to think how the GOP has become so supportive of Russia and okay with attacking our intelligence community. It like is this really the same party that had George W bush in power? Well I guess the answer is no much of it is new since then, much of it has been replaced with v post 2008 GOP which has become totally consumed by this radical anti-government anti truth mentality, maybe it’s no surprise that we ended up with Trump I mean he’s the merger of business and government, uses and abuses the government walk criticizing it makes no attempt to use evidence or live in reality, dupes conservative-minded working people phones it in to the social conservatives and it’s not like anti-immigrant sentiment is something new to the right. As hard as it is for many to accept I think Trump is not really an outlier he’s simply the culmination in was been brewing in the GOP for eight, ten years now

  3. John Zelnicker

    “The recent indictment of twelve GRU intelligence officers that hacked the DNC and released information to harm Hillary Clinton’s electoral prospects is so detailed and revealing that there is no reasonable basis for doubting that consensus.”

    With all due respect, Professor Black, there is a reasonable basis for doubting the consensus. (Which is not unanimous; only 3 of 16 intelligence agencies contributed to the original Intelligence Assessment and only 2 of those signed off on it.)

    See this:

    You know as well as anyone that an indictment does not require irrefutable evidence and actually proves nothing except that the prosecutor has a good story to tell that may or may not be true.

    Other reasons to doubt the consensus include statements made by former ambassador Craig Murray about his role in delivering DNC emails to Wikileaks, as well as the fact that attribution of any particular hack to a specific person or entity is impossible to prove.

    I do believe that the Russians wanted Trump to win and offered to help in various ways. However, I don’t think indicting 12 foreign citizens, who will never see the inside of an American courtroom, is bringing us any closer to the truth.

  4. Renée Carlson

    Bill Black, I think you are brilliant but/and there is so much to address in this issue that gets so little coverage, such as how much we have lied to the Russians and stepped back from what we promised in Eastern Europe with NATO, and how we actually brought Russia down when they crashed a few years ago…and how all nations probably do this sort of thing to all other nations; in fact weren’t we busted a few years ago for bugging Merckle’s phone. It seems to me the responsibility lies as much on us to be unhackable because it is inevitable that other nations are going to try to hack us, as we do them. I can be counted as a life long democrat till this past election, a believer that we were probably hacked by Russia, but Russia is not the devil; infact we could have an allied response to so many of the issues the world is facing. It is time to work together, as we’re in a hell of a spot globally now.

  5. I was a Democrat before I did a #DemExit when Bernie Sanders had the nomination stolen out from under him by the DNC.

    My question is why Bill Black himself accepts so much information. Are you talking about the unanimous agreement of the 17 intelligence agencies that turned out to be a handpicked panel of analysts from only 3 agencies. This panel did not do the normal check with other analysts in their agencies to see if they agreed with their analysis.

    Is Bill aware of the report of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) that has concluded that the leak of the emails to the fictitious person who calls itself Gucifer 2.0 was probably an inside job from within the DNC itself? Gucifer 2.0 mucked with the downloaded emails to make it look like someone using Russian alphabetic letters handled the stolen emails. The WikiLeaks leak called Vault 7 showed that our intelligence agencies had created a huge software capability to implant misleading evidence pointing to other countries as the culprits in cyber attacks. The email leaks that Gucifer 2.0 claims it gave to Wikileaks is not the actual leak that WikiLeaks used to expose the DNC emails.

    I can’t believe that Bill Black who claims to be an expert in forensics of fraud in the banks could fall for what looks more and more like a false flag operation of our intelligence communit to implicate Russia in the meddling.

  6. John Zelnicker

    @Steven Greenberg | July 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the VIPS group and their work. I couldn’t remember where I had seen that info, and it throws more doubt on the role of the Russians in the DNC email hacks.

  7. I believe readers are not aware of the findings published by the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 3, 2018. The findings agree with facts presented by Mr. Black. The release of the findings was done to protect the information from reaching millions of American’s via the media.

  8. Emmanuel Goldstein

    No Bill, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

    Please stop watching TV.

  9. Carol shinker

    I am very relieved to see the comments on this column. I have loved Bill Black but he is SO wrong about these assumptions. The commenters noted each problem… from the reveal of all the nefarious BS that our intel. does.. to the lack of perception of the lying going on about the ‘assessment’ handed in like crappy homework from not only THREE agencies (not 17) but THREE PEOPLE, hand-picked by the LYING agency heads (asses?). What a shameful country we are… from the genocide of the Native peoples we found on this land, to the lying us into wars around the world (thanks, cia), murdering our President in 1963 (the last GOOD one) to handing the playbook to the German nazi’s about how to destroy the honor of a country. WE ARE the nazi’s now. Maybe we always were… but it’s very apparent now. Following these lies about Russia will be our demise. Maybe good riddance for the world….