Muhammad Ali coined the term “rope a dope” to describe his fight plan for winning a fight against a more powerful opponent. He exhausted his opponent by laying against the ropes round after round, head and torso covered by forearms and gloves, goading the opponent and letting him take out his fury as Ali leaned back against the ropes, resting while he let his furious opponent exhaust himself and then, when the time was right, whuppin’ him. Rope A Dope is a stalling tactic that allows you to survive round after round against someone who’d otherwise beat you like a drum until the bell rings. In the end, if you are able to delay things as long as you need to, your opponent is exhausted and frustrated and you have a good chance to win the fight by the end.
While Bill Barr auditioned for his role as Trump’s gunsel, with a memo stating that Mueller’s entire investigation was “untenable,” Federalist Society favorite Don McGahn, Trump’s then White House Counsel, was busy getting first Gorsuch, then Kavanuagh, on the Supreme Court. Barr devised a Rope A Dope strategy for the serial obstructor of justice, the 45th president, advising him to assert unlimited, absolute, blanket protective immunity against any testimony or document release that could hurt the Unitary Executive in any way. The president instructed his faithful to defy Congress, under this untenable legal theory.
Barr knew in the end this overbroad assertion of limitless privilege was doomed, like Trump’s ridiculous all-inclusive, lifetime non-disclosure agreements that have now started falling in courts, but the main thing was to buy time for his boss, to run out the clock as Trump continued to work his magic for the far right.
During Mueller’s “untenable” investigation he encountered numerous attempts by the Polyp and his myrmidons to obstruct justice. Trump flatly refused to answer the last question of the interrogatories he agreed to answer for Mueller, left it blank and there was simply no consequence for failing to provide an answer to the most potentially incriminating question. Manafort and Stone, two of the most cynical and evil fucks on the scene, repeatedly lied to Mueller, which was no problem since they had pardons dangled in exchange for their obstruction to protect the man who would pardon them. Quid pro quo, defiance, silence and lies in exchange for a pardon from their co-conspirator.
In one instance of apparent obstruction of justice documented by Mueller, McGahn (who we recently learned collected and trashed every tip called in during the short sham FBI investigation of Boof Kavanaugh) refused his boss’s request to fire Mueller, tendering his resignation instead. The following day Trump instructed him to write a memo for the record stating they never talked about McGahn firing Mueller. McGahn, in an uncharacteristic show of integrity, refused. He told the story to Mueller’s investigators, under the penalties of perjury. When he was called to testify during the impeachment inquiry he cited the absolute privilege Barr had pulled out of his capacious ass and piously announced that he would abide by the eventual decision of the court.
McGahn’s public testimony would have been devastating to Trump. As McGahn’s court case meandered through the courts the public never saw him (or any others) confirm the damning details they’d revealed under oath to Mueller’s investigators. In the end the court ruled that McGahn must testify, but it was two years later, both impeachments were history. When he did finally testify, he negotiated the rules for his testimony, including that he would not take an oath to tell the truth. You can read the transcript of him cagily confirming the truth of what he’d told Mueller, but it is a purely academic exercise. Rope A Dope works again.
The Democrats, a party firmly controlled by its corporate donors, are not known for the stiffness of their collective spine. Technically they have a razor thin majority in the House and Senate, but they are being Rope A Doped and played by a party that has shown its willingness to embrace any tactic and any lie that will keep them in power. Our government’s ability to pass needed laws is being held hostage by a united mass of 50 Republican senators and by two basically Republican Democrats, “moderate centrists” Manchin and Sinema. If one of the two contrarian Democrats (both defenders of the “bipartisan” filibuster, naturally, and well-paid for their steadfastness) flips to the other party, it’s game over for Biden. If one of the two holds fast against what 49 other Democrats vote for, it’s game over for Biden. A lot of power for one contrarian to hold over their party’s policies.
When Steve Bannon worked for his billionaire patrons the Mercers, they supported Lyin’ Ted Cruz, until Trump knocked him out of contention for the GOP presidential candidate and was the last turd standing. Throwing their support behind the new GOP candidate they introduced the flailing Trump campaign to Bannon and Kellyanne “Alternative Fact” Conway. The rest, as they say, is history. Strategist Bannon is a thinking man’s fascist, straight up, he doesn’t even attempt to hide it. The administrative state? Enemy of freedom and of the people. We need 20,000 shock troops for January 6 2.0 and I call for them now. Jews, not for my kids. Bannon will say whatever he needs to in order to advance his radical right wing agenda of securing a one-party state eternally hospitable to the Mercers and their privileged ilk.
Now Bannon, pardoned by the Polyp for ripping off the Polyp’s most loyal supporters in a fake “Build the Wall!” scam, is doing the McGahn Rope A Dope. It may be a fanciful, even frivolous, claim that a man who hasn’t worked for Trump directly as a government official since the summer of 2017 is protected by Executive Privilege, but that’s for the courts, not the administrative state Bannon is devoted to destroying, to decide.
The Democrats current plan is as practical and principled as the one the democracy supporters of the Weimar Republic employed to reign in Mr. Hitler and his top guys. The law provides for criminal contempt penalties that Bannon can fight in court well past the 2022 election, at which time, Biden having passed no meaningful legislation, might have Trump as Speaker of the House.
The solution to this Rope A Dope doesn’t take much guts, but it takes seeing and fighting sworn lockstep marching enemies as the danger they are. Congress has the power of inherent contempt which allows it to send marshals to arrest and detain any contemptuous motherfucker who tells Congress to stick their subpoena where the sun don’t shine. Send a couple of marshals to arrest Steve Bannon, and, while you’re at it, get his equally handsome autocracy-loving co-conspirator, The Orange Polyp, who has publically told Bannon and others to tell the illegitimate Congress to go fuck themselves. Lock him up.
The answer to someone who punches you hard in the face is not a careful study of the best way to react, it is an immediate, strong reaction to prevent another blow to the kisser. Unless, of course, a kingmaker like Manchin or Sinema gives the saucy thumbs down, with a wink to their equally compromised buddies across the aisle (not that either of these shitbirds have anything to say about what the House does to enforce its powers).
In other Rope A Dope news: