It is the morning after a devastating defeat. Smoke is still rising from the field. The rubble has not yet been cleared. And the commanders are having trouble facing just how hopeless their position has become. They no longer know on how many fronts they are fighting, how many separate enemies they face, or to what extent those enemies are cooperating—one might say “colluding”—with one another. They know they are surrounded. They know the next push could come at any moment—or be days, weeks, or months off. But they know neither what the attack will look like nor from which side it will come.
And so they talk about those 10 counts on which Paul Manafort was not convicted. They talk about a “two-tiered justice system” in which their people get prosecuted for offenses for which the other side has impunity. They talk about about how “every candidate” commits campaign-finance infractions. They talk about the so-called Steele dossier. They talk about how the charges all have nothing to do with their leader. The enemy isn’t fighting fair, they grumble, between suggestions that yesterday’s defeat wasn’t that big a deal or was actually a setback for the other side. Some of them even believe their own bullshit. And they thus convince themselves that their situation is not that different from that of other armies who have toughed it out and ultimately prevailed. The enemy won’t return. Or it will somehow prove manageable when it does, they say, like the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad as the Mongols approached in 1258. Or, like Dick Cheney, they convince themselves that they’re watching the death throes of the insurgency.