The Distractor in Chief

The Distractor in Chief

Strolling past the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago in Chile towards the Mercado Central sends you from the sacred to the secular. The street leading to the giant seafood market is lined with cut-price flea market booths hawking tourist tchotchkes, drinks and snack foods, and counterfeit Nikes and Adidas.

Between the booths are buskers and entertainers plying their trade for the grubby pesos passerby’s toss into their baskets. And every block or so there’s a small crowd of people gathered around a bunko dealer. These flimflammers play different versions of three-card monte; some with cups and balls, some with dice, and some with the classic set of playing cards.

Distractor in Chief

But no matter what device the con artists use, they all employ the same techniques; they count on shills and distraction to fool their victims. They do this to first convince their audiences that the games are legit and then to fleece them. In response, their audiences pull folded-up pesos out of their pockets and purses in a single motion that’s both hopeful and desperate at the same time.

Distraction, sleight-of-hand, interference, disruption. All are techniques magicians use to make sure their audiences see what the performers want them to see and don’t see what the performers don’t want them to see. When done right, the audience doesn’t even know they’ve been distracted. They’re simply astonished when the ball isn’t under the cup, the card isn’t in the deck, or the beautiful girl in the cabinet is gone and the magician is there instead.

Most magicians (and con artists) make it look easy. It’s not by mistake that the traditional image of the magician has him dressed to the nines in a natty tuxedo. The distraction is pulled off with such aplomb that it not only appears effortless but it’s usually done long before the audience even knows they’re being fooled.

But some magicians actually work hard to make their distraction look clumsy and unplanned – thus making the ultimate switcheroo appear even more surprising when it unfolds on the hapless spectator.

So what if that’s what’s happening in Washington? What if President Trump’s apparent missteps are actually calculated techniques used to distract us from what’s really going on?

Don’t worry, this is not a political screed. Instead it is an exploration of the ways that the current administration might be using a time-honored technique to legislate without our knowledge.

Why else would the president insult the pregnant widow of a fallen soldier? Why else would he insult the Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria? Why else would he go to war with the NFL over freedom of speech? It’s much too easy (and naïve) to write it off to him being a clumsy boor. What if there’s something else going on?

Consider this – as much as all of us want to look at the classified papers from JFK’s assassination, why release them now? What could be a bigger distraction than to get us all lathered-up over an assassination and conspiracy theory that occurred over 50 years ago?

Or consider this – while we’re paying attention to Trump’s reality-show antics, what’s happened to the Russian hacking investigation? While we’re busy being sidetracked by 45’s tweets, look at the bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives:

  1. HR 861 to Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
  2. HR 610 – Vouchers for Public Education (which may end free public education as we know it)
  3. HR 899 to Terminate the Department of Education
  4. HR 69 to Repeal the Rule Protecting Wildlife
  5. HR 370 to Repeal the Affordable Care Act (again??!!)
  6. HR 354 to Defund Planned Parenthood (even though exactly none of your tax dollars go toward abortion services now)
  7. HR 785 – National “Right to Work” which would effectively end unions
  8. HR 83 – Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
  9. HR 147 to Criminalize Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
  10. HR 808 to Impose Sanctions Against Iran

Whether you agree or disagree with all, some or any of these bills is not the point. What matters is that we are all being suckered by the same tactics that we’d smugly say we’d never fall for on a three-card monte table. On the other hand, there were plenty of people tossing their cash at the bunko dealers on the street, so maybe I’m wrong there too.

By | 2018-03-26T15:09:51+00:00 October 24th, 2017|12 Comments


  1. Fred Kettler October 25, 2017 at 6:20 am - Reply

    the biggest “con man” of them all! absolutely incredible and how extremely sad. this is a powerful message Bruce that hopefully teaches a BIG lesson about the hidden agenda behind all of the smoke and mirrors. this particular con on America, the (still) greatest country in the world, clearly takes the cake…

  2. Joan Chikds October 25, 2017 at 11:21 am - Reply

    This is spot on! I would love to post it on my Facebook page with your permission. The metaphor makes it so easy to get! Thank you!

  3. Mimi October 25, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    You have hit the nail on the head. These con men of the streets must have been Trump’s mentors, as that is exactly what he is doing. It is hard to reconcile if he is actually a “Tell-it-like-he-see’s-it foul-mouthed jerk, or a crafty fox out to deceive the American people. Because of his actions, I actually have come to believe him truly evil, and out to destroy our great country, as we know it, for his own personal gain.
    It is a shame. I think many voted for him because of his wealth, thinking that he could help them get better off financially. There are many wealthy people with a good heart in this country. Unfortunately, he is not one of them.

  4. Seth werner October 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm - Reply


  5. Angelica Varas October 25, 2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Although I agree with most of the ending statements and ideas I do not appreciate you on trashing my country CHILE since these things happen everywhere in the world and maybe you have no idea just because you haven’t even been there or seen them.

    Another example more smart with no trashing any country would have been better appreciated and specially since CHILE is best country in all South America.

  6. Rhonda V Sibiia October 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately, I totally agree with your theory.

  7. Len Kaufman October 25, 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Nah….I’m gonna’ go with narcissistic buffoon with a side dish of early onset dementia. Though he is drawing all the attention, I doubt he has any idea those bills are under consideration. He’s barely talking to the congressmen that proposed them.

    He has a long history of buffoonery. I’m not saying that his providing cover for the introduction of those bills is not deleterious, but I am suggesting he is not a cognoscente actor in this (im)morality play.

  8. Len Kaufman October 26, 2017 at 8:15 am - Reply

    “Consider this – as much as all of us want to look at the classified papers from JFK’s assassination, why release them now? What could be a bigger distraction than to get us all lathered-up over an assassination and conspiracy theory that occurred over 50 years ago?”

    On the above matter, the release date of this information was ordained years ago, before Trump was even a fixture in our nightmares. Today. Thursday 26 Oct 2017. The only thing that could stop the release is a presidential edict.

  9. Shar October 26, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Are you planning to scream at the sky on Nov 8th?

  10. Julie October 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    This is exactly what I thought was happening, Trump is a shrill. Nobody can be as stupid and mean-spirited as he appears, I think he’s willingly allowing us to think that so he can build up his Trump hotels (charging for the Secret Service to be there every time he goes to play golf, etc.) and become known worldwide. He did it in exchange for distracting attention away from the bills you mentioned, and our news channels are falling for it too.

    I only hope we survive all that they are doing to ruin the country and make money for themselves.

  11. David J. Hawes October 27, 2017 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Unfortunately, I am afraid you are right… there too. Maybe
    you have just explained why 300 pages of the JFK papers were not released yesterday (10/26).

    Time for a new tuxedo…

    Thanks, Bruce!

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