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A Couple of Cheers for Republicans

I think I have pretty good moderate credentials. Early on, I tended to vote Republican, beginning with Nixon (granted, I'm not proud of that one). I may not have voted for a Democrat for president during the 20th century; I certainly voted for George HW Bush and Bob Dole in the 1990s. I voted for Gore in 2000, having the experience of George W for governor of Texas. I voted all Democrats in the 21st century (often reluctantly, because I thought better candidates were available). I don't believe I became more liberal; however, the increasingly extreme positions and level of political skulduggery on the Republican side made them unsupportable. I could have supported Mitt Romney based on his governorship in Massachusetts or as Senator, but his stances in 2012 appeared too close to the Teabagger positions. On to the 2020 election.

Of course, partisan Democrats attack Donald Trump, but it’s Republican groups and columnists that are lobbing the big salvos now. The Lincoln Project is a well-publicized group of Republican Never Trumpers, running ads that apparently infuriate Trump. After years of Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in Congress, Trump (with around 20,000 “false and misleading statements”) and his willing supporters, it seems hard to believe there are important Republicans around Washington remaining with principles. An interesting saying from the Lincoln Project was “Democrats bring a soup ladle to a gun fight.” In the one-minute ads being aired, they want to lob a few grenades at Trump and associates. I agree that Democrats seem incapable of defending their positions with competence or challenging Trump (or, more generally, Republicans) effectively.

At least some Republican governors seem competent, pragmatic and principled. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and former Ohio Governor John Kasich fit this category. Hogan has led Maryland’s anti-pandemic campaign well, while many governors (including Abbott in Texas and especially de Santis in Florida) have not. Median Voter Guy will certainly consider strong, moderate Republicans for president in 2024 and beyond (and, hopefully, viable, moderate Republicans for executive and legislative positions across the country). [That also means subservient Trump toads should go. The likelihood of that is low, although a chameleon shift in rhetoric likely.]

In the Sunday, July 12, 2020 Washington Post, was a column by Max Boot, a conservative who renounced the Republican party after 2016. The title was: “The Worst President Ever Keeps Getting Worse.” A key pronouncement is Boot’s point that Trump is both colossally incompetent and thoroughly corrupt. In summary: “He is not just the worst president ever; he keeps getting worse.” Like the recent opposition research conducted on Anthony Fouci: why go after Democrats when you can denounce administration experts?

Boot conveniently gives a list of Trump’s recent outrageous acts: commuting Roger Stone’s prison sentence; using security forces to attack peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square to “stage a bizarre photo-op;” posting a “white power” video and calling Black Lives Matter a symbol of hate; threatening to veto the defense authorization bill to prevent renaming bases named for Confederate generals; threatening to revoke visas for college students unable to attend in-person classes; pulling out of the World Health Organization; holding rallies that likely spread covid-19; doing near-nothing about the pandemic and proclaiming: “I don’t take responsibility at all;” plus many more like purging anyone testifying against him plus firing inspectors general and US attorneys.

Update one: I watched a couple of clips of Boot on You Tube. He is a smart guy with expertise in security, opinionated and quickly demonstrated he is a hedgehog. One host took fairly Trumpian positions to ask questions and Boot attacked him; his answers took his fairly rigid perspective with no consideration the host (or anyone else) might have a point. The idea of the hedgehog comes from Philip Tullock’s Expert Political Judgement which I reviewed in an earlier blog. In his view, foxes will change positions with more information and willing to change perspective based on best information. Hedgehogs have a pre-set perspective or ideology and use new information that agrees with their perspective and either ignore or dismiss counter-information (psychologists use such terms as cognitive dissonance to describe this behavior). Consequently, hedgehogs have prediction accuracy significantly below a dart-throwing chimp.

Update two: The Washington Post reports Trump hit 20,000 “false and misleading claims” on July 9, 2020 (20,055 by the end of the day), averaging 23 a day for the last 14 months. The pandemic is the topic of almost a thousand falsehoods, which could kill many faithful listeners. I would call this a “litany of lies,” a “forest of falsehoods,” or a “mountain of misstatements.” Part of the mammoth number is redundancy; some 360 claims of the “best economy in history.” I assumed that fact checking was usually a part-time job before Trump and now requires a battalion of over-stressed worker bees [this I made up, but it sounds reasonable—put me down for one falsehood].

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