Live and direct from The Realm of the Crazy Ridiculous: Joe and Mika started right in trashing last evening's consensus.
You can watch them doing so in today's opening segment. (Scroll ahead to roughly 5:00.) The peculiar pair rebelled against last evening's pundit consensus, in which Trump was trashed for failing to pre-endorse the outcome of next month's election.
Does Trump seem weirdly loyal to Putin? That's how Joe and Mika often seem in relation to Candidate Trump!
That said, we ourselves weren't blown away by Trump's widely denounced comments. He said we'll have to wait to see if he will concede the legitimacy of his possible defeat next month.
"I'll keep you in suspense." Thus spake Candidate Trump.
Personally, we weren't blown away by that statement. Two of our reasons are fairly mundane. Our third reason relates to the revolutionary nature of this year's White House campaign.
Why weren't we shocked by Trump's remarks about next month's election? For one thing, his remarks were consistent with everything he's said for the past several weeks. Beyond that, it is a bit strange to ask a person to pre-validate future events.
What if the election turns out to be close, and there's evidence of serious misconduct or error in some state Trump loses? Should Trump pre-validate an outcome like that? We're not real sure why.
That said, Joe and Mika went on and on about how wrong the pundits were last night. As she read a staff-prepared text, Mika was especially dumb and deceptive.
On the whole, Morning Joe panelists seemed a bit flummoxed by this latest outburst from the peculiar pair. At least in today's first half hour, no one pushed back against their hosts in the most relevant way.
Alas! The key point isn't what Candidate Trump said last night. The key point involves the question he was asked, including the reason why he was asked in the first place.
Below, you see what Chris Wallace asked, minus one small deletion. Trump was savaged for his answer. But why was this question asked?
WALLACE (10/19/16): Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic...Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, "will absolutely accept the result of this election." Today your daughter, Ivanka, said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely— Sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?Let's be fair! In normal circumstances, it's slightly odd to ask a person to "absolutely accept the result" of some future event or process. What if it turns out that something goes crazily wrong with the process? Why should Trump, or anyone else, pre-endorse something like that?
In normal circumstances, Wallace's question to Trump would be slightly odd. That helps explain why questions like that were never asked in previous White House campaigns.
Morning Joe's panelists noted the fact that no previous nominee ever gave an answer like Trump's. They failed to note a more basic fact: No previous nominee has ever been asked that question!
The key point isn't what Trump said; the key point involves the reason why he was asked. The question was asked because Candidate Trump has been parading about the countryside, ominously saying that this year's election is "rigged." Here's the way Wallace's question began, with that deletion restored:
"Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You have been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you..."
The question Wallace posed last night has never been asked in prior years. It was asked last night because of the crazy claims this candidate has been making.
In their latest rant, Joe and Mika seemingly failed to grasp this basic point. Perhaps understandably in the face of their wrath, their panelists failed to articulate it.
For ourselves, we weren't blown away by Trump's statement last night. In our view, his refusal to pre-endorse the election made a type of sense.
That said, his repeated claims that the election is rigged have made no sense at all. But then again, what else is new?
In effect, Trump was doubling down last night on a series of crazy claims—crazy claims in which he tells his supporters that the election is being stolen. Without offering any evidence, he keeps telling his supporters that the election will be stolen in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis.
In several ways, this claim doesn't quite seem to make sense. (Does anyone think that Trump has a chance to win Illinois?) But Trump has said this so many times that Wallace posed that question last night—a question which was never asked in the past.
In his answers to Wallace, Candidate Trump doubled down on The Crazy. But we weren't blown away by that. This doubling-down was of a piece with the many crazy things Trump said in last evening's debate.
Alas! In this election, Candidate Trump has completed an unfortunate process. The culture of Crazy Ludicrous Statement has now become the reliable norm, so much so that mainstream pundits seem unable to spot its ascent.
In fairness, this political/journalistic culture has been growing for several decades. (The Clintons committed all those murders!) But Candidate Trump has made this culture the norm.
We were surprised by the focus on Trump's refusal to pre-endorse the election. Here are some of the other things he said:
Crazy/ridiculous/dimwitted/bogus/completely unfounded statements:How crazy has our discourse become? For the second straight debate, the person who had that conversation with Billy Bush said this: "No one has more respect for women than I do!"
1) No one knows who committed those hacks.
2) Candidate Clinton's plan "is going to double your taxes."
3) "You're not going to find a quote from me" in which I favored the spread of nukes.
4) We could have 5-6 percent economic growth.
5) Clinton's campaign is responsible for the emergence of Trump's sex accusers.
6) Clinton should have (magically) changed the tax code when she was a senator.
7) The Clinton Foundation is "a criminal enterprise."
8) Because she herself is a criminal who lied to the FBI many times, Clinton shouldn't be allowed to run for president.
9) When she was a senator, Candidate Clinton "wanted the wall."
10) Russia's nukes are better than ours.
11) $6 billion was stolen from the State Department when Clinton was in charge.
12) Trump Foundation money wasn't used to satisfy that lawsuit.
Have you seen a single person say how stupid and crazy that is?
Also this! After saying that Clinton is a criminal; after saying that her foundation is a criminal enterprise, after saying that she is hated by the people of Haiti, Trump said this about Candidate Clinton:
"What a nasty woman!"
On CNN, the robotic Trump hacks continued to function in pairs. Sic semper CNN programming.
In fairness, The Culture of Crazy has been entrenching itself for the past twenty-five years. (Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal!) But craziness has now become the defining trait of our discourse.
For that reason, we were surprised by the focus on what Trump said about next month's election. We don't see how that stood out from the rest of his bullshine last night.
Citizens, can we talk? From June 2015 right through last night, the press corps has failed to come to terms with Trump's undisguised lunacy / mendacity / apparent need for treatment. They averted their eyes from his birther campaign; the pattern spun downward from there.
(We're so old that we can remember when he did know Putin!)
Last night, Trump said a million things which made no earthly sense. We don't really know why the pundits selected that one remark for such special review. According to our mainstream pundits, Trump's birtherism wasn't crazy, but his failure to pre-endorse next month's election is!
In our view, the craziness doesn't lie in what Trump said last night. The craziness lies in what he's been telling supporters for the past several weeks, and for years before that.
This morning, Joe and Mika's behavior seemed odd, as it often does. Perhaps understandably, their hand-picked gang of enabler pundits didn't seem able to articulate what has been going on.