Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/23/2020, As If Anyone Needs To be Warmed Up Today…

Hot enough for ya?

1. False narrative, bad analogy. The popular media narrative is that President Trump is in a similar position to George H.W. Bush in 1988, when polls at this point showed him trailing Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis by a large margin. Conservative media had cited the comparison earlier this summer to make the simple point that being behind in the polls in July is relatively meaningless. Lately the mainstream media has been flogging the analogy in order to continue its doomsday prediction for the Trump campaign.

“Bush ’88 rally could be map for Trump ’20” is somehow deemed worthy of a front page spot in the Sunday Times. To begin with, that’s fake news of the “future news” variety. (“…or, it might not be.”) More importantly, it’s straw man: the article exists to to show that President Trump may not be able to prevail, because, you see, having begun with the false assertion that his situation is similar to Bush’s, the Times explains that the situations aren’t that similar at all. The bad analogy is created to rebut it.

In fact, the differences between the Bush challenge in 1988 and Trump’s in 2020 mostly favor the President. Bush was never a popular figure; he was distrusted by conservatives, and only was nominated because an epicly popular President, Ronald Reagan, anointed him as his approved successor. (Barack Obama, in contrast, avoided “anointing” Biden.) A strong Democratic opponent would have beaten Bush; Dukakis was weak. He was ahead in the polls when nobody outside of Massachusetts knew what  he was like. Trump has a large base of passionate supporters, something Bush never had. He is an incumbant (Bush was not), and if they run, incumbents almost always win. Bush was an awful debater; Trump has proven effective in debates. And while Dukakis was completely supported by the liberal wing of the party, Biden has critics on the hard left, among feminists (the non-hypocrite faction), and African Americans. The Democratic party of the 1980s had not spent four years trying to overturn an election. Moreover, polls are less reliable now than they were before news media bias began warping them, and Trump’s support, as the last election showed,  is especially hard to measure. Continue reading

Plan J From Outer Space, And Related Scary Tales

All right, all right, “Plan J” is not really from outer space.  It’s really from the ever fertile mind of Democrats and the resistance, who are now dedicating their efforts on a new, weird, cultural theory to get rid of Donald Trump, one that has its dark routes in Salem, Massachusetts. Plan J—that’s my name for it, not theirs, as I explained here—isn’t quite as bizarre as the Ed Wood camp classic the headline evokes, “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” (If you’ve never seen it, shame on you: you can become culturally literate here) but it’s a lot scarier.

As it has been recently defined, Plan J holds that if  women, who must be believed, accuses a man of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, no matter how long ago the alleged offense occurred, whether or not it relates to the accused individual’s current psoition,  whether there is any supporting evidence, whether the alleged incident or incidents were a criminal or a civil violation, regardless of how serious they were and regardless of whether the alleged offender denies the allegations or whether the accusations were known to those who placed him or her in their current position, the targeted individuals must be shunned, punished, and forced into virtual exile, if not erased from the culture entirely.

By establishing the new due process-bypassing, proportion-defying and fairness-erasing  social norm, those who have seen their Plans A through I (also enumerated here) either fail miserably or founder have new hope that they may  yet force the President of The United States to resign, thus bypassing those messy and inconvenient things called “elections.”  In order to set this bold new social norm, every celebrity or powerful person who even vaguely fits a Trumpish template regarding accusations of sexual misconduct must be hounded, attacked, derided or shamed.

It’s really remarkable. Of course, Plan J only became feasible as a result of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the subsequent rush of #MeToo-ers to see who they could take down, rightly or wrongly.

There is a certain perverted brilliance to Plan J. Sexual harassment is a filthy, unethical perk of the powerful that had been allowed to harm too many for too long, and was an accepted feature of too many cultures, like government, business, and show business.  Thus the pent-up fury sparked by the revelations about Weinstein was justified. But as with The Terror that followed the French Revolution, the legitimate anger and determination to reform the culture also created a different kind of power that corrupted the reformers. The ability to destroy with a pointed finger is intoxicating.

In many cases, the results have been beneficial: the identification of corrupt cultures and the unmasking of genuine workplace predators like Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer. In other cases, the fates of the accused have seemed wildly disproportionate to the offenses, although often the reaction of the accused have hastened their demise. The tally of individuals taken down by this frenzy now totals 97 men and one woman—Wait! Make that 98 men: Jerry Richardson, the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, announced that he was selling his team hours after the NFL announced that it would be investigation sexual misconduct claims against him.  Thus Plan J was born: Hey! Why not President Trump?

If due process and sufficient evidence weren’t required to destroy so many others who once had power and influence, surely Sen Kristin Gillibrand’s insistence that as long as she and enough Trump-hating journalists found his accusers “credible,” the fact that none of the alleged acts were criminal, that they did not occur while he was in office and could not possibly be impeachable, and the fact that he was elected with the public’s full knowledge of the allegations were no longer a bar to an effort to force him to resign.

Plan J!

It

Just

Might

WORK!

There are logical and ethical problems that have to be steamrolled in the process, however, if “the resistance’s” dream is to come true. For the principle that any alleged sexual misconduct that a elected official may have engaged in before being elected to become the rule, a lot of lesser figures have to be sacrificed, along with a lot of tenets of basic fairness. For example: Continue reading