Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Literary Corner: Nobodaddy

Eric Bakke, Nobodaddy, oil, ca. 2013.

Trump tells AP he won’t accept blame if GOP loses House

AP: So my question is, if Republicans were to lose control of the House on November 6th — or a couple of days later depending on how long it takes to count the votes — do you believe you bear some responsibility for that?
Trump: No
Or as AP put it in the story under that headline,
“No, I think I’m helping people,” Trump said. “I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact.”
That is, far from being to blame if the Republicans lose, he'll be convinced that they would have done even worse without him; in fact, his value to the campaign is unparalleled in the history of electoral democracy, and this will be true no matter how the results turn out. It's like if Joshua ended up losing the battle of Jericho in spite of the Lord halting the solar system for an hour to give him an assist, you wouldn't say that was old JHWH's fault, would you?

I'm afraid I have to rule in Trump's favor on this, though.

Not that AP has deliberately distorted the facts, but that they haven't made a close study of his discourse patterns and have made some unwarranted assumptions, mainly that Trump follows the conventional rules of human conversation. One of these would be that if your interlocutor asks you a yes-no question and you say, "No," that is your answer to the question. That's not a safe assumption with our emperor, and if you analyze his complete response to this one, you'll see he clearly wasn't doing that: he may have started out with that intention, but ended up changing the subject—from the November election, in which Republicans might lose, to the year's Republican primaries, in which Republicans won by definition—and improvising a poem instead, in a long, rumbling line like a Hebrew prophet channeling God:

I Think I'm Helping People
by Donald J. Trump
No, I think I’m helping people. Look, I’m 48 and 1 in the primaries,
and actually it’s much higher than that because I endorsed
a lot of people that were successful that people don’t even talk about.
But many of those 48, as you know, were people that had no chance,
in some cases. We look at Florida, you look at Donovan in Staten Island.
He was losing by 10 points, I endorsed him and he won. I could
give you a long list of names. Look at Georgia governor of Georgia.
And many, many races. And I will say that we have a very big impact.
I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact. They would
say that in the old days that if you got the support of a president
or if you’ve got the support of somebody it would be nice to have,
but it meant nothing, zero. Like literally zero. Some of the people
I’ve endorsed have gone up 40 and 50 points just on the endorsement.
In fact, he made endorsements in 17 of what BallotPedia calls "battleground primaries", meaning primaries where there was some possible doubt as to who was going to win. In 13 of them Trump's candidate unambiguously won, 14 if you count the West Virginia Senate race, where he endorsed both candidates; one lost, and two aren't going to be decided until November, a California House race where two Republicans finished first in the jungle primary, and the Mississippi special Senate contest to replace retired Thad Cochrane, where there was no primary at all. I haven't found out how many endorsements he made in non-battleground primaries,

The poll where Michael Grimm was 10 points ahead of Dan Donovan in the Staten Island primary and the one where Donovan was 7 points behind were both published after Trump endorsed Donovan (though some of the surveying of the first one was done before the endorsement). In the Georgia governor primary, Brian Kemp was 18 points ahead of Casey Cagle the day (18 July) Trump made his endorsement, and 18 points ahead four days later, though in the election itself he was +38.

A 2011 study by Casey Dominguez found that "a primary candidate's share of the partisan endorsements issued in the race significantly affects the candidate's vote share, even controlling for campaign funds and candidate quality," so whatever the president's support may mean, it is not "literally zero".

So he's lying, that's not news. What's interesting is the way he deflects AP's question by effectively saying, "Who are you to question me? I am Trump! I win all the elections!" like God screaming at Jonah, and answering a question he likes better.

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