Trump and the Wisdom of Crowds
If you cannot appreciate the “wisdom of crowds,” you will never understand American democracy or the Trump phenomenon. Trial by fire builds character -- and constituencies.
The other day a headline read; “Donald Trump declares war on Muslims.” After reading the subtext, you could have concluded that the real war might be with biased journalists and lunatic Muslims, in that order.
That same day, George Stephanopoulos tried to link the Republican pole sitter to Hitler over Mr. Trump’s latest blast at immigration policy. The raps against the Donald usually test the limits of credulity and fact, to say nothing of fairness. You may recall, ironically, that appeals to “fairness” are a favorite media mantra when it comes to convicts, drunks, junkies, deadbeats, dependents, immigrants, and Islamists. Pardon any redundancies.
Conversely, journalistic fairness is seldom an issue when it comes to success, achievement, or men like Trump and Ben Carson, or any political newcomer who challenges media spin or the conventional political narrative.
Anon, expect the next Islamic atrocity in America to be blamed on Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Were it not for guys like Trump, the argument will go, Daniel Pearl would still be filing copy.
The press might trivialize facts and truth, but eventually the crowd knows better. Lincoln put it best: “You can’t fool all of the people all the time.”
Unlike Lincoln, journalists hail today mainly from the political Left. No surprises there. Indeed since WWII, urban print and broadcast monopolies are a kind of permanent political condominium, a Democratic Party monoculture if you will. While Republicans spin out into industry, the Democrats’ revolving door tends to feed the media. Tim Russert, Nina Totenberg, George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, Chuck Todd, James Carville, and Chris Matthews are prominent examples. Parsing the press is fraught with redundancy too, yet two broad categories are evident: bimbos and mimbos.
A bimbo journalist might be any woman who lionizes political men at the expense of real men with real jobs. Or put another way, a bimbo will always confuse election with achievement. Given a choice, a media floozy will swoon for a glib Chicago toker with a law degree long before she warms to an accomplished neurosurgeon from Detroit or a shrill developer from Queens. “Mary Jane” and marijuana are joined by more than metaphor.
A fairly typical piece of bimbo copy is found in the aforementioned article by Dara Lind which claims that Trump is at “war with Islam.” Previously, you may recall, Trump had been at war with women. This is the same press loath to use words like war, Muslim, or fascism when the subjects are political terror and Islam. Hyperbole, apparently, is fair play for partisan politics, yet haram for safety or national security issues like religious warfare.
Dara should be careful about her wish list. A jihadist is the kind of boy that treats girls like Ms. Lind as sword bait, chattel, or livestock. Ms. Lind needs the counsel of an adult journalist, say Lara Logan, for some perspective.
Lind writes for VOX, a spin-off founded by Washington Post veterans. The stated goal of VOX is to provide more “content” than the Post. Content, when the subject is Trump, is better read as political hatchet work.
The cohort on the “mimbo” side of the media spectrum is more numerous, a target rich environment. Chris Matthews (NBC) and George Stephanopoulos (ABC) are examples.
Matthews stands out, because he, more than any partisan troll, set the tone for the Obama era. If there were any justice, Chris Matthews would get a Pulitzer Prize for pandering. Recall that he proclaimed on nationwide television that the election of a black male made “a thrill run up his leg.”
Set aside the homoerotic daydreaming, and consider only the celebration of melanin as achievement, a standard now underlined by a Nobel Prize.
Martin Luther King is spinning in his grave.
With one spontaneous rhetorical orgasm, Matthews established the bigotry of low expectations as a political metric. Indeed, in seven years, Barack Hussein Obama has lived down to the Matthews marker.
Trump says that the Obama era does not bode well for the future of black politicians on the left. The Democrat slate for 2016 is in fact all white bread. The Republican offering, in contrast, is a coalition of color; a woman, an African American, two Hispanics, and a flash mob of pink/white guys. Lincoln would be proud.
