Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hitting The Right Note, Strategically

There are several arguments I'd be loathe to take up, one of them being with the Pope about Roman Catholic theology. Another would be with Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver about political behavioralism.

But sometimes it's necessary to tread into dangerous waters. Silver analyzes two competing theories  about Donald Trump's rash and ridculous remarks. One has them representing a "deliberate political tactic" and the other as "impulsive and primarily emotional."  None can simultaneously be both, though.

Silver, wishing to avoid Ockham's Razor and Hanlon's Razor, comes down on the side of  the latter. Not a fan of Hanlon's Razor, I somewhat disagree. However, Silver- who recognizes Trump is often "irrational, incompetent, or bigoted"- is far wiser than I am or almost anyone, so okay.

Nevertheless, when he applies his perspective to the President's recent tweets about San Juan mayor, I have to blow an official's whistle.  CNN notes

"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," the President tweeted from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the weekend. "... Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort."

Silver argues

No matter how cynical one is, it’s hard to see what possible political benefit Trump could get from criticizing Cruz, whose city was devastated by Maria and remains largely without power and otherwise in crisis....

Trump's dismissiveness toward Cruz... will amplify growing criticism about how the government handled Puerto Rico and why Trump seemed to be more interested in the NFL protests than in his administration's hurricane recovery plan.

But Trump's criticism of NFL players resonates with the large portion of the American public which views professional athletes as overpaid whiners, a misguided- but prevalent- opinion.   Although his response to Hurricane Maria has been delayed and insufficient, that is unlikely to disturb most Americans, especially those of his strong supporters, who are going to be the firewall between his presidency and impeachment. And there are few- very few- GOP voters who will be offended by the accusation that anyone but they, their relatives, or their close friends "want everything to be done for them."

The Washington Post- the Washington Post!- on Thursday ran about an Idahoan in San Juan an article entitled "'Why can't we get out of here?' asks stranded American." Later fixed, the intial headline nonetheless reflects the understanding of many, if not most, citizens on the mainland, who are Americans living in the United States of America.

It is a subtlety easily misunderstood.  Charles R. Venator-Santiago, who is "part of an ongoing collaborative project that seeks to document and clarify the laws around citizenship for Puerto Ricans," explains

It wasn’t until 1940 that Congress enacted legislation conferring birthright, or “jus soli,” (right of soil) citizenship on persons born in Puerto Rico. Whereas persons born in Puerto Rico prior to 1940 could only acquire a naturalized citizenship if their parents were U.S. citizens, anyone born in Puerto Rico after 1940 acquired a U.S. citizenship as a direct result of being born on Puerto Rican soil. This legislation both amended and replaced the Jones Act. The Nationality Act of 1940 established that Puerto Rico was a part of the United States for citizenship purposes. Since Jan. 13, 1941, birth in Puerto Rico amounts to birth in the United States for citizenship purposes.

However, the prevailing consensus among scholars, lawmakers and policymakers is that Puerto Ricans are not entitled to a constitutional citizenship status. While Puerto Ricans are officially U.S. citizens, the territory remains unincorporated. This contradiction has enabled the governance of Puerto Rico as a separate and unequal territory that belongs to, but is not a part of, the United States.

So when President Grump attacks the mayor of San Juan, many Americans assume he is criticizing an individual who is not an American.  He is moreover criticizing a person named "Carmen Yulín Cruz," which sounds suspiciously hispanic, and who strikes Trump's base as more of a "loser" than a "winner."  Whatever its impact is in the short run, that sort of thing for Donald J. Trump is part of any winning strategy.

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