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Trump’s G-20: A World-Class Presidential “Kayfabe”

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Trump’s G-20: A World-Class Presidential “Kayfabe”


The American president has long been described with the honorific “Leader of the Free World.” No more. Donald Trump basically surrendered the title during the recent G-20 meetings in Germany.

Even the Russians were offended by Trump’s pointless abandonment of the Paris Climate Accords—pointless because it’s a purely voluntary agreement with no enforcement mechanisms. The president imagines a worldwide scientific conspiracy, which most educated adults recognize as impossible.

Trump’s Polish speech was also seen as problematic. By endorsing a Manichean, good versus evil defense of “the West”—defined, Putin-style, entirely in racial and religious terms—Trump was widely suspected of scorning multi-ethnic European democracies like Germany, France, and Great Britain. Not to mention Asian ones like Japan, South Korea, and India.

The West, so defined, excludes most of the world’s population, although it definitely includes the Confederate States of America.

However, relatively few thought Trump actually grasped the full implications of the tribalized world-view he expressed.

Somebody wrote a speech; Trump read it. Our allies can only guess who’s in charge at the White House: traditional defenders of NATO like Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster?

Or blood-and-soil “populists” like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the author of the Warsaw speech defining ISIS — an all-but defeated terrorist organization with no army, navy, or air force — as a grave civilizational threat?

In reality, of course, the single greatest threat to the integrity of Western democracy is the Kremlin. But hold that thought.

The correct answer to who’s in charge of U.S. foreign policy is nobody. And certainly not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who served as the president’s minder during his ballyhooed meeting with Vladimir Putin.

At the White House level, the U.S. doesn’t have a foreign policy. Trumpism is best understood as a cult of personality with a world-view rooted in WWE professional wrestling, where race, ethnicity, and tribal loyalties prevail.

But equally important, where long-nurtured enmities and alliances alike can be reversed almost overnight.

Everything depends upon the whims of the protagonist, that is to say Trump himself. In the WWE, the operative term for these scripted melodramas is “kayfabe”—possibly what the president meant when he tweeted the nonsense word “covfefe.”

Wikipedia defines it thus: “portrayal of staged events within the industry as ‘real’ or ‘true,’ specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature.”

Just so Trump’s meeting with Putin, which for all the hullabaloo, was basically a made-for-TV spectacle of little real import. One day Trump boasted that he and his new best friend Vlad were going to set up a U.S./Russian Cyber Security Task Force. But after Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described this as maybe the dumbest idea he’d ever heard, the president abruptly dropped it.

Just kidding!

Otherwise, the headline on Russian expatriate Masha Gessen’s New York Times commentary said it all: “Trump gave Putin exactly what he wanted.” Specifically, a co-starring role, along with no serious criticism for such Kremlin pastimes as executing journalists and cyber attacks on other countries’ elections.

Otherwise, Putin got little in real world terms, apart from the ego-boost of occupying center stage with the President of the United States, whom, like an ambitious prostitute, he was clever enough to flatter.

Loosens Trump up like WD-40.

Every single time.

However, the good news is that even a GOP Congress won’t let the president give Putin anything concrete, such as a free hand in Ukraine, or redress from economic sanctions. Russia holds Crimea, but at a cost Trump can’t relieve. Putin’s scheming has pretty much backfired.

But what really seems to animate Trump himself is his ongoing feud with CNN—the cable network that basically made him president. Following the president’s recent tweeting of a WWE video showing him pummeling a figure labeled CNN—not so much an incitement to violence as to stupidity—I was struck by a remark from a Washington Post profile of correspondent Jim Acosta.

Covering this White House, Acosta said, is like “covering bad reality television.”

No kidding. Equally striking, however was White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s appraisal of Acosta: “He’s the prime example of a [reporter in a] competitive, YouTube, click-driven industry … He’s recognized that if you make a spectacle on the air then you’ll get more airtime and more clicks.”

