Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Defending your narrative

I had a sense before the inauguration - before the election, really - that Donald Trump was fairly incompetent.

His businesses had gone through bankruptcy - what was it? Four times? Six? - after he somehow managed to lose money running a casino. So much for the saying that, "The house always wins."

And he had that long record of stiffing contractors who'd worked for him, claiming they'd done inadequate work for him.

There was the use of language. Someone can use non-standard English and be hella smart. Trump's language is something different. It seems to betray a simple inability to think clearly.

So when he moved into the White House, I was expecting incompetence, along with fearing anti-democratic actions.

Still, I couldn't have imagined it would look like this.

In my defense, he does represent an unprecedented level of incompetence, so there's no benchmark for what it would look like if this incredibly complex role were being filled by an individual with pretty limited mental capacities, aided by charlatans and mountebanks.

It is tempting to turn to his supporters - the ones who thought he'd be great because he was a successful businessman and we need someone who can bring the fairy dust of the private sector to the government - and say, "Do you still think he's such a good executive?"

But I suspect it would be pointless, in most cases.

If he were merely sub-par, it would be uncomfortable to admit you'd been suckered, but still bearable. At some point in their lives, lots of people make votes they end up regretting, even if they're loath to full-on admit it.

But this? Look how craptacular he is. How could you possibly have been fooled by that?

So there's this weird dynamic where the worse he is, the harder it will be for some of his supporters to let  go, because once you admit to yourself how thoroughly incapable he is of the job, what do you make of your former support?

How do you trust your judgment in the future when you spent the fall of 2016 telling folks that this was the guy who was going to "Make America Great Again"?

How do you save face in front of those who told you ahead of time that this guy was a dangerous loser?

Not to worry. The Donald has just what you need.
"I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it the fake media, in many cases, and I think it is really a sad thing he was treated so badly," the President said. "I think that it is very, very unfair what's happened to General Flynn."
Yeah, that's the ticket.

It's not that Trump has chosen unstable maniacs to carry out his policies (or rather, Steve Bannon's policies). It's not that Trump is turning a blind eye while Putin heats up the war in eastern Ukraine and breaks arms-control treaties.

Of course it's not that Trump does nothing wrong, and he makes no mistakes. When some action of his doesn't work out, it's the fault of the fake media that have it in for him.

For the Trump voter, the worse Trump does, the stronger is the emotional need to avoid reckoning with the size of their error.

And the more the media work to expose Trump's failings, the more evidence there is for the Trump voter of how viciously determined those fake journalists are to bring down America's Messiah.

A self-reinforcing bubble of bullshit. Brilliant.

Anyone have any idea how we pop this thing?

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