Hail Trump, King Of Signature Significance!

Because Senator Lindsey Graham properly said that Donald Trump needed to stop acting like a jackass and should get out of the Presidential race, Trump gave out the Senator’s cell-phone number.

Of course he did.

I almost wrote a post yesterday about how some right-wing pundits apparently have no concept of right and wrong, crippling them in matters like the Donald Trump campaign. I listened in amazement–I actually had to pull off the road, so as not to crash—as Sean Hannity and another right-wing fool (I didn’t catch his name) went on and on about how if only Trump could avoid “mistakes” and “self-inflicted wounds” what a great candidate he would be, and how impugning the courage of a war hero like John McCain was such bad strategy, because it distracted from his message. These people really understand nothing, not ethics, not common sense, not character, and certainly not signature significance, even though Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the term.

Signature significance, which is used often here, means that a single instance of conduct can be so remarkable that it allows an accurate assessment of the character of the individual engaging in it. It comes from the world of baseball statistical analysis, and the example is a starting pitcher allowing no runs, striking out 15, not walking a batter and giving up less than five hits in a complete game, 9 inning performance. Doing this just once is enough evidence to conclude, decisively and validly, that the pitcher involved is a superior one. Why? The reason is that the history of baseball shows that literally no pitcher who isn’t great can pitch even one game that good.

In ethics, signature significance refers to an act so blatantly wrong and yet intentional that no ethical individual would ever do it, even once, or a statement showing such complete ethics ignorance that it alone justifies withholding trust from anyone who would say it, even once. Ethics dolts like Sean Hannity really think that public figures who have shown beyond all doubt that they don’t know what ethical behavior is will suddenly be able to act ethical if they just try a little harder.  Donald Trump is the perfect example of why that is ridiculous, yet here Hannity was, yesterday, applying that logic to Donald Trump.

Trump is the epitome of signature significance. Again and again he has done and said things that if they were the only thing we had ever heard about the man, it would be sufficient to conclude with near 100% confidence that this guy is 1) untrustworthy and/or 2) dumb as a brick.

Ann Althouse explored the latter on her blog today, asking for Trump to provide his college transcripts. She has some good reasons why he should be required to do so, but enabling us to determine how smart he is really isn’t necessary. The reason? Signature significance. Repeatedly—though once would be enough—Trump has said things like this…

“I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person.”

Genuinely smart people literally never say things like that. They don’t have to. You know who says, “I’m smart!”?  Fredo, that’s who. Dummies tell us they are smart, because they aren’t bright enough to know how dumb and pathetic this makes them sound, and they are often not smart enough to know how dumb they are. I have been honored to know, work with and go to school with a lot of brilliant people, and I don’t recall one of them saying, “I’m a really smart person!” If you hang around smart people, as Trump clearly does not, you learn pretty quickly that intelligence is relative, and that there is always someone much smarter than you, probably within whistling distance. Saying “I’m a really smart person” —even once—shows arrogance, immodesty, boorishness, and, ironically enough, stupidity.

As for ethics, Trump’s list of signature significance moments are legion, but the next-to-most recent one will suffice: the slur on John McCain. Trump avoided the draft, he lived the high life while McCain was being tortured in a Vietnam prison camp, and he responds to McCain’s criticism of his inflammatory and needlessly ugly comments on illegal immigration with an ad hominem attack against McCain’s war record? How could any decent, ethical, fair…yes, intelligent…person think such a comment was anything but despicable? No decent, ethical, fair, intelligent person could, even on the worst day of their life. Trump said it because he isn’t decent, ethical, fair, and intelligent: it is signature significance.

So Hannity and his dim guest bemoaned the fact that Trump would make such a “gaffe,” and expressed hope that he “learns” from it. This man–Hannity— has a national TV and radio audience of  millions, and he can only make them collectively more ignorant than they already are. Unethical, dumb people don’t learn to be intelligent and ethical! Hannity thinks Trump can improve because Hannity doesn’t understand character and is himself too intellectually limited to recognize how unethical Trump has already proven himself to be.

The very next day, Donald Trump publicly announces a Senator’s cell phone to get back at him, as revenge. This would be the conduct of a certifiable creep if the guy was in the 7th Grade, and Trump wants to be President of the United States. He is so unethical that he doesn’t see anything wrong with this. Only an asshole would do it to anyone: for a Presidential candidate to do it to a member of his own party and the U.S. Senate is the mark of an arrested adolescent sociopath running amuck.