Who better than Spicer to understand?

So were you aware that CNN president Jeff Zucker personally masterminded Trump’s program, The Apprentice, when he presided over NBC Entertainment? And that Trump received an estimated $5.8 billion in free coverage from CNN and its competitors—more than twice that of any other candidate—while cable news ratings and profits soared?

And that ratings continue to grow for CNN as the Trump/Comey/Putin kayfabe drives news coverage? You may disdain professional wrestling, or, like me, never seen a single episode of The Apprentice.

But we’re all watching it now.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. PrecipitousDrop July 12, 2017

    I’ve lived through 12 presidents and voted in most of the elections, but Trump is the first one to make me feel ashamed for the office he occupies.

    1. sharkbait4711 July 13, 2017

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I am ashamed of our government right now and anyone that still supports the orange one…

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 12, 2017

    “In reality, of course, the single greatest threat to the integrity of Western democracy is the Kremlin. But hold that thought.”

    I would say, and others as well, that the greatest threat is from within—it is us, and not just in the cartoon strip”POGO” sense. Putin and his cronies would be rendered irrelevant and of no consequence if the US and other nations established a unity from within among their respective citizens, while uniting among themselves at the international level against the Kremlin.

    Then, and only then, would Putin know for the first time what strong opposition means.

    1. RichFromShowMe July 13, 2017

      After obamba pulled the missile shield from NATO nations, which gave Vlad, the Impaler, the go-ahead on his invasion of Ukraine and action in Syria . . . . looks like that’s is being turned around, along with the hundreds of other damaging actions obamba pulled on “respective citizens” of the world.

      President Trump is reversing 8 years of worldwide disunity that proliferated under obamba and the “US and other nations (are establishing) a unity from within among their respective citizens”.


      1. PrecipitousDrop July 13, 2017

        Half-truths are also lies, Rich. Obama diverted US military protections for Europe to the more immediate threat, Iran. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/17/missile-defence-shield-barack-obama
        Trump, on the other hand, is selling Patriot Missiles directly to Poland — without any direction or command of when, how, or against whom any future government of Poland may use them. In other words, instead of a trip to the gun range, Trump just sold a pistol to one member of the scout troop.
        What could go wrong?

        1. RichFromShowMe July 13, 2017

          “What could go wrong?”

          Russia, who the Left blames for everything since the murders of the Romanov family, knows Eastern Europe has no missile defense and the “imaginary” missile defense against Iran does not work on ICBM class weapons, which we’ve found out the hard way, in “kim is ill’s” fantasy-land-adventure.

          Russia made their move (2014) on the Ukraine as Vlad, the Impaler, recognized the absence of practically any NATO impedance, partly due to NATO diverting around a Billion Dollars to build their “monument” in Brussels, while their “troops” were stretched for weapons and munitions.

          Russia is getting what it wants in Syria; i.e., a warm weather port and land access across Syria for its planned pipeline(s) to Europe, thanks to obamba and his Regime.

          What could possibly go wrong? A Whole Lot!

          1. Eleanore Whitaker July 20, 2017

            Trump killed 11 US military under Tillerson watch…Why not 11 hour Benghazi style interrogation by Gorilla Gowdy?

      2. Eleanore Whitaker July 14, 2017

        You are an expert at distortions. That what Putin pays you for Troll boy? First of all, Obama is no longer president as you righties loved to remind us about Bush ’43. Eat your heart out pallie.

        The Lard Ass in Chief cheated to win the election just as he has ALWAYS cheated with everything else in his entire life. A scumbag of world class status. So you go right ahead Trump supporter and think you are doing Trump’s bidding.

        Remember when you screwballs all said Obama was our savior? So now Lard Ass is saving the world? He must then be YOUR savior right moron?

        The resistance to Trump is upon you. We wil make sure when he goes down for his lies, kissing Russian ass and trying to make a government of the people, for the people, by the people into his private litte Trump Organization, you are going down with him. Hope you like Siberia and using Trump’s own deportation EO to put you there.

