Trump’s Showdown

Donald Trump is walking a tightrope with the handling of his prospects for facing an interview by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Does he take a bold, adversarial stance or a cautious, conciliatory one? I have a spread that deals with just such a scenario, one I call the “Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em Gambler’s Option Spread.” It uses a poker-game analogy and follows the premise that odd-numbered cards are “active,” advising a forthright, assertive posture, while even-numbered cards are “passive,” supporting a milder, more even-handed approach.

I decided to use this spread to examine which of the two modes offers the best chance of a favorable outcome for Trump. Brian Williams’ rather lurid Post-Modern (PoMo) Tarot seemed like the perfect deck to assess what is, by the very nature of the ongoing investigation, an equally lurid, supercharged sociopolitical situation. The only change I made to Williams’ model is that I related his suit of “Guns” to Wands and not Swords, considering “TVs” to be a better fit for the latter. (One conservative wag has called mainstream-media TV news a “weapon of mass deception.”)

The spread is populated by filling the “odd” lines and “even” lines independently, drawing and placing cards of each numerical type until both lines are filled. In this case, I filled the odd-numbered row with the first four cards pulled and drew another seven odd-numbered cards before I got a single even-numbered one to lay down. The implication is that, if Trump stays true-to-form (somebody once characterized him as ” a bull looking for a china shop”), he is liable to go overboard in the directions of forceful behavior. As we will see, this is the worst thing he could do and may land him in a “crash-and-burn” dilemma.

All images copyright Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY

Using poker-player jargon, I call the first position in each row the “Draw,” in which the “player” (Trump) analyzes his hand and strategizes by discarding “losers” to ideally produce a winning combination. With the reversed 7 of Guns, the “bold” option has him “fighting the good fight” but not necessarily holding the right cards for a convincing opening bid. The “cautious” option suggests that “playing the victim” (quite graphically shown by that 10 of Guns) may serve him better.

The second position, the “Opening Bid,” indicates which gambit will best serve his interests. The Ace of Money (Pentacles or Coins) in the “bold” row implies “betting the farm” in one lump sum, while the 8 of Bills (same as Money) on the”cautious” path involves fashioning a more rational piecemeal exposure and not “tipping his hand” too soon.

The third position, “Raising the Stakes,” amounts to upping the ante. The 7 of Bills reversed in the “bold” row looks like Trump might underplay his hand, either as a “bluff” or  due to uncertainty about the emerging direction of play. In the “cautious” row, the Bottleman (King of Cups)  reversed suggests just how uncomfortable he is in the uncharacteristic role of repentant, even if it is only feigned. His ambivalence  may give him away.

The fourth position, the “Call,” comes at the end of the conversation and is intended to show closing arguments. In the “bold” row, the 3 of TVs reversed (the “heartache” card in RWS-based decks) suggests that Trump’s bluff will fail and he will be backed into a corner due to his recalcitrant stance. In the “cautious” row, “Mona” (the High Priestess) gives the idea that his esteem will be enhanced by being more revealing.

The quintessence card, derived from the numerological summing and reduction of the four previous cards (for the record, I subtract the value of any reversed card and factor in the implied value of any court card) is titled the “Show,” when the cards are laid on the table and the score tallied. The “bold” row has Disaster (the Tower) reversed, spelling chaos for Trump; the reversal could mean that he doesn’t see it coming since Mueller may be holding an “Ace up his sleeve” in the event Trump is a reluctant witness. (Maybe his alleged “Trump Tower baggage” will finally be his undoing.) The “cautious” row has the much more sanguine Lovers, making me think fence-mending between the two men is possible if only Trump is more forthcoming.

All of the reversed cards in the “bold” row suggest that Trump may not be fully tuned in to the risks to which his uncooperative behavior is certain to expose him. He needs to heed his legal advisors and not just follow his flamboyant instincts. Applying a bit more finesse and  circumspection will carry him further toward absolution. The old aphorism “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies “in spades” here.

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