Matthews may be confused or bigoted, but George Stephanopoulos is prey to abject historical stupidity. In the halcyon days of White House bimbo eruptions, George carried water for misogyny and perjury as a Clinton apologist. To be fair, loyalty is a cardinal virtue in journalism and politics alike.
Still, likening a developer from Queens to Hitler, is a little like comparing a half-baked apple to the apocalypse. Clearly, Stephanopoulos did not major in history at Columbia. Here’s what he missed.
The differences between National Socialism and toxic Islamism are two. True believers or sympathizers with jihad number in the hundreds of millions; the Nazi cohort of true believers was relatively small. And German fascism was based on a creed of racial superiority while Islamists are hostage to illusions of religious superiority. Both have fascism in common where dystopian violence, terror, and occupation are the primary agents of influence, colonialism, or imperial conquest.
When Islamists speak of “crusades,” they are in fact projecting the hope and tradition of ancient Mohammedan dreams. Muslims ravished (630-1094 AD) the great cities of the Greco/Roman Mediterranean basin, much as they do today, for hundreds of years before Pope Urban II (1042-99 AD) unleashed the Franks towards Jerusalem. With the exception of Iberia, western civilization never recovered most of what was lost to Islam and irredentism.
Judaism and Christianity enriched the Greco/Roman world with ideas. Islam, then as now, seeks to restrain ideas at the point of a sword, through the “martyrdom” of suicide bombers, or an iconoclasm born of rigid, rote, and primal theology.
The original crusades, like modern Islamist imperialism, were about Muslim aggression and belated European defense. Islam is again on the march today and modern Europe has not the wit, nor the heart, this time to mount an ideological or kinetic defense.
The difference between then and now is that Khalif Baghdadi has already bypassed the gates of Vienna. More than a camel’s nose now stalks the remnants of Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Christian cultures. Yes, George, what little is left of your Greek patrimony is at risk too.
Nothing in Trump’s vitae has anything to do with ancient or modern Muslim religious necrosis -- or Hitler’s historic secular depredations.
Counterfactual bleating that passes for truth or analysis at ABC, one that attacks those who urge the containment of fascism, is the kind of doublethink that makes genocide possible. Posturing for ratings at ABC with spin that equates the plight of Jews with Muslims is consistent with the polite domestic bigotry and racism of Chris Matthews at NBC.
The walk of media shame has inducted Wallace, Rather, Totenberg, and Williams. Matthews and Stephanopoulos cannot be far behind. Trump’s war with mendacity in America and abroad is a tale of numbers. When the issue is “trust,” American journalism wallows in the single digits in many polls. Trump’s numbers are approaching fifty percent in many places where votes matter.
Elitists try to diminish Trump’s numbers with innuendo about “high school graduates” as if a college degree ever made a difference in intelligence, character, or achievement, especially among politicians or journalists.
The more media and the establishment attack Trump, the more relevant he becomes. A strategy of confronting press and political spinners is paying yuge dividends, if we can poach Trump’s favorite adjective.
Who knows where Donald Trump’s campaign goes? He continues to confound supporters and critics alike. Win or lose, Trump brings many subjects that we prefer to ignore into sharp focus. On every hot button topic from obese women, to soft racism, to John McCain, to press bias, to immigration, on to toxic Islam, Trump is as close to truth on issues as his critics are to pandering.
Seven years of bombs, bravo sierra, and Obama dithering in Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have killed more Arabs and Muslims than ISIS. You will never see those statistics above the fold.
Trump has bloodied the waters of American politics too. When the feeding frenzy is done, the worst shills may have consumed each other and some truth about safety and national security might still float.
For the moment, the usual suspects; media, career politicians, and associated nitwits can’t imagine Donald Trump as president. Compared to whom? Surely not Barack Hussein Obama, another Bush, or Bill Clinton’s most durable gal pal.
Posit, if you will, a series of Donald/Hillary debates. The gate on those cage matches could pay off the national debt. The winner might still have enough of a surplus to renovate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the Trump tribe.
The wisdom of crowds is the way democracy works when media and political elites fail to fool all of the people all the time.
G. Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security.