Donald Trump Finds the First Khrushchev Letter

In the crime drama film, Traffic, James Brolin, playing General Ralph Landry, tells a story:

You know, when Khrushchev was forced out, he sat down and he wrote two letters and gave them to his successor. He said – “When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. And when you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter”.

Well, soon enough, this guy found himself in a tight place, so he opened the first letter, which said, “Blame everything on me.” So he blamed the old man, and it worked like a charm.

When he got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, and he opened the second letter, it said – “Sit down, and write two letters.”

The story has been floating around for decades, in one form or another. Some versions had corporate executives writing to their successors, others involved dictatorial heads of state. Mark Shields poked fun at one variation a quarter century ago that had Joseph Stalin writing letters for Khrushchev.

It does seem fanciful, doesn’t it? Corporate leaders are unlikely to pass on advice to those who forced them into retirement. Khrushchev could not have had much love for Brezhnev, after Brezhnev helped engineer his ouster. Stalin passed the baton to Khrushchev by dying. Hard to pass on advice from a Soviet grave.

It seems obvious the tale is meant as a wry sort of satiric joke, one that carries a cynical lesson. It apparently has not been obvious to everyone. Enough people believed the story, in any of its myriad forms, to compel Snopes.com, the mythbusters of the internet, to assure readers that, no, the tale is not truth, except perhaps as allegory.

We have found many such true believers involving themselves in even the wildest of urban legends. There has always been a home among those on the fringe for the story too good to let mere truth interfere. In recent years, and most especially in the 2016 election, tall tales have found a firmer niche in the minds of the gullible. The yearning to believe what some folks wish to be true is now simply called fake news.

I was thinking of fake news after real, actual, horrible news of a botched military raid came to us from Yemen. A Navy Seal was killed, dozens of civilians were killed, a child was among the dead, and a multi-million dollar aircraft with highly developed vertical takeoff and landing capabilities was abandoned and had to be demolished.

The administration insisted that the operation was a success. By any measure it was not.

Video was released proving that, despite the high cost in blood and death, computers and records containing valuable information had been captured, providing details of planned terrorist attacks.

This is how Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it:

An unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential death or attacks on American soil.

That story was false. The video was phony, borrowed from previous actions taken years ago.

Details quickly dribbled out.

U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.

Reuters News Service

President Trump notoriously does not pay attention to the President’s Daily Brief. He says he finds them repetitive. In this case, he got a brief refresher of the daily summary from his son-in-law while eating dinner. He authorized the raid based on what his son-in-law told him as he enjoyed his meal.

Administration sources later insisted that the operation had been previously authorized by President Obama, postponed only until the first moonless night, which happened to be after President Trump took over.

Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer:

The conclusion was at that time to hold for what they called a moonless night which, by calendar, wouldn’t occur until then President-elect Trump was President Trump.

That also turned out to be false. Military sources had requested an expansion in the US role. They wanted boots on the ground beyond the advisory role that had been authorized by the Obama administration. President Obama authorized the gathering of information into a presentation to be given to the next President.

The military raid was never presented to any member of President Obama’s cabinet, to any cabinet assistant, to anyone on the National Security Council, or to President Obama himself.

Every President develops his own style. President Obama expanded even on the exacting care exercised by his predecessors. He asked penetrating questions, demanded risk assessments, wanted to know the estimated chances of things going wrong, the chances of targets being where they were thought to be, the chances of American casualties, the likelihood of innocent bystanders being caught in the line of fire.

In some cases he went alone to consider the assessments, the information, the dangers, before returning to give his decision.

He was no stranger to the situation room. He and his staff monitored the progress of military raids by video as events unfolded.

President Trump has a different style.

Journalist Tommy Christopher looked through the public record and examined the timeline of the Yemen operation. As Navy Seals came under fire, as an American combat hero died, as a highly developed aircraft was lost, as bystanders and children were killed, Donald Trump was in the Presidential private residence.

He was tweeting on the internet, complaining about news stories,

and criticizing Republican Senators who failed to support him on his immigration ban

In this case, the fake news about great military success, valuable terrorist computer records, and previous authorization all came from the White House.

The President couldn’t be bothered with trivial details, he was too busy to see the results himself. He was engaged in more important duties:

He was hunched over his little cellphone, sending out into the ether his internet rage about disloyal reporters and Senators.

In the aftermath, as word of disaster came in, he was ready with a tall tale about President Obama authorizing a plan he had never seen.

When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe.


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6 thoughts on “Donald Trump Finds the First Khrushchev Letter”

  1. Your inside knowledge of what Presidents Obama and Trump do during such situations is amazing. Your sources must be very close to both of them and therefore unimpeachable.

    Where was President Obama again when the attack on Benghazi was occurring?

    1. Thanks for your question, T. Paine.

      On Obama, it’s hard to say. Not as important as I see it.

      Since the Benghazi attack was not pre-planned by the United States, he could not have pre-determined where he would be.

      The reason we know where President Trump was at the moment of the attack he authorized is the recorded time of the attack, and the recorded time of his frantic twitter activity. I appreciate your amazement about my access to those records, but I confess the unimpeachable information to which you refer is publicly available.

      Since our new head of state had authorized the military action, it is possible he might have still remembered when it would occur, wouldn’t you agree?

  2. Oh, I agree that the Twitter posts and the time of the attack Trump authorized are very damning against him. I have no argument with your analysis thereof accordingly.

    I am more curious about the fleshing out of details such as, “… he got a brief refresher of the daily summary from his son-in-law while eating dinner. He authorized the raid based on what his son-in-law told him as he enjoyed his meal.”

    Did his son-in-law report this to the media, or do you have a different inside-the-Whitehouse source that did not wish to be named? Little “facts” like this seem to suggest an intimate knowledge of the situation for sure, unless, of course, the source simply fabricated the story out of whole cloth. There seems to be a few of these “sources” in the government that are not beyond making up stories to put President Trump in a bad light. (Take the false story on the removed bust of MLK from the oval office as an example.) There are plenty of true stories to report that put Trump in a decidedly unfavorable light without having to create ones like many in the unbiased Left-wing media does.

    Don’t get me wrong; it is entirely possible that Trump, being the idiot he is, very easily could have acted in such a way. I am simply curious as to how Mr. Deming came to know this “inside baseball” fact?

    1. Thank you for clarifying your question, T. Paine.

      It is certainly possible that my secret inside-the-White-House source fabricated the fact that President Trump approved the raid while he enjoyed his dinner. We do have to be careful about that these days.

      The President’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been known to repeat fabrications before. And he may have fabricated this as well in his press conference late last week. I don’t know why he would, though.

      I do appreciate your generosity in crediting me with high level contacts. I have to confess that I merely relied on public information. Could have been found by anyone, really.

      Even you, had you been able to take time from your busy schedule.

    2. About that MLK bust story:

      http://thehill.com/homenews/media/315486-trump-attacks-time-report-for-mistake-about-mlk-bust

      “Miller initially reported the King bust was missing. But minutes later he sent out a correction, saying the bust had been obscured by a door and a Secret Service agent.

      He then sent out more than a dozen tweets correcting the mistake and apologizing, including one directed to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who had called it ‘a reminder of the media danger of tweet first check facts later.'”

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