When we were kids growing up the northeast, winter was a special time, because it brought the snow.
For the adults, snow was a burden to be cleared from sidewalks and driveways, but for youngsters, snow was magic. Snow was the universal building material for childhood fantasies, and the universal weapon for warfighting. Snowdrifts became warrens of tunnels, and snow forts built with care by runny-nosed kids in scarves and mittens popped up like mushrooms in every yard. The petty summer rivalries of neighbor children morphed into all-out winter warfare. Preparations were hastily made, and piles of snowballs were staged behind hand-made frozen ramparts. Miniature combatants shivered silently in their own trenches waiting for the inevitable onslaught from the enemy that lived next door.
It was very real to us, outdoors in the cold, little warriors steeling ourselves for the pain of being struck by a hard-packed snowball to the body or the occasional fatal hit to the face. During those winter campaigns, we learned logistics, strategy, and tactics, long before the age of commercial electronic entertainment. It was figuratively life and death, with our pre-pubescent honor to be won or lost each grey afternoon before we were called in for dinner.
Success in a snowball fight required overwhelming firepower, accuracy, and sustained aggression. And diversion. A favored tactic was the “lob,” which was our artillery. Snowballs thrown fast and level, like baseballs, were our direct fire and were how most hits were obtained. The “lob” was the snowball thrown high, in a lofty arch, to rain down on the enemy from above.
The “lob” was the distraction, used to draw the enemy’s attention away for a few moments, as they tried to guess where it would impact. And while the enemy was looking up, he was not throwing at us, and that is when we always scored our best kills.
Donald Trump grew up in the northeast, and he likely had his own winter snow fighting experiences. He probably was familiar with the tactic of the “lob,” because we all used it.
As President, Trump apparently uses a “lob” strategy, in the form of a “tweet,” to some advantage. His media adversaries, cowering behind their fixed fortifications of news bureaus and TV studios, haphazardly throw barbs and insults, but while the media may share a common enemy, they lack a common strategy. Sometimes they score hits on the President, most times they miss. The media is routinely smug in its assault, right up until the “lob.”
Out of the blue, without warning, comes a Presidential tweet or two, ranging high and arching over the normal line of fire. The media is distracted, they look up for a few moments, and a news cycle is wasted.
If the “lob” tweets thrown by the President are a calculated tactic, it is a brilliant and effective strategy. Under the cover of his occasional “lob” to distract the media, an opportunistic Trump can maneuver into a more advantageous position, gather more ammunition, and consolidate his forces. While they look away, he gets things done.
But if those Trump “lobs” are simply errant snowballs that are being thrown wildly in the heat of battle, without a supporting strategy, the President is wasting his ammunition and depleting his forces.
Is President Trump a political General Patton, or is he marching on to Waterloo?
We will see which side wears the laurels when they get called back home for dinner.