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Friday, August 19, 2016


After struggling for moths against my obsession with the current political campaign, I have decided to throw in the towel and yield to it.  I am not proud of this weakness, and realize that after November 9th I shall have to go into rehab and cleanse myself of the lingering poisons in my system, but I am simply not strong enough to resist.  Those who have come to this site in search of elevated philosophical argument may think of its more refined posts as my attempt to scale the heights of Aristotle’s Physics or Nicomachean Ethics and of these ruminations on Trump as my descent to the level of De Partibus Animalia.

The latest news, breaking this morning too late for Joe Scarborough to comment, is the resignation from the Trump campaign of the shady character Paul Manafort.  For those of you not up to speed, this story in the Huffington Post will put you in the picture.  Trump yesterday promoted to Campaign Chair a well-known Republican political operative named Kellyann Conway, and in a move that has plunged Republican insiders even deeper into despair, has brought in a genuinely creepy character named Steve Bannon who runs Breitbart News and is chummy with a collection of racists, fascists, and conspiracy nuts labeled the Alt-Right.

The very first result of Conway’s promotion was a scripted teleprompter speech by Trump in which he formally apologized for unspecified careless words that might have caused pain.  Those of us counting on a Trump campaign collapse felt a chill in the heart at the thought that Trump might actually get his act together and make a run for the presidency, contrary to all evidence and probability.

I have given this matter a good deal of thought, much of it in the middle of the night, and here is my somewhat self-serving analysis of the situation, based, needless to say, on nothing remotely resembling evidence.  I suspect Trump was moved to make these changes by two factors:  First, his genuine discomfort with the conventional speeches Manafort was pressuring him to deliver, including the wooden endorsement of Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte [delivered in roughly the way that a ten year old boy, dragged next door by his father, apologizes to the neighbors for having ridden his bicycle over their garden]; and Second, his disastrous decline in the polls.

The “apology” was so unTrumpian that I would bet Conway got him to deliver it by promising him that it would translate into a poll bounce.  But the polls that will be released in the next several days were all completed before the speech, and they will most likely show no improvement for Trump, and perhaps even a worsening of his already disastrous standing.  I predict that Trump will look at those polls and, having roughly the patience and self-control of a four year old [not to disparage any four year olds out there], he will react with another barrage of outrageous tweets and random insults.  If the Clinton campaign has the wit to sic Elizabeth Warren on him in this moment, which they undoubtedly do, he will be unable to control himself.  Even if Ivanka returns from vacationing with Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend [no kidding] to calm him down, he is unlikely to be able to resist the temptation to “hit back,” as he likes to say.

We shall see.  Meanwhile, I shall answer the call of the Clinton campaign and do data entry, while awaiting Bernie’s August 24th launch of his new organization, promisingly titled “Our Revolution.”


David E. said...

We have been seeing much too much bashing of the Russian bear by Democrats. You'd think the Warsaw Pact hadn't been dissolved 25 years ago.

I was struck by your sentence:

"Even if Ivanka returns from vacationing with Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend [no kidding] to calm him down...."

Vladimir Putin's REPUTED girlfriend -- far from being the former Young Pioneer or KGB honeypot that comes to mind -- is none other than Deng Murdoch, ex-wife of media multimillionaire Rupert Murdoch. She's Chinese, not Russian.

Hyperventilating Democrats can stop now.

Tom Hickey said...

Deng denies ever having met Putin. The rumor apparently stems from her having once been on a yacht owned by a Russian oligarch associated with Putin. If they actually were "dating," what common language do they communicate in, or do they use an interpreter. Ivan and Trump and Wendi Deng are old friends. Drawing a Putin connection through Deng and Ivanka is just click bait if not planted disinformation to connect Trump with Putin. "Rumored" appears to be more apt than "reputed." See

As far as the communications structures of the Clinton and Trump campaigns go relative to reason and persuasion, see Scott Adams' blog, who has been pretty much right over the past year.

Anyway, one can't believe anything in the US or UK media without verifying. Anything significant is either propaganda or infotainment, or both. "News" is now a commodity that has little to do with actual news. It's about the number of eyeballs salable to advertisers. Or the news is planted by US covert services. In addition, mainstream reporters are limited in what they can report even if they wanted to because of access denial if they do. The only people that have been prosecuted for the crimes revealed by whistleblowers have been whistleblowers. The only real news that is available has to be pieced together internationally and via alt venues like Wikileaks and some bloggers. One has to do old fashioned intelligence collection and analysis.

Truthiness has replaced truth in the US. The NYT, the so-called paper of record, is now a propaganda outlet like the Washington Post. Of course sometime the news turn out to be true on verification. But that is more and more an anomaly especially when when it involves international relations.

Jerry Fresia said...

All of which brings us back to the question, does Trump really want to win? In his current mess, the better framing might be, how does he not lose? You can see the writing on the wall. The election results were rigged and the media played the key role in the rigging. Therefore, Trump doesn't lose by creating a new, greater-than Fox media empire (with Ailes getting his revenge). This from the Daily Wire:

"Trump’s Campaign Strategy Could Be The Launch Of A New Media Outlet. Because Bannon’s ambitions extend to Steve Bannon, he’ll tell Trump he’s doing a fantastic job even if he isn’t. That’s how Bannon Svengalis political figures and investors – by investing them in his personal genius, then hollowing them out from the inside. There’s a reason Sarah Palin went from legitimate political figure to parody artist to Trump endorser, with Steve Bannon standing alongside her every step of the way. There’s a reason Breitbart News went from hard-charging news outlet to drooling Trump mouthpiece. Bannon emerges from all of this unscathed. So what’s next on his agenda? If Trump wins, he’s in a position of high power; if Trump loses, Bannon could head up a new media empire with Trump’s support and the involvement of new Trump supporter and ousted former Fox News head Roger Ailes. Look for Sean Hannity to be a part of any such endeavor."

howie said...

Trump is gambling that his defectors or others hesitant to vote for him, will actually vote for Trump if he puts himself on a leash. These are people who want to vote for Trump but need an excuse. His behavior is so unappealing and such a turnoff but he has charisma and confidence and they want to make America great again.
Exactly who this subset of the voting public are I'm not sure- but that's obviously Trump's gamble

Anonymous said...

No need for the swipe at De Partibus Animalium--Aristotle's biology is an important, and under-appreciated, part of his project. If you want to bash some Aristotlean punditry, the Constitution of the Athenians is more apropos!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I humbly accept your correction.

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