The Phony Campaign

2020-07-26 Update

[Amazon Link]

Whoa, huge news: Donald Trump finally reversed his slide with the betting markets this week, shaving a net 0.3 percentage points off his disadvantage. Why, at this rate, he'll be back to even-money odds in (um…) 220 days or so!

Meanwhile, as I type, the election is exactly 100 days away.

But, hey: Trump also managed to expand his lead in phony hits, adding on another 580K over the week. Good job, there, Donald.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
7/19
Phony
Results
Change
Since
7/19
Donald Trump 37.0% +0.2% 2,390,000 +580,000
Joe Biden 59.5% -0.1% 589,000 +83,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week, the version available to the unwashed masses is entitled Everyone’s (Kinda) a Rebel. But that doesn't matter right now, because his thoughts are on something else. Specifically, Jonah's college roomie's proud boast about his favorite potted meat product: it "meets the minimum standards for human consumption set by the FDA!”

    This came to mind last Sunday when I watched the Chris Wallace interview with President Trump. As I was among the first to note, the buried lede in that interview was the fact that the president of the United States of America claimed that he found a test for dementia to be “very, very, hard.”

    Ever since he took the test, he’s been bragging that he “aced” the testing equivalent of potted meat. As I wrote earlier this week, this is like bragging about nailing a sobriety test while sober. But since I always get dinged for recycling lines here, it’s also like expecting your wife to be super excited by the “fantastic news” that you tested negative for the whole battery of sexually transmitted diseases. “I didn’t even have crabs! Can you believe it? The doctors have never seen anything like it.”

    In case you want to check it out, the standard Montreal Cognitive Assessment test is right here. I think I did OK, but (yeah) I wouldn't brag about it.


  • Megan McArdle makes (I think) an insightful point about Trump: his Jedi Mind Tricks just ain't workin' no more. After relating the tale of a real estate agent who tried to pass off a basement apartment as having "such high ceilings"-when they were actually 74 inches from the floor:

    This, of course, has been brought to mind by our real estate promoter in chief. Other politicians are inveterate shaders of the truth, but President Trump frequently dispenses with it entirely and invents something more to his liking — even when there is undeniable evidence to the contrary, such as aerial photographs showing that the crowd at his inauguration did not, in fact, stretch “all the way back to the Washington Monument.”

    By now, however, his whoppers are getting too big to be believed, even by people who really want to.

    “You will never hear this on the Fake News concerning the China Virus,” he tweeted on Tuesday, “but by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well — and we have done things that few other countries could have done!”

    This is false. Indubitably, indisputably false.

    I only think that Megan errs in thinking many people ever believed Trump's whoppers. Instead, they (optionally) rolled their eyes and put up with them.

    There are still some of those folks. But I think mostly people are … well, see our Amazon Product du Jour.

    Yes, Biden is a world-class bullshitter as well. But, by and large, people are OK with different bullshit. Just tired of Trump's.


  • Back to Jonah, who wonders: Is It Really Wise for Trump to Question Biden's Mental Fitness?.

    […] the whole strategy of attacking Biden as mentally incompetent is risky. Forget that such tactics were once considered beyond the pale. And put aside the entirely reasonable conclusion that Biden does indeed show his age quite often—and that he’s always had a propensity to say weird things. The Trump campaign is now betting his re-election’s already slim chances on Biden proving Trump’s diagnosis is right.

    One of the central tasks of campaigning, and politics generally, is managing expectations. Beating expectations in a primary makes you a winner. Falling short has the opposite effect. For instance, Lyndon B. Johnson won the 1968 New Hampshire primary by seven points but fell so far below expectations that he withdrew from the race. Trump has benefited from early warnings that the U.S. could see millions of deaths from COVID-19, so the current—and rising—death toll of “only” 143,000 beats expectations.

    As of now, all Biden has to do to beat the expectations laid out by Trump is prove he knows he’s alive—a very light lift. In normal times, presidential campaigns work hard to set expectations for the opponent unreasonably high.

    I still want to see the results of a battery of mental tests applied (fairly, preferably double-blind) to both candidates. Including civics: I'm not sure either of them have a good grasp on the limits and extents of the Executive Branch.


  • But even under the watchful eyes of his handlers, Joe manages to step in it: 'People' don't distinguish between Chinese and other Asians.

    The average American doesn’t distinguish between Chinese people and other Asians, Joe Biden claimed, in an attempt to criticize President Trump for blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak.

    “Look what he’s doing now. He’s blaming everything on China. He’s blaming everything on the Chinese,” the former vice president said during a virtual campaign event Wednesday with the Service Employees International Union.

    “People don’t make a distinction, as you well know, from a South Korean and someone from Beijing,” he added. “They make no distinction, it’s Asian. And he’s using it as a wedge.”

    I suppose, in Joe's mind, it made sense to equate "people" with "dumb white people". I'm not sure what he thinks Trump had to gain in whipping up anti-Asian bigotry.