What to make of “postpoining” the election?

Yesterday, this was pretty much all the twitterati could talk about.  Today, it’s hardly a blip (fortunately, because most all Republicans responded mostly appropriately).  It makes me think Dahlia Lithwick’s take is the best I have read on it:

I reside in perfect, permanent equipoise between all three buckets. Yes, Trump’s inane election belches are terrifying as presidential statements about presidential power, even if he cannot legally do what he claims. Yes, it is impossible to hold in our heads every serious presidential failure that demands our attention. (The U.S. death count from COVID passed 150,000 yesterday.) And yes, Trump is, whether strategically, malevolently or haplessly, fomenting massive distrust in the possibility of a free, fair, and safe November election, which will make it easier for him to claim, by any number of arguments, that the election results were fraudulent. Efforts to make sense of the president’s tweets inevitably result in arguments about what is real and what is a distraction from what is real. It’s a perfectly natural response to chaos, but it doesn’t actually help beat back the chaos.

The singular beauty of weaponized chaos muppetry is that one can do all of those bad things at the same time.And the singular purpose of weaponized chaos muppetry is to immediately foment discord among anyone who actually cares about, say, the cratering economy, and the COVID death count, and the Republican failure to protect unemployment benefits, and the integrity of the election, and the continued functioning of imperiled institutions, and about which of those things is the real thing and which is the shiny object. When Steve Bannon reportedly talked in 2018 about how the enemy was the media and how you deal with the media by “flood[ing] the zone with shit,” this is what he was tilting at: If you can just kick up infinite dust storms comprised of infinite particles, each of which may or may not be true or salient or important, you can rapidly get to the point at which everything simultaneously matters too much and nothing seems to matter at all. As Sean Illing at Vox wrote after the impeachment, while the traditional role of propaganda was to flood the airwaves with a coherent narrative, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contribution to the propaganda field was to use the media to “engineer a fog of disinformation, producing just enough distrust to ensure that the public can never mobilize around a coherent narrative.” The purpose is to sow precisely the kind of dissent that fully paralyzes efforts to organize around any of these crises. And if the sheer exhaustion that comes from fighting all the side battles and screaming about distractions within a fragmented and polarized (and very profitable) media ecosystem brings about a numbness and inability to consume any more of it, well, that too is scored a win.

And, while I’m at it, here’s a few of the best tweets I’ve seen on Trump and the election:

 

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