Three Reflections on What People Need to Believe [Updated With Trumpiness!]
You can make absolutely any factual claim you wish, supported with the boldest and most unflinching evidentiary assurances to back it up, by merely promising that this overwhelming supporting evidence will be made public very soon. How about not making any factual claim at all unless you are prepared to present the evidence at the same time you make the claim?
But no, that would defeat the whole purpose of making claims in the first place, wouldn’t it?
Regarding those still trying to will Donald Trump’s election fraud fantasy into reality (at least implicitly) with their special MAGA-cap mental powers, I wonder how many of them remember that Trump was already insisting that an electoral defeat could only be explained by a “rigged” vote back in 2016, in the weeks before his victorious contest against Hillary Clinton. Or that the equivalent of this strategy has been Trump’s modus operandi in all his public dealings for as long as anyone can remember. That is, his ego is so fragile that he has always protected himself and his reputation as a “winner” (on his definition) by asserting, in advance and as a general blanket assessment, that if ever he is unsuccessful in any endeavor, this must only be attributable to some kind of unfairness and chicanery in the system — in other words, that he, Donald J. Trump, could never legitimately fail, never legitimately lose, never legitimately be in error. The rhetorical preemptive strike against the system has been his ego-protecting mantra throughout his public life. The 2020 “stolen election” canard was merely one of the latest and most ridiculous demonstrations of the technique.
As I write this, Kevin McCarthy, Trump’s loyal lapdog, is struggling to gain the votes he needs from the GOP caucus to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. And so, as though on cue, Trump is suddenly refusing to reiterate his endorsement of McCarthy for speaker, hedging his bets to protect himself, as usual, from any appearance of being — shall we all enjoy saying it together just this once? — a loser.
Update: Amusingly, one day later, I now see that Trump, after consulting with his Least Worst Outcome Machine (aka the slightly more informed sycophants around him), has finally turned back on his own turning back, rediscovered his inner caps lock, and decided to re-endorse Kevin McCarthy in his own inimitable way.
“REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!” Trump said on Truth Social.
The GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT is the giveaway. That, as explained above, is what really motivates Trump in all his nonsense: fear of embarrassment. That his own political career has turned out, in the end, to be a giant and embarrassing defeat, is the nightmare that he cannot abide, and that he still insists on denying. The downfall of his bootlicker McCarthy, and primarily at the hands of a group of congressmorons that he himself “created,” so to speak, has proved to be too great an embarrassment to allow. And yet it seems inevitable. How Trump himself, for whom everything is ultimately about him, will reorient his rhetoric and sales pitch in the aftermath of this defeat, is a matter of some curiosity.
Nothing fools a small, weak soul more than the bluster of fake toughness, for it seems to represent everything the weak soul lacks, and everything he fears; he therefore often clings to the blustering fake for a sense of security and protection. Hence, nothing disturbs a small person in search of a big, strong hero behind whom to shield his fear of exposure, more than watching his chosen champion being humiliated. By way of an everyday example, I think of all the Mike Tyson idolaters who told themselves back in 1990, and even to this day, that Buster Douglas should have been counted out after being knocked down at the end of the eighth round, in a desperate attempt to erase from reality the horrifying memory of Tyson subsequently being beaten into semi-conscious submission by Douglas, the bigger man that day by far. Or even more absurdly, those Tyson idolaters years later, trying to persuade themselves (and you) that their hero had bitten Evander Holyfield’s ear not once but twice during their infamous second match because he was a wild killer who would stop at nothing to win, rather than accepting the obvious reality, which was that Tyson was trying to get disqualified in order to escape the shame of being knocked out yet again by the tougher, more resilient Holyfield, who had already proved himself the better fighter in their first bout, and was on his way to dominating him the same way in the second.
I think today of all the populist strongman fans, especially the public supporters or admirers of such thugs in Western politics and media, who seek to bury the shame of Vladimir Putin’s flailing military collapse, strategic ineptitude, and megalomaniacal failure, by demanding we admit that somehow the cause of his much-deserved humiliation is that NATO is unfairly ganging up on him, or that the West failed to acknowledge his “legitimate security concerns,” or — I actually heard this one from Jordan Peterson just the other day — that Western leaders neglected to invite Putin to dinner often enough to humanize him and forge a peaceful relationship, the way — yes, Peterson really said this — the way Donald Trump was so good at doing with dictators.
Could there be a more pathetic attempt to save face under the embarrassment of watching Putin, whose toughness you admired, become a global pariah and soon-to-be laughingstock, than to imply that the only reason the war he initiated ever happened in the first place is because the people he was threatening to attack, and who are now defeating him, weren’t nice enough to him when they had the chance?
Sure, Jordan — and Buster Douglas was really knocked out in that eighth round, whatever the history books tell us happened five minutes later.