The Power of Dentistry

Some thoughts on the Strzok hearing.

It is, of course, nothing new for congressional hearings to produce ridiculous sound bites.  And, to be fair, I suspect that if any of us were on video for hours on end we might say something (perhaps many somethings) that would make for highly amusing tweets or clips on the evening news.

Still, some are more amazing than others, such as Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) who said the following: “This morning I watched, by the way I’m a dentist, OK, so I read body language, very, very well. And I watched your comment and actions with Mr. Gowdy. You got very angry in regards to the Gold Star family. That shows me it’s innately a part of you and a bias.”

Gosar was referring to an answer that Strzok gave earlier to explain some of his negative tweets about Trump.  Specifically, he says that he was upset at the time at the way Trump had attacked (see this piece from Doug Mataconis at the time if that particular episode has been buried by all the others in the two years since).

First, the notion that a dentist is able to act as a body language expert and human bias detectors is just silly on its face. Cluing into a patient in pain is not that hard to do.

Second, having an opinion, even a strong one, does not necessarily make one biased in terms of doing a job. Any professional who manages people, or who has to adjudicate disputes between people, has had to do their job and follow procedures and the evidence despite personal opinions about the persons involved. If having opinions makes one biased, then we are all biased.  Bias in this context would mean allowing those opinions to color how one does one’s job. The texts are not evidence of that.

Understand that I think that Strzok made a grave error in the texts he sent and that they, coupled with his extra-marital affair, provide enough of an appearance of a problem that he had to be removed from the investigation (and make no mistake, his career has suffered as as a result of his actions).  Further, he has provided Trump and his media allies (e.g., Hannity and friends) with an insane amount of propaganda fodder (and I chose my words here precisely).

I also think that every single FBI investigator who ever lived has had a political opinion about a given presidential contest.  And I think that without any doubt that in 2016 there were lots of opinions by all the agents who were on the Clinton e-mail investigation and the Trump/Russia investigation.  I am sure all of them said things just like Strzok said in his texts (some about HRC, some about Trump)–but like most of us, those views were not made public.

As such, congressional Republican, and pro-Trump media focus on all of this is utterly disingenuous and clearly is designed not to get to the truth, or to root out bias, but to undermine the Mueller investigation in defense of Trump.

Here’s the video:

All of which, I have to admit, made me think of this:

 

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    We are seeing a cult of personality, and as with Scientology, Aum Shinrikyo, Koreshans, or People’s Temple (Jonestown) defenders will twist themselves into pretzels to rationalize their idolatry. A grown man claiming his dentistry background entitles him to draw conclusions about an FBI agent? Hell, that’s nothing for these people. They will in the end justify treason and accept a foreign attack on the United States, not because of some issue, not even just because they’re racists or misogynists, it’s gone beyond that to religious fervor.

    By now they all know Trump is guilty. By now they all know Trump is corrupt and a pathological liar. But they’ve suppressed all of that and lie fanatically to keep the truth from themselves. They cannot – absolutely cannot – face the truth. They’ve transferred their ego to Trump. They no longer exist fully outside of their cult. They are active collaborators in their intellectual auto-castration. Incidentally, a number of men belonging to Heaven’s Gate cult did that quite literally: they castrated themselves. Cut off their own balls.

    I wonder how many members of #Cult45 would do that if Trump told them to. 20%? 30%? Half? How about @MBunge or Florack or TM01? If Trump told them the only way they could remain true Trumpaloons was to cut off their own balls, would they do it? I’d guess there’s a 20% chance now and in a few more months of desperate self-deception that number will rise.

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  2. CSK says:

    Well, that was ludicrous, but not nearly as ludicrous as when Louie Gohmert accused Strzok of being a liar because Strzok cheated on his wife.

    Donald Trump has had three wives and cheated on all three multiple times. Yet Gohmert’s apparently cool with that.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    They’ve merged their identities with Trump’s. They’re him; he’s them. They did the same thing with Palin: “I am Sarah Palin!” But Palin failed them when she did’t run in 2012.

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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Ah, so now I understand all the Dentist references that were suddenly showing up on twitter.

    Thanks for getting me in the loop. =)

  5. rachel says:

    How would a dentist become a body language “expert”? Let’s imagine a scene: a patient who needs a tooth extracted because of an agonizing infection is in the chair waiting for Dr. Gosar to finish prepping.

    Gosar: How are you doing?

    Patient: Oh, fine. (Patient grips the chair arms so tight that his knuckles are white. He is also pale and sweating.)

    Gosar: Good. (Gosar notes the patient’s body language and concludes Patient is a liar and that he is a genius at reading body language.)

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t think it’s a cult, at least for those in government. I prefer your other statement, cui bono? Most of these traitorous mooks are in it for the money or doing the bidding of moneyed interests who have the rep’s and senator’s testicles in a jar on a trophy shelf in the boardroom.

  7. Gustopher says:

    It has the weird phrasing of “I’m not a racist, but…” which always precedes something that is really racist. I now don’t believe that Rep. Godard IS a dentist.

  8. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Well, he does look as if he’s flossing.

  9. John430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “We are seeing a cult of personality, and as with Scientology, Aum Shinrikyo, Koreshans, or People’s Temple (Jonestown) defenders will twist themselves into pretzels to rationalize their idolatry. A grown man claiming his dentistry background entitles him to draw conclusions about an FBI agent? Hell, that’s nothing for these people.”

    You mean like the hack writer you claim to be? LOL!!

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  10. @Michael Reynolds: @CSK: In some ways this is just what happens with presidential parties: the party takes on the character of the president as party leader because they need that leader for things like renomination and reelection (as well as governing).

    While the president and congress are in in different institutions constitutionally, they are in the same institution as it pertains to party. This is one of the things that Madison missed in his assessment of how separation of powers would work.

    Now, to Michael’s point: a lot of what we are seeing is about how the GOP has been evolving since the advent of conservative media, and especially since Gingrich.

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  11. al Ameda says:

    Still, some are more amazing than others, such as Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) who said the following: “This morning I watched, by the way I’m a dentist, OK, so I read body language, very, very well. And I watched your comment and actions with Mr. Gowdy. You got very angry in regards to the Gold Star family. That shows me it’s innately a part of you and a bias.”

    So much material here but … three points:
    (1) Ever see the ‘dentist scene’ in the movie ‘Marathon Man’? I have, and this is eerily reminiscent.

    (2) Mega irony and chutzpah, especially when taken in the context of how Trump treated that Gold Star Family back during the 2016 campaign and at the convention.

    (3) I read body language too, and if I’m walking down the street and Paul Gosar is coming toward me, I cross that street immediately.

  12. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Up until 1804, it was possible for the loser in the presidential election to become the vice president, as happened in 1796, with Adams and Jefferson coming from opposing parties. Possibly Madison was thinking of that eventuality.

  13. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Imagine his power if, as a dentist, he ALSO stayed at Holiday Inn last night

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  14. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A grown man claiming his dentistry background entitles him to draw conclusions about an FBI agent?

    Ha! It’s pretty ridiculous to claim your profession gives you certain skills that have nothing to do with your profession, isn’t it?

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Ah, so now I understand all the Dentist references that were suddenly showing up on twitter.

    This has been episode #204 of “Why Twitter Sucks.”

    No context, only quips.

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  15. Mister Bluster says:

    Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 17:15
    John430 says: Your name-calling is soooo infantile.

    Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 13:04
    John430 says: You mean like the hack writer you claim to be? LOL!!

    I would not expect any less from one who “sits up straight at attention” as demanded by his
    Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump.

  16. Jen says:

    @John430:

    You mean like the hack writer you claim to be?

    Um, his books are in my local library. As are his wife’s. He is a writer, and a successful one.

