Let’s take a little detour in the debate over Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Let’s talk pizza, or at least the business of pizza.
Imagine, for a moment, you are the owner and general manager of one of the two main pizza restaurants in your town or neighborhood. There are a couple of other restaurants that sell pizza, but there are really only two that dominate the market.
Both of these restaurants have devoted followers, though fortunes shift from time to time, so some years your place is on top, some years the other one.
Competition is tight, some would say rough at times. Accusations of cheap ingredients, poor food handling, underpaying staff, all the usual nastiness. But, ultimately, both restaurants are thriving.
Simple, so far.
So, one day, you come in to work and are met at the door by the police. It seems your competitor’s restaurant burned down overnight. Your initial thought, of course, is that it means more business for you. But this looks serious so you manage to overcome your urge to smile.
Then, the questions begin: Where were you last night? Can you prove you were not involved? As it becomes evident, the police and fire marshal suspect arson. And they think you are the main suspect.
Over the next few weeks, business for you is excellent. But there are lots of folks who have stopped coming in as well, since the suspicions you were involved continue to swirl. The investigators have yet to confirm arson, but they haven’t ruled it out yet, and they have eliminated lots of other possible causes.
And they keep coming back to you. Your employees have been reported as saying lots of things that could be taken as threats against the other place, both before and after the fire. But your own words are coming back to haunt you as well: “Someone needs to take that place out”, “I wish Pizza Hut would move in and take them over”, “why can’t these guys just be made to go away”.
And then the final verdict is reached: it was arson. And the prime suspect? One of your assistant managers. Investigators say he went beyond listening to your talk, and actually followed through.
Now, the question is, how much responsibility do you share in the crime?
And yes, this whole thing is a metaphor for Trump. The most likely result of the Russian meddling investigation is that while Trump himself may not have colluded with the foreigners, members of his team almost certainly did.
So, how much responsibility will he take? Any bets that he will follow his usually modus operandi and avoid taking any?