Trump and his Charts

A clip from Trump's Axios interview shows a man who really does not understand what is going on.

” The White House President Trump Participates in a Roundtable” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

This is rather remarkable (and not in a good way):

Again, Trump demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how (or even what) a per capita comparison is, and why it is so important.

Worse, as seemed to be the case in his interview with Chris Wallace recently, he seems to be getting information about the pandemic in print outs with limited information. I have no idea, for example, what that four-item bar graph was, but I cannot think of what useful chart would have had only four data points on it in the context of global comparisons. Several of the other charts clearly have a subset of countries represented, so any claims of “first” or “last” are essentially meaningless. The only one that seems to have a fairly comprehensive comparison is the one that shows the raw number of tests completed (since that one clearly shows the US as number one).

Side note: if we look at per capita testing, the US looks fine, but not radically different than other similarly wealthy countries.

His obsession with testing and cases, as opposed to metrics like hospitalization and death, is gross malpractice.

And the idea that since the current daily death rate (the current seven-day rolling average is 1,125) is lower than it was at peak (when it was roughly twice that) is pretty chilling coming from the President of the United States. We have now had 158,975 deaths from Covid-19 and the President wants to show off his color print-outs on TV like a child to show how great we are doing.

He uses those pieces of paper, as many uninformed people do, like a talisman. Here, look a this! It shows I am right, even though I cannot explain how it makes me right. The people who gave them to me assure me that they prove I am right!

It is surreal and underscores the need to replace him in office. This is just gross incompetence on display.

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FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, COVID-19, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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. Jen says:

    He is a very, very dumb man. I now understand where the crippling insecurity comes from, he genuinely is out of his depth in a puddle, and apparently has just (barely) enough self-awareness to realize it.

    31
  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    While the interviewer is a relatively young man, I suspect that the Former Reality Show Host would have been flummoxed by a sharp 10 year old.

    2
  3. MarkedMan says:

    The entire Republican Party leadership consists of slackers that decided math was hard in high school and therefore stupid and not worth their time. 75% then decided they needed to be actively hostile to those that understand it.

    9
  4. Kathy says:

    The thing is that with nearly 160,000 deaths and counting, he wants acclaim for having done “well.” Leave aside the fact he has done badly, not well, what kind of leader wants cheers for so many deaths?

    Most often, if you need to demand acclamation it means you’ve done nothing to deserve it.

    4
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: What should one expect from the “tax cuts raise revenues” party?

    6
  6. KM says:

    It’s worth reflecting upon that many look up to this man *because* of this nonsense. He is not the only one like this in the nation – not by a long shot. We are a country of idiots proudly proclaiming our egos into the void and get incredibly bitter when those smarter or more capable point it out. Every nation has its Florida Men but only in America does it get celebrated and treated like a valid state of being. Even places that are fiercely anti-intellectual don’t let the morons run things- the intentionally ignorant get kicked away from power by anyone with a brain. Worse, should it turn out he truly does have some sort of dementia or mental illness, it’s proof a huge chuck of America was OK with giving someone with a rapidly deteriorating mental state the nukes to get what they want.

    Trump sadly epitomizes the American Dream: Anybody can make it, regardless of their talent or even themselves, to the highest Office in the land. He’s every drunken loser Coulda-Been-A-Contender’s idol. The damage he has done – that an idiot can run this country into the ground and still get love from 40% of the nation – will last generations.

    27
  7. ptfe says:

    @Kathy: Of course he wants recognition: he honestly believes that whatever job he did was unimpeachably the best possible job that anyone could have done, and evidence to the contrary is either flat-out false, or it reflects on the failings of someone else.

    To the extent that the president has the authority or ability to limit the damage of a pandemic like this, Trump has done the bare minimum, but he’s convinced he’s done everything he can do. For him, the thought of spending 10 extra minutes dealing with anything he’s uncomfortable with (and that isn’t personally profitable) is galling, because surely someone else should be doing it.