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  17. wr says:

    @Jen: Yes, but Pearce is a… um… a… Well, I’m sure he’s really super-good at whatever it is he does.

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  18. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m not convinced it’s a cult. This behavior has an alternate explanation, the nexus of which is self-interest. If the primary driver of these congress critter’s mad rationalizations is not the nation’s interest but their own, as in getting not getting “primaried” and losing their seat, that would also explain this behavior.

    If the Trump business empire is perceived by Trump as being utterly dependent on Russian money-laundering/investment, which I believe quite possible as the mainstream bankers wrote that buffoon off as a deadbeat/nightmare to work with over a decade ago, that explains much of Tump’s as well. IF he is working from that same nexus, that serving the country is waaaayyy back on the agenda, if there at all.

    Don’t get me wrong here, for the spectators, the Faux Neuz junkies, the term cult I have no quibble applying. They are perhaps cultists of Party as much as Trump though, IMO.

    Just my Occum’s butter-knife.

  19. de stijl says:

    @rachel:

    Gosar has also queered (old meaning) the sample because as a dentist, he by necessity massively invades his patients’ personal space comfort zone. He also puts his fingers into their mouths.

    So Gosar the Gosarian, Gosar the Destructor may not be the body language expert he thinks he is. He does have a pretty good handle on The Keymaster and Zuul The Gatekeeper – those he is pretty decent at just by prolonged proximity.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @dazedandconfused: Quite right. We need to be careful to distinguish whether we’re talking about the voters or the pols and pros. Many of Trump’s voters are in a cult of personality, although many just have always voted R and don’t think about it much. Some of the latter may be gettable, as they were after W. With exceptions like Louis Gohmert and Virginia Foxx, most of the pols and pros are just careerist asshats.

  21. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Yes, but Pearce is a… um… a… Well, I’m sure he’s really super-good at whatever it is he does.

    I’m the drummer for the Wyld Stallyns.

    And we’re not super-good. We’re excellent.

  22. teve tory says:

    @Gustopher:

    It has the weird phrasing of “I’m not a racist, but…” which always precedes something that is really racist. I now don’t believe that Rep. Godard IS a dentist.

    😛 😛 😛

  23. teve tory says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 13:04
    John430 says: You mean like the hack writer you claim to be? LOL!!

    Michael Reynolds is such a scheming liar that he’s faked a Twitter feed with >20,000 followers. That dastardly sumbitch!

    (Is it wrong of me to laugh at Trumper fools like John 420? If it’s wrong, then baby, i don’t wanna be right. 😀 )

  24. Mister Bluster says:

    Is it wrong of me to laugh at Trumper fools like John 420?

    Ask me no questions I’ll tell you no lies…

    (My daddy used to say that all the time. All I know for sure is that he did not get it from the internet.)

  25. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder if the constituents of these various fools think that their representatives did something worthy or necessary? I mean, to most people, these people acted like clowns, showcasing so many negative stereotypes about politicians…quite the spectacle…certainly if their intention was to expose and or embarrass Strzok, they failed miserably…as for undermining the Mueller investigation, they were probably successful in convincing only those who already worship at the feet of the Orange Clown…as Friday’s news makes clear, this is definitely not the end of the Mueller investigation, and there are probably many more things to unfold that will damage this joke of an administration…

  26. de stijl says:

    @One American:

    Your #WalkAway nod is not persuasive here. It tells me you’re deep R and you know relevant social media initiatives.

    Are you okay with the notion of me telling you to walk away from Trump and the Rs because it is clear that the Trump team clearly worked with a hostile foreign power to purposefully sway the election in their favor? Sounds a lot like treason when I state it plain, doesn’t it? Are you swayed by that?

    You believe you have a wedge issue with some Ds actively pursuing an #Abolish ICE policy – that that will be perceived by the general public as D over-reach? Check the polling on that. Only your base perceive the family separation policy as valid and moral – and no one believes that stupid dodge that the Trump Administration is merely enforcing a law / policy that Ds are responsible for passing and Obama did it too. You are fooling yourself. Putting kids in cages is not popular, will never be popular, and makes you lot look like enormous assholes with a deep and weird xenophobic obsession.

