Memo to President Trump: Stop Feeding the Snake
© 2017 CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ.
The Trump Administration has been lured into a trap some Democrats, progressives and even members of the former Obama Administration not only appear to have set, but are hoping will be fatal.
Those who are seeking the demise of his government are presenting President Trump and his subordinates with a series of false narratives that are intended to put him in the impossible defensive position of debating the absurd while having to prove a negative.
So far it appears to be working. And that, in turn, is because the Administration so far appears to be failing to fully appreciate how it really works.
False narratives are the bites of the snake.
A false narrative is one based on a premise that, in turn, is nothing less than a lie created out of whole cloth by unethical people that is broadcast to the public in order to destroy someone like, in this instance, the President; e.g. the Russians helped the President win the election.
As we have seen, such people, not being subject to the limitations of either facts or the truth, are also not limited as to the number of such lies they can try to advance to achieve their goals.
Consider, for instance, the following: Trump is the new Hitler; Trump is a racist; Trump is a dictator; Trump is a woman hater; Trump is an anti-Semite. These are just some of the false narratives that have been attempted by our President’s enemies over the last three months that have failed.
Does this matter? Not at all to those who broadcast such lies. Like a snake, they will continue to strike as long as they are allowed to do so, if one false narrative fails, they simply move on to the next. They know they only need find one that will gain traction with the public to put the President’s legitimacy in peril: like the lie that members of President Trump’s campaign conspired with the Soviets to tamper with our elections and so, defeat Hillary.
The fact that such a premise is false — a lie — should be clear from the fact that not one progressive, Democrat or member of the media who has advanced this narrative has presented any proof or evidence to support it. Moreover, complicity by some in the media to advance the lie can best be appreciated by observing that, rather than actively engaging in true investigative journalism to determine whether the allegation can be corroborated by facts before broadcasting it (i.e. doing their job), they instead publicly put the question at issue to the Administration in such a way as to shift the burden of proof from them to the Administration by requiring it to prove that the naked uncorroborated allegation asserted is not true.
And that is where the Administration is making a mistake. Instead of calling out the lie for what it is and then ignoring it, they are overlooking the falsity of the premise and instead prematurely rushing forward to engage the promoters of the false premise in debate. To do this is a mistake for two very specific reasons.
Do not feed the snake.
First, to concede that it is worthy of debate, dignifies the lie. It is like feeding the snake that is trying to kill you.
A victim’s willingness to debate a false premise provides it a patina of credibility in the public’s mind that, in turn, not only gives life to the lie, but also affords the lie, no matter how absurd, an extremely good chance of winning the debate.
In fact, perhaps it should even be embraced as a social maxim in today’s society that whenever the opponents of almost any false premise afford it the credibility of it being worthy of public debate, even the absurd will almost always eventually prevail in that debate over common sense.
Should you doubt that this is often true, consider the public debates that ultimately resulted in our nation’s present laws that currently hold that a baby in the womb is not a human being to which our constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment even remotely apply, whereas Christian bakers who would choose to not cater a gay wedding because of their beliefs in God are now considered criminals in violation of that same constitution.
Why are such absurd propositions often enabled to prevail? To answer that question directs our attention to the second reason why debating a false premise is often a mistake that that can be fatal to common sense.
Do not fight the snake on its terms.
That is because it often places the opponent of the false premise — like the President and his Administration officials — in the impossible defensive position of having to prove a negative: e.g. proving that the Russians did not help their campaign win the election.
The President’s enemies know that the burden of having to prove such a negative proposition can almost never be satisfactorily achieved, any more than the poor souls in Salem years ago could have ever hoped to prove they were not witches. In other words, the opponents of a false negative are set up to lose. And as is the case in many of these set ups, attempts to prove the negative are not only futile, but often times will also only worsen the situation of those who attempt to do so.
That is exactly the case being encountered by the present Administration. Consider the firing of General Flynn, the recusal of Attorney General Sessions from any investigation involving the Russians and the Administration’s repeated complaints about the leaks to the press about their meetings with Russian officials. All of these actions, without exception, have only stoked the fire growing in the public’s mind that something nefarious between the Russians and the Trump campaign DID occur and that the President and his people are not only guilty, but also now trying to hide the “truth.”
To defeat the snake?
In light of these realities, the question then becomes how should the President and his people respond appropriately in the future to such false narratives that are presented to them?
First … resist the urge to debate the snake.
Simply put, these false premises should be shunned for being the lies that they are.
In practical terms, this means that when the President and his Administration are confronted with attempted narratives based on lies, they should repeatedly and often:
- Publicly declare each false premises presented to be the lie it is;
- Publicly demand an immediate presentation of some credible proof from the Senators, Congressmen and members of the press who have attempted to advance any particular lie at issue;
- Publicly shift the burden of proof back to the accusers by explaining to the public that, until such proof is tendered, no further response by the Administration is necessary, nor should be expected, to avoid dignifying the lie; and
- Do not discuss publicly the leaks within the Executive branch that are enabling the snake to strike. Instead delegate such matters to be pursued and resolved quietly by internal investigations with a highest priority. If any promise to the public need be made, it should be the Administration’s commitment to the public that those in the Executive branch found to have committed any felonies or misdemeanors in connection with such leaks shall be prosecuted by this Administration to the fullest extent of the law.
Second … locate, identify and remove the head of the snake.
This Administration needs to confront and deal with a political reality that is becoming undeniable — the Administration is under siege. By discrediting and delegitimizing his Presidency with the advancement of premises that are false, there are some both in and out of our government who with increasing clarity are revealing an intent to achieve nothing less than a silent coupe.
How the President will choose to deal with these people is a matter I must leave for the greater minds within his Administration to resolve. But, for him to do nothing with respect to them is not an option.
The issue being presented to the President that must be addressed and resolved soon is when these attempts to invalidate his Presidency cross the line that separates constitutionally protected free speech from unlawful acts of sedition.
An awareness that is emerging among those of us on both sides of this nation’s present divide, however, is that, if some action is not taken quickly by our government to make the people who are attempting to destroy it experience some definitive adverse consequences for acts that do approach the level of sedition, the President’s enemies have no reason to stop doing what they are doing until he is finally destroyed.
Sadly, to avoid this foreseeable outcome the President is left with little choice.
He must act now to expose those who are attacking him to some form of appropriate prosecution for crimes committed — like, for instance, attempting to overthrow the lawful government of the United States. In this regard, Loretta Lynch’s thinly veiled call to arms even if it results in “blood on the streets” that recently appeared on her Facebook comes to mind.
Moreover, even this will be of no avail to the President, unless those secretly leading the charge against him from behind the scenes are also included. In short, to stop the attacks he must identify, expose and remove the head of the snake; i.e. the people who are behind, and encouraging people like Lynch.
To do this, the President must also realize that time is of the essence. The President must either do this soon, or he very will may not be able to retain the necessary political capital long enough to be able to do it.
Not a joyful task, to be sure, for either the President or the nation … but one that must be done if he is to survive. Practically and politically speaking, it truly is now becoming a matter of do or die.
© Clifford C. Nichols 2017 — Mr. Nichols, a former research associate of The Heritage Foundation; graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, whereupon he was elected to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa society; followed by his obtaining a Juris Doctorate degree, Cum Laude, bestowed by the venerable Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois, where he had the pleasure of serving as a member of the Board of Editors of the Northwestern University Law Review. Today, Mr. Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico.