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.