Supplemental: Lessons from The Year of the Trump!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2015

After the gatekeepin's done:
Kevin Drum says that Candidate Trump gave last night's worst answer. It came when Hugh Hewitt popped a question concerning our aging "nuclear triad."

Hewitt's a conservative talk show host. Keep that in mind for later.

Like Drum, we'll provide Trump's answer in full. We'd like to add a couple of points to the standard derision:
HEWITT (12/15/15): Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out.

It's an executive order. It's a commander-in-chief decision. What's your priority among our nuclear triad?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.

But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out—if we didn't have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can't just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn't care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he's saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear—nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon

That's, in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.

HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

TRUMP: I think—I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.
Trump didn't have much to say about the nuclear triad. His answer reads like a third-grader's essay on "what I did on my summer vacation concerning the nuclear triad."

"I seriously want to hear anyone on the right side of the aisle defend Trump as a potential commander-in-chief after hearing this," Drum said, after providing that answer by Trump.

Let's add a couple of points. Let's start with this year's transformation in the role of accurate statement:

Trump had nothing to say about Hewitt's question. For that reason, he quickly recited a giant howler which has been floating around, with few objections from the press, since the first GOP debate:

"One of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly."

Back in September, at the second GOP debate, Trump made a lengthy presentation on this theme. It seems obvious that his claim is false. To this day, he doesn't even seem real clear concerning the year the Iraq war started.

(He keeps saying he was "totally against going into Iraq" in 2004. That's fine, except the war began in March 2003. In August, at the first debate, he offered a shorter speech about his opposition. "In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq," he flawlessly said at that time.)

Trump made a giant, absurd presentation on this theme at that long-ago second debate. He claimed he could produce dozens of news reports about his opposition to the war.

No such reports have ever appeared or have ever been found.

Three months later, the candidate still feels no compunction about repeating this apparently bogus claim. His absurd statements simply continue.

During this, The Year of the Trump, routine dissembling of this type has been completely normalized. The press corps has completely accepted this practice. Even at a major event like a debate, giant howlers by a front-runner can go completely unremarked and unnoticed. Ludicrous invention is now the normal state of affairs.

Earlier, Drum authored a capsule account of each candidate's performance last night. This was his capsule on Trump's performance. We highlight a very key point:
DRUM (12/15/15): Donald Trump took a step backward to his persona from the first debate: lots of mugging for the camera and no apparent policy knowledge at all. He doubled down on killing the families of terrorists; he answered three or four different questions by saying he opposed the invasion of Iraq; and then produced one of the night's most fatuous lines: "I think for me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me." That's his position on the nuclear triad? It's hard to believe this isn't going to hurt him in the polls, but this is not a normal world we live in these days.
In fairness to Trump, we can't find the three or four places where he supposedly said he opposed Iraq. Still:

"This is not a normal world we live in these days?" That is a very key point.

We live in a world in which the journalistic and political gatekeepers are completely gone. Last night, near the end of the evening, Hewitt asked Trump, once again, if he would pledge to support the Republican nominee.

When Trump said yes, the audience applauded. Incredibly, though, so did Hewitt! Old standards are totally gone.

Under the old procedures, journalistic and political gatekeepers restricted the ideas we could hear and the candidates we could consider. We weren't allowed to hear crazy ideas. Crazy people weren't allowed to become candidates. Also, people who knew nothing at all weren't allowed to be candidates.

By now, all those restrictions are gone. Anyone can be a candidate. They can say whatever they want. The moderators get to applaud.

(Crazy people even get to be doctors. We base that on the recent letter from Trump's alleged physician, who he apparently hired away from Kim Jong-Un.)

Under these transformed procedures, we can choose whatever candidate we want. We can choose to support any proposal and accept any factual claim. Under the old arrangements, we simply wouldn't have been exposed to many of those ideas and claims. Today, tout est permis. That's French for "way too much is permitted."

Now that all the restrictions are gone, we're learning something intriguing. Many voters are open to candidates who say and do unusual-seeming things. Many voters are open to candidates who seem to lack any serious knowledge about a wide range of affairs.

As liberals, we can see the craziness unleashed by these new arrangements when it seems to appear on The Other Side. It's harder for us to see the way our own tribe is slipping and sliding.

It's easy for us to spot their biases. It's hard for us to see ours.

Last night, Hewitt applauded Trump's answer! Truly, all the rules are gone. Everything is now allowed.

Did you know that Justice Scalia is in favor of separate but equal?

31 comments:

  1. TRUMP: I think—I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.


    Trump didn't have much to say about the nuclear triad. His answer reads like a third-grader's essay on "what I did on my summer vacation concerning the nuclear triad."
    ***************************

    There's a reason Trump is running as a republican.

    "I seriously want to hear anyone on the right side of the aisle defend Trump as a potential commander-in-chief after hearing this," Drum said, after providing that answer by Trump.

    I read that by Kevin Drum this morning and the first thing I could think of was bravo, Kevin, Apparently up until that answer from Trump, Kevin was still willing to keep an open mind.


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    1. Of course Kevin keeps an open mind. He's a liberal.

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    2. You mistake open mindedness with other similar characteristics liberal bloogers often cite among thir own tribe, laziness, dumbness, and dislikeability.

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  2. That answer by Trump was criticized by the conservative Power Line blog. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/12/trumps-nuclear-howler.php

    Many people on the right are opposed to Trump. It is my hope (or wish) that as candidates drop out, Trump will remain with a minority of Republicans, while the majority coalesce around a reasonable candidate, like Rubio or Cruz.

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    1. You would first have to find a reasonable GOP candidate named Cruz or Rubio because the ones you have now aren't.

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    2. The Orwellian world we live in - Cruz is a 'reasonable' candidate - (not to say Rubio is either)

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    3. Rubio knew what the triad is. But did Cruz know?

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  3. Reasonable candidate, Ted Cruz:

    "We will carpet bomb [ISIS] into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out," [Ted Cruz] said at the Rising Tide ...


    Carpet bombing is considered a war crime[6] as of the 1977 Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

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    Replies
    1. But as the discussion went on, it became obvious Ted didn't know what "carpet bomb" meant. I guess he said it because it sounded tough. He wants to bomb ISIS positions, not burn whole cities.

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  4. Bob and Kevin Drum, and anyone else who seriously imagines that a misfire by Trump regarding an obscure term need to get over their smug superiority and face reality.

    Does anybody honestly believe that more than 10% of the American public has any idea what the term "nuclear triad" means? I'm relatively well educated and a voracious consumer of political thought, but I don't recall ever hearing the term. I doubt Trump has, either, and that's no knock against the man. Nor are Joe or Jane Doe ever going to care.

    What happened to the Bob that would take pundits to task for condescending and tone deaf attacks like Drum's?

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    1. It doesn't surprise me to read so many wingnuts explaining how they never heard of the term. That is the result of the prolonged period of "Affirmative Action for Wingnuts" which has left most of you fucking ignorant and stupid, but never in doubt. \
      Ask David in Cal about it.

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    2. The definition of nuclear triad was given in the question asked of Trump. And because the public doesn't know what it means is no excuse. We're talkin' nukes, after all.

      It could have been an educational moment, to see if the candidates could answer (and maybe educate their viewers). It was. None of the candidates should be any where near launch codes.

      C'mon, man!

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    3. Very weak. The silliness of Trump's rambling is largely irrelevant to this question or any other.

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    4. Then again, maybe Trump's on the road to sainthood [LINK].

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    5. Everybody who follows national security knows what the triad is.

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  5. Any semi-serious person who was at least partially conscious during the prolonged COLD FUCKING WAR should know what the term "nuclear triad" means, not to mention someone pretending to run for the singular office of President of the United States and leader of the free world.

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    Replies
    1. Any question a Republican candidate cannot answer is automatically a gotcha question.

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  6. Although he was given (too much) credit in protesting against the Iraqi Invasion, Chris Matthews crowing about his heroic dissent from supporting the thing bears an interesting similarity to Trump's. In Matthews case, sometimes he was, sometimes he wasn't. He will say different things on different shows. He supported W beyond Katrina.

    Hewwit applauding is roughly the same as Will working to coach Reagan in the debates while holding a job at ABC. This is nothing new: we know right wingers are bullies without much integrity, and they get a lower bar. What is a right wing journalist like Laura Logan still doing with her job at 60 Minutes after displaying freakishly incompetent bias?
    I don't like Trump any better than anyone, but you can't say even the mainstream media hasn't denounced him, and the only ones I can think of defending him are the slimy characters at the WSJ editorial page. He's there because a lot of Republicans like him. Which is most of what you need to know about Republicans. I don't see a link to the major liberal pundit who claimed Scalia is for separate but equal. Could it be this person does not exist?

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    1. Dorian Warren said it as a guest on MSNBC at 6pm on Dec 9.

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    2. I guess Al Sharpton doesn't count.

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    3. "I guess Al Sharpton doesn't count."

      Cite please.

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    4. @ 10:50 - Newsbusters said he did, but he didn't.

      Somerby - did you know that Scalia is anti-affirmative action as reflected by his voting?

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    5. Oh well if Dorian Warren said it that makes a valid point. Who's Dorian Warren?

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    6. Trump has a friend: Putin.

      http://news.yahoo.com/putin-calls-trump-outstanding-talented-man-agencies-005747627.html

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  7. Certainly not a fan, but Trump is right about the big picture regarding the Iraq fiasco. Imagine the improved state of this nation if the trillions spent and to be spent on a neocon fantasy of remaking the Middle East by force had instead been spent on productive initiatives. That's what's resonating with a segment of the public.

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  8. "The definition of nuclear triad was given in the question asked of Trump."

    Yup.

    Kids miss questions like that in school All The Time.

    But.

    Some of us did notice that taking Trump to task for this was not schoolteacher Somerby's point, right?

    Maybe it wasn't colored in brightly enough?

    Somerby is mocking that *that's* the supposed whopper, when even though it's an evasion of the question, it actually amounts to a big nothingburger -- while an actual hilariously glaring misstatement did occur within that same "answer."

    Maybe Somerby should've called Drum a bad name...

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    1. Having the teeny-tinesy imaginary analysts call him Uncle would have been helpful. Or at least comfortably familiar.

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  9. Speaking of bad memories (or likely lies)...Who recalls that GWB (June 2003, with UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan in the Rose Garden, and then again in 2004 after the Abu Graib scandal) claimed we had to invade Iraq because Saddam would not let WMD inspectors in...Then Dick Cheney made the same claim 2 years ago...Truth: UN WMD inspectors spent 11/02-3/03 in Iraq, found nothing, and the inspectors fled for their lives as GWB/Cheney rushed an invasion.

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