I’d get into the difference between strategy and tactics, but we needn’t discuss either in the context of Donald Trump’s address about Afghanistan (which he read off a teleprompter while having an apparent asthma attack) since neither was in evidence.
Nevertheless, I woke up this morning to this from CNN:
Have you ever suffered a trauma in your life that threw off everything of comfort to you — like your routine, your surroundings, and your capacity to control even the smallest of affairs? I have, and my most overwhelming (and often unavailing) impulse during those times was to find some sense of normalcy. Maybe if I order a pizza and have a beer and watch Seinfeld reruns, I’ll feel at least for a little while like whatever it is that is happening — isn’t.
That same impulse seems to have befallen our national media on a macro level. The nation has been traumatized into a deep sense of shame, loss, and chaos. A social virus marked by bigotry and ignorance and animus has been lurking in near dormancy in the lymphatic tissue of our republic, and with all the violence of any mortal disease, it announced itself on November 8, 2016 in the form of a suppurating sore called Donald J. Trump. It’s the kind of sore, like a lesion associated with some STD, that causes stigmatic as well as corporeal injury.
There is something in the psychology of media types that makes them desperate not to see it — a kind of studied denial that’s as pathetic from a safe distance as any decaying addict pronouncing over and over again, “I don’t have a problem.”
And so it happened — CNN reporters set about to write a routine piece about a routine president reading routine tripe off a routine teleprompter, delivering a routine performance that should be covered with routine descriptors:
It’s not clear how CNN could have found five takeaways about “Trump’s new strategy” when Trump only said three things as he panted and hissed his way through words that somebody else had written for him: 1) our “new” strategy is to win; 2) we’re going to do that by responding to conditions rather than artificial timelines, and 3) we won’t be telegraphing the means by which we will finally defeat whoever it is we’re still trying to defeat in Afghanistan.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
So we were asked to give our Monday evening over to the self-styled hero-warrior Donald Trump — who is so insecure about his own
sexual adequacy legitimacy as president that he needed ruffles and flourishes to take the stage and a military band to see him off — so that we might be told that our strategy is to win and our tactics are a secret.
The profundity leaves one in slack-jawed awe.
Nobody’s reaction better reflected the media rush to sanitize and normalize than Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker’s:
Ah — war as our national aphrodisiac. Trump is not a racist buffoon anymore, because Generals Mattis and McMaster and Kelly gave him some words to say about war, even if those words didn’t embody any discernible ideas.
This fawning over any public appearance during which Trump is merely embarrassing rather than tragic and dangerous on a galactic order of magnitude is the stuff of delusion, not reality.