A Political Rorschach Test


Some of you will remember Bush 41’s evil twin Skippy. Last night we heard from Trump’s less obviously insane body double, Schlump.

Dr. Aardvark thought he “made some points,” and would probably increase his standing a little. This, of course, gave her no pleasure. I share that view, and second that emotion. As does Alexandra Petri. In Great News: President Trump did not bite any bats in half during his address to Congress! she writes,

Good news, America! President Trump has been given a thesaurus.

He delivered a wonderful speech that used the words “torches” and “freedom” — not just once, but three times! He did not make lip-farts into the microphone, use the word “pussy” (It is amazing to think that there was a time when I would have worried about typing that word at a family newspaper. But that was weeks ago, in another country) or mock a reporter, disabled or otherwise. He did not halt mid-speech to level a withering aside at Rosie O’Donnell. In short, it was just like the kind of speech Jack Kennedy would have given.

That’s right. No “enemies of the people.” No millions of illegal voters. (And, of course, no Russia.)

The eye-popping change of tone presents a kind of political Rorschach test for the commentariat. Jonathan Chait still looks at Trump/Schlump and sees Paul Ryan dressed in a clown outfit. Chuck Schumer, ditto. But Greg Sargent says progressives should be “asking whether Trump actually showed signs of evolving, and … treating it as a legitimate possibility that the answer to that question is ‘Yes.’” Meanwhile, Politico wonders rhetorically, as well it might, How long will the new Trump stick around?

How long, indeed?

Having flunked out of Hogwarts, Aardvark possesses neither the gift of prophecy nor the ability to read minds. But he can sift facts and draw logical conclusions. Using these techniques, in earlier posts I have advanced this key working hypothesis: Trump is highly delusional, and routinely presents as facts bits of incorrect information gleaned from bogus news sources; and frequently he just makes shit up. But, the working hypothesis continues, when he makes assertions about his own state of mind, he invariably tells the truth—about his own state of mind.

Please keep that thought in mind, and let us proceed to examine these propositions.

One, Trump actually intends to create a health care system that will provide better coverage, at lower cost to consumers, than the present system, even though he hasn’t got the slightest notion what that system would look like, or how to achieve it.

Two, Trump actually intends to carry out a massive overhaul of American infrastructure.

Three, Trump actually intends to bring about a massive change in America’s international trade posture.

And, a slightly more tenuous proposition four:

Four, Trump does not give a tinker’s damn about the deficit.

Please note, gentle reader, that propositions one, two, three, and four are not propositions about objective reality, they are only claims about what is going on in Trump’s noggin.

They are to be distinguished, for example, from assertions such as Obamacare is a mess or Obamacare is very unpopular. These are false claims about objective reality, not claims about what is going on under Trump’s hairpiece.

It follows, per the working hypothesis set forth above, that propositions one, two, three, and four are accurate statements, not lies. And if that is correct, it follows that, contrary to the views of many, Trump is not Paul Ryan in a clown outfit, but another kind of critter altogether.

Now to move on.

Five, Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to share (what I claim are) Trump’s instincts on health care, infrastructure, protectionism, and the deficit than are Republicans.

Six, though he still remains unable to find his ass with both hands, a glimmer is beginning to penetrate Trump’s skill that he cannot achieve his goals unless he works with both parties.

The glimmer of a perceived need for bipartisanship is probably why Trump “gave himself a C or C+ for messaging” the other day on Faux News. He realized he had to change his tune. And, BTW, the mediocre self grade was a true statement about what he was thinking. It was a true statement about how he graded himself, not a statement about how others would grade him, because statements about others are almost always false.

But as to infrastructure, health care, protectionism, and the deficit, Trump’s hesitant steps toward bipartisanship might conceivably work if Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. In fact, however, Republicans control both houses.

It follows as the night the day that, based on the facts as they are known today, the most reasonable prediction is legislative chaos and utter gridlock.