        1. InformedVoter July 14, 2017

          Poor Elle, still are poorly informed as ever. We never claimed that obozo was our savior, it was you loonies.
          President Trump is making America great again and we are not recognized as being the leader of the free world, something we have not been recognized as for the past 8 years under obozo.

          All you have is you FAKE MSM lies. He is standing up to Russia like obozo never did to anyone – drawing lines in the sand and then backing up was all obozo did.

          The FAKE MSM “scandals” are going nowhere. Meanwhile, President Trump keeps on delivering on his campaign promises and erasing the last of obozo’s “legacy”.

          I just love watching you low information sheep running around thinking you will be able to drive President Trump from office.

          He won fair and square and the voters will exact their revenge on the Dems in the 2018 mid-terms. Already Bernie is planning on taking over what’s left after the Dems lose a record number of seats in 2018.

          Perhaps you can join all those Hollywood mediocre stars who promised to move to Canada? Notice none really left, because they were denied entrance as it seems that Canada has harsher standards that we do.

          1. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

            Hey asshat. Reading comprehension problems? I said you accused anyone who supported Obama as considering him “our savior.” Got that now shitforbrains?

            I also posted that you righties are sucking up to Trump as if he is YOUR savior. Is he? And just what will he save your ass from? Having to actually have a job and get the hell off welfare and food stamps?

            We all know you righties hate to have to pay for your own needs. That’s why EVERY one of the TOP 10 states with the highest records of welfare, food stamps and illegitimate pregnancies are ALL Republican states with the exception of Maine which is a purple state and No. 10. Mississippi is No. 1. Try again moron.

            YOu are not going to get the last word. All you do is pretend you know more than anyone else. Most mental patients always do.

            Trump didn’t win fair and square. You and your asshat right wingers just refuse to admit Trump did what he’s done his entire life to win : CHEAT.

            We know he and his grifter family needed to sidle up to Putin to remove those sanctions so Trump could build that Moscow hotel. Didn’t get built, did it? But, I loved that video of Iskanka pretending she was in that Azerbaijan half completed building trying to see the “view” when she was no where near it.

            By the way prickface. Why did Trump invite the Mammadovs to Las Vegas last year for that dinner. As everyone in Russia will tell you, the Mammdovs are known as “The Corleone Family of the Caspian.”

            Men like you are worthless POS. Now do yourself a favor and find Patriot News which is Putin paid right wing site and stop trying to make like you have a brain as big as the size of your lard ass.

          2. InformedVoter July 16, 2017

            Sorry Elle, but you can back peddle all you wish, but you did say what you did and thus you are once more WRONG!
            President Trump legally received 308 votes to 227 and thus received a MANDATE from the voters.

            You and your made up “scandals” an getting you very little followers. I’m still waiting for the cops in NJ to come and haul President Trump away. And I’m still waiting for you and your gaggle of hens to come haul me away. Ha, Ha,

          3. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

            Awwww…what’s the matter shitbagger? Trump Tower getting an inspection of how many Ruskies he leased suites to and your dick is not fun anymore?

            I don’t need to make up scandals and you know it. I can prove every single thing I post. Now do you want to get your ass to a right wing site or do we need to out you and your Russian trolls?

          4. InformedVoter July 17, 2017

            Poor Elle, still predicting that someone, NY, NJ, CA or Mars will somehow file a suit against President Trump. How dumb you continue to make yourself look.

            Yup, you’re living on FAKE MSM “scandals” and none of them are growing legs. The voters will take their revenge against the Dems in the 2018 mid-terms and the Dem party will be taken over by Bernie who will make it completely dissppear.

          5. Eleanore Whitaker July 20, 2017

            Hey fuknut. Poor of mind, poor of soul, poor of value. Poor enough for you asshat?

            First of all, there isn’t just one lawsuit against Trump. He has had more lawsuits than all 44 presidents ever had.

            From BBC News Nov. 2016: “Even by the standards of billionaire businessmen, Donald Trump is an unusually litigious man who has been involved in thousands of lawsuits – both those he has launched and those he has defended – over the years.

            The president-elect has been party to some 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and is currently facing 75 active lawsuits, according to analysis by USA.”

            More denials from you and you are likely to match Trump for your lies. He’s up to 432 so far this year. I’ll bet you and Trump over your lifetimes have lied so many times that you cannot even remember the first lies you ever told. Not that it matters.

            When Trump goes down, you go down with him and you open that mouth about rah rah Trump in public or anymore of your Hillary or Obama bashing and you can be sure honest, decent Americans will rip your face off.

          6. InformedVoter July 20, 2017

            POORly informed Elle: President Trump was a businessman and as such had to navigate his way through international issues. Can you tell me how many lawsuits GM or Ford Motor are involved in? Try several thousand! Hence, comments about a businessman being involved in lawsuits is a non-issue.

            The denials have to do with ANYTHING ILLEGAL being done with purchasing stolen dirt on HilLIARy. NOTHING illegal was done.

            I guess you still have NOT heard that even TNM is giving up on trying to impeach or remove President Trump. They have finally realized that their FAKE MSM “scandals” are not real and will ultimately lead to nothing.
            Would you be surprised to learn that most of your fellow low information posters, you know the dumb ones that follow your posts, still can’t accept that President Trump won a MANDATE from the voters.

            The fact that you keep posting that President Trump in going down is like you low information dummies saying that the polls show that HilLIARY will win and possibly in a landslide.

            So how did that work our for your POORly informed Elle!

      3. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

        And the RichieBitchy goes for the Obama card. Tell us. Did you do that with those dipshit parents of yours too? Blame it on your siblings when you are the one who needed your ass beaten for your lying?

        1. RichFromShowMe July 17, 2017

          There really is no “obamba card”, just his Regime that doubled our national debt, regulated our economy to a standstill and evidently fooled folks like you into believing his “Teleprompter Reading Seances”. Have you ever bother to ask yourself “who” put the words on his Teleprompter?

          Is this a prime example of when his Teleprompter “misfired”?

          As for my parents . . . looks like you’ve stooped to a new Liberal Low; i.e., when you run out of REALITY you pull out your misguided attack card or destroy personal property, like your SnowFlakes-in-Training, Black Lies Matter and antifa.

          Is this “clueless dude” an example of the DNC’s antifa “strike force”? 🙂

          1. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

            Yep. I’ll just bet you irresponsible asses hate Obama for reforming healthcare so it is affordable. In fact, you dickheads hated it so much in your Republican states that you and your asshat politicians refused to set up ACA agencies there by stupidly increasing the cost of your healthcare.

            NJ’s Governor Fat Mouth refused and NY’s Governor didn’t. So NJ now pays 11% more for our healthcare because a Republican moron refused to allow a state ACA agency.

            I’m sure you asshats also hated that bin Laden was taken out during the Obama Administration and not the Cheney presidency right?

            I’m also sure you much preferred keeping Cuba’s sanctions knowing what a windfall of power that is for your boy Putin.

            Time for you shitheads of the right to give it up. You are a clueless POS who is maniacally insistent that making healthcare unaffordable for people who need it and making trillions in profit from those who are too young and don’t need it, is your way of lining your pockets.

            So..tell us dickhead. Do you think our tax dollars should pay for Iskanka, Donny Jr., Pricky Ricky and their children every time they travel? You bet you do you Russian bastard troll.

            Sorry not on MY tax dollars. Let your Confederacy pay for your Trump grifters.

          2. RichFromShowMe July 17, 2017

            Taxpayers have paid for President’s and their family’s travel since after George Washington. I see you’re either off your drugs, or is it on them, again?


