Saturday, August 20, 2016

Trump, deck chairs and the classiest luxury liners

Today is one of those days that I start out by referencing my April 20 post claiming that this would be an entertaining but meaningless campaign in which funny but irrelevant stuff happens on the way to a predetermined endpoint.

Right now, I plan to chow down on some yummy crow if Trump wins without the intervention of a terrorist attack/economic collapse etc.  I wonder what Putin has planned?

Anyway, as you have heard by now, Trump shuffled the deck chairs on his luxury liner.  Bye, bye Putin pawn, Paul Manafort.  Oh, and Trump admitted, sort of, to gaffes.  And he's been giving a few more normal, teleprompter speeches.

Does anyone remember when Republicans used to think that teleprompter speeches were the worst thing ever, pretended like Obama invented them, and gave him endless shit about it?

In 2011, a dumb-as-dogshit House Republican named Steve Womack even tried to make a stink with an amendment cutting the budget for Obama's teleprompter.  I'm not joking.  Here's a link.  You may not remember this, but I do.  That's why you read this pretentious, little blog, right?

Funny, but those same people aren't complaining that Trump is using a telemprompter now.  They're just praying he keeps using it.

Like Lydia Loveless, though, they can't change him.  Lydia Loveless, though, is cool and badass.  Trump is losing.  (You know I'm sincere about loving country music, right?)

Which returns me to my basic point.  How long before Trump opens his mouth, or tweets another Trumpism?  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Kellyanne Conway, his new campaign manager, will want to stop him.  She can't change him.  Steve Bannon, the Breitbart guy?  Gee, I wonder what he'll want.

And will any of this matter?  For the sake of argument, let's say Conway gives Trump the Ludovico treatment, and prevents him from doing his Trump thing for the rest of the campaign.  Would it matter?

Let's apply some political science!  Specifically, the main text on public opinion.  Good, old John Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion.  Now, full disclosure, Johnny Zaller was also a co-author on The Party Decides, a book I have been rightfully bashing since I started this silly, little blog since Trump shouldn't have had a chance at the nomination under that model, but really, Nature and Origins is top-notch.

Anyway, the basic idea here is someone needs to form an opinion, positive or negative about Trump.  That opinion forms on the basis of messages as they accumulate.  Once someone has an assessment, though, that person will tend to reject messages that are contrary to their assessment.  So, those with negative views of Trump, which is most of the country, will reject any new positive images of Trump because they have seen and accepted so many negative messages.  What about those who don't have much of an opinion?  They aren't paying attention anyway.

So I go back to my original claim from April that the campaign will be all sound and fury towards a predetermined endpoint.  Opinions of Clinton and Trump are baked in because they are already so well-known.  That's what makes this different from other campaigns.

Maybe there should be a Passover-style, four-questions about 2016.

1)  How is this election different from all other elections?
2)  On all other elections, we choose between a Democrat and a Republican.  Why, on this election, do we choose between a paranoid, secrecy-fetishist with a personal entitlement complex and a reckless, sociopathic, racist, misogynist demagogue?
3)  On all other elections, we get public servants.  Why, in this election, only scum?
4)  On all other elections, we only have to shower once after we vote.  On this election, why do we need to shower twice?

It's funnier if you're jewish.  Of course, I wrote this on a Saturday morning, so...

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