Monday, January 23, 2017

Donald Trump's Flying Circus, 1/23/17

Of course, we mustn't let a little thing like the possibility that Donald Trump might be a Russian spy distract us from just how outrageous he is in small things as well.

When his day of triumph turned out to have a rather lackluster triumph and the press reported it, with, you know, actual photographic evidence as proof, his response was outrage that anyone would accept the evidence of their lying eyes over his word.

In Trump's defense, a number of people have pointed out that it takes aerial photography to see the actual crowd size, and that from the perspective of people at the actual ceremony, there is really no way to tell whether the crowd reaches all the way to Washington Monument or not.  But that is all the more reason why a President needs to pay attention to actual facts and evidence beyond his own subjective experience, because his subjective experience is incomplete and more information from outside is necessary to get the full picture.  In this case, the evidence is easily produced by photographs from beyond where the President can see from his podium.  But what will happen when proof is not so clear and obvious, and the President refuses to let any mere fact interfere with his preconceptions?  Imagine, lead up to Iraq War, on steroids.

So, what does Donald Trump do when confronted with rock-solid evidence that his preconceptions are not only wrong, but easily refuted?  First, he goes to the CIA and delivers a speech originally intended to mend fences, but instead turning into an extended complaint about unfair it is of the media to disagree with him on the size of the crowd at his inaugural, based only on something so trivial as aerial photographs (and subway ridership estimates, and photographs of empty stands, etc).  He also insists, despite all the nasty things he said about the intelligence community, that really he doesn't have any feud with them at all, and it is just a figment of the imagination of a dishonest media.  Next he has his press secretary, Sean Spicer, lecture the press pool about how wrong the mere fact are, and give them outraged instructions on what they should and should not cover in the future. I don't think Spicer and Trump understand this free press business.

So maybe Trump isn't a Russian spy after all.  Maybe he really is just as far in denial about who hacked the Democrats as he is about the size of the crowd at his inauguration.  Maybe he really does believe that any concern about facts and evidence is limited to a handful of out of touch liberal elitists, and that it is more authentic to ignore them and go with the gut.  Certainly if I were an intelligence officer I would not be reassured about what sort of reaction I could expect next time I had to tell the President something he didn't want to hear.

But let's focus on what is important.  At least Donald Trump never sent State Department e-mails on a private server.

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