Saturday, September 10, 2016

Accuracy Insufficient

Hillary Clinton, relaxed and in her element at a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender event in Manhattan, NYC, contended

You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?

The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it.  And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.

There is both advice both obvious and simple for the worst campaigner among major party presidential nominees of my lifetime:  when you start out with "Just to be grossly generalistic," immediately stop.

Trump co-campaign manager Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway tweeted "Come to an event, talk to real people who aren't donors. Or better: have Hillary apologize."  Clinton aide Neera Tanden responded "let's make a deal: your campaign apologizes for calling Mexican immigrants rapists and we'll talk."

Both responses were clever and misleading.  Apologies, generally insincere and failing to express actual regret for the action, are way overrated. And the more exact analogy to Clinton's statement- simultaneously accurate and offensive- is a far different remark made by her opponent.

"Well," Donald Trump observed of Vladimir Putin at the Commander-in-Chief Fiasco headed by Matt Lauer, "he does have an 82 percent approval rating, according to the different pollsters, who, by the way, some of them are based right here. Look, look…"

That's somewhat true, reflecting the result of one recent poll and of one taken many months ago, and unsurprising because media is tightly controlled in Russia and dissenting opinions are not widely disseminated.

That's really irrelevant, however. Trump coupled the statistic with a favorable comparison of the authoritarian with Barack Obama, a president whose election he has strongly implied is illegitimate. That renders a largely accurate statement deeply offensive.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton's comment was both accurate and offensive, as well as politically tone-deaf.

There is little doubt that a majority of Trump supporters is either sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or Islamaphobic, which is all actually actually maintained by Clinton. There is disagreement about what constitutes sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or Islamaphobia, and determination of the breath and depth of such sentiment therefore difficult. Nonetheless, Judd Legum presents results from four surveys, two taken in February and two in May, of sentiments among GOP primary voters toward Barack Obama's birthplace, Obama's religion, banning homosexuals from the USA, and white racial superiority.

While only (only?) 16% of Trump primary voters believed whites are racially superior to blacks, fully 31% of them would have supported banning gay people from the country. And in May, 71% supported blocking all Muslims from entering the USA, clearly reflecting phobia- fear- of Islam.  No doubt there is overlap between the 71%, the 31%, and the 16%, but none of the surveys pertained to sexism.

No doubt a majority of Trump voters (and a far lesser number of Clinton voters) would fall into at least one of the four categories, or "baskets," in Clinton's terminology.

Nonetheless, like Trump's claim about Putin's support inside Russia, that's not good enough. Neither statement should have been made and Mrs. Clinton needs to emphasize that the problem posed to the nation is Donald Trump, not his supporters.

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