When people who at least try to be clear thinkers, rather than go through life in benighted fogs of motivated reasoning, are shown to be wrong, we endeavor to figure out what went wrong, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. (“Motivated reasoning” is basically all the mental gymnastics people do to justify believing what they want, based on dogma, emotionalism and cognitive biases, when said beliefs have little or no apparent grounding in fact and/or reason.) Sorry to sound all lecturing and pretentious.
When Donald Trump became the GOP presidential nominee, I believed that by this time, mid-September 2016, the only remaining question would be just how big the Democratic electoral tsunami would be. Kinda f*cked that up, didn’t I?
To be clear, I still believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Electoral College quite handily. And that it’s considerably more likely than not that we’ll take the U.S. Senate, although quite possibly with no more than 51 seats at best. And that we’ll take the MN House and have legislative majorities for Gov. Dayton’s final two years. And all of those will be wonderful things.
But, at least for now, the Landslide of Historic Proportions appears to be off. And the reason that I didn’t see that coming is that I had no idea that corporate media would take its coverage to the fetid extremes that it has, on behalf of both a misogynistic, racist, bloodthirsty, pathologically narcissistic lunatic, and on behalf of the wretched failure of a political party and ideology that he represents. I knew there would be plenty of bias, but not like this. For far from the first time I’ve underestimated how far the Establishment would go to try to protect its interests, even to the point of risking a Trump presidency and what that would mean. I should have known better by now, but I didn’t.
I’m not alone. Not with those remarks about corporate media, anyway:
True, there aren’t many efforts to pretend that Donald Trump is a paragon of honesty. But it’s hard to escape the impression that he’s being graded on a curve. If he manages to read from a TelePrompter without going off script, he’s being presidential. If he seems to suggest that he wouldn’t round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants right away, he’s moving into the mainstream. And many of his multiple scandals, like what appear to be clear payoffs to state attorneys general to back off investigating Trump University, get remarkably little attention.
Meanwhile, we have the presumption that anything Hillary Clinton does must be corrupt, most spectacularly illustrated by the increasingly bizarre coverage of the Clinton Foundation.
(Paul Krugman/New York Times)
But the truly scary thing is that Trump is redefining the concept of a gaffe out of existence. It turns out that if you just boldly repeat something often enough, it goes away as a story. We’ve become numb, as a society, to what Trump is doing. In the process we’ve normalized casual racism, intense personal insults as an approach to politics, and completely decentered the idea that elected officials should grapple with difficult policy questions. Half the crazy things Trump says or does barely merit a mention on Twitter, much less the front-page coverage they would have merited in previous campaigns.
More than anything else, the numbness that Trump creates frightens me.
Sure, I can churn out blog posts about Trump that are alternatively snarky, shocked, analytical, etc. And God knows, millions of words have been spilled trying to explain the guy. But on the occasions when I stop to really think about this election, my mind goes sort of fugue-like. My mental state is something like this:
What the f*ck is going on? Donald Trump! Donald f*cking Trump! He’s a jackass reality TV star. He’s g*ddamn clueless. For f*ck’s sake, this can’t be happening. Can it? F*cking f*ck. Why isn’t anyone calling it out? It’s like Alice in f*cking Wonderland. How can we be doing this? F*ck fu*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck.
(Kevin Drum/Mother Jones) (asterisking mine)
I got the image from Twitter, where it had been posted by Free Syria Media Hub.
I just think this song I’m adding is really great. It has nothing to do with the content of this post. Except, I suppose, for the fact that it ain’t real cheerful.
From Jeff Strate: Well Dan, most of us lefties are also stunned and humbled by what’s been happening. A number of sharp-eyed sentries operating in national mainstream media, however, have been seeing it correctly (Michael Moore, Bill Maher and Bill Moyers have- my idea of mainstreamers) but most of the rest of ’em ain’t worth chicken spit.
Trump and his media enablers have made it fashionable for the dark side to celebrate themselves. They’ve been with us all along, they’ve just been kind of quiet. I see it locally with gents I know who are buying more guns than they need because they fear their SUV might be surrounded by Somalis or drug gangs running rampant through Carver County. I see it with the small but vocal NIMBY’s who rant against Southwest Light Rail which they fear will be a zip line for criminals to plunder Eden Prairie homes. I see it with the formation of charter schools around these parts, which, as I view things, is a form of legal segregation. Confederate and Nazi flag waving and the dumb and bigoted remarks of Republican leaders have have been around, but now they have Trump as their amplifier and they know him from TV just as many of them know Jesus from TV. They are now mob bold.
After reading your piece, I turned to my muse. Her name is Molly Ivins, you’ve probably heard of her. She told me, “Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant – it tends to get worse.” Okay. But who knocked us up?