Like Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope or Russia’s forced military strategies against French and German invaders in back-to-back centuries, President Trump has endured more than two years on the defensive.
He can and should go on the offensive, and Republicans at every level should follow suit.
There are plenty of military and competitive examples of one side allowing the other to spend themselves on an ultimately futile offensive, retreating and bobbing and weaving on the defensive. And when done right, the apparently superior power spends itself and the counteroffensive is invariably explosive and successful.
The parallels are clear and the timing is now. History shows the way.
The Grande Armée under Napoleon was an unstoppable force in the early 19th century, sweeping through Europe and defeating France’s rivals across the continent. Russia was the final hurdle and Napoleon was determined to knock out the giant. When he invaded Russia in the summer of 1812, the Grande Armée had 685,000 soldiers, the largest army ever seen up to that point. Napoleon had great successes in pushing the Russians back. But the Russian Army kept eluding the major, decisive battle Napoleon sought, the knockout blow. The French even took Moscow. But the Russians had burned it along with everything on their retreat, enacting a scorched earth policy that starved the vast French army.
The Russians used the huge land mass to their advantage and stayed on the defensive while Napoleon exhausted his army being on the offensive. When at last winter began to set in, Napoleon had to retreat and the Russian army went on the offensive, hounding the French and their allies all the way back to Poland. When the tattered remnants of Napoleon’s army crossed into Poland in December, there were only 27,000 left. It was decimated.
The same thing played out when the German Army invaded Russia in 1941. Hitler and his generals knew the story of Napoleon well, and sought a quick summer knockout of the Russian Red Army. But Russia has both land and a lot of people. Stalin did not purposely employ what the Russian Emperor had a century earlier, but it practically worked the same. The Red Army suffered defeat after defeat, but kept retreating and fighting. The Germans got to the gates of Moscow by December, but everything stalled.
But they regrouped in 1942 and went on the offensive again. Hitler went after Stalingrad this time, an important city but hardly a knockout city, because he hated Stalin and wanted to take the city named after him. It was irrational hatred and it drove the Germans deeper into Russia during the fall of 1942. The Russians kept retreating, but also kept bleeding the German Army while on defense. At Stalingrad, they purposely lured the Germans into terrible street fighting that nullified the German armor and air advantage.
In November 1942, as winter was setting in, the Russians sprung the trap on the German Army bogged down in Stalingrad, enveloping the Germans and eventually annihilating them. Germany never recovered from this defeat, losing an army of 600,000 soldiers in that single battle. Russia went on the offensive and never stopped until the Nazi regime was totally destroyed (and the U.S. stood in her way in central Germany.)
In 1974, Muhammad Ali and his team employed the Russian strategy against the more powerful puncher, George Foreman, but called it the rope-a-dope, because Ali had a way with words. This was the much hyped Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman was considered the favorite because of his superior punching power, and Ali knew this.
Ali purposely angered Foreman with taunts during the match, provoking the heavy-hitter to pound on him. Ali used the ropes of the ring (like the landmass of Russia) to absorb the blows for round after round. It looked like Ali was being just pummeled and Foreman was easily winning the match. Some feared for Ali’s life. But by using the ropes, Ali was more protected than it appeared because the blows energy were passed on to the ropes.
By the mid rounds, Foreman began tiring because he had done most of the punching. By the 7th round, Ali went on the offensive against an exhausted Foreman and won the match on a knockout in the 8th.
In 2016, Donald Trump was elected president and contrary to having the traditional “honeymoon” of new presidents, was immediately on the defensive. From the supposed million-woman pink hat march the day after his inauguration to the two-year Russia collusion probe by Robert Mueller to the endless and breathless coverage of being a traitor, racist and existential threat by the media, Trump and the GOP has been on the defensive his entire presidency.
Granted, the President has punched back consistently, but these have been counter punches, raiding parties, not a full-scale offensive.
The Mueller report results and the disastrous Mueller Congressional testimony last week are like the moments of Napoleon and Hitler at Moscow, or Ali in the 7th round against Foreman. The attackers have petered out on that front. The Trump offensive can began.
Yes, the House will keep holding hearings and the media will keep reporting things dishonestly, but Trump can go on the full offensive now.
Just as importantly, so can and should the entire GOP. They’ve laid low, said “let’s wait on the report.” Well the report is out and the corruption appears to be on the part of the investigators. Now there is no further excuse for not fighting back.
The ground is fertile for the counteroffensive:
— Highlighting the Russian counter investigations, where two reports will be coming out; one from the Inspector General very soon and the other from the district attorney appointed by Attorney General William Barr later;
— The hypocrisy of Democrats from the border to Baltimore who either are generating the human suffering or are ignoring it while trying to play the compassion card;
— Turn the race card back, pointing out the quality of life for Americans in this prosperous economy, and harping on the stats pointing out how well minorities are doing in America under Trump.
There are multiple fronts on which to go on the offensive. The GOP should be pushing the advantage daily or they will needlessly find themselves living on the defensive.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.