  3. Beethoven July 14, 2017

    Just another proof of Trump’s intelligence: After being involved with the WWE for years, he still can’t spell “kayfabe” correctly, instead tweeting it as “covfefe”.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

      Trump eats his covfefe for breakfast and his kayfabe for lunch. No surprise why I refer to him as Lard Ass.

      The PGA tried to withdraw from the Golf Open that was to be held at Trump’s Golf Course here in Bedminister NJ. Trump then threatened to sue.

      Mind you. To play on that course costs $200,000 a pop. So you know the profits from a PGA tournament are going right into Trump’s pockets.

      He has to be stopped from this practice of his always using lawsuits as threats to stop anyone from distancing themselves from his corruption.

      1. Beethoven July 17, 2017

        Leslie Winkle (Big Bang Theory) has a good title for Trump: “Dumbass.”

        1. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

          After seeing Trump’s pouty, smug mug in our NY/NJ Metro media for 4 decades, my title for Trump would be unprintable.

          Honestly, how can a single sleazeball like Trump trick so many people into believing a single word out of his mouth?

          You’d have love his show off act in the 80s and 90s though. He’d show up at one of the posh Manhattan clubs thinking he was so in with the Manhattan blue nosed Knickerbockers that he would just ingratiate himself into their snobby society.

          So, he’d show up at those clubs thinking his beefy private security boys would intimidate the door men. But to the Knickerbockers he was NOCD..(Not our class dahling).

          Then when he and which arm flavor of the month he used as arm candy got turned away, I wish you could have seen the furor on his face. It was an absolutely priceless moment.

          Of course, every time he got turned away, his lawyers threatened a lawsuit. And every NY judge would throw them out of court.

          Strange that the man who spent most of his life hogging cameras and photo ops now so loathes the US top media that he wants to try and abolish the 1st Amendment.

  4. vamrse July 14, 2017

    Putin knows how to play Trump and he does..like DJTjunior ..he cannot not figure out when he is being played…poor US.????????????

    1. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

      When you owe Putin as much money as Trump does, you sure do have Trump in the palm of your hand.

      Trump Junior thought if he just smeared that pretty little face of is all over, he’d be able to be as corrupt as he pleased. Not to mention Jared Kushner the twig that fell as near to his old man’s corruption that ended in a prison sentence.

      The reality is that everyone in the Metro area knew the only bank that would lend Trump money after decades of not paying loans he borrowed from major US banks was Deutschebank in NY. Deutschebank is a foreign exchange bank as everyone knows. That means they are vulnerable to money laundering.

      And, they did get a $320 million fine for laundering Russian money. Trump paid his way out of the 2013 money laundering fine from FinCEN. He won’t be so lucky if they find he has been laundering money through Deutschebank a 2nd time. Not even Sessions can allow him to get away with a 2nd charge of money laundering with just a fine.

      The reality is that Trump is so full of BS that it is now more than obvious that he is not as wealthy as he BSs he is. How can he be? He pays Ivana and Marla each $2 million a month, has over 150 lawsuits including the newest one from 10 DNC lawyers who are suing for his campaign publicizing private medical records of the DNC staffers.

      This is not going to go away. Even the Republicans now know Americans simply will fight to their deaths if we must to protect our Constitutional voting rights.

      What you have in trolls like Misinformed Voter, the Belgian Waffle Alain Vercaine the Pain and RichMostDumbass are men who want nothing more than for us to condone what Donny Boy Jr. and Trump lawyers are now trying to push…that there is nothing illegal about using Russian hackers to intefere in our elections. This they claim is not illegal. The hell it isn’t.

      Every one of Trump’s lawyers should have their licenses to practice lifted because they publicly make statements they know are promoting breaking Constitutional laws.

  5. vamrse July 17, 2017

    Wow!!! Eleanore ..thanks for the info on the b-4 wives monthly payout, no wonder he gives Melania such flak. no matter that she no longer pushes his hand away, we know there is nothing there.


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