Scott Adams and James Fallows have some overlapping thoughts on Donald Trump after the GOP debate last night.
First Adams, who has a pretty good outline of how to detect a lack of thinking about the election:
1. If you are comparing Plan A to Plan B, you might be doing a good job of thinking. But if you are comparing Plan A to an imaginary situation in which there are no tradeoffs in life, you are not thinking.
2. If you see quotes taken out of context, and you form an opinion anyway, that’s probably not thinking. If you believe you need no further context because there is only one imaginable explanation for the meaning of the quotes, you might have a poor imagination. Sometimes a poor imagination feels a lot like knowledge, but it’s closer to the opposite.
He posits another six tests before summarizing his hypothesis about why Trump is doing so well.
Fallows believes Trump "fundamentally disqualif[ied]" to be president, of course, but he was more concerned that CNN deliberately fed into the fears the GOP are trying to whip up:
[T]he GOP’s overall goal was to replicate the tone on Fox News, and vice versa, which in both cases is essentially: risk, risk, risk; fear, fear, fear; ISIS, ISIS, ISIS; alien, alien, alien. All of this is toward the end of demonstrating Obama’s weakness and failure. Unfortunately, it is also at direct odds with U.S. strategic interests. A resilient nation seeks to minimize the effects of such terrorist attacks that, in a society that retains any liberties, still lamentably occur. A nation that wants to magnify the effects of terrorism yells “The attackers are everywhere!” “We’re all going to die!!!” Because they consider it useful against the “feckless” Obama, the latter has been the 2016 GOP approach (as Jeet Heer wrote on Tuesday night). It could box them into strategically foolish policies if they took office.
Ramp-up-the-fear was also the result of CNN’s approach tonight. Much more than half of the show was about ISIS / ISIL, Syria, and refugees. Here’s a promise: whoever becomes the next president will and should spend much less than half of his or her time on ISIS and Syria. The presidential topics that are not directly about ISIS—China, Russia, Mexico, the economic and political tensions in Europe, the entirety of Latin America and Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, Japan, the South China Sea—any one of these, on its own, has a chance to occupy more of the next president’s time and attention than ISIS. Together they very certainly will. Not to mention: trade deals, the economy, job creation, budgets and deficits, medical care, and a thousand other issues.
But ISIS-centrism, which at the moment is shorthand for fear, is the way Wolf Blitzer set up the meat of the debate.
CNN ceased being relevant years ago, which is sad, because for a decade or longer they were the most relevant network.
We're not well-served by most of the big networks anymore. (NPR is a notable exception, but they have perhaps two million listeners out of 70 million eligible voters.) On the one hand, saying people disagree with you because they have lousy data is an adolescent mindset most of the time; but on the other hand, in some cases, like those whose only information about the Republican party came from CNN last night, it may be true.
I'm not looking forward to the 2016 election.