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The White House should hire me immediately. The official job title is unimportant; it could be as an advisor or low-level staffer, but the inner circle will know why I’m there. I will be the Evil Czar.
What’s the Evil Czar? It’s simple. My job will be to come up with diabolically evil and devilishly imaginative ways to screw with the President’s opposition, whether that be Democrats, the media (I know, I know… I repeat myself), or even disgruntled Republicans. This could be done in service of several different goals, whether to further a policy agenda, to change the media narrative away from a negative story, or best of all, simply to drive them insane and to put that insanity on full public display.
So, what kind of crazy ideas do I bring to the table? Let’s consider a couple of things that I think would be appropriate at this moment in time.
First, Donald Trump should issue a full pardon of Barack Obama, for all crimes committed while he was president. Of course, first and foremost, the reason for such a pardon would be that it’s funny, and if you can’t have fun, what’s the point of being president? But also, imagine what such a pardon, coming entirely out of the blue with no previous public notice, would do to the left-wing media.
How would the left react to this sort of blunt-force trauma? Within hours, they would work themselves into full-blown apoplexy, with their speculation running rampant on why he would do such a thing. They would be absolutely sure that there must be some nefarious purpose involved, probably obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation, or collusion with Vladimir Putin. The fact that it makes no sense wouldn’t stop them. They just can’t help themselves, and they would look even more partisan and crazy than they already do.
Of course, if at the time there is some damaging story in the media, that they would like to remove from the front pages, it would no doubt be even more effective to do a carefully placed leak that they are considering a pardon of Obama. Then you would get the added speculation of why they would be considering such a thing, leading to even wilder speculation.
The second idea is more subtle and requires a more devious operation. The White House has been plagued with leaks, some of them coming from members of the inner circle. The first step of this plan would be to identify and isolate one of these miscreants, someone with a record of leaking information that is damaging to the administration. You grab the person by the collar, back them up against the wall, and force them into a very particular leak. (If possible, the optimum method would be to feed the leaker the story without his realizing he had been discovered, but that might not be possible.)
The substance of the leak would be a bombshell, particularly coming from someone the media trusts as a reliable source of damaging information. That is: the administration has been running a secret operation, closely held within a small inner circle and working with an as yet unidentified group within the intelligence community, to surveil every single member of Congress, both Democrat and Republican. Both their offices and their campaigns are being surveilled, and in several cases, there are operatives embedded within their campaigns and office staffs.
The leak will include that it’s a running joke among the inner circle that the reason for the surveillance is to protect Congress from “interference by the Russians.” That they were particularly amused by the statement of Trey Gowdy; Donald Trump can be quoted as saying it’s nice to know that Gowdy won’t have any objection to this operation. (It’s the details that make the lie work.) In the meantime, they love to joke about how they would never consider using any of the information they are gathering for any purpose other than fighting the evil Russians. But nonetheless, they have compiled a list of Congress men and women who are diddling members of their office staff.
There will be two hits: first, the story will hit the news, then the [expletive] will hit the fan. The outrage level would be so high that the umbrage of the previous example would be nothing more than a blip in comparison. Articles of Impeachment will likely be introduced within days, and every talking head in the country will condemn the actions as completely outrageous and unacceptable.
During this, Sarah Huckabee Sanders should make unconvincing denials of the story, along with any other member of the White House staff asked about it. Most of them will not be privy to the plan, so they won’t have any idea of whether it’s true or not, ensuring that their comments will be less than full-throated denials. If Trump is asked about it, he should brush off the question with a non-committal answer.
Let that simmer for a few days or weeks, letting them dig themselves ever deeper into a hole until the issue ripens. At that point, Trump should schedule a prime-time, Oval Office address to deal with the scandal, scheduling it for a few days ahead, leaving time for a new round of speculation. During that address, he can reveal that the whole thing was a giant troll, designed to accomplish a few specific goals.
First, to teach the media that their reliance on anonymous sources might not be the best way to produce accurate reporting. Next, to destroy the credibility of every politician and talking head who expressed outrage at the thought that they might have been subjected to the same standard that they have argued is appropriate for Donald Trump. Also, to make clear to the American people that the entire Russian narrative is nothing more than fiction, propagated by the left and the media solely to damage his presidency, and that they don’t believe in the Russian threat themselves, or they wouldn’t object to this sort of “protection”.
And finally, because it would be fun. And that making all of them look foolish, after nearly two years of false accusations, and breathless ‘concern’ about the evil, evil Russians was just too delicious to pass up.
This is the kind of imagination that I bring to the game, and I think I deserve the job.
(h/t to @franksoto for the distraction possibilities on the Obama pardon.)