Friday, July 29, 2016

Trump Does Not Have Magic Powers

So apparently Trump's press conference meltdown yesterday was excellent news for John McCain:
During about an hour-long news conference earlier Wednesday, Trump was asked repeatedly about allegations that the Russian government is behind the hacked and leaked Democratic National Committee's emails that embarrassed the party on the eve of their national convention in Philadelphia. Trump quickly pivoted to also discussing Clinton's private email-server controversy and the 30,000-plus emails the former Secretary of State had deleted from her private server under questionable explanations and circumstances.

Advantage Trump.

Then came the money quote, or the bait, when he said: "Russia, if you're listening,I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing; I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

That comment was sure to grab headlines all on its own, but then the Clinton campaign incredibly took the bait and had a top policy advisor respond with this statement: "This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent."

Advantage Trump....

Sure, they meant to make Trump out to be some kind of dangerous traitor....But the real result is that the words "Hillary Clinton," "emails," "hacking," "espionage," and "national security" are back in the headlines again....
Novak is so obviously pleased with himself for coming up with this that I almost feel bad about pointing out the obvious: wouldn't it have been smarter to get Clinton's emails back in the headlines in a way that didn't reinforce the Clinton campaign narrative that Trump is unstable and dangerous?

The other reason this is genius, according to Novak, is that it takes attention away from the Democratic Convention.
And in the emotions game, you can't win without getting our attention first. Is Hillary Clinton or her campaign capable or even willing to do the things that could garner a similar amount of attention? So far, all we know is her team is capable of helping Trump shine more of a light on himself....

So again, what we're witnessing here is a presidential candidate stealing the other party's thunder just when it needs your attention the most.
So is Novak right? Well, looking at Memeorandum yesterday morning I see a lot of stories about Trump being nutty, and only a few headlines specifically mentioning Clinton's emails. Did it drown out DNC news? Judging from Memeorandum this morning, not so much; the Convention doesn't monopolize the news, but it's certainly well represented. There are a couple of Trump stories, one of which is Trump's reaction to the Convention speakers (and yes, since you asked, it does feature Trump's thin-skinned poutrage). If you scroll way down the page, though, you'll find...Jake Novak!

Within hours, of course, Evil Genius Trump was walking back the Evil Genius Trap he lured Clinton into. I'll let Greg Sargent comment on that:
Lots of people right now are losing their shit because they're convinced Trump is going to win. And part of that conviction is the belief that Trump has some preternatural ability to completely scrambe the election in ways that are incomprehensible to mere mortal politicians. So you get idiocy like this Jake Novak piece. But the real trump is a guy who, after Clinton describes him as "A man you can bait with a tweet", goes on Twitter to counter-attack
Now, the reality is that Trump might win--it's unlikely, but it's definitely not impossible--but not because he's an Evil Genius. Trump might win because 40% or more of the country will vote for any candidate with a R in front of his name. We're a closely-divided, polarized nation, and that means Trump's support has a floor that puts him dangerously close to a possible plurality. But this is despite, not because of Trump. Can we please stop pretending that he has any method at all?


Yastreblyansky said...

Great post, but: There is certainly one respect in which Trump was very successful in that appearance, in reinforcing the belief in those 30,000 "missing" emails that Clinton deleted from the private server she used as secretary of state:

1. There were between 2000 and 3000
2. She didn't wipe them from the server
3. They were fully recovered by the FBI in September
4. They are being processed by the state department at this very moment (since July 18)
5. They will be fully released to the public!

Virtually every commentator on this story from Jake Novak to the Times and the Guardian has passed it on without noting that the emails he's talking about are completely imaginary or that he seems to have confused them with the 20,000 real emails the Russians stole from the DNC. He has, or Putin's people running him have, made us forget that they didn't exist.

Never Ben Better said...

Very true about that "33,000" bullshit -- it's being baked into the narrative as "truth", which is infuriating.

Ken_L said...

Yastreblyansky that's not the case. There's no reason to doubt Hillary's statement that she deleted 33,000 emails. You're confusing them with the FBI's statement that it "discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014". The FBI has never claimed this is the totality of all Hillary's emails, work-related or otherwise; on the contrary, Comey's statement made it clear they weren't.

On the broader point, however, the most likely impression to endure from the affair in the minds of the general public is that Trump sided with the Russians against his own country. That's more likely to disadvantage him than Hillary.

Never Ben Better said...

Does anyone else find it stupid to be all up in arms that emails were deleted to begin with? Fer cryin' out loud, I run a one-woman business out of my home that receives and sends proofreading work via email; I don't get a lot of spam or a lot of personal email; and yet I'm regularly deleting hundreds of emails a week, and emptying the Trash folder at least monthly if not more often, when they're no longer relevant, otherwise my system would choke to death. Important stuff goes in storage folders; the rest gets broomed out. I can see needing to keep more stuff for government service but still, and especially on the personal side, tens of thousands of erasable emails over X number of years strikes me as completely normal.

Never Ben Better said...

Also, does anyone really think that nefarious Hillary sat there hitting "Delete... delete... delete" in one nefarious (and no doubt cackling nefariously) burst of covering her nefarious tracks? All 33,000 of them?

Ken_L said...

Well the fact is the FBI discovered thousands of work-related emails that weren't in the 30,000 Hillary handed over as "all her work-related emails". I think it's very unlikely there's anything terribly embarrassing amongst them, but unfortunately she was less than frank about the whole affair from day 1. Incredibly, she even fudged the truth about the inadequate steps she took to separate her personal from her work-related emails AFTER THE CONTROVERSY HAD ERUPTED. The result is a context in which it's very easy for the right to make damaging speculations and hard for her supporters to dismiss them as baseless.

A "Gish Gallop will often have one or more 'talking points' that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it's not totally false but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation". The ham-fisted, less-than-honest way Hillary handled the email affair provided material for 100 right-wing Gish Gallops.

None of this is to suggest anything less than total support for her election, but people who claim it was nothing but a beat-up and all just a minor error of judgement are being wilfully blind.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Ken_L, Thanks. Could have saved myself some humiliation if I'd gone to Comey's statement.

Never Ben Better said...

Ah, thanks, Ken_L. I must confess, I am so sick of all the attacks on Hillary, not only from the right but from the deranged segment of the left ("She wants to get us into a shooting war with Russia!") that I pretty much tune out the details of any slam on her. She's far from perfect but she's not the cartoon character that the haters on either side portray her as and I'm so sick of the bullshit that I can't be bothered any more to sort out the tiny grains of wheat amid all the chaff.

Jim Snyder said...

Well said, Tom Hilton!

Fraud Guy said...

40%? I hope Trump hits the 27% floor.

Never Ben Better said...

That would be sweet indeed, Fraud Guy.

Tom Hilton said...

We can hope! I doubt it'll happen, but I'll be very happy if he winds up in the high 30s.