    6
  8. Scott F. says:

    @Jen:
    Very, very dumb doesn’t quite cover it as far as I am concerned. This is another example of the “aggressive stupidity” description that Kingdaddy applied to Louie Gohmert the other day.

    Passive dumbness is often pitiable. Willful denial of readily available information that is contrary to your narcissism is threatening and contemptible.

    13
  9. Teve says:

    @brianschatz

    The man said “it is what it is” in regards to 156 thousand dead Americans and although there are lots of other reasons to vote him out, that should be enough.

    11
  10. Scott F. says:

    Steven, just a thought, but you might switch gears and post instead with only the latest examples of Trump’s presidential competence. I’m thinking basic leadership prowess like Tweets of ten words in a row without a misspelling or perhaps a well-crafted and direct answer to the actual question asked during a daily briefing. Maybe we will get a data based decision that holds for several days before POTUS changes course.

    Think of the time you will save. It could free up valuable time to see to your personal needs or professorial study. It certainly will be less exhausting.

    4
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Jonathan Swan had Trump about 7 seconds from going full Colonel Jessup.
    What’s not in the clip above…

    Swan: A thousand Americans are dying a day.
    Trump: They are dying, that’s true. It is what it is.

    4
  12. Kylopod says:

    “[Science is] more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world, and to share this accumulated knowledge. It’s a mindset that says we can use reason and logic and honest inquiry to reach new conclusions and solve big problems.” — Barack Obama

    “It’s called science, and all of a sudden something’s better.” — Donald Trump

    28
  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    …a man who really does not understand what is going on.

    This is the crux of the matter.
    We (the country) need to be talking about his mental and physical decline, and how it renders him unfit for office.
    His incompetence has been normalized…but it is far from normal.

    8
  14. Teve says:

    @KM:

    We are a country of idiots

    Speak for yourself.

    3
  15. Teve says:

    @Scott F.:

    you might switch gears and post instead with only the latest examples of Trump’s presidential competence. I’m thinking basic leadership prowess like Tweets of ten words in a row without a misspelling

    Journalists on Twitter are in general agreement that the tweets where everything is properly spelled, capitalized, and punctuated, especially the ones using more obscure vocabulary, are written by his handlers.

    4
  16. Teve says:

    @OrinKerr

    Not sure if this is an interview or a @ProjectLincoln ad.

    16
  17. Kylopod says:

    @ptfe:

    he honestly believes that whatever job he did was unimpeachably the best possible job that anyone could have done

    I don’t think he honestly believes it at all. Did he honestly believe he got the greatest SAT score he had someone else take for him? Did he honestly believe Trump Steaks were still on the market as he held up a steak from a different company? Does he honestly believe he’s a real billionaire even as he works overtime to keep his tax returns from ever seeing the light of day? He’s a liar and con artist who at some point in his youth made it his life’s mission to try to convince others he’s the bestest human ever to walk the face of the earth by simply declaring it to be so over and over and over, while doing everything he could to hide the evidence proving otherwise.

    10
  18. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    The difference between a Trump-produced tweet and a staff-produced tweet is glaringly obvious.

    1
  19. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Sometimes it can be hard to draw the line between what someone like Trump believes about himself and what he wants everyone else to believe about himself, because his self-image as the greatest in all respects is so important to him. It’s not just a façade he employs to get what he wants, if you see what I mean.

    3
  20. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    Journalists on Twitter are in general agreement that the tweets where everything is properly spelled, capitalized, and punctuated, especially the ones using more obscure vocabulary, are written by his handlers.

    It’s been reported, though, that his ghost-tweeters deliberately put in spelling and grammar errors (or at least they used to). I saw what was most likely a direct example of that a while back. During the Stormy Daniels scandal, his account put out a series of tweets that seemed to be written in pure legalese, but they ended with the line, “Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”

    2
  21. Kathy says:

    @ptfe:

    To the extent that the president has the authority or ability to limit the damage of a pandemic like this, Trump has done the bare minimum, but he’s convinced he’s done everything he can do.

