Why I Am Absolutely Certain That Trump Is Not Playing 3-D Chess

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readJan 20, 2018

The latest viral hashtag in US politics, #ReleaseTheMemo, has been ripping through conservative social media circles like wildfire sparked by comments from Capitol Hill Republicans and conservative mainstream media pundits like Sean Hannity about FISA surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Predictably, this has consumed online conservative discourse today, making me wish I’d saved my plea for Trump supporters to oppose this administration’s new Syria strategy for another time when it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. Even more predictably, the viral hashtag has caused Democrats to start spouting Russia conspiracy theories citing neocon-operated websites as evidence.

US partisan dynamics are such a pain in the ass.

And of course it’s extremely important to let the public know if America’s surveillance system is being abused in yet another way we didn’t already know about, but as Glenn Greenwald and Jon Schwartz rightly point out in an article that’s just been published by The Intercept, Republicans already have an array of options to make the memo and all its supporting documents public. What then is the need for this public crusade? And so close to a looming government shutdown? It sure looks like they’re using rank-and-file Republicans as pawns in some kind of political game.

Speaking of pawns, do you know what happens when you publicly point out that President Trump has the authority to declassify the memo and all documents supporting its conclusions? His supporters start babbling about playing chess, saying what looks like a blatant inconsistency is actually Trump being strategic and smart.

I want to talk about this, because it happens every time. Whenever I point out that Trump’s behavior doesn’t line up with what his base is saying about him, I get a bunch of his supporters telling me it’s because he’s actually outmaneuvering the establishment/deep state/swamp in a game of 3-D/4-D/57-D chess, and that I need to have faith. It’s a popular meme.

How perfect is that, though? Could you ask for a more perfect narrative to feed the masses than the idea that every time their leader appears to be doing something shady, he’s actually making a brilliant move that we lowly plebeians cannot hope to understand? He can march the US government step-for-step in the same direction Obama was day after day, and his supporters will gaslight themselves into believing that he’s actually done something ingenious.

Do you know why I am absolutely certain that this popular narrative is pure bullshit? Because Obama supporters were all saying the exact same thing about him at the beginning of his administration.

In the above clip (which I’ll hyperlink here in case anyone republishes this article without the embedded stuff), Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks is seen on MSNBC alongside Glenn Greenwald describing his outrage at the way Obama kept taking his base for granted in favor of capitulations to establishment interests, slamming the way his supporters initially defended that behavior as the president “playing three-dimensional chess” before getting crushed in the midterms due to alienated voters. I really want to remind everyone of this, so let me type up a quick transcript of this behavior for folks who can’t listen to audio right now:

“Because you remember what they told us: Obama’s a genius! I couldn’t possibly understand his genius — he’s playing three-dimensional chess! Well what part of three-dimensional chess do you give away your queen, your knight, your bishop, and the House of Representatives? No! They were wrong, we were right. It’s time to fight.”

Here’s a link to the full interview for context and background for those dutiful skeptics out there:

It’s important to reclaim these memories from news churn-induced amnesia, because we are seeing the exact same toxic psyop being recycled in a “Hope and Change” redux repackaged for a conservative audience. You’re not getting your hope and change from this president either, America.

MAGA friends, do you remember your frustration at the blindness of Obama supporters to the fact that their president wasn’t helping them or giving them the change they voted for, and was in fact merely extending Bush’s legacy? I know I interacted with many Republicans who felt that way at the time. Well guess what? They’re pulling the same exact wool over your eyes as this president continues and advances the same establishment agendas as his predecessor.

It’s time for Americans to abandon this pattern of abuse, like a battered wife coming back after the umpteenth time because he promised for the umpteenth time he’ll change. He’s not going to change, America. Lucy’s never going to let Charlie Brown kick that football. You need to start ignoring the stories and watching their actions.

And I mean their real, visible actions. A lot of Trump supporters are being so forgiving of the visible signs of establishment loyalism because there are rumors circulating that he’s about to bring down a vast network of pedophiles who are interwoven into the deep state/DC swamp, but again, how convenient is that? It looks exactly like Trump is advancing the same rampant corporatism and globalist warmongering agendas as his predecessors, but there’s secret, invisible evidence about to be revealed any minute now that he’s actually the populist hero you voted for. Trust Big Brother: he’s got secret, invisible heroism as well as brilliant 3-D chess moves you can’t possibly hope to understand.

If you want to remain open to the possibility of facts and evidence proving me wrong, by all means be my guest, but don’t trust in blind faith like Obama’s supporters did. Insist on facts and evidence. If you ignore the stories and look at the actions, you’ll see a very different presidency than either mainstream Republicans or mainstream Democrats want you to see.


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