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Hapless Fools are Decoys

One of the best tells that you're going to be taken to the cleaners is if a man starts his conversation with, "I'm a simple man, and I don't know much, but..." That "but" is going to be the most expensive three letter you've ever heard. You're done. The biggest advantage anyone can have in his favor is to be underestimated. Beware the modest, self-effacing man in politics.

To quote Baudelaire, "the devil's best trick is to persuade you that he doesn't exist."

In the same way that a mother has taught her child that there are levels and volumes of voices appropriate to each situation -- the inside voice and the outside voice, for example -- men in politics have their private and public voices as well. And, as we have learned from the released American diplomatic cables, they can be quite contrary.

Another thing we've learned from the released cables is that American operatives and diplomats are far from ignorant cowboys in the same way that the Middle East subjects of many of those cables are not primitive and stuck in the 16th century either.

When you become lulled into a feeling of calm and safety by someone you perceive as a hapless fool, someone you can easily best in your spycraft, in your operations work, think again. Try to get as contextual as you can. Try to figure out whether someone so gullible or naive would have been able to attain such a position as to be interacting with you; additionally, would a man without guile be able to survive in a position such as this even with handlers and support and family and so forth?

Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were both well-educated and well-tested men. Decoys as hapless fools, indeed. Even Bill Clinton was even more cunning than his sweet Bubba demeanor conveyed. In many ways, we'll never know how fierce Jimmy Carter was, though I daresay one doesn't get stuff done by being nice and gracious only.

Want to know what the best chaff ever is to make sure that someone underestimates your power and influence? Start your bio off with "... was a peanut farmer in Georgia." That'll get them every time.

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