When I saw yesterday that Donald Trump had gotten Kanye West to stir up a ridiculous controversy, I provided some quick commentary about it on Twitter. Then I began writing an article asking what it was Trump was trying to distract from. Clearly he knew that an ugly bombshell was about to hit the newswires, and he wanted to make sure at least part of the focus was on his stooge Kanye. I was halfway through that article when the news broke about Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen pleading the Fifth.
It’s the latest reminder that when dealing with a con artist like Donald Trump, you always have to keep your eye on the prize. Trump is just clever enough to know when he needs to create a distraction, and how to create one. But he’s not particularly clever in the sense that he always telegraphs these things to the point that if you’re paying attention, you always know they’re coming. Often, he even gives away what’s coming.
If Trump suddenly begins ranting on Twitter about Hillary Clinton, or picks a fight with a celebrity, it usually means he’s just learned that a major news outlet is about to drop a bombshell about his Russia scandal. If Trump begins ranting about Amazon, it usually means that the Washington Post, which is owned by the same guy who runs Amazon, is about to drop that bombshell.
If Donald Trump were smarter and more self aware, he’d understand that not every piece of bad news for him needs to be distracted from, and he’d be more judicious about routinely tipping his hand. Did the Kanye West controversy succeed in distracting the public from the Michael Cohen development? Not really. Immediately after the news broke, “Fifth Amendment” was trending on Twitter, a sign that the news quickly went far and wide. Trump is getting more over-the-top with his distractions, yet they’re having less effect.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report