MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2020
The failures cross tribal lines: The Bulwark is a major site of the never-Trump Republican world.
Jonathan Last, late of The Weekly Standards, is the site's executive editor. When he penned this recent piece, he was asking a very good question.
Last's essay appears behind a pay wall, so we can't excerpt its contents. Earlier today, we saw a lengthy passage from the essay quoted on Morning Joe, but MSNBC no longer produces transcripts, and the channel has cut way back on its video postings.
Essentially, Last did this in his essay:
First, he listed the various crazy behaviors in which the Trump team has engaged since November 3. Then, he staged a thought experiment.
Suppose that some pundit, one year ago, had predicted that Trump and his followers would engage in these crazy behaviors. How would such a prediction have been treated, Last now skillfully asked.
This morning, Joe Scarborough answered Last's question for him. Any such pundit would have been attacked for being insane, Scarborough now surmised.
Almost surely, that assessment is largely correct. In truth, the lunacy of the Trump team's behavior has reached a point which it would have been hard to predict.
Then too, of course, there's this:
Our major mainstream press elite has had a very hard time spotting lunacy over the past forty years.
In many instances, the lunacy was coming from within. But this failure has been a major cognitive fail—an act of American (cognitive) carnage.
It's easy to spot the cognitive failures emitting from Trump and his team, and from the voters who believe the the things they tell them. This afternoon, we'll visit the latest craziness of Sidney Powell—the craziness which got so crazy over the weekend that it could no longer be tolerated by the Trump team itself.
In a world which enjoyed greater cognitive health, the odd behaviors of Trump and his team would have created a discussion of certain psychiatric / psychological topics. That said, our society's upper-end cognitive shortfalls are such that the mainstream press corps has agreed that such discussions must never occur.
During this holiday-shortened week, we'll discuss the obvious cognitive failures displayed by many of the regular people who voted for Donald J. Trump. That said, the cognitive failures which have led to American carnage have also been quite widespread Over Here in our own liberal tents.
Anthropologically speaking, these cognitive failures are also part of the nation's headlong decline.
That headlong decline has been occurring over (let's say) the past forty years. Psychiatric issues are involved, but so is basic human cognition, such as it is and has been.
On a simple cognitive basis, are we liberals up to the task we now face? In this morning's Washington Post, Hugh Hewitt sketches the challenge with which liberals and progressives, and the press corps elite, are now confronted.
When last we looked in on Hewitt, he was serving as a panelist in a 2016 Republican debate—and he was applauding one of the answers given by Candidate Trump.
You really can't get dumber than that, but the Post has kept Hewitt on. This morning, his column describes a serious problem:
HEWITT (11/23/20): [L]ike an unseen riptide, this year’s results just handed the GOP an advantage many never thought possible. And it carried far away from shore Democratic hopes and dreams.
“Wait,” you say, “Trump lost the presidency.”
Yes, he did. But Trump, even as he lost, engineered a huge win for the GOP this month, and one that will echo through American politics as our once-a-decade reapportionment fights begin.
“On the eve of reapportionment, Republicans are now in a better position than they were after 2010,” Noah Rothman noted in Commentary. “Following those elections, Republicans controlled 54 of 99 state legislative chambers.” (Nebraska’s legislature is unicameral.)
That number is now 61.
If anything, Rothman understates the impact of the GOP domination of state legislatures...
A certain percentage of Republican voters refused to vote for Trump. To appearances, this helps explain why, even though Trump has apparently lost, no "blue wave" swept away a range of other Republican candidates.
For the record, Trump himself didn't lose by all that much, given the way our system works. Hewitt adds this, not incorrectly:
HEWITT: It is ironic that Trump’s narrow losses in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin kept him from a second consecutive term. It wasn’t a conspiracy that cost Trump the White House but a terrible combination of bad timing—the vaccines he promised were announced a fortnight too late for them to impact voting—and bad polling. Polling directs resources, locates rallies, energizes or depresses turnout. If polling tells you Wisconsin is lost, Pennsylvania is competitive and other states are safe, when none of that is accurate, the consequences are disastrous.
For ourselves, we have no idea if Biden will ever be president. Until we see Biden take the oath, we won't assume that Trump's machinations won't somehow prevail.
That said, as matters stand at present, is it true that "Trump’s narrow losses in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin kept him from a second consecutive term?"
As matters stand, that's probably true! If Trump had managed to win those states—each state was decided by less than one point—the Electoral College vote would stand at 269-269.
Due to the structure of our creaky election system, it's likely that this would have produced a Trump win. For the third time since 2000, a Republican would have lost the popular vote while winning four years in the White House.
Trump came very close to winning Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. (Note to Hewitt—given Biden's one-point win in Pennsylvania, that state was "competitive" too.)
It's true that Republicans lost the House again. But around the various states, they made some substantial gains.
Cognitive carnage is everywhere as we review the Trump tribe's conduct. That said, our own tribe is fraught with cognitive failure too.
This is an anthropological story. We'll review the cognitive shortfalls on various sides as the week moves along.
The human mind don't work real good. This is even true at the top of our own brilliant pile!
Tomorrow: Attention C-Span callers!