Sunday, October 16, 2016

The big reveal of Donald Trump

The conservative website the Federalist (via Rod Dreher) has a story up, regarding what they claim to regard as suspicious timing of the revelations about Donald Trump's history of assaulting and harassing women. Mollie Hemingway, the author of the article, quotes an "opposition researcher" named Luke Thompson as follows:
First, notice the mix of local outlets and national outlets. There’s a great mix of print and broadcast as well. Start with the NYT to get eyeballs on the web and TV. CNN picks it up immediately. Ok. Now you’ve got a story rolling. Within an hour, you start to get multiple waves coming out of local outlets. These get picked up. Within ninety minutes you’ve got reporters reporting on existing reporting. The cycle is locked in. Nobody’s assessing the stories. And here’s the kicker: the victims live in FL, OH, even UT. THEY’RE ALL SWING STATES! It’s masterful to be honest. 
By Michael Vadon (Own work) [<a href="">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>
By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Ms. Hemingway  probably has the case backward here. In May of this year, with Mr. Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, James Fallows started a regular feature on the Atlantic Monthly site called "Trump Time Capsule" in which he detailed things said and done by Donald Trump, and things publicly known about him, that no previous presidential candidate had said or done before, at least in living memory. Mr. Fallows made no bones about his belief these things disqualified the Republican candidate from the presidency:
...if Donald Trump were the Democratic nominee, I would not vote for him. 
I believe he should not become president mainly because of his temperament. Presidents make an astonishingly large number of hour-by-hour judgment calls. Nothing about Donald Trump’s judgment is reassuring from my point of view. His Tweets are highly entertaining! But so is Tosh.0 Again, I’m not trying to persuade anyone. I am just laying out my logic.

Mollie Hemingway concedes the voters knew about Donald Trump's character before the Republican primaries.  In fact, reporters horrified by Mr. Trump's hateful promises, his egging on of violent supporters, and his winking at endorsements from the so-called "alt-right" of overt white supremacists made his unfitness for office clear to everyone who would listen. The media, however you define it, did not wait until October to run stories unflattering to Donald Trump. The story of Mr. Trump's sexually predatory nature made the impression it did precisely because a critical proportion of the electorate took notice. After the outtakes from Access Hollywood came out, millions of people finally allowed themselves to see what the media had begged them to see all through the previous year. Hillary Clinton's campaign could not have coordinated the response of millions of people. The media continued to cover the story because people found it compelling, and news outlets covered it because of that interest: they chase eyeballs for a living. If the story had not changed the minds of millions of voters, coordinating it would have done the Clinton campaign no good at all.

Talking about the political effects of an action obscures the reality. An appalling number of people, many many women and not a few men, know exactly what the kind of sexual predation feels like, because an "alpha" or someone who wants to think of themselves as an "alpha" has violated them in just that way. Donald Trump's boasting about getting away with sexual assault made the impression it did because so many people understood exactly what his behaviour meant.

If this sordid episode teaches us anything, let it teach us this: making a fetish of the "alpha" male, and accepting the terms used by the "red pill" and "pick up artist" movement has backfired as a political strategy. The "alpha" after all, can only exert power by dominating others, and domination inevitably crosses the line into violation. Whatever the reason they release the story when they did, the media has warned Americans about the nature of the man whom millions had planned to vote for, and it appears from the polls that a substantial fraction of the electorate has welcomed and heeded this warning.

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