The RNC, As Seen On TV

They don't need to offer a version of Trump people can believe in, just one people can vote for.

Real quick hit on the RNC:

If you’re wondering how so many people can feel so confident and comfortable getting up and telling such brazen, bold, easily checked lies night after night, the answer comes down to three things.

1. They don’t have anything else. They can’t run on the issues, they can’t run on ideas, they can’t run on Trump’s record, and as a party they can’t run without him, so they have to lie.

2. There has been a general GOP project to formally move to a “post-truth” world where having one’s hand on the levers of power enables one to define the truth (and thus keep hold of those levers, while getting everything one wants from them) at least since the days of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, and arguably going back as far as the immediate post-Nixon era, when the danger of allowing truths they could not control to exist became apparent.

And perhaps most importantly…

3. They’re counting on the idea that to a large portion of the audience tuning in, the fact that it’s happening on TV and being reported and repeated by the news means that it’s true, or that at least enough of it is.

To the institutionalists of the Mild Moderate Middle, it’s disquieting to think that so many people in so many different positions would be lying to them and it’s comforting to think there’s someone with their hands on the wheel in the media who would put a stop to it, and because they value their comfort, they assign a higher likelihood to the more comforting possibility.

These are the same people who thought and said, in 2016, “Well, if Trump was everything you say he is, if he was really that bad… wouldn’t someone have stopped him? Wouldn’t President Obama step in and stop the election? Wouldn’t the Supreme Court take him off the ballot?”

It was uncomfortable to accept the truth of what Donald Trump represented and it was comforting to believe there was some ultimate authority ready to step in if things got bad, so they discarded the former in preference of the latter.

And to those raised on a steady diet of right-wing outrage and pointed complaints about the supposedly liberal mainstream media, any coverage that same media gives to Trumpian claims is taken as authoritative proof: look, even the failing New York Times admitted this. If not even CNN could find fault with this, it must be ironclad.

Of course, when those same institutions debunk or factcheck the lies of Trump and company, it’s dismissed as propaganda from a biased source. It’s classic motivated reasoning: when the mainstream media debunks Trump it means he’s right and when they transcribe his words it means he’s right.

That principle is currently being employed on his behalf by everyone they can get to speak.

I make no predictions about the long-term effect the RNC has on the trajectory of the race, but I would not listen to anyone who writes it off as meaningless and pointless. The gilded platform Donald Trump used to launch his political career was built on an image of savvy business sense and strong instincts he created through television.

He’s the nation’s first As Seen On TV president, and his media circus of a nominating convention is apt to have a disproportionate effect on how his record is viewed, in comparison to the actual events of said record that happened scattered throughout time, months and years ago, and not collected and collated and presented in living color the way the RNC’s version has been.

Even more than it just being comforting to believe the networks would stop a parade of lies, though, we should ask ourselves what is the more comforting version of Donald: the real one, or the one being lauded nightly? The Mild Moderate Middle is always quick to believe that both sides are lying and that the truth is somewhere… well, in the middle.

It’s very possible that the RNC will do enough to shift some voters simply by presenting an alternative version of Trump, an alternative vision of him. Whether that vision is accepted and believed wholesale or not, its existence may be enough to muddy the waters for enough voters to put those crucial swing states firmly into play where they might otherwise slip away.

The bottom line is, for a lot of white voters, it’s not a matter of finding a reason to vote for Donald Trump as much as it is one of finding an excuse, finding permission, finding an alibi.

Much more so than they’re marketing Donald Trump as a candidate, this is what they’re offering: enough reasonable doubt that people can vote for him again and then say, again, “I didn’t know. How could I have known? Nobody saw this coming.” when he does exactly what we know he’s going to do.