Whether or not Hillary Clinton would have been as bad a president as Donald Trump is the topic of a counterfactual, a line of reasoning so invalid I regard it as fallacious.
Counterfactuals are fun to think about. What would have happened had John F. Kennedy not been shot? Or Richard M. Nixon not forced to resign? Or, going back further, Abraham Lincoln had permitted the South to secede? Read more
I’m pretty sure it was in my Master’s program, probably in my first quarter in that program, that I was in a class with Anne Pym, a professor who offered me both endless fascination and endless frustration for reasons I won’t go into here.
We were reviewing the problem of evaluating sources, a problem in any literature review, which is basic to situating one’s research, or inquiry, in scholarship. Somehow I was asking about being able to trust truthfulness and Pym responded that she would hope so. Read more
In Donald Trump’s latest fiasco, in which, to virtually unanimous condemnation, he preferred Vladimir Putin’s claim that the Russians had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. election over claims from U.S. intelligence services that they in fact had (he partly, but not really, recanted on his return to the White House), I wish to address myself to a small portion of the Left that sympathizes with Trump’s decision, despite nearly all considered opinion, to carry on with the meeting with Trump in Helsinki even after Robert Mueller indicted Russian nationals for hacking into Democratic National Committee computer systems. Read more
I tend to blame the presidency of Donald Trump on the Democratic Party’s nomination of Hillary Clinton. She was, according to some polls, the weaker candidate, and Bernie Sanders better appealed to an electorate sick and tired of the neoconservative and neoliberal hegemony in U.S. politics that Clinton exemplified. But some folks blame the electoral college, whose vote overrode the popular vote. Read more
Update, July 12, 2018: A study of public opinion (I have not chased down the survey response rate in the original surveys) concludes that much of Trump’s support derives from white fears of displacement, consistent with Hunter S. Thompson’s thesis as reviewed by Susan McWilliams. The author of this study, Diana C. Mutz, denies that personal hardship is a factor even as she notes that “Americans increasingly feel that they are not getting their fair share” of jobs in a globalized economy and that status threat “is borne of a sense that the outgroup is doing too well and thus, is a viable threat to one’s own dominant group status.” Mutz also does not (and cannot, given her research design) control for voters who earlier voted for Barack Obama and subsequently for Donald Trump—a portion of the electorate she considers unimportant but which would presumably be less racist and thus less likely to fear social displacement but which might well remain susceptible to fears of economic displacement.
Early last month (on June 6, 2018), I wrote that
I have thought that by August of this year, Republicans would be so alarmed by their prospects in the midterm elections that they would find a way to get Trump out. But a couple months ago, Eric Levitz pointed out, first, that Trump seems less restrained than ever and, second, that events have been moving in the opposite direction from my forecast as a Republican-controlled Congress shows little inclination to assert those checks and balances and as he replaces “adults in the room” with ideologues. Jennifer Rubin, who has been fairly consistent in criticizing this same Congress for its negligence, repeated her condemnation just the other day.