FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2020
The complexity of our nation's prevailing state of affairs: Commander-in-chief Donald J. Trump had finally decided to share.
On Wednesday, he spent ten minutes on the phone, speaking to a large public meeting chaired by His Cousin Rudy. Yesterday, the commander-in-chief added to the set of claims he made that day.
Yesterday, the commander spoke at length in a press event held within the White House. At one point, he made the sort of claim he very much tends to make:
TRUMP (11/26/20): I read this morning where Stacey Abrams has 850,000 ballots accumulated. Now, that’s called "harvesting." You’re not allowed to harvest, but I understand the Secretary of State who is really, he’s an enemy of the people. The Secretary of State, and whether he’s Republican or not, this man, what he’s done, supposedly he made a deal, and you’ll have to check this, where she’s allowed to harvest, but in other areas they’re not allowed. What kind of a deal is that? They’re not allowed to harvest during the presidential.
But how can she say she has 850,000 ballots? That would mean that she’s got 850,000 ballots for her. That’s not supposed to be happening.
As he continued, the commander shared his thoughts about the ideal form of an election. "You know, an election should be a one-day deal," he thoughtfully said. "You walk in and you vote."
Strikingly, the commander called Georgia's secretary of state—a conservative Republican—"an enemy of the people" during this presentation.
"Supposedly, he made a deal," the commander thoughtfully said. There will even be some within the Fake News who will say that such statements are dangerous! (It only takes one crazy person to act on statements like this.)
That said, the commander's principal claim in that presentation concerned the conduct of Stacey Abrams. Let's take a minute to consider what the commander said.
For starters, the commander sourced his claims about Abrams to something "I read this morning."
The commander didn't specify what he had allegedly read, or where he'd allegedly read it. Even assuming that some such material actually exists, he didn't say why he, or anyone else, should believe that what he allegedly read is actually true.
At any rate, the commander seemed to be claiming that Abrams is personally holding 850,000 ballots for the upcoming Georgia runoff Senate elections. If true, that would be a very strange state of affairs—but he gave no reason to believe that any such claim is true.
Because the commander didn't name his alleged source, there's no way to examine its contents—even to confirm that some such source exists.
We'll admit that we were unable, in a quick Google search, to turn up any such pre-existing source. We did turn up about three million published reports in which Abrams was quoted saying this (headline included):
Stacey Abrams says 750K Georgians have requested ballots for runoff
Stacey Abrams, the influential Georgia Democrat, took to Twitter on Monday to report that more than 750,000 Georgians have requested their ballots for the state’s January 5 runoff election that could determine who controls the U.S. Senate.
Abrams linked her tweet to Georgia’s online Absentee Ballot Request form and urged voters to, “Let’s get it done…again,” an apparent reference to Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State. (President Trump’s legal team has challenged the results in the state and another recount is expected to begin sometime Tuesday.)
Officials from Georgia said that as of Monday morning there have been 762,000 requests for these ballots, which is three times the number requested for the 2018 election.
As you can see if you click this link, we're quoting a report from Fox News. But many other news orgs reported the same set of facts.
According to the Fox report, Abrams had made an accurate statement about the number of Georgia residents who have requested an absentee ballot for the upcoming elections. According to the Fox report, Abrams wasn't holding any of these ballots herself.
According to the Fox report, the statement Abrams made was accurate. There was nothing wrong with any part of what she'd done—until the commander spoke.
Yesterday's appearance by the commander illustrates the complex situation into which our failing nation has fallen as a type of cultural secession proceeds.
Yesterday's White House event lasted 43 minutes in all. In the first 18 minutes of the event, the commander spoke by phone with military personnel who showered him with praise.
The commander then spent 25 minutes making claims about the recent presidential election. Thanks to the invaluable Rev, you can read the transcript and watch the tape of the full 43 minutes.
Concerning the complexity of our situation, our first few observations are psychological in nature.
First, the commander speaks with total certainty throughout that 25 minutes. One thinks of the much-quoted lines from Yeats, in which:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand...
Simple story! Any time an authority figure is "full of passionate intensity." his presentations will seem convincing to many. This will be true whether his statements are accurate or well-founded, or even if his statements aren't based on any foundation at all.
Psychologically, passionate intensity tends to be convincing. To listen to phone calls from many people who are strongly inclined to believe the things the commander says, we'll suggest that you click this link:
It takes you to the first hour of Thursday morning's Washington Journal. You'll hear many C-Span callers making it clear that they're strongly inclined to believe every word this commander-in-chief may say.
(We humans tend to be like that! As we'll start to explore next week, that's even true Over Here.)
Meanwhile, here's another question from the general realm of psychology:
Does Donald J. Trump believe the wide array of claims he made in those 25 minutes? We kept asking ourselves that question as we watched the videotape of his angry performance.
In truth, the commander seemed to believe every word he said, no matter how compromised his angry claims seemed to be. Is it possible that he really does believe his various claims?
Psychological experts might be consulted on this puzzling point. But as part of our nation's ongoing cognitive shortfall or fail, our major upper-end Hamptons-based news orgs have agreed that such questions must never be asked, that such specialists must never be consulted,
With that, we come to one last major element in this complex state of affairs. We consider the skills our major news orgs bring to this ongoing chase.
As we've told you again and again, the upper-end press corps' skill level is remarkably low.
Our upper-end press corps is not highly skilled. In this morning's Washington Post, Josh Dawsey offers this assessment of other claims the commander made during yesterday's session:
DAWSEY (11/27/20): Trump continued to falsely claim that there had been widespread voter fraud in his election, without offering proof. And he again falsely said Republican poll watchers were not allowed to observe in Pennsylvania, though his lawyers have said in court that some were allowed to observe.
On a somewhat simple-minded basis, that first sentence doesn't parse especially well. How could someone "offer proof" for a claim which is "false?"
In fairness, that's a nitpicker's formal objection compared to the problems lodged in Dawsey's second statement—a statement which, on its face, simply doesn't make sense.
According to Dawsey, Trump falsely said that Republican poll watchers were not allowed to observe in Pennsylvania. His refutation of that claim went exactly like this:
"[Trump's] lawyers have said in court that some were allowed to observe."
Sad! The fact that some poll watchers were allowed to observe can't and doesn't refute a claim that many other observers were illegally barred. Who wouldn't instantly see such an obvious point?
Dawsey's presentation is the refutation which wasn't! And yet, this was Dawsey's only attempt to challenge the commander-in-chief's 25 minutes of claims.
To appearances, people like Dawsey, and his editors, have decided that simply adding "false" and "falsely" is refutation enough. For our tribe, such weak tea may tend to suffice. For the other tribe, it won't.
The commander is full of intensity; he has been for some time. He may even believe his angry claims. The press corps has agreed not to ask medical experts whether this could be the case.
For many observers, the commander's intensity will strongly suggest that "some revelation is at hand." There is no way that a mainstream news org can be expected to eliminate false belief, but the skills of our nation's elite are remarkably few, in the press corps and the academy.
For decades, our elites have seemed to "lack all conviction." They may not know this about themselves, just as the commander-in-chief may even believe his wild claims.
Tomorrow: Joyeux Noem!
Also thanks to Rev: Also thanks to the invaluable Rev, you can review the transcript and tape of the commander's ten-minute phone call on Wednesday—his own Gettysburg Address.
He effusively thanked His Cousin Rudy. To peruse the whole thing, click here.