More deplorables

I was about to put this into quick hits, but it’s too good.  Ta-Nahesi Coates on the media and the deplorables:

Indeed, what Breitbart understood, what his spiritual heir Donald Trump has banked on, what Hillary Clinton’s recent pillorying has clarified, is that white grievance, no matter how ill-founded, can never be humiliating nor disqualifying. On the contrary, it is a right to be respected at every level of American society from the beer-hall to the penthouse to the newsroom.

The comment was “a self-inflicted wound” claimed the Washington Post reporter Dan Balz. “It was very close to the dictionary definition of bigoted,” asserted John Heilemann. My colleague Ron Fournier and the Post’s Aaron Blake were both taken aback by the implicit math of Clinton’s statement. “Clinton appeared to be slapping the ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic’ label on about 20 percent of the country,” wrote Blake in a post whose headline echoed that of the Trump campaign manager’s website. “That’s no small thing.” Whether or not it was a false thing remained uninvestigated. [emphasis mine]

Instead what followed was not journalism but, as Jamelle Bouie accurately dubbed it, “theater criticism.” Fournier and Blake’s revulsion at the thought that some 20 percent of the country, in some fashion, fit into that basket is illustrative. Neither made any apparent attempt to investigate the claim. No polling data appears in either piece and no reasons are given for why the estimate is untrue. It simply can’t be true—even if the data says that it actually is

To understand how truly bizarre this method of opining is, consider the following: Had polling showed that relatively few Trump supporters believe black people are lazy and criminally-inclined, if only a tiny minority of Trump supporters believed that Muslims should be banned from the country, if birtherism carried no real weight among them, would journalists decline to point this out as they excoriated her? Of course not. But the case against Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” is a triumph of style over substance, of clamorous white grievance over knowable facts.

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The deplorables

Jon Chait comes through with the post I’ve been waiting for.  Hell, yeah, a bunch of Trump supporters are deplorable.  That terms strikes me just fine for people who are supporting a candidate who appeals to their racism, sexism, misogyny, and xenophobia.  Hillary Clinton’s “gaffe”?  Telling the truth.  Of course, the media are running with this as if she somehow said she thinks Jesus is a fraud. Chait:

Following the classic definition of a gaffe as a politician telling the truth, Hillary Clinton’s comment about Donald Trump’s supporters (“just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”) was the purest and most classic example. The national media has spent a year and a quarter documenting in exquisite, redundant detail the rabid, anti-intellectual nationalistic bigotry of Trump’s hard-core fanbase. But it has taken Hillary Clinton’s affirmation to transform this by-now-banal observation into a scandal. [emphases mine]

Back in February, Wall Street Journal editorial columnist Bret Stephensmourned that it had once been a slander that “Republicans were all closet bigots,” but “Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism.” Stephens proceeded to argue that Trump’s carefully hedged disavowal of David Duke failed to dent his support — “If anything it has enhanced it.” Now that Clinton has made the similar point in milder terms, absolving a larger proportion of Trump’s supporters than Stephens did, and choosing the gentler metaphor of a basket rather than a sewer, The Wall Street Journal editorial page is scandalized that Clinton was caught “attributing hateful motives to tens of millions of Americans.” Americans! Hateful! In large numbers! How dare she! …

Clinton controversially described half of Trump’s supporters as “irredeemable.” Trump earlier this year framed the same idea in a more colorful and perhaps more damning way: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Both statements reflect the same underlying truth: Trump enjoys a hard-core support that lies beyond persuasion, utterly immune to even the starkest factual evidence. Clinton committed a gaffe because she acknowledged a reality that literally every other person in America, including Donald Trump himself, is permitted to speak aloud.

And Libby Nelson reminds us that it was hardly a story at all when Lindsey Graham said essentially the same thing.

And Charles Blow lets loose in now uncertain terms:

Then, she continued: “But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

That second basket got too little attention. Context doesn’t provide the sizzle on which shock media subsists. Noted.

What Clinton said was impolitic, but it was not incorrect. There are things a politician cannot say. Luckily, I’m not a politician.

Donald Trump is a deplorable candidate — to put it charitably — and anyone who helps him advance his racial, religious and ethnic bigotry is part of that bigotry. Period. Anyone who elevates a sexist is part of that sexism. The same goes for xenophobia. You can’t conveniently separate yourself from the detestable part of him because you sense in him the promise of cultural or economic advantage. That hair cannot be split.

Furthermore, one doesn’t have to actively hate to contribute to a culture that allows hate to flourish.

It doesn’t matter how lovely your family, how honorable your work or service, how devout your faith — if you place ideological adherence or economic self interest above the moral imperative to condemn and denounce a demagogue, then you are deplorable.

What this really is is a story of how the media operates.  When there’s only so much actual campaign news going on (yes, even presidential candidates get pneumonia, but this happened first), anything the slightest bit novel– regardless of underlying actual newsworthiness– can break through.  Especially when it leads to heightened conflict (another media bias) and when politicians say what everybody knows and believes, but it leads to actually criticizing some Americans.  Seriously, it’s an open fact that a bunch of Trump supporters are deplorable in their racism, xenophobia, etc..  And have been called as much by Republicans.  Yet Hillary Clinton says this and it’s a huge story.  Ugh.

But, also, just a reminder, this is super unlikely to actually affect the election.  Despite all the flack Romney took for 47%, there’s pretty much no evidence this had any impact on the eventual outcome.

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