The Emperor’s New Wall

emperors wall

As of today, we have pretty much reached the point where the old story of the Emperor’s New Clothes is no longer satire. It wouldn’t surprise us if Trump showed up in the Rose Garden, bare ass naked, praising the skill of his tailor.

This observation comes from a “GOP Hill aide”:

The (accidental?) genius of Trump’s style of communicating is that he doesn’t just make an argument. He makes every argument. He’s the have your cake and eat it too President. It’s a bad deal and it’s a good deal. That way everyone hears what they want! Partisan confirmation bias to the extreme.

Others have trouble detecting the genius in “Trump’s style of communicating”—in other words, incoherent, inconsistent rambling. Paul Waldman writes,

After an utterly pointless government shutdown that lasted more than a month, President Trump has finally relented and will sign the budget agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans. As this controversy has worn on, it has been truly bizarre to watch him tie himself in knots over how to talk about his border wall: It’s a wall, it’s a fence, it’s steel slats, it has to be built, it’s already being built, it’s almost finished, it’s fantastic, we’re all gonna die. …

Think about the way Trump talks about the terrible threat we supposedly face from immigrants. When he was running for president, he described the United States as a hellhole of horrific crime and economic misery, encouraging people to feel as angry, afraid and resentful as possible. Those are powerful emotions, and they helped him get elected, in part because many people who weren’t regular voters were thrilled enough by Trump’s message that they got out and voted.

But now that he has been president for two years, it gets more complicated. He still wants people to feel anger and fear, but he also wants them to believe that he has been a tremendous success and delivered us to a paradise of safety and prosperity. It’s almost impossible to make both arguments at the same time, which is we he keeps toggling manically back and forth between “The wall is being built” and “We need the wall.”

A Massive, Unethical Social Psychology Experiment in National Gaslighting

Well, all seriousness aside, I have to say that, if and when Trump shows up in public bare ass naked, boasting of his new suit of clothes, I hope I may assume that most of his cult followers will realize something is wrong. But short of exposing himself in public, I really don’t know what will do the trick.

Let’s look at a few data points.

In the 2018 election, 53.4 percent of the House electorate voted for the Democratic candidate, and 44.8 percent voted Republican, yielding a difference of 8.6 percent.

Now let’s ramble on over to the FiveThirtyEight.com graph of poll results, select the “Polls of likely or registered voters” option, and move that vertical line to November 4, 2018, the day of the election. The result? Trump “approvers” were at 43.9 percent and Trump “disapprovers” at 52.5 percent—again, a difference of 8.6 percent. Pretty damn close to the actual election results. My point: the fivethirtyeight.com poll average numbers seem pretty reliable.

During the shutdown, “approvers” dropped and “disapprovers” increased, and the difference rose to around 15 or 16 percent.

But in the last few days, the trend has reversed. As of today, it’s 43.0 percent versus 53.3 percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

The available evidence would seem to indicate that about 43 or 44 percent of us cannot tell shit from Shinola—much less an invisible wall from a real one.