One reason the campaign so far is driving me insane is the… well, pretty much everything, but mostly the yelling at one another. I think it’s safe to say virtually everyone in my social-media feeds are anti-Trump — the conservatives may be pro-Trump, but not vocally so — and are ramping up the rhetoric weekly, daily, maybe some even hourly. He’s the orange ape, the deranged Cheetoh, Drumpf, etc. He’s a threat to the republic. He’s a fascist. He’s a disgrace. And so on and on and on.
None of it seems to be doing any good. If Trump is flagging (and I’m not sure he is), he has only himself to blame. But here’s what keeps nagging at me: What if this is part of the plan?
What if Paul Manafort is saying, “Apologize to the Khans? Fuck that shit — double down! Mention Cruz’ daddy again. And say no one cares if Melania did a lesbian photo shoot because she’s prettier than Hillary. The base loves porn, especially girl-on-girl. Be yourself! The people love you!”
In other words, we are directing our outrage and shaming at someone who is honestly incapable of feeling it. In some ways, Trump no longer worries me; the people advising him do. Manafort isn’t stupid. Roger Stone may be a snake, but he’s not dumb, either. Are they only in it for the paychecks? Why would you be in it for a paycheck when your client is a known welsher? Mike Pence is finished; once you stand before an audience, in this campaign, and rebuke the president for “name-calling,” how can you ever be taken seriously again? (In Pence’s case, we might ask how he was ever taken seriously in the first place.) But is Manafort? Or anyone else working on this campaign? I doubt it.
I worry that we’re fighting the last war, as the saying about bad generals goes. Clay Shirky, in his tweetstorm a few days back, said we’re bringing fact checkers to a culture war, implying we’re setting ourselves up for ruin. He’s right, but what’s the alternative? I still believe in facts. What are we supposed to do, have Hillary tag-team John Cena and settle this in a wrestling ring?
Now here I am, all worked up again. Time for some talking dogs!
OK, a little bloggage: This girl, a swimmer and Syrian refugee competing in the Rio games as part of the first-ever refugee team, won’t advance beyond her preliminary heat, but in the Olympics of Awesomeness? She’s a multi-gold medalist:
After four days, Mardini and her sister were packed with 18 other people, including a 6-year-old boy, on a dinghy meant to accommodate six. On their first attempt, they were caught by border agents and sent back. On their second, the engine died after about 20 minutes, and the dinghy took on water.
…Of the 20 people on board, only the Mardini sisters and two young men knew how to swim, so the four of them jumped overboard. It was about 7 at night, and the turning tide had made the sea harsh and choppy.
Mardini and her sister swam for three and a half hours, helping the boat stay on course — even when the two male swimmers gave up and let the dinghy pull them along. It was cold, Mardini said. Her clothes dragged her down, and salt burned her eyes and skin.
“I’m thinking, what? I’m a swimmer, and I’m going to die in the water in the end?” she said.
But she was determined to keep a good attitude — and not just for her own sake.
“The little kid kept looking at me, scared,” she said, “so I was doing all these funny faces.”
Now there’s an Olympian worthy of the title.
Another great Josh Marshall observation on who else?
And with that, we reach Wednesday. Time to start writing a Big Thing, for me.