By the way: telling a pollster that you support Trump for President is also signature significance.

17 thoughts on “Hail Trump, King Of Signature Significance!

  1. “Signature significance” – what a useful concept in this situation. I tuned in to a bit of Morning Joe this morning and promptly remembered why I prefer to watch Bloomberg: Scarborough was bemoaning the fact that the media covered Trump’s gaffe, but not his repeated protestations after the fact that McCain really is a war hero.

    “Signature significance” explains why Scarborough misses the point.

    The behavior of Trump supporters is questionable, as you note. But there’s also the behavior of some who are critical of Trump because of his apparent lack of humility before God, while the McCain comments apparently didn’t bother those folks much at all. Apparently religious views immunize one against the perception of “signature significance” just as well as does political bias.

  2. I keep thinking of Trump as President, …and shivering. I won’t say I’ll leave the country, but I will sure as hell build a (nearly useless) fallout shelter. The man is saying some, a very few, things that need saying, and he totally refuses to be politically correct. It might be worthwhile for some other RINO’s to try this tack, but leave off the idiocy. Good God…publishing the cell phone number for a sitting Senator? How stupid can you get. By the way, Jack, weren’t you going to send me your cell number? No? Believe it or not I appreciate that.

  3. One of my mantras is that “if you have to tell me, it ain’t so.” If you’re a teacher and you have to tell the class you’re in charge, you’re not. If you have to tell me you’re not a racist, you are one, because there’s invariably a “but” coming in the next clause. If you’re Donald Trump, and you tell me you’re a “really smart person”…

    • If you have to tell me you’re not a racist, you are one…

      We are getting to the point these days where this mantra won’t work.

      Listening to the news, I feel battered and broken, as graffiti calling President Obama a “Communist” is “Racist”, or criticizing Bill Clinton is called “sexist” (because calling out HIS unethical behavior is OBVIOUSLY a dig at is wife for daring to leave the kitchen…).

      I find myself thinking people in America can do so much better… small things like rioting and looting in protest of people treating them like thugs… and I have to remind myself I am not a racist to avoid existential overload.

  4. Trump is a crafty person; I’ll concede that much to him. But that looks to be about the extent of his strengths. I said in a comment not long ago that Trump and T. Revagina are racing to the bottom. She’s going to win.

  5. If you say “I’m like really smart.” It is axiomatic that you are like NOT really smart at all. But if you are like really stupid you might believe someone who says they are like really smart. It’s like people who say like are like idiots.

  6. Trump appears to be a petty little narcissist who unfortunately is polluting the primary for the good and serious candidates. He reminds me a little of Joe McCarthy whose meanness and grandstanding were legendary. Too bad that he will continue to fool some slacked jawed Republican voters.

    • Which merely fertilizes the notion that he’s no republican at all. Just a rotten plant designed to be a wrecking ball in the GOP during an extremely important year.

    • Too bad that he will continue to fool some slacked jawed Republican voters.

      Not just “some”. Not just a “few”.

      Twenty-four percent at last measure.

      Think about that.

      • In fairness to the 24%, I suspect much of it is just a middle-finger stuck in the face of the establishment of both parties by a lot of folks who feel marginalized and disenfranchised. Which is a pretty strong message to the GOP in itself; despite all the Santorums and Pauls and Palins, they still haven’t managed to satisfy their whatever-you-call-it wing.

        The bigger question is whether that same 24% would actually vote for a Trump in an election up against, say, Clinton.

      • That’s smaller than the number that, say, think the Earth is about 10,000 years old. Smaller than the number of Democrats who believe that Jesus is coming back, soon. Much, much smaller than the number of Democrats who believe that Obama has been a great President (think of THAT).

        “A month after the 1994 congressional election handed control of Congress to the Republicans for the first time in decades, 57 percent of the American people had yet to hear of the leader of the “Republican revolution,” Newt Gingrich, despite intensive publicity about his victory. That and other data indicate that the GOP did not win its epochal victory because of public approval of its program; most people had never heard of the Contract with America, let alone understood and agreed with its contents. More examples: at the height of the Cold War, 62 percent of the U.S. public failed to realize that the USSR was not a member of NATO. Seventy percent of the public doesn’t know the names of either of their state’s senators, nor can most people name either congressional candidate in their district at the height of the campaign season.” (here)

        Playing to the many, many idiots in both parties works up to a point. Playing ONLY to the idiots is, well, idiotic.

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