Admittedly, I've been hooked on the whole Russia-collusion narrative from the very beginning. From the first reports of potential Russia-Trump election meddling onward, I've been near obsessed with the story, its many, many, many developments, and its ostensible expansiveness.
Though the story has ebbed and flowed from the start, ranging from the ultra-banal to the rabbit-hole intrigue of geopolitical/financial deception and manipulation, I've been undeniably drawn to it, near the point of choking in its unrelenting grip of death. The slow drip drip drip of detail and development and update has been expertly delivered, keeping the addict salivating and just desperate enough to hang on, perhaps in spite of indications, and the occasional gut feeling, that the tiger had no teeth...that there was nothing really there.
The pace at which this Russia thing has moved along has been, at times, enough to nurture doubt in even the truest of believers, myself included. Even the most feverish of Russian dark-hole conspiracists have had to, at some point, have posed the question "Where is the NUT?" After all, crazy or not, we've all grown accustomed to the tricks of television and marketing, at least on some base level, and most of us have a general sense that those in the media, no matter how professional, ethical or noble, are always trying to sell us something, even if that something is merely the idea that you need to tune in again tomorrow...
Thus the Theory of the Shiny Metal Object.
Our cynicism in regards to the media, messaging and (gulp) the D.C. public relations machine didn't come from nowhere. We were experiencing information overload and fatigue long before this latest incarnation of buffoonery and greed and evil slimed its way into the collective trash heap.
So, when someone so obviously full of sleaze and so apparently absent of shame and morals and intellect, surrounded by those equally full of sleaze and absent of shame and decency and basic intelligence, came into the fold, it wasn't that much of a leap to dismiss what often seemed like poorly-footed (but so believable) narratives, connections and patchwork as mere distraction; a masterful attempt by expert media manipulators to keep the idiotic masses subdued in and consumed by the Shiny Metal Object...just long enough to REALLY screw them over and burn the place down.
It's not hard to believe. The barrage of Russian articles and think-pieces and innuendo begging for attention on your phone and your TV and your radio and your PC on a round-the-clock basis not only creates a general sense of ennui and exhaustion, they BEG for an ulterior motive. The seeming lack of conclusion or endgame in this news is enough to feed the question mark, as well as to ask oneself "Hey, what DON'T they want us to look at?"
Plenty. The bureaucratic inertia that has largely prevented the roll-outs of mega-donor-approved legislation has, for the most part, been unable to stop the White House from rolling back regulations in regards to housing, education, the financial industry, environmental protections, consumer protections and so on, and while executive orders are somewhat limited in scope, there are, potentially at least, long-lasting consequences.
There was also the successful nomination of Garland, as well as any subsequent, consequential Supreme Court decisions, which one could argue have largely slipped and continue to slide past public view.
Yes. The Russian thing, in spite of its exhaustive, depressing and seemingly overwrought nature, continues to keep a nervous nation in its oxygen-depleting death-grip. And by doing so, it has, naturally, stolen the spotlight from issues and events that deserve more attention.
One could also argue that it's glare has been so distracting, so engrossing, that it has effectively diluted efforts to fight the wrongs, real or perceived, being committed daily by the Bad Hombre and his minions. So prevalent is the Russia-Trump-Collusion-Calamity story these days, it could be argued, that efforts to combat the Trump phenomenon continue to be greatly watered down; in some cases, stalled altogether.
Is the story mere distraction? Is The Shiny Metal Object really as powerful as it is claimed to be? Is the Trump Administration specifically, and GOP Money, in general, actually BENEFITTING from its chaotic allure?
Superficially, maybe. Realistically, no.
From my own ignorant perspective, I see several things taking place that are either a result of the Russia story or that are being altered/influenced by its gravity ; none of which I believe have any short or long-term advantages for The Trumpening:
1) Legislative Impotence
The fact that several legislative committees are charged with "investigating" Russia and election collusion have certainly not helped along the effort to pass GOP legislation, nor to help Trump guide his own "agenda" through (though, to be fair, Trump does very little on his end to usher through his own America First policies).
Also, the mere stench of Russian collusion, continually grown by and within the national press corps (not without reason or merit), does little to muster up legislative confidence or support in the President and his Cabal of Crooks.
2) Message Erosion
Trump is used to having control over his brand and the message that defines it. This gives him the power to control the narrative, his image, etc.
With the Russian story constantly hanging overhead, and with the constant cross-messaging and power-plays going on in Washington, the only brand control Trump has at this point is keeping his mouth shut. He is incapable of doing this.
The Russian story, however distracting and often overblown, is a constant negative that has effectively etched a scarring stigma into the Trump brand, and it digs in a little further with each new development. The more his brand suffers, the more he and his surrogates have to spend time digging in to defend it, wasting resources and political capital Trump could have been using to usher in the Age of the Idiot, as well as all the destructive little trimmings that decorate it.
For someone who places so much value on optics, the mere refusal of this story to go away is a constant source of erosion, both to the Trump brand and to anything else his name is emblazoned on.
3) Criminal Exposure
The Trump-collusion story and special counsel investigation may end up vindicating President Trump, though not before exposing certain things about how generally awful he is or what he's willing to do to service himself and his family. This goes the same for those in his orbit, who will most likely take the brunt of the blame and fall in an effort to protect Ol' Hairplugs from incrimination.
It's already well-established that Trump & CO have always lived in the high-end gutter, and value nothing more than saving their own collective butt. Though that's not obvious to everyone (stalwart Trump supporters), it is public knowledge; a fact that is hard to deny when you carefully and willingly examine the details.
This is speculation, but I'm guessing that a few low-to-mid staffers, and perhaps a Cabinet Member of two, are gonna regret falling on this sword...at least when all is said and done. I do believe that, at the very least, some criminals, both here and abroad, will be exposed as a result of this story/investigation, and it never hurts to get a bit of scum off the streets (per Jeff Sessions).
No Less Than The Future and Integrity of Journalism Are At Stake
Countless individuals, including professional journalists, editors, fact-checkers and more, have staked their reputations and their careers on the Russia story. In doing so, the reputation, future and integrity of not only professional, esteemed news organizations, but also the journalism profession, are hanging in the balance.
The dismissal of the Russia-collusion story as unimportant, a dead-end or simply as distraction, is essentially a no-confidence vote for journalism itself.
Trump has gone out of his way, both during the campaign and throughout his young presidency, to shame, discredit and undermine not only the reputation, but the value, of the journalistic profession. Dismissing the story as cannon fodder helps to fuel his fake news narrative, as well as to help solidify the "they are the enemy" mentality among his supporters.
To label the Russia story a "Shiny Metal Object," something with no real worth that makes for little more than fun water-cooler banter, and that takes attention away from those issues that "really matter", does both the story, and the journalists who have brought it to the forefront, a gross injustice.
This callous assumption not only shows very little faith in the public to be involved and interested in the issues that "really matter" (perhaps deservedly, in some cases); it also smugly and self-righteously dismisses the efforts and integrity of those working tirelessly to hold those in power to account (that ever-so-mysterious 4th branch of gov't).
You NEED this story
If you want to retain any sort of hope of ending "Trumpdom" before any real damage occurs, or of holding any of these corrupt actors accountable, or you simply want to restore any sense of accountability to begin with, you NEED this story.
Without it, we're all screwed.
re ipsa loquitor