Four decades ago, I was friends with Author and Journalist Adela Rodgers St. Johns. Adela taught me how to write. She was also quite a card player and taught me how to play poker. One day she said to me, “Politics, Journalism, and Poker are all the same thing.”
I was 23 when she said those words and did not have a clue about the meaning of her words, so she went on. “I divorced my husband, Ike, because of a poker game. The game was in Manhattan at the Waldorf Astoria. There was a lot of money on the table.
“Ike sat staring at his hand. Finally, he threw away one card and called for one from the dealer. I saw the look on his face and knew he had lost.
“On the way home. I asked him about the hand. He told me he had a 3, 4, 6, and 7. He was trying to draw a 5. That’s called an inside straight. Nobody is that lucky. I knew I had to divorce him. How could I live with anybody that stupid?”
Only amateurs try to draw to an inside straight because the odds of pulling the right card are half of what they are if the straight comes from getting one of the two end cards. Only novice card players, and the fortunate win making an inside straight.
Robert Mueller must be a fortunate son. He pulled an inside straight on Friday by filing charges against a baker’s dozen of Russians. Mr. Mueller knows that little Vladdy Putin will not be handing his pets over to U.S. authorities for prosecution, so why bring the charges?
Donald Trump, the Twitter-in-Chief has been implementing a public relations campaign to undermine the FBI and Mr. Mueller’s Russia probe. As the Special Counsel has closed in on the Trumpworld inner circle, the tweets from Mr. Trump have become more frantic, and with a harsher tone.
“If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow,” –President Theodore Roosevelt.
Many attribute the above quote to Richard Nixon. Roosevelt spoke the words, and Nixon henchman Chuck Colson had the words put on a plaque and displayed in his White House office.
President Trump has his henchmen of his own. They are not in the White House, instead, at Fox news. In concert with Mr. Trump’s twitter account, they upped the rhetoric and had been trying to convince the Trump base that the Mueller investigation is a political hoax.
Fueling their claims was the fact there have been few indictments, and those arrested are close political associates of the President. From a public relations standpoint, their arguments held a ring of plausibility, until yesterday.
Mr. Mueller’s indictments on Friday put an end to that argument. It also shores up Mr. Mueller’s support in Congress. The House and Senate like investigations that are productive, unless they are the ones conducting the inquiry, and have their political agenda of their own. Ken Starr’s multimillion-dollar investigation of Bill Clinton’s sex life and the Benghazi charade are two prime examples of taking a lot of time and wasting money on political farces.
The lack of productivity emboldened those in Trumpland in their quest to force an end to the investigation. That effort was dealt a significant blow when the retiring Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a modern-day Cotton Mather, and leader of the Benghazi inquiry said he supported Mr. Mueller.
The indictments will only deepen the support. Like President Roosevelt so accurately told us a century ago, even Mr. Trump has to acknowledge the Russian caper. I apologize for the mental image, but guess what Mr. Mueller is holding in his right hand?
As the tweet on the right shows, Mr. Trump is using the indictments to try and vindicate himself. For a guy who likes to sell himself as a dealmaker, he sure is not doing an outstanding job with Mueller. The Trump campaign memos continue to be a thorny issue between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller. Just because the Russian attack on our election started before Mr. Trump decided to run does not mean there was no contact. Collusion remains a looming question, and Mr. Mueller wants answers.
All the poker skill in the world does not beat lucky. Mr. Mueller is both skilled, and lucky. Guess whom I am betting on to win the memo debate?
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