Tuesday, April 04, 2017

People Have Questions About Señor Trumpanzee-- What's Wrong With This Guy And Why Is He Failing Already?


We were moved to note the excellent editorial on the Trump train wreck by the L.A. Times Sunday. The followed up on it yesterday with their take on why Trump lies. "Our civilization," they began, "is premised on the conviction that such a thing as truth exists, that it is knowable, that it is verifiable, that it exists independently of authority or popularity and that at some point-- and preferably sooner rather than later-- it will prevail... The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth."

In the most recent PPP survey, they asked voters if they think Trump is truthful. It's a shame they have no way of lining up responses to IQs, but only 39% of Americans think Trump is honest. It's virtually impossible to have a 3-digit IQ and hold that view. But... suckers are born everyday.

The Times' editors made no bones of using the "L" word describe the president and compared his bullshit to "the self-serving blathering of a 6-year-old... His approach succeeds because of his preternaturally deft grasp of his audience. Though he is neither terribly articulate nor a seasoned politician, he has a remarkable instinct for discerning which conspiracy theories in which quasi-news source, or which of his own inner musings, will turn into ratings gold. He targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work-- well, then he lies about that."
[H]e is not merely amusing. He is dangerous. His choice of falsehoods and his method of spewing them-- often in tweets, as if he spent his days and nights glued to his bedside radio and was periodically set off by some drivel uttered by a talk show host who repeated something he’d read on some fringe blog-- are a clue to Trump’s thought processes and perhaps his lack of agency. He gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.

He has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy. He is a stranger to the concept of verification, the insistence on evidence and the standards of proof that apply in a courtroom or a medical lab-- and that ought to prevail in the White House.

There have always been those who accept the intellectually bankrupt notion that people are entitled to invent their own facts-- consider the “9/11 was an inside job” trope-- but Trump’s ascent marks the first time that the culture of alternative reality has made its home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

If Americans are unsure which Trump they have-- the Machiavellian negotiator who lies to manipulate simpler minds, or one of those simpler minds himself-- does it really matter? In either case he puts the nation in danger by undermining the role of truth in public discourse and policymaking, as well as the notion of truth being verifiable and mutually intelligible.

In the months ahead, Trump will bring his embrace of alternative facts on the nation’s behalf into talks with China, North Korea or any number of powers with interests counter to ours and that constitute an existential threat. At home, Trump now becomes the embodiment of the populist notion (with roots planted at least as deeply in the Left as the Right) that verifiable truth is merely a concept invented by fusty intellectuals, and that popular leaders can provide some equally valid substitute. We’ve seen people like that before, and we have a name for them: demagogues.

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines-- science, law, journalism-- that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims.

Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.
But the L.A. Times isn't the only one with questions. Over at the Washington Post Greg Sargent was asking-- and trying to answer-- a question many political observers have been grappling with: Why is Trump flailing? He also focused right in on the compulsive lying. Trump's legislative and policy agenda, Sargent, pointed out, is dead in the water because lies is what it's based on. He acknowledges that "Trump’s penchant for disruption and chaos actually works against him" as does his "failure to forge relationships on Capitol Hill" but Sargent's premise is that there's an "overarching reason for Trump’s travails: As his campaign promises are getting translated into concrete policies, Americans are recoiling from the results. What’s more, this process is unmasking the disconcerting levels of dishonesty, bad faith, and lack of concern for detail and procedure that are rotting away at the core of his policies, all of which is plainly working against him."

Sargent, like so many people, pin Trump's already failed presidency on his unpopular agenda-- like a "health care" bill meant to financially devastate millions of families while delivering hefty tax cut to multimillionaires and billionaires and that only 17% of the public supported.
Trump alone is not to blame for this. Trump didn’t care about the details-- he only wanted a “win”-- and thus embraced Paul Ryan’s plan. It is Ryanism, which includes repeal-and-replace as part of the broader goal of shredding the safety net, that helped create this disaster. Ryan was supposed to craft a policy that would prove ideologically satisfactory to congressional Republicans and could also be sold through shrewd rhetorical subterfuge as a fulfillment of Trump’s promise of better health care for everybody at lower costs. The CBO blew all that up by unmasking its truly regressive nature and, in the process, the big policy lie at the core of Trump’s repeal-and-replace promise. The details ended up mattering.

...Why is Trump tanking? The bottom line is that the ongoing translation of Trump’s agenda into policy specifics is showing that major elements of it are unpopular, or unworkable because they are premised on lies, or both.

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At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only there'd been some way to tell, oh like from '80's New York tabloid newspapers, that something was wrong. But those people were just women,from whose treatment no real conclusions can ever be drawn. (Sorry, I went a little off the rails there.) But, on the bright side, the "not sure" contingent is down from 8% the other day to 7%! Unless that extra 1% got tangled up in some brush somewhere, or forgot how to answer a phone. That would be sad!

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LAT can be forgiven, through gritted teeth, this typically reflexive flourish:
"the populist notion (with roots planted at least as deeply in the Left as the Right) that verifiable truth is merely a concept invented by fusty intellectuals"
-- which is a fantasy unless by "the Left" they mean highly relevant examples like Stalin, Mao and the Kim dynasty;

but gritted teeth cannot block this reader from laughing out loud at LAT's apparently irony-free ignoring of their, and their peers', role in the decline of this: "the disciplines-- ... journalism-- that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth."

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the LAT is irony impaired. But they're mostly correct in their deconstruction .. so far.

It's not a sure thing that his "populism" is what made him. I think it's his demagoguery and his blunt unfiltered hate talk that made him.

And I feel the constant 39% who cannot but favor the lying sack of shit is validation of my thesis. The comment that nobody with a 3-digit IQ could possibly defend a favorable opinion is not quite all there is to it. White racists can have a 3-digit IQ.

Maybe it's as simple as 39% of the populace are white racists and/or complete morons.

Why does he lie? Easy. He's been a liar his whole life. His daddy was a liar. He is a con man. Con men lie. period. He gets away with it because he is rich and americans genuflect and worship the rich reflexively and devoutly.


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