|Clap! Image by Above_Average.|
In his latest outing, performed at a press conference with Vietnamese president Trần Đại Quang, Trump tackles the age-old question of belief, not in the conventional terms of metaphysical mystery, gods and demons, life after death, right and wrong, but of our direct perception of our own actions: of President Vladimir Vladimorovich's belief ("I believe that President Putin/ really feels, and feels strongly") that he didn't "meddle" with the 2016 US general election.
If there's anything you could "know", you'd think, you'd know whether or not you "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election [in order] to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency", as the publicly posted January assessment by the US Intelligence Community put it, or "personally ordered the email hacks of Democratic Party officials as part of a broader campaign to influence the US election in Trump’s favor" before "evolving into an attempt not just to hurt Clinton but to outright elect Trump... as potential ally — someone with the right policy views and the right dealmaking disposition."
Or that "the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks." Or that "RT — as well as Sputnik, another Russian government–funded English-language propaganda outlet — began aggressively producing pro-Trump and anti-Clinton content starting in March 2016" and "aired a number of weird, conspiratorial segments — some starring WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange — that cast Clinton as corrupt and funded by ISIS and portrayed the US electoral system as rigged."
I'm sure if I ever got up to that kind of thing I'd have a distinct memory of it.
But to the poet, such certainties can't be sustained. Putin "feels" and "feels strongly" that he didn't do it, and what can you say? "I can't stand there and argue with him." He has beliefs himself: he can't say of the Putin meddling hypothesis "whether or not I believe it" but he can say, "I believe in our intel agencies/ ... as currently led", although when the January report was issued they were led by political hacks, as he told the journalists aboard Air Force One.
Now that he is the president and they are led by "fine people", "I believe very much in our intelligence agencies" without getting into the details of what the agencies believe, like the declaration of CIA director Mike Pompeo (after some earlier confusion, where the agency had to step in and tell the director that he was wrong) that he "stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: 'Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.' The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed."
So that's clear. And Trump believes in Putin's belief: "What he believes is what he believes" and "I believe he believes that and that's very important for somebody to believe." It's the belief itself that matters, to Putin, and to all of us.
by Donald J. Trump
I believe that President Putin
really feels, and feels strongly,
that he did not meddle in our election.
Look, I can't stand there and argue with him.
I would rather have him get out of Syria,
to be honest with you. I would rather ...
get to work with him on the Ukraine.
What he believes is what he believes.
What I said there is that I believe he believes that
and that’s very important for somebody to believe.
I believe that he feels he and Russia
did not meddle in the election.
As to whether I believe it or not,
I’m with our agencies,
especially as currently constituted
with their current leadership.
I believe in our intel agencies,In the language of the piece, I'd call attention to the dance of repeated words, "feel", "meddle", "agencies", "currently", and of course in every stanza "believe". Also the "fine people", which reminds us of the pro–Robert E. Lee demonstrators in Charlottesville, who included "very fine people" among the Klansmen and Nazi supporters, but not of the Mexican rapists and drug couriers and "some, I assume are good people" of the presidential campaign. And the telling "to be honest with you" cycling the readers' thoughts to our own beliefs and the not uncomplicated question of whether we believe in him.
our intelligence agencies ... as currently led
by fine people, I believe very much
in our intelligence agencies.