Things that frustrate me about the 2016 election

Here begins a collection of “things that frustrate me about the 2016 election.” It may continue for the next 12.5 weeks.

One is that one of my usual litmus tests for sanity has gone haywire. The New York Times Editorial Board is against Trump, but that’s a pretty obviously sane position for a change, because of the unprecedentedly abysmal character of the Republic nominee.

A second is that you cannot really nail down the contemptible meaning of a Trump incitement. I thank the often-scatological lawblogger Popehat for this insight, which came from his single use of the adjective “Joycean” to describe Trump’s language:

Trump’s staff quickly issued a press release saying that this comment was merely a reference to the vigorous political activism of Second Amendment fans, not to violence. I express no opinion about what Trump “meant”: I think trying to parse his Joycean ramblings is usually pointless.

An academic thinks he’s nailed it down, but ….

A third is that Trumpistas revel in the second, failing to realize that they, too, cannot rely on their interpretation of his Joycean ramblings to say “he stands for this-or-that.” The case for Trump remains, unbroken in my critical reading of innumerable apologias, that (a) he’s not Hillary and (b) he is a man, love him or loathe him, of great accomplishments based on toughness. Which leads to …

Fourth: the growing conviction that the entire Trump persona is a fraud. From the billions to the satyriasis to the magnificent contribution to the economy by employing tens of thousands to the whole sneering “what did your candidate ever do to compare with His Awesomeness?,” I increasingly think Trump is a myth of his own making — a man who is perfect for reality TV (and that’s no compliment).

As Mary McCarty said of Lillian Hellman, “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.” Yet here I sit worrying about the political meaning of this or that Joycean utterance of a Potemkin Candidate of whom nothing can be said to be real, true or reliable except (a) not Hillary and (b) the self-promotion.

Take a gander at this story about his deposition in a lawsuit:

It was a mid-December morning in 2007 — the start of an interrogation unlike anything else in the public record of Trump’s life.

Trump had brought it on himself. He had sued a reporter, accusing him of being reckless and dishonest in a book that raised questions about Trump’s net worth. The reporter’s attorneys turned the tables and brought Trump in for a deposition.

For two straight days, they asked Trump question after question that touched on the same theme: Trump’s honesty.

The lawyers confronted the mogul with his past statements — and with his company’s internal documents, which often showed those statements had been incorrect or invented. The lawyers were relentless. Trump, the bigger-than-life mogul, was vulnerable — cornered, out-prepared and under oath.

Thirty times, they caught him.

Trump had misstated sales at his condo buildings. Inflated the price of membership at one of his golf clubs. Overstated the depth of his past debts and the number of his employees.

That deposition — 170 transcribed pages — offers extraordinary insights into Trump’s relationship with the truth. Trump’s falsehoods were unstrategic — needless, highly specific, easy to disprove ….

Fifth, the fourth may make him the apotheosis of the United States, 2016.

Sixth, is that I might have to reconsider voting for Hillary (“She’s Less Abnormal!”) Clinton if the perfect storm arises:

  • Indiana’s vote is in play. I fear that this may happen. Obama took the state in 2008. We’re pretty reliably red, but with Trump, all bets are off.
  • The nation is in play to the extent that Indiana’s electors may matter to the outcome. This may be where I escape the feared fate.

I’m not sure, even then, that I could bring myself to vote for her, not because of her persona, or her dishonesty, or her grifting, but because she actually has coherent positions to which she is credibly committed but which are variously perverse (“free college!”) or even evil (“abortion, publicly funded, now and forever!”).

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Things that frustrate me about the 2016 election

  1. If I understand you correctly, it comes down to how important you think it is for Trump to be prevented from election vs how much damage you believe Clinton might do. The GOP could still dump him, but they won’t. It’s too late, and parties aren’t generally courageous in action. I don’t know how Trump’s likely (right now) defeat will impact down-ticket races.

    I’m firmly on the “he must be stopped” side at this point. I think it’s important for hate/fear-based decision-making, and lying as a default position to be decisively repudiated at the polls, so no one else will be as likely to try that campaign path next time. Do I like Clinton? No, I was a Bernie supporter, even helped him win my state’s caucus. But she’s the best path left to stop Trump, so I’m going to vote for her, and hope the checks and balances will help mitigate her worst excesses, which I believe will at least be adult choices.

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