Obfuscatory capture: Now they've even got Kevin Drum!

THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2016

Trump on the minimum wage:
Is well-known candidate Donald J. Trump in favor of raising the federal minimum wage?

By last evening, they even had Kevin Drum saying it! For unknown reasons, Drum based his claim—which may have been tongue on cheek—on a tweet from the reigning king of constant gorilla dust:
DRUM (5/11/16): So what does Trump really think about the minimum wage? There's no telling. Maybe he really has changed his mind over and over. Maybe he didn't realize there were separate state and federal minimum wages until someone clued him in on May 8. But his tweet today sure makes it clear that he wants an increase in the federal minimum wage. He even capitalized it to make sure we got the point. I wonder how long we'll have to wait before he claims he never said this and he really wants the states to decide after all?
To peruse the tweet in question, you can review Drum's post.

We can't tell if Drum was being serious in that highlighted statement. That said, pundit please! Yesterday's tweet from Donald J. Trump doesn't make anything clear.

With the minimum wage as with everything else, Trump has adopted every known position at some point. Sunday, on Meet the Press, he made it clear, in an actual human exchange, that he wasn't in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. Or at least, he made it as clear as he's ever able to make anything clear.

Has Trump actually changed his mind? It's silly to say so based on yesterday's tweet. Trump's tweets are routinely incoherent. As Drum says, it's easy to imagine Trump denying he said what Drum now says he said. Deriving a stance from that stupid tweet is like seeing angel shapes in the clouds.

That said, this latest nonsense defines a terrible problem. By normal standards, Trump's rolling incoherent behavior is, at best, barely sane.

His bizarre conduct is the actual story here, and it should be reported as such. But uh-oh! For whatever reason, many people seem inclined to impose order on Trump's barely sane behavior, much as Drum did in his post, unless it was tongue in cheek.

As of Sunday on Meet the Press, Trump plainly said he wasn't in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. But all around, in various orgs, people started doing a profoundly unwise thing:

They started trying to impose order on Trump's disordered mind. They started trying to split the difference, making it sound like Trump had adopted some middle-road position.

As of this morning, the New York Times has inevitably gone there. Candidate Trump "aligns more with Democrats on some economic issues," the Times says in a sub-headline on this hard-copy report. Alan Rappeport then provided some non-example examples:
RAPPEPORT (5/12/16): He aligns more with Democrats on some economic issues

Mr. Trump has broken with Republican orthodoxy by vowing to close tax loopholes that benefit the rich and by suggesting—and later retracting—that the wealthiest could pay higher taxes under his plan. He has said he would be open to raising the minimum wage.
Has Trump "said he would be open to raising the minimum wage?" Please note:

In best Times fashion, Rappeport didn't say whose minimum wage he was talking about. As of Sunday, Trump had said that he was willing to see states raise their minimum wages, but he didn't want to do so on the federal level.

By leaving things brilliantly unclear, Rappeport split the difference. He used this murky formulation to say that Trump "aligns more with Democrats" on this issue.

Is that true? Has Trump "aligned more with Democrats" on the federal minimum wage? This is where the three remaining candidates stood as of Sunday, when Trump made his last coherent statement:
Proposals for the federal minimum wage
Candidate Sanders: Would raise it to $15
Candidate Clinton: Would raise it to $12
Candidate Trump: Would leave it at $7.25
In the realm of the New York Times, this somehow means that Candidate Trump now "aligns more with Democrats."

(Aligns with them more than with whom? More than with J. P. Morgan?)

Note Rappeport's other claim. He said Trump had "aligned more with Democrats" by "suggesting—and later retracting—that the wealthiest could pay higher taxes under his plan."

In that formulation, Rappeport's mind almost seems as disordered as Trump's. By making a suggestion he quickly took back, Trump sided with Democrats!

Deeper in his piece, Rappeport does it again. In this passage, he seems to roll back the clock on Trump's most recent stand on Planned Parenthood:
RAPPEPORT: He is far from a firebrand on social issues.

Previously an abortion rights advocate, Mr. Trump now says he opposes abortion, at one point calling for women who seek abortions to be punished, which runs afoul of conservative doctrine. But he has also said Planned Parenthood offers valuable medical services to women, and he has opposed Republican efforts to cut off funding to the group.
Technically, the highlighted statement is accurate. In the past, Candidate Trump actually has "opposed Republican efforts to cut off funding to the group."

For better or worse, that hasn't been his position since March. As PolitiFact reported on May 1, "Trump’s overarching position on taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood seems to be that he supports defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions." For details, see the PolitiFact piece.

Trump's constant shifting of positions is borderline deranged. That said, our "press corps" is uniquely unsuited to deal with this particular type of highly disordered behavior.

The culture of the invented and rearranged fact has been their culture for many years. The Rappeports have never known anything but that disordered culture. In this morning's piece, we'd have to say it shows.

It's a bit like a few of those scenes from The Godfather. All our gatekeepers have gone home. All our protectors have laid down their arms. Where we once had protection, now we've been left on our own.

We're left with a borderline nutcase like Trump—and with the Rappeport types. In fairness, the Rappeports have learned their craft from the editors who once invented Seelye and Dowd.

That Rappeport piece helps "mainstream" Trump. So does the relentless invented claim that he opposed the war in Iraq.

Is there a motive behind such work? We don't have the slightest idea. But Rappeport is a quivering mess, and Trump may be out of his mind.

Dangerously youthful watch: Rappeport graduated from Emory in 2001. In the context of today's "press corps," he's practically over the hill.


  1. This is awful. The Dems can be as dim as the GOP.

    1. Wut? This post was about Trump and reporters. How do you get Dems being dim out of that?

  2. Bob, this prose from you is almost a bridge to far! Are you saying TRUMP almost aligns ... with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ?!? On the min wage ? [women too, I may add]

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  6. How much do I love when Bob writes "uh oh!"?

  7. Donald Trump has disqualified himself from being taken seriously by serious people. Whatever he says about the minimum wage or anything else may completely change tomorrow without explanation. He is a major candidate from one of our major parties and he is winging it. Do you really want to waste time arguing about this?