“It Ain’t Beanbag” – Bill Saracino asks “What’s the Big Deal?” on Trump Jr. Meeting

There is one bottom line truth regarding the meeting that is causing Donald Trump Jr. such agita at the moment: not a political operative worth their salt in either party would have turned down the meeting. Opposition research, the long, detailed, mostly boring job of performing multiple colonoscopies on your political opponent’s background is standard operating procedure. It occasionally involves anonymous tips and “over the transom” document delivery. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of politics knows this. Add in the fact that nothing of note occurred in that 20 minute meeting and the wails and outrage coming from the “resistance” are as sincere as Captain Renault’s shock at the gambling in Rick’s Café.

But following the rule of “any port in a storm”, the “resistance” blob consisting of the Democrats, their lapdog media, George Soros funded astro-turf groups and a couple of NeverTrump GOP Senators not worth the powder to blow them up (yes, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, I’m talking about you) is furiously rousing the rabble. Unless there are any political virgins in the above group, and there are not, the outrage is total Kabuki theatre – insincere, hypocritical political posturing.

As a political consultant who knows that class of people all too well, I never thought I’d wish that more Americans thought like us. I do in this instance. Every consultant in America and likely the world is looking at the Trump meeting with the Ruskie Femme Fatale, scratching their heads and asking “what’s the big deal”. Everybody, quite literally everybody, engaged in a serious campaign does opposition research. If you don’t you will lose badly and deserve to do so. Of course the Democrat operatives can’t admit that, but it is absolutely true.

Inject truth serum into James Carville, Paul Begala, John Podesta, or to compare offspring to offspring, Chelsea Clinton. Ask them if they would have taken the meeting had the situation been reversed – had an offer of compromising information on Trump came to them from the very same source. The odds that the answer would be “of course we would, were not idiots” are not 99% or 99.99%. They are 100%.

We don’t have to speculate on this. It is undisputed that the Clinton campaign actively worked, dare I say colluded, with the Ukrainian government hoping to get…wait for it…damaging information on Donald Trump. You haven’t seen this in the fake-news outlets masquerading as newspapers and television networks? I join Captain Renault in being shocked.

Anyone who has actually run a campaign knows that turning down an offer of damaging information on your opponent – or turning down the chance to at least find out what the source has – is political malpractice. It is unilateral disarmament. It is stupid. And it is exceptionally unprofessional if your profession is to win campaigns.

Following up on such an offer is basic due diligence. A campaign operative who ignores such should be fired – with prejudice. Any staff working one of my campaigns who ignored such an offer would be gone in a heartbeat, as they’d either be an obvious mole from the opposition or too brain dead to work for me. And as to the source of the information, who the Hell cares? The information will either be believable and usable or not, but you’ll never know if you don’t follow up on the lead.

Finding the skeletons in your opponent’s closet is politics 101. It is not remotely unusual. Part of that includes receiving the occasional anonymous tip or request for a meeting from a source who claims to have the goods on your opponent. Just what is the responsible campaign worker supposed to do in such an instance? Get a credit check and Interpol background briefing on the source before even finding out what the supposed “gotcha” information is?

No, the universal – repeat universal – practice in politics in every country on the globe is to access the information in order to decide if it is credible and/or worthwhile.

Mr. Dooley, an Irish-American character created by writer Finley Peter Dunne in 1895 commented on politics from the warm embrace of a Chicago pup. Both Dooley and Dunne would likely be forgotten but for this quote from Mr. Dooley; “Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag. ‘Tis a man’s game, an’ women, childer, cripples an’ prohybitionists ‘d do well to keep out iv it.” With the exception of the reference to women (Donald Trump is not likely to be President today but for that wee Irish lass Kellyanne Conway), the quote is as true today as it was then.

Donald Trump Jr., like his father, doesn’t play bean bag. Going to that meeting was well within the accepted bounds of political campaigning. He did nothing wrong. If he did, then the Clinton campaign beat him to it by many months while colluding with the Ukraine.

Those attempting to lynch Trump Jr. know this, but are showing the true depth of their derangement, dishonor and lack of ethics. They are the residents of the D.C. swamp. The ferocity and mendacity of their reactions show how desperately the country needs the President to succeed in draining the breeding grounds of these creatures. Drain away Mr. President. Drain away.

Bill Saracino is a long-time contributing editor of California Political Review, with deep experience in professional politics.  

Bill Saracino