Offended blue tribe fights back: What's the old saying? Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it?
We think it goes something like that!
At any rate, that's pretty much the way it works with the longing for better discourse. Everyone says they want better discourse, but nobody tries to produce it.
We'll look at Lili Loofbourow's effort before the week is done. This morning, though, we'll start with Nicolle Wallace, defending Dr. Fauci again.
Over the weekend, Team Trump began attacking Fauci, so the liberal, progressive and anti-Trump worlds sensibly swung into action.
Has Dr. Fauci always been right? We're not sure how to score it. But since the attacks have made almost no sense, it made excellent sense to push back, or at least it did so in theory.
Yesterday was Day Two of this movement on Wallace's program, Deadline: White House. Along the way, what kind of discourse did the former Bush spokesperson produce?
Yesterday, she was defending Fauci again. About ten minutes in, she said this, speaking to the Washington Post's Ashley Parker:
WALLACE (7/14/20): Ashley Parker, this story that your paper broke over the weekend about the oppo dump on Fauci was, for me, one of those stories that are pillars of covering the coverage, for people like you and papers like yours, of the Trump presidency. And I was so fixated on it.As noted, we were now in thesecond day of this global defense. At this point, Wallace played videotape of three presentations by Fauci—presentations from "very early on."
I've been looking at all of Fauci's predictions, because they rubbed me the wrong way because they were so scary, but they turned out to be right.
Let me play for you some of his predictions, very early on, and just about all of them turned out to be right.
In each case, the videotape was marked with the date on which the presentation was made. Somewhat comically, thee presentations from "very early on" had actually been made on these dats:
Dates of Fauci's presentations from "very early on"Eventually, we got to see Heilemann's dogs. As we type, this is the only clip the channel has posted on YouTube.
For whatever it's worth, none of Fauci's presentations had been made "very early on." The most recent of the three presentations was literally made last week!
As tape of the three presentations played, we wondered if Wallace would correct her misstatement about their "very early" provenance. Apparently, she had read an erroneous script which someone on her staff had prepared. We wondered if she'd simply say so, in passing.
When the tape ended, Wallace didn't do that. In her reply, Parker didn't mention this matter either.
In the main, Parker said that Fauci's predictions had been right "in the macro" though he'd sometimes been wrong "in the micro." She said he'd changed his mind on some early statements, mainly as new knowledge was gained about this novel virus.
That was Parker's basic stance. Before we get to her bungled logic, we do want to say this:
We've developed a healthy respect for Parker's work by watching her on cable. She isn't snarky, snide, nasty or dumb. As a general matter, she expresses herself with great clarity.
Typically, she even seems to know what she's talking about! But in a rare move for the Post reporter, yesterday's defense of Fauci ended up making no sense:
PARKER: A final irony is, a lot of those small things that Anthony Fauci and others got wrong potentially, they were the same things the president and vice president were getting wrong at the time just because the virus was so fast-moving...So this administration was just as culpable for many of the things they are accusing Fauci of.In the three-dot edit we've made, Parker seemed to misdescribe a statement by Vice President Pence, apparently from early March.
But that possible misstatement (by Parker) isn't the point. For those who long for better discourse, the more striking point would be this:
In the passage we've posted, Parker says that Fauci did get some things wrong, but Trump and Pence got those same things wrong. The logic there is very strange, especially for those of us who love good solid logical discourse.
What was wrong with Parker's logic? Just this:
In theory, Fauci was the high-ranking infectious disease expert on whom the White House was depending. It was his job to avoid being wrong on matters concerning the virus.
Trump and Pence were public officials. In theory, they were relying on Fauci's expertise. That's where the logic goes south.
Presumably, you'd expect the elected officials to take the expert's advice. You'd expect them to restate and reinforce his judgments, including those which turned out to be wrong.
It makes no sense to defend the expert by saying the laymen got things wrong too. That's the bungled logic of what Parker said. For ourselves, we would say this:
As far as we know, Fauci has never misstated anything in the reliably lunatic ways Trump has persistently done.
We're not saying he never got anything wrong or sanded off any corners. Indeed, we're so old that we can remember when Kevin Drum was challenging Fauci's reputation as "truthteller-in-chief," rather early on.
We can't say that Drum was wrong in his observations at that time. In fairness, we assume that Fauci was trying to "walk the line" as the adviser to a crazy commander. Nor was he ever as compromised in his public presentations as Dr. Birx eventually seemed to be.
As far as we know, Dr. Fauci has never misstated anything in the lunatic way Trump reliably does. But that isn't what Parker said. Instead, she offered a defense of Fauci which, on its own terms, seemed to make zero sense.
Parker's loss of logic followed a presentation of three predictions from "very early on," one of which happened last week. In short, the facts were comically wrong in this exchange, and the logic wasn't much better.
Sadly, this is the way the discourse works when one of our two warring tribes starts defending one of its major guys. At such times, factual presentations don't have to make sense, and logic can fall apart.
In the end, our current, tribalized cable news is Storyline, little else. As long as Storyline is defended and advanced, nothing else has to make sense.
At any rate, this is what we're constantly told by despondent anthropologists whose credentials would rock your world. And sure enough! So it has gone, in the past twenty hours, as our liberal, progressive, blue-leaning team has reacted to one of human history's least common events.
In this highly unusual event, Donald J. Trump, the American president, made an accurate statement! He did so in response to a peculiar question from Catherine Herridge, a CBS News correspondent.
Herridge worked for Fox News for 23 years before moving to CBS last fall. She had served as Fox's chief intelligence correspondent.
As a general matter, she struck us as a straight reporter, not as a partisan player. Last fall, she may have kicked Fox in the teeth just a bit as she walked out the door.
That said, Herridge's question to Trump struck us as quite peculiar. Also this:
Herridge's question to Trump came straight outta blue Storyline.
In one of history's rarest events, Trump responded to this question by making an accurate statement! Only then did he start berating Herridge for having asked the question in the first place.
Herridge's question struck us as strange. In response, Trump stated an accurate fact! There was only one thing for our blue team to do:
Our blue team began to fight back!
Do you long for better discourse, Friend? We'll discuss this exchange on the morrow.
Tomorrow: Storyline over all
Friday: Wittgenstein's later work offers a grisly perspective