    Oh, if only he’d done the bare minimum, there’d be thousands fewer deaths.

    He has worked, rather aggressively, against preventive measures like lockdowns, testing, masks, supplying PPE, and even social distancing. He not only failed to help much, he has made things much worse. By downplaying the pandemic at the start, by claiming the virus to be a hoax (even as tens of thousands of Europeans fell ill and perished), he convinced a sizable percentage of the population not to take the threat seriously.

    Whatever his pathology is that prevents him from recognizing his mistakes, though, is about the worse aspect of him. Even New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea, and others who’ve managed the pandemic very well have made mistakes, because everyone makes mistakes. Given a new virus of uncertain virulence and mortality, it’s impossible not to make mistakes.

    Many have called prior recent pandemics like H1N1, SARS, and MERS “warnings.” The implication being COVID-19 is the disaster they were warning us about.

    No question COVID-19 is a disaster, but it’s not the worse that can happen.

    We should learn the lessons of this pandemic and the previous ones. The next one could be milder than H1N!, or worse than COVID-19. there’s no way to tell. We need to have procedures, plans, and measures in place.

    In commercial aviation (yes, that again), such things are common. For instance, a twin engine jet can easily fly on one engine if the other should fail, just slower and at a lower altitude. It can land safely, too. So if you lose engine minutes after reaching cruising altitude, you can proceed to your destination in most cases.

    But it is a huge risk. What if the other engine fails? What if weather forces you to detour? What if you need to abort a landing close to the runway in bad weather? The odds are much higher for a crash if you’re operating on only one engine. Therefore the procedure is; find the closest suitable airport and land. Sometimes that will be the destination airport. And there is some latitude in, say, picking an airport a few hundred miles further away because your airline has facilities there it lacks in a closer one. Also in cases of bad weather (including high winds).

    We need something like that in every country, armed and ready to go automatically, as we’ve seen too many cases of leaders incapable or unwilling to deal with such things.

    7
  22. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: yeah the ones by his staffers generally have a certain clarity of thought and economy of language, whereas trump’s own tweets usually appear demented.

  23. Teve says:

    My social media profile picture is now just a reaction shot of Jonathan Swan looking at Trump with anger and contempt 😀

    2
  24. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I don’t think he honestly believes it at all.

    He might.

    The old saw that you can’t lie to yourself isn’t exactly correct. you can lie to yourself.

    Look, one time the boss remembered he had assigned no one to attend a meeting with a client until minutes before it started. It wasn’t important, but there was no need to offend the client by not showing up (other suppliers were to be there as well). So I got to go.

    He instructed me to lie, and say I was late because I’d been in a minor accident. I did. But later that day I found myself checking my car for a dent, until I recalled I had not been in a minor accident. In effect, I’d believed my own lie.

    A small matter, not worth worrying about, and I corrected that lie soon enough. But what if I’d doubled down on it, and repeated it often, and had others tell it, and had those others double down on it, and heard it myself from other people? I could definitely see myself believing my own lies if that happened. Maybe I’d still know what was true, but would I acknowledge it?

    The human brain is really weird.

    9
  25. ptfe says:

    @Kylopod: @Kylopod: This is getting into “diagnosis from a distance” territory, but it feels like when it comes to culpability for long-term failure, he convinces himself that he really is blameless. That’s different from his straight-up cons where there might be financial or legal benefits.

    In this case, admitting fault would mean saying The Other Side is right, so he wouldn’t admit it because The Other Side must always be wrong, so after careful consideration he must not be at fault. It’s gone on long enough that I really think he has a deep-rooted rot of an idea that nothing could have been done better, end of story, washed my hands of this problem now can I play golf again plz?

    It’s a pickpocket covering up stealing your wallet versus the same person making excuses for being beaten at marbles: both are lies, but their motivations are drastically different, and the mental state you get in to apply them is different too.

    But yes, the line is super fuzzy, especially with someone whose life is a performance in service to his brand.

