Nicolle Wallace finds her "assassin:" Yesterday afternoon, we just had to turn it off.
We were watching Deadline White House. Nicolle Wallace and two guests were crafting an instant novel.
In this case, the instant novel concerned Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot and killed two people in Kenosha on Tuesday night.
Rittenhouse has been arrested. His case will proceed from there. It will of course involve his right to mount a defense for his actions. For ourselves, we wish his mother had kept him home that night.
This very young person's case will proceed from here. But Wallace and a pair of guests were crafting an instant novel.
The most horrible part of the thing is this—they almost surely believed the various things they said. But their conduct came from so close to the land of The Crazy that we just had to turn the show off.
The Crazy has been on wide display in the past few years. It's on display in the QAnon movement. It's on display in the crazy way Donald J. Trump has reacted to the ongoing pandemic.
Unfortunately, a first cousin to The Crazy was put on display when Wallace, a former Bush hack who our needy tribe has adopted, joined her guests in crafting yesterday's novel.
The story they told was very scary. It was also dumb beyond compare—deeply dumb and all-too-human.
In this morning's New York Times, David Brooks gives a pretty good description of what we saw on yesterday's program. He starts by discussing "mean world syndrome," which he describes in the manner shown:
BROOKS (8/28/20): Trump family values are mean world values. Mean world syndrome was a concept conceived in the 1970s by the communications professor George Gerbner. His idea was that people who see relentless violence on television begin to perceive the world as being more dangerous than it really is.With that definition of mean world syndrome, Brooks described the overall state of play as our election draws near:
BROOKS: Yes, there have been disgraceful scenes of far left physical and verbal brutality, which get magnified on Twitter. The far bigger threat, however, is that we have a president too busy fighting a culture war to respond to a pandemic and an economic crisis, or even to perform basic governance. What part of 180,000 coronavirus dead does Donald Trump not understand?In other words, things fall apart. In our view, things have badly fallen apart even Over Here, within our own self-impressed tribe.
The larger threat is that we’re caught in a polarization cascade. Mean world fanatics—on the left and right—are playing a mutually beneficial game. Trumpian chaos justifies and magnifies the woke mobs on the left. Woke mobs magnify and justify Trumpian authoritarianism on the right.
The upshot of the mean world war is the obliteration of normal politics, the hollowing out of the center and the degradation of public morality. Under the cover of this souped-up, screw-or-be-screwed mentality, norms are eviscerated, truth is massacred, bigotry is justified and politics turns into a struggle to culturally obliterate the other side.
Let's start by answering Brooks' question: "What part of 180,000 coronavirus dead does Donald Trump not understand?"
That question is easily answered. The chances are good that Donald J. Trump understand no part of 180,000 deaths. In our view, the chances are good that Donald J. Trump is some version of a sociopath, though Brooks and Wallace and her two guests have agreed—it's a corporate arrangement—that this obvious possibility must never be discussed.
Donald Trump seems to be deeply disordered. On a psychiatric basis, it may actually be that he possesses nothing resembling a conscience, and no moral feeling at all.
It may be that Trump has no moral capacity. This brings us back to what we saw as Wallace composed her novel.
Back in the day, Wallace used her substantial skills to let Bush conduct his deadly war in Iraq. She helped him get reelected by arranging to have same-sex marriage prohibitions on various state ballots, thus driving conservative turnout.
This is the person our needy party now listens to as our own. Yesterday, she was using her demagogic skills to craft a novel our tribe would like.
Yesterday, watching that show, we saw a bit of the "polarization cascade" to which Brooks refers. We also saw prehuman tribal loathing of others, wherever such others can be found.
Our team is deeply sunk in this mess. We don't see how it ends well. Things have fallen apart Over Here. Our societal failure isn't restricted to The Crazy afflicting the other side.
What we saw yesterday was just ginormously dumb. (In certain respects, it was vile.) When we surrender to tribal war, every ounce of our story-telling must craft The Perfect Tale. The principle here is very simple:
As tribal beings, we need to tell ourselves the stories in which our tribe is perfectly good.
We're going to leave it here for today. In our view, the overview stated by Brooks does make an excellent point. What we saw on our TV machine yesterday was gruesome beyond compare.