    It’s scary that you think that #WalkAway will work.

    When you are the aggressor and then you accuse people objecting to your aggression as naive pussies, the only people you “win” are the sociopaths who you’d already won already anyway.

    We are already fully ideologically sorted. #WalkAway just won’t work, it is a waste of time, and is foolish and will not garner any new votes for Rs. There are no winnable consistent D voters for your agenda that are convertible.

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think that it may be important to consider that in the case of THIS president, by some of his own claims before running (if I ran, I would run as a Republican because they’ll be easier to manipulate [or words to that effect] comes to mind) he is reflecting what he believes will appeal to the voters whose support he seeks. I think he also has all of those qualities at the core of his being (such as it is), too; don’t get me wrong. But he seems to me to be the mirror of the party rather than the exemplar. He’s not setting the agenda, he’s following what he thinks it should be to maximize his sway.

  28. de stijl says:

    @One American:

    You do realize, yes, that you are mimicking Trump’s twitter style with the “SCARY” sign-off?

    You’ve adapted his social media interaction style and don’t even realize it. Shame!

    Direct accusation of acute societal harm by your opponent’s naive / un-American action. Negative accusational!

    It is his go-to tweet structure. Almost all of his tweets / streams end with this construct.

    Trump’s extremely predictable communication style is extremely and predictably maddening! Bad!

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  29. de stijl says:

    When Trump responds to a woman “enemy” interlocutor, she is always fat, unattractive, and shrewish. Misogyny!

  30. de stijl says:

    My snowflake self felt dismissed and disrespected so I will project my shortcomings onto my “opponent” and then spuriously accuse them of bad intent / action. [SHAME ACCUSATION]!

    This is Trump’s go-to reaction to any push-back. His twitter feed behavior has revealed his psyche entirely. Pre-twitter he used Page Six as the mechanism, same actions.

  31. de stijl says:

    Trump has a bone-deep need to pussyify everyone not under his thumb. Attempted pussification is inherently misogynistic and assholish. It shall not stand.

    (Dumb-ass spellcheck does not recognize “pussify” nor “pussification” nor “assholish”. All are perfectly cromulent.)

  32. Jen says:
  33. Jen says:

    My comment with a link to the article is in moderation (please release me when convenient, moderators!), but the whole #WalkAway movement is astroturfed and linked to Russian influence accounts on Twitter. The article I link to in my other comment is one of the most detailed and well-researched take-downs I’ve ever seen.

  34. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    The NRA has been compromised by Russian money. The Republicans have been compromised by Russian interest- and electoral-peddling. Dana Rohrbacher actively politics for Putin / Russian interests (remember the unnamed US Rep who actively sought out Russian help in Mueller’s last batch of indictments?). Trump’s campaign manager (an unregistered foreign agent) actively flipped the plank at the R Presidential convention on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea while taking money from Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian interests. By all evidence, our President is actively pursuing policies which undermine Western interests (NATO, EU) in favor of policies which benefit Putin. His National Security Advisor (also another unregistered foreign agent) knowingly took Russian money and then lied about it to the FBI. Roger Stone worked with the GRU to hack and distribute DCCC and DNC servers with Assange as the distributor. Trump publicly requested Russian assistance to hack Clinton’s e-mails and they complied that very same day.

    The kompromat Putin has on Trump must be very damning.

    And the House and Senate Rs are actively complicit.

    Flip this and imagine that this happened with Obama or putative President HRC. What would the reaction be from Rs and FOX news?

  35. de stijl says:

    And as Jen notes, the “cheeky” #WalkAway movement is funded by Russia and pushed by Russian bots to American rubes too stupid to realize they’re being played.

    @One American is a rube and has been duped by an agent working for a foreign power to undermine our country.

    All for a has-been / wannabe superpower of great natural beauty and bounty and truly remarkable people hijacked by a brutal thug who only understands power, fear, and aggression. Russia and Russians are great; Putin and his oligarchs and bishops and his Brownshirts are disgracefully stunting and thwarting Russia. The country that defeated Nazism is rapidly becoming fascist.

    But Republicans and their lapdogs chose Putin.

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  36. Kingdaddy says:
  37. Mike in Arlington says:
  38. de stijl says:

    The American Right is enamored of Putin because they envy his power and freedom of movement unchecked by a free press. They admire his “strength” and his unabashed willingness to intimidate and murder trouble-makers without consequence or apparent social or political cost. Putin is envied because he treats Islamic interlopers like vermin and LGBT folks like a disease to be eradicated. He is white, Christian, and strong.

    It is a proto-fascist movement admiring a neofascist leader.

  39. de stijl says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    The reporting may be right, but do not count out Rohrbacher. He is that stupid, not as stupid as Gohmert, but within striking distance.

    I’d prefer that it were no one and the indictment is wrong because Putin love by American Rs is repugnant and requesting such help is a clear violation of law.

    Were it true, I’d prefer it to be some nationally known lick-spittle who routinely primps, pimps, and gaslights on Fox News. Likely, it will just be some random jerkwad who freaked when his (ya gotta know it’s a he – a dude) safe 55-45 district was polling at 53-47 .

  40. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Re your “I want to be … a dentist!” clip – are you an anti-dentite? https://youtu.be/ythrdCsOFJU

    Love that Tim Whatley the Seinfeld dentist, the OG re-gifter who converted for the jokes and kept Penthouse in his waiting room, ended up as Malcolm’s disco-skating dad and then Walter White / Heisenberg.

  41. @de stijl: Well, they do have their own schools.

  42. de stijl says:

    Also from RTRNRD, whenever one of my friends (or me) makes a romancy connection with a potential paramore, I always bust out my best “Cute! She said I’m Cuuuuute!” impression.

    https://youtu.be/6PNRPouqD_M

    Rudpolph is actually a horrible kid’s story – it’s not smarts, or willpower, or moxie that will make a good life for you – it is the unbeknownst trait you were born with and have little or no conscious control over is what will make you successful.

    It’s like Cinderella-style Princess stories, or noble-born ragamuffin commoner ascendant fables, or Jon Snow. It’s not you – it is in your blood.

  43. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That made my month! Thx

  44. de stijl says:

    Every Square Enix JRPG is a Cinderella story.

    With unskippable cut-scenes right before a boss fight.

  45. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @de stijl: Well, they do have their own schools.

    Imagine if Gosar had been a proctologist…

  46. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: If only we could convince George Soros to open his checkbook and fund a series of campaign ads this fall that would juxtapose bonehead comments like Gohmert’s about Strzok with footage of Trump saying something stupid on the same subject. But I guess the old cheapskate isn’t willing to fund such ads.

  47. de stijl says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Gosar the Gosarian, Gosar the Destructor, Gosar the Proctologist…

    I like it! It falls neatly off the tongue.

  48. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    BTW, the reason that you got put into the moderation queue is that it is automatic if you have three or more links. You think you only have one link in your comment, which is correct but the comment management system thinks differently and sees three.

    The really stupid bit is that properly referencing a previous comment (clicking on the “Reply” thingie in the bottom right) counts as a link.

    You politely and properly replied to me, One American, and then backed your assertion with a linked article. All good behavior. But also guaranteed to put you in time-out on OTB.

  49. de stijl says:

    Harry Potter is a Cinderella story.

  50. gVOR08 says:

    Over at LGM Vacuumslayer talks about body language at Helsinki.

    Listen, I’m no dentist, but I can’t be the only one who was struck by how comically telling the body language exhibited by Trump and Putin at their meeting was.

    I finally got around to watching some clips of the summit and his body language is striking. I can’t be the only one who noticed this. WHAT does Putin have on him?