    3
  26. Monala says:

    @Teve: I have sometimes said “It is what it is,” when my daughter is complaining about something that can’t be changed. In fact, I probably said it in the spring when she was upset about the school closures.

    But if the issue complained about was caused in large part by my own negligence — say, if I quit my job and refused to get another one, and we ended up getting evicted and living out of my car — then, “It is what it is” would be a monstrous statement.

    6
  27. EddieInCA says:

    I can’t even discuss Trump any more. I’m just so tired of it. But what has me so distressed, what I find so utterly depressing is how he’s convinced 40% of the people; to toss away their principles, beliefs, and morality in fealty to Trump.

    This is a perfect example. I have a friend. Let’s call him Frank. Frank is a few years younger than I am. But we grew up together. He’s Latino. He’s pretty smart. He served 14 years in the US Military, honorably. Served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently works for Verizon. Married with two kids. Lifelong independent who didn’t like either party. Went all in for Trump in 2016 because.. Hillary.

    There is NOTHING Trump can do to dissade him that Trump isn’t the best president this country has every seen. Yet, when you ask him about anything Trump, the rejoinder is to blame AOC, or Bernie, or the “radical left” for whatever Trump is being blamed. Worse, Frank keeps saying things along the lines of “Trump would never do XXX”, then days or weeks later, when Trump does that very thing, it’s rationalized, normalized, and accepted; regardless of how vehement and strident the opposition to Trump doing such a thing was in Frank’s mind just a few days previously.

    The latest example was when Biden spoke of Trump possibly coming up with an excuse to delay the 2020 Election. Franks said, and I quote, “Trump would never do that. If he did, I’d have to consider not supporting him.” Sure enough, when Trump tweeted about delaying the election, Frank had a change of heart. His new position was “Trump must know something, so if he wants to delay the election, he should”. This, after saying repeatedly, and posting online, about this very idea being unconstitutional and unsupportable.

    Rinse. Repeat. Over and over again.

    What is it that has made otherwise rational people turn into cultists? And for this guy???? WTF?

    36
  28. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Eddie, I can only think it’s because they’ve merged their identities with Trump’s. To criticize Trump is to criticize them. To find fault with Trump is to find fault with them. This happened with Sarah Palin, to some extent. But it’s more widespread with Trump. It’s not just that people identify with him; they are him. How can you trash yourself?

    8
  29. grumpy realist says:

    I have an ex-friend who has managed (as far as I can tell) to marinate himself in self-pity to the point where he now mimics Trump. Nothing is ever his fault; it’s always someone else who has caused the lack of success in his life. Coupled with continuous blustering about how Marvelous and Wonderful he is. And how no one appreciates him.

    Indulge yourself in this habit for sufficient time and it seems to do a number on one’s intelligence and mental health. You can actually talk yourself into narcissism. Very strange.

    5
  30. Kylopod says:

    @Monala: Also, “It is what it is” is not the sort of expression you use when talking about a great tragedy, whether or not one is personally responsible for it. It reminds me of that incident some years back when a college girl recorded herself in a racist rant against Asians, and in the course of it she referred to “the tsunami thing.”

    3
  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Sad to say, but the possibility that you are an outlier is an ever-expanding proposition.

    2
  32. Kathy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Some people, not all, when they get conned, have a very hard time admitting it. After all, they’d have to admit how stupid they were, as all the warning signs they should have seen will now flash in their memory; and worse if they were explicitly warned by someone.

    Instead they refuse to admit it, and will defend the conman to the death, even against all evidence or sense. I saw plenty of this during a brief mania for pyramid schemes in the early 90s. They’ll make excuses, they’ll blame someone else, and even years later they won’t admit they were conned.

    I am not surprised seeing this happen in regards to Trump, who conned a lot of people. I am surprised to see it happen among so many people. Perhaps there is some sort of mutual reinforcement going on. after all, the typical conman has no faction in Congress and the media zealously defending his con.

    5
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA:

    to toss away their principles, beliefs, and morality in fealty to Trump.

    While I will readily admit that Frank is a compelling example, I’m too steeped in Calvinism to believe that people are tossing away their principles, beliefs, and morality in fealty to Trump. They are in fealty to Trump because that’s who they are and their fealty allows them to cling to whatever they are calling beliefs, principles, and morality.

    I hate to say it and hope I’m wrong, but Frank may just be an a$$hole at heart.

    11
  34. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @KM:

    Trump sadly epitomizes the American Dream: Anybody can make it, regardless of their talent or even themselves, to the highest Office in the land. He’s every drunken loser Coulda-Been-A-Contender’s idol. The damage he has done – that an idiot can run this country into the ground and still get love from 40% of the nation – will last generations.

    To paraphrase the incomparable Tom Lehrer: We have carried the American ideal to it’s logical conclusion. Not only do we prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on ability.

    Or Asimov: “When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent”; and more Asimov: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    I need to look up some Mark Twain quotes too.

    11
  35. EddieInCA says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I hate to say it and hope I’m wrong, but Frank may just be an a$$hole at heart.

    That’s the maddening part. In every other facet of his life, he’s a good dude. He’s a good father. He’s a good worker. He has friends that are black, hispanic, gay, Asian. He’s funny. You’d never know he was a hard core Trumpist. He hates the child cage policy, but doesn’t blame Trump. He hates the pandemic response, but blames the media and Democrats for fear. He hates Trump’s misogyny (he has two daughters) but blames the media for playing “gotcha”. He hates the border wall rhetoric, but says we need a wall.

    It’s maddening. And I don’t get it. I just don’t. Its causes my brain to break.

    7
  36. Monala says:

    The other horrible thing about this is what Steven wrote here:

    I have no idea, for example, what that four-item bar graph was, but I cannot think of what useful chart would have had only four data points on it in the context of global comparisons. Several of the other charts clearly have a subset of countries represented, so any claims of “first” or “last” are essentially meaningless. The only one that seems to have a fairly comprehensive comparison is the one that shows the raw number of tests completed (since that one clearly shows the US as number one).

    We know that Trump asks for things to be reported to him in as simple a fashion as possible, but this goes beyond that: they are reporting data in a way that distorts what is happening to feed Trump’s ego.

    3
  37. Teve says:

    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    Yep. Great quote. With few exceptions I reject Golden Age-ism. When Tom Brokaw’s stupid book came out calling them the greatest generation, I thought oh greatest generation huh the people with the separate water fountains for Black people? My grandmother, who used to call Michael Jordan the N-word? Those are the greatest people? Fred Trump at the Klan rally?

    3
  38. Matt says:

    @EddieInCA: I know several people exactly like that. Some of them started it under Bush Jr. Once Bush Jr was out of office those same people acted like they never supported him in the first place. Then Trump came along and those people went back to old habits but even more fervent than before. Something about the cult of Trump is stronger than the prior GOP cults. I eagerly await seeing how they react to Trump losing. I’m sure it’ll be everyone else’s fault but I can’t guess anything beyond that.

    3
  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    Regarding the Greatest Generation: Republicans and some Democrats, but mostly Republicans, fought tooth and nail to avoid going to war against Nazi Germany, even as Britain was hanging on by their fingernails. We did not enter the war, we were forced into it by Japan.

    During the war white defense workers went on strike – mid-war – rather than work alongside blacks. Americans uniquely saw their average caloric intake increase, while half the world starved.

    The soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen deserve our praise. The broader American public was selfish, stupid, short-sighted and amoral.

    12
  40. Kingdaddy says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: Some good Twain quotes for our current predicament:

    “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

    “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

    “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

    “By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity — another man’s I mean.”

    “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.”

    “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”

    6
  41. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: maybe he’s listening to right wing media. Right wing media in this country has gone batshit crazy. There’s a story over at gateway pundit right now that says that George Floyd killed himself. There’s another one that says that Anthony Fauci owns a patent on the coronavirus vaccine and is going to make millions off the pandemic.

    You can’t listen to that shit on a regular basis and believe it and come away sane.

    9
  42. CSK says:

    @Matt:
    The Cult of Trump is the Cult of Palin, except on steroids. I don’t know what will happen when Trump is defeated. They may form their own party, but I think they’re too dumb and disorganized.

    5
  43. Teve says:

    If you’ve got a group of people who are lukewarm about GHW Bush and over the moon for Donald Trump, that says nothing good about that group of people.

    2
  44. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Well, if they are lukewarm about GHW Bush, and over the moon for Donald J. Trump, super-genius, then they are batting 0.500.

    Was there every anyone more destined to generate a lukewarm response than Poppy Bush?

    1
  45. Scott F. says:

    @Monala: Aggressive stupidity is made easier with enablers.

  46. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Had Palin ascended to the Presidency, I think the Palinistas would have been just as fervent as the Trumpers.

    If Trump is defeated, a large chunk of the Trumpers will claim that Trump failed Trumpism, and that what they need is someone just like Trump but without the baggage. Less paying off porn stars and less obvious corruption and able to string a sentence together even if it doesn’t mean anything (so long as it manages to mention a hot button issue for the base). And there will be glowing hagiographies of this Responsible Conservative Firebrand in the NY Times.

    2
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:

    Some people, not all, when they get conned, have a very hard time admitting it.

    It’s why confidence games so often succeed. And the bigger fool you were, the less likely you are to admit it. A good conman makes his marks complicit, a sort of Stockholm syndrome.

    Cult45 will never admit the truth – the scale of the con and their own complicity ensure that they will continue to deny what is obvious to anyone outside the cult. The alternative is confessing that they were abject fools, fools on the level of someone who sends money to a Nigerian prince.

    5
  48. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I read one time that the FBI estimated that Nigeria makes $100 million a year from that scam.

    1
  49. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: i’m a liberal Democrat but I would run a marathon to vote for George HW Bush if it was him versus Trump.

    7
  50. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: There was thing floating around the internet recently where some gun nut was blathering away on social media about how good people with guns had saved countless lives, and then added in a story that made him out to be some kind of hero, pulling out his gun (fetishistically described, by the way) to save his girlfriend. He also posted a picture of a newspaper clipping of the incident, old and yellowed, obviously saved and treasured for years. But the article doesn’t describe any of that. It basically describes the poster as a creepy stalker whose girlfriend got a restraining order after he threatened her with a gun. (I may not have that exactly right, but the basics are there.)

    Obviously over the years he had warped this story in his mind until he was a hero. You have to wonder how many times he had trotted that out until it had evolved to the point where he was the hero.

    6
  51. MarkedMan says:

    @Monala: He’s pulled out the charts a couple of times recently. They all seem to have four curves, or four bars. I recognized one from the Swan interview from a chart the White House press office had trotted out a couple of weeks ago. It had 7 or 8 curves on it, and reporters pointed out that it had been edited from another one that had 3 or 4 more curves, all of which would have demonstrated the lie of what the Kellyanne HuckaSanders McEnany creature had been saying.

    1
  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Matt: I think Trump’s end will be like Sinatra’s. No one really liked him, but his fans loved him so as he descended into dementia his family and manager kept dressing him up and pushing him out in front of any audience willing to pay a couple hundred bucks a seat. A sad ending to a man who became more bitter and angry with each passing decade.

    1
  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”

    I love Twain, but I always wondered about this one. I mean, the man was a documented cat owner…

    3
  54. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: Bzzzt. “What is a basketful of deplorables?”

    1
  55. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Had Palin ascended to the Presidency, I think the Palinistas would have been just as fervent as the Trumpers.

    It’s hard to game out the counterfactual, because while there are some parallels, and I do think she was in many ways a precursor, they aren’t the same. She came more directly out of the world of conservative American culture. Even though Trump had the grievances of that culture down to a tee, he eschewed some of its shibboleths, which is part of how he managed to draw in some voters from outside of the regular GOP coalition. She engaged in dogwhistles (“real America”) but was nowhere near as explicitly racist. And what so many voters loved about him was the sense of chaos, of sending a neutron bomb to the entire system. She didn’t exude that feeling–not to that degree, anyway.

    Also, as big of a grifter as she is, she seemed more stable and competent. While relatively inexperienced, she’d been in elected office of some kind for a while by 2008. She certainly doesn’t feel like some 4-year-old, and she isn’t anywhere near as deranged. That may partly have to do with his age, but he’s been doing some variant on the “Nobody’s done a better job than me” for pretty much his entire career.

    So yes, “the Palinistas” would have been very fervent had she ascended to the presidency (and certainly the conservative media would have gotten more on board, just as they did with Trump), but it’s not clear how large that group would have been and how it would have coalesced with ordinary Republicans. I don’t think she would have totally turned the party upside down the way he has. I think she would have been a relatively more conventional Republican–certainly at the party’s hard right, certainly promoting an anti-intellectual aura, and certainly poorly equipped to govern effectively. He’s just so extreme, so corrupt, so incompetent–and at bottom just so downright cartoonish—that it leaves just about anyone else behind.

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  56. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I recall reading about it, probably on social media, but I didn’t get too deep into the story.

  57. Robert in SF says:

    @EddieInCA:
    In reading your confoundment at your friend’s reaction and excuse making for President Trump, it reminds me of the epiphany that a spoiled brat’s father had on the Andy Griffith show…some people just cannot realize or *admit* that the person they support or thought they agreed with/admired is actually selfish, self-centered, thoughtless, careless, petty, impulsive, a liar and cheat, and manipulative…no matter how in-their-face the evidence. They never have that moment where they let it sink in and realize they are hurting themselves with their continued support.

    https://youtu.be/oSTdHClwwSg?t=208

    2
  58. Scott F. says:

    @EddieInCA:

    He hates the child cage policy, but doesn’t blame Trump. He hates the pandemic response, but blames the media and Democrats for fear. Etc.

    Gaslighting is used because it works. I suspect this guy had to be somewhat susceptible to being manipulated, but even rational people can be manipulated.

    I don’t think people have fully grasped the pernicious innovation that Trump has accomplished with his use of Twitter. He truly has established a direct line to his followers that allows him to define what is real for these people. Swan came right out and put it in front of Trump during this interview when he said:

    Swan: They don’t listen to me or the media or Fauci, they think we’re fake news. They want to get their advice from you. And so when they hear you say “everything’s under control, don’t worry about wearing masks,” I mean, these are people—many of them are older people, Mr. President—it’s giving them a false sense of security.

    It was right after this that Trump brushed it off and said, “it is what it is.” To most of us, this sounds like a monstrously glib dismissal of human suffering, but Trump followers hear an abstract tale about the inevitability of death that is beyond any person’s ability to control – if Trump’s “greatness” couldn’t change the outcome, then the outcome was a foregone conclusion. It would be unfair to put it on him. Don’t believe the dimming lamps you see with your own eyes.

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  59. Jen says:

    @Kylopod:

    So yes, “the Palinistas” would have been very fervent had she ascended to the presidency (and certainly the conservative media would have gotten more on board, just as they did with Trump), but it’s not clear how large that group would have been and how it would have coalesced with ordinary Republicans.

    Clearly all speculation and guessing, but my hunch is that she would have lost a certain portion of her support had she ascended to the Presidency. There is a group of people (which includes some women), who do not believe that women are capable of leading at this level.

  60. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Trunp / Palin 2024 – Because you’re dummer than shit. Not only do we know it but we is one too.

    1
  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:
    @Jen:

    After the 08 campaign, Palin had a choice, she could have continued as conservative politician, completing her term as governor and perhaps running for reelection or congress. Or she could join the conservative entertainment complex, which is what she did. Her popularity is based on that, not her political work. Once she chose to be an entertainer, she foreclosed being seriously considered for the presidency.

    Now the Former Reality Show Host, has changed the dynamic about who can be president, but Palin is not in his league as a con man. Man being an operant condition for success.

    1
  62. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Once she chose to be an entertainer, she foreclosed being seriously considered for the presidency.

    We’ll never know, because she never actually entered a presidential race after that. In fact, she did just what Trump did for years: act like she was thinking of entering the race just to drum up media attention (and funnel money to her businesses), but never follow through.

    Remember, before 2016 nobody thought Trump would actually enter a presidential race (I think he was technically a candidate for the Reform Party nomination in 2000, but that’s about it), much less have a serious shot at actually winning. Even practically up to the moment he began filing paperwork for his 2016 run, people were saying he never would.

    That’s why I’m hesitant to say Palin’s chosen career path foreclosed ever becoming a real presidential candidate. In the end, she didn’t become a candidate because she chose not to. How well she would have done had she made that choice is anyone’s guess, but after seeing Trump’s rise it’s hard to make any definitive judgment about that.

    1
  63. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    We’re trying to figure out an unknown.

    A key difference between Palin and Trump is that he came to politics with a defined and well known brand, while she was still defining her brand.

  64. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Sarah Palin: Politician turned reality show star.
    Donald Trump: Reality show star turned politician.

    3
  65. Gustopher says:

    @Jen:

    Clearly all speculation and guessing, but my hunch is that she would have lost a certain portion of her support had she ascended to the Presidency. There is a group of people (which includes some women), who do not believe that women are capable of leading at this level.

    I think it all would have depended on how she aged.

    “She’s purty, and a purty good President, heh-heh” would have taken her far. But aging is unforgivable in a woman. How many complaints were there about Clinton’s looks?

  66. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    If Palin had won in 2012, and again in 2016, she’d be out of office next January. And she’d only be going on 57 at that point. With a little care, she could have kept her looks. I hate to say it, but she still looks good.

  67. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:
    @CSK:

    Part of Palin’s appeal was that she is attractive. Can you think of another politician that launched the career of a number of Palin-esque porn performers.

  68. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    So does Tina Fey, and she’s a much nicer person.

    IMO, Palin would have been better than trump, simply because it’s hard to think of someone who might be worse.

    Or someone who might have been worse prior to trump the Bigot. Now that he’s opened the door for hateful people in the GOP, all bets may be off. My hope is for a resounding defeat which will discredit the Trumpist brand.

    BTW Assuming Trump the Tiny loses, and assuming he’s out of prison in time (if he’s ever in prison), and assuming he’s still alive in 2024, what are the odds he’d run then?

  69. Jax says:

    @Kathy: If I had to bet Vegas odds, I think that after this year, Mitch McConnell and the Republican party will go full Weekend at Bernies with Trump’s dead corpse if it gets them back in power. They’ve never had such cultie love in their lives.

    That’s provided we can vote the bastards out, first.

  70. dazedandconfused says:

    Had Trump picked Palin for VP they could’ve had a wonderful bumper-sticker:
    “You’re Fired!” “I Quit!”

    Trump’s incuriousity may stem from his career. He’s a BS artist and not a particularly good one. He got away with that as a big time developer because big time developers are essentially shills for lenders. It’s the banks and such who make the calls but no bank wants to be the front man of a large undertaking. It’s fair to say that the only bankers for whom public notoriety enhances their career are CEOs. For all under, it’s a big liability. They pick “developers” to take the blame or the credit, depending on how things shake out. They don’t give a damn about anything but profits and losses. They let Trump be Trump, the more attention he demanded the better. His BS was always ignored or forgiven, if anything it was rewarded. Facts are to be ignored when stiffing sub-contractors and with resources to pay fixer-lawyers like Cohen they most definitely can be.

    As being a pompous ass never cost him, he never saw a need to dispute issues rationally.