March 1, 2016

"Strategic Ambiguity" — a Trump technique...

... explained by Scott Adams, with lots of examples, such as:
If you’re a racist, you have a reason to like Trump because of CNN’s intentional misreporting and the fact that Trump didn’t do enough disavowing that one time. If you’re not a racist, you can like Trump because he disavowed racists several times, in writing and on video....

If you hate illegal immigrants, you might like Trump because he says he will deport every one of them. But if you feel compassion for illegal immigrants who are otherwise good residents of the country, you know Trump always makes a big first offer and will later negotiate to something humane and reasonable....
Adams also credits himself with using strategic ambiguity, in that he disavowed Trump for using strategic ambiguity on racism but also praises him for his genius at using strategic ambiguity. And that lets you love Adams whether you hate or love Trump.

98 comments:

Meade said...

I both love and hate this blog post. Thanks!

mccullough said...

Maybe cruel neutrality is a better description of Trump's approach

tim in vermont said...

"You may not care about the dialectic, but the dialectic cares about you!" - Trotsky

Oso Negro said...

Scott Adams - the most fascinating object in the universe, now that gay marriage is decided

Oso Negro said...

Maybe you had better read Angelo Codevilla. A lot less experience with cartoons, but much longer on political observation.

CStanley said...

This is in a nutshell what I dislike most about Trump. The ambiguous framing results in a lack of accountability, because whatever the outcome he can claim it was intentional and proclaim it good, and his supporters have so much invested that they will agree that it is good rather than admit they were conned.

David Begley said...

This "strategic ambiguity" is perfect for the con artist as people can believe what they want to believe about Trump.

American Hustle.

Henry said...

I quoted this in the con man thread, but it applies to Scott Adams, so I'll quote it again:

You can't bluff someone who isn't paying attention.

Brando said...

"This is in a nutshell what I dislike most about Trump. The ambiguous framing results in a lack of accountability, because whatever the outcome he can claim it was intentional and proclaim it good, and his supporters have so much invested that they will agree that it is good rather than admit they were conned."

They won't believe they were conned, because they will believe he got the best deal for them and the alternative would have been worse. Their trust in him as the great man is absolute and unshakeable, so any result must be good because he could not give them a bad result.

I'm sure we'll see some thoughtful posts about how we're the stupid ones for doubting him (because doubting Trump means loving the establishment or something). In fairness, some Trump fans here have made worthwhile points, while others seem rather thin-skinned for people who ostensibly are tired of oversensitivity in politics.

tim in vermont said...

This "strategic ambiguity" is perfect for the con artist as people can believe what they want to believe about Trump.

I agree, he should run on specific issues like "Hope" and "Change" because specificity is the best way to get elected!

traditionalguy said...

Frustrating isn't it. The GOP assassin teams have shot their wads and their target was not there. He was somewhere else. Trump is like tackling Jim Brown. You have him and then you don't.

Meanwhile the Trump train is rolling into Union Station and the GOP Establishment guys are imitating drowning Syrian refugees with no where to go.

Trump is not cruel neutrality. He is just Cruel.

Limited blogger said...

Something Trump is not ambiguous about - he's not Hillary.

damikesc said...

Brando, while I don't disagree on his supporters standing by him, watching the GOP, the argument that THEIR deal would be worse is not far fetched. This is the party that took the Iran deal from a sure to be defeated treaty to simple legislation that could be easily defeated.

People buy his schtick because the Party has been abysmal in negotiating anything.

Nonapod said...

Speaking loudly, being vague, and even contradicting oneself have all been effective tools of the practiced politician forever. And Trump is a master of such techniques. People who pay close attention can see through the wall of bullshit, but most voters don't have the patience or drive to do so. So many voters will project whatever they want onto this wall of bullshit. It's a viable strategy for winning elections obviously. I just don't like what it says about human nature.

damikesc said...

Sorry.Iran deal went from easily defeated treaty to nearly impossible to defeat simple legislation.

And Obama didn't even live up to the deal in the first place

TCom said...

The strategic ambiguity is to flush out and expose the media.

Begley and friends just don't get it. THIS ELECTION IS NOT ABOUT TRUMP.

Trump is trolling the corrupt media. Every time they swarm all over something stupid, he gets more support.

This focus on Trump as if he is going up against these cuddly nