Part 1—The vermin Over There: Charles Blow has never been the sharpest crayon in the box of 64. Not even at the box where he's housed, the glorious New York Times.
(To distract yourself with all those colors, you can just click here.)
Blow is also a "CNN contributor;" we assume that means he gets paid by CNN as well as by the Times. This may help explain why you'll never read a description of that entity's conduct in the columns he writes for the Times. Elsewhere, this would be described as a conflict of interest. At the Times, the assortment of moral and intellectual giants don't worry about such plays.
Why do we question the gentleman's sharpness? Consider the column he colors today in the hard-copy Times.
As Blow was typing, the brilliant savants of our own liberal team were explaining, and explaining away, their embarrassing failed predictions during the GOP primary race.
At the Times, Nate Cohn explained away his failed predictions one week, having explained away the Times' failed "demographic-based [predictive] models" in his previous piece. This hasn't kept our intellectual giants from making new predictions about November.
Yesterday, Kevin Drum gave Trump a semi-provisional one percent chance. As a general matter, this strikes us as dumb-tilting work.
Our own team's intellectual giants bungled persistently all through the past year. But even as our giants explain away their failures, the rest of our team is busy declaring how dumb The Others all are.
It's the oldest (pre)human story! Chait and Marcotte and O'Hehir all told this ancient story last week, though we still think Traub told the story most regressively in late March—needless to say, for the Sunday Review in Blow's glorious Times.
We'll review those efforts this week; we'll also consider our own silly tribe's great love for useless prediction. For today, let's restrict ourselves to the crayons Blow used today as he colored The Other Tribe.
For ourselves, we think of Donald J. Trump as a very bad choice for president. That said, we also think it's extremely dumb to tell ugly, prehuman tales.
Blow agrees with our first view, is unconcerned with the second. At the same time, he's convinced, as prehumans always were, that his tribe is fully human—moral, deserving, honest and smart—and that The Others don't rise to the human level.
Nothing has ever convinced the Blows that this is a very shaky belief, a belief that has led to endless wars and to many defeats for the tribe. Blow is sure, as his type always is, that all virtue rests with his tribe.
He starts in rather quickly today on the dumbness of The Others.
(Next to him on the page, another one of our sillies denounces "Mr. Trump's overwhelmingly white male fans." That's a fairly silly claim, but it supports preferred script.)
Blow knows how dumb The Others are. Early on, he shifts from denigrations of Candidate Trump to sweeping denigrations of his supporters, many of whom he hasn't actually met:
BLOW (5/16/16): [Trump] is hollow, inconsistent, dishonest and shifty—and those who support him either love him in spite of it, or even more disturbingly, because of it.That isn't precisely the way we view Trump, but you can certainly make a case for each of Blow's descriptions. That said, Candidates Clinton and Sanders have been described in similar ways, sometimes by other columnists right there on Blow's own page.
At any rate, so what? From that point on, Blow largely stops describing Candidate Trump or attempting to support his descriptions of Trump. He largely chooses to denigrate Trump's supporters instead.
Already, Blow seems to find their behavior "disturbing." Blow notes the fact that some observers have even compared Candidate Trump to Hitler! Soon after that, Blow is saying this about those Trump supporters:
BLOW: You see, part of the problem here is that some people believe, improbably, that virtue can be cloaked in vice, that what he says and what he means are fundamentally different, that the former is acting as a Trojan horse for the latter. One of Trump’s greatest pros is that he has convinced his supporters, all evidence to the contrary, that they are not being conned.Those stupid Trump supporters! They're able to believe X, Y or Z despite "all evidence to the contrary!"
Actually, many of those people stand convinced, not entirely without reason, that they are actually "being conned" by unbalanced players like Blow. The things Blow says about Trump in that passage they say about Candidate Clinton.
Blow makes no attempt to address these widespread impressions. Instead, his insults roll on.
How dumb are Those People, the Trump supporters? At this point, Blow's insults really start picking up steam:
BLOW: Some folks want to be told that we could feasibly and logistically deport millions of people and ban more than a billion, build more walls and drop more bombs, have ever-falling tax rates and ever-surging prosperity. They want to be told that the only thing standing between where we are and where we are told we could be is a facility at crafting deals and a penchant for cracking down.Poor Blow! He is so incredibly bright—but he's opposed by a gang which "quickly tires of higher-level cerebral function," of the type he likes to provide!
This streamlined message appeals to that bit of the population that is frustrated by the problems we face and quickly tires of higher-level cerebral function. For this group of folks, Trump needn’t be detailed, just different. He doesn’t need established principles, as long as he attacks the establishment.
This part of America isn’t being artfully deceived, it is being willfully blind.
In fairness to Blow, it isn't just that Those People, the ones Over There, are higher-level cerebrally challenged. They're also being "willfully blind," Blow tells us at this point.
He fails to note that Sanders supporters have also been accused of swallowing claims that can't "feasibly and logistically" come to fruition. Would it be reasonable to aim these sweeping insults at them? Blow doesn't try to explain.
As he ends his column, Blow completes his portrait of Those People, The Others. Below, you see him complete the oldest known human story. This story's been told since prehuman times and in the century recently past:
BLOW: Supporting Trump is a Hail Mary pass of a hail-the-demagogue assemblage. Trump’s triumph as the presumptive Republican Party nominee is not necessarily a sign of his strategic genius as much as it’s a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies.Support for Trump is "a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies!" Hitler, the fellow Blow cited, once told that very same tale!
It’s hard to use the truth as an instrument of enlightenment on people who prefer to luxuriate in a lie.
Blow comes very close today to saying Those People are vermin. That said, the most gullible people have always believed that old tale.
Through telling this tale, they announce their own (pre)human deficiencies. We all have such deficiencies, of course, to greater or lesser degree. But all through the course of human history, creatures like Blow have only been able to spot such deficiencies Over There, within the vermin-filled tents of Those People, The Other Tribe.
Chait, Marcotte, O'Hehir, Blow, with Traub denouncing "the rabble?" In truth, our own tremendously self-impressed tribe is remarkably unimpressive.
Predictions of victory to the side, tribes like ours commonly find ways to lose. We've done it before, and we'll do it again.
Ruminations on this point all this week.
Tomorrow: The one percent prediction