Saturday, August 13, 2016

What's Really Wrong With Calling Obama and Clinton "The Founders of ISIS"?

   I've been puzzling over this.
   It does seem to me to be in the ballpark by the standards of American political rhetoric. OTOH, maybe it can be compared to Kerry's "regime change at home" comment, which he was pressured into apologizing for. OTOOH, I thought that comment was just fine and pretty clever...
   My current thinking is something like:
A. The comment itself would be so patently absurd if taken literally that no one can take it that way
B. So it's got to be taken as...what? Metaphorical? Hyperbolic? What is it exactly?
So far so good.
C. What's weird is Trump's denial that he meant it non-literally.
I mean...that was just weird. I don't know why it was weird, but it was weird. It's like Trump isn't satisfied with his metaphor (or whatever the hell it is...that's making me crazy. I should have paid attention in at least one English class at some point...). He's got to push the vitriol up another notch. And he keeps doing it. Obama and Clinton are the founders of ISIS. Of course I don't mean that literally. But I kinda do...
   It sorta seems to be the latest evidence that Trump doesn't have a very robust grip on reality. He seems to mentally inhabit some twilit superposition of states of reality and a  make-believe world of his own creation. And this ambivalence is reflected in his ambivalence about whether his ISIS claim is intended literally or not.
   Anyway, everybody on the Dem side of things is sitting around grimly shaking their heads about Trump's claim, pointing out that, in fact, it is straightforwardly false. It got four Pinocchios. Etc.  I don't think this is a bad strategy given how bizarre the claim is and how difficult it is to get a fix on. A pretty good response, actually. But it seems to me that it doesn't quite get to the heart of the matter, which, again, is that the claim has to be taken non-literally in order to be non-insane...but Trump won't quite admit that he meant it non-literally. That indicates some problem with Trump first and foremost, not so much some problem about the assertion.
   Also there's: Trump's commitment to the now-standard nudge-nudge-wink-wink at the proposition that Obama is a Muslim. Against that background, Trump's claim does seem rather more sinister. But I haven't thought about that much.
   Some pure speculation:
I'm starting to think Trump might really be delusional. Maybe it's that being rich your whole life knocks too many sharp corners off of the world. Maybe you end up lacking a sufficiently acute sense of reality. You have so much power that saying so or wanting so...often can sort of make something so. Maybe it's a little like having magical powers within a certain domain. Add to this that another check on wishful and magical thinking, pushback from other people, is probably also dampened down, too. People don't want to lose their jobs by disagreeing when disagreement is unwelcome. Maybe Trump really just doesn't quite know what it's like to live in the real world where facts are hard things and you can't always make people believe you just by saying something. And this is just politics!  Imagine if the guy were trying to become a farmer or an engineer... Of course I guess you do get certain pushback from the world and other people as a this is probably just bullshit.


Blogger Aa said...

I asked a couple of colleagues recently, one a sociologist and one a psychologist, whether Trump was saying these things "Kidding on the square" or whether he was pathological. Both said instantly, pathological. Neither think he has a strong grip on reality/facts, that all he does is sling bullshit because, well, he's trump and in his world always right, etc.

Oh yes, I asked each independently of the other.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous John Plato said...

Trump's label was well within the norms of political rhetoric, and the mock outrage over it in the media was embarrassing. Would Politifact give Kennedy four Pinocchios, too, for saying, "Ich bin ein Berliner" in'63? Give me a break.

The problem is, Trump isn't capable of making an articulate defense of himself. He is the perfect storm of the World's Worst Candidate, with the effortless ability to capture media attention combined with a complete inability to do anything useful with it. So even when Trump's claims have some element of truth, they're damned by association, and bled to death by a thousand media cuts.

Even worse than that, really. I think the big story that week was the $1.7 billion "ransom" that Obama authorized to Iran. I will put "ransom" in quotes, but the deeper you look into this, the sketchier it gets. Yet apparently a single word choice by Trump was more important than the Obama administration ignoring the sanctions laws currently in force with Iran and dropping $1.7 billion in the lap of an officially recognized state sponsor of terrorism. Interest in this already seems to have sailed on.

Trump might do better if he just made a vow of silence for the last weeks of the campaign.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I kinda find myself agreeing with both of those comments...

But I don't know, JP... I mean...I gotta say...I've defended Trump a fair amount here...there's something off about this "founder of ISIS" business... I agree that the comment itself is within rhetorical specs...but something about the way he says it...repeating it over and over with that weird inflection...refusing to acknowledge that it's not literally fact DENYING that it's not literally true... And against the backdrop of all the other psycho stuff...birtherism..."Barack HUSSEIN Obama"... You could say what he said in a way that wasn't crazy...but that doesn't seem to be the way he said it.

And I see the point about the media...but honestly, I'm inclined to give them a pass because (a) Trump's clearly acting crazy, and (b) it's really hard to put your finger on *how* exactly it's crazy. I'm certainly not sure I've got it right. I think that, if he's going to say that he means it literally, it's fine for the media to say "ok, well then, it's literally false." I say Trump brought that on himself.

my $0.02, anyway.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

There is no meaningful sense whatsoever in which either Obama or Clinton is the *founder* of ISIS. The whole idea of it is just verbal diarrhea from Trump.

There area few parties who jointly are responsible for, or at least contributed to, its founding:

Abu Musab Al Zarqawi basically founded it:

"The group was founded in 1999 by Jordanian radical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi under the name Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād (lit. "The Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad").[31]"

from the Wikipedia:

Ahmad Chalabi and the other members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, through their policy of de-Baathification, supplied the manpower by creating a huge army of disenfranchised and angry police, civil and military officials:

And Maliki's further alienation of Sunnis provided further assistance:

"The Islamic State’s leadership under Mr. Baghdadi has drawn mainly from two pools: veterans of Al Qaeda in Iraq who survived the insurgency against American forces with battle-tested militant skills, and former Baathist officers under Saddam Hussein with expertise in organization, intelligence and internal security. It is the merger of these two skill sets that has made the organization such a potent force, the officials say."


The fact that we're even realistically discussing it just shows how far into the hall of mirrors Trump has taken us. 'Rewriting history' doesn't even adequately capture it.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Ronald Reagan and W(orst POTUS in Histroy) created ISIS.

And Obama paid a ransom to Iran!!! What a joke, let's get Oliver North on this issue right now! Donald Trump saw the classified video, perfect quality, move quality, of Ben Affleck having to go undercover to save Americans from Iran! What more proof do you need!

Nothing said by Trump has a scintilla of truth. He's a perfect conservative, he forgets the past and specifically his own past. Trump supported the Iraq War, then demanded we get out of Iraq, now blames Obama for getting out of Iraq. But,as long as he can assuage wounded right-wing fee-fees by telling them their descent into penury is because of the blacks, and the muslims, and the mexicans and not because of the Republican Neo-liberal Economic policies those same white conservatives voted for over and over again he'll get racous applause.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree about the ransom. I mean, I'm willing to change my mind, but after the GOP crying wolf so many times, I'm rather disinclined to worry much about it.

The question is: is this SOP for the USA or not? We know that the GOP will spin anything Obama does in a bad direction. So what we need to know is: is this a departure from what other Presidents have done?

It's my inclination to guess that this was just a package deal. We gave a lot of things, they gave a lot of things, hostages were part of the package. There's no fact of the matter about what we got for each thing.

If this is a big unprecedented step toward ransom then I'd agree that it's wrong. But it's my impression--just an impression--that this is SOP.

9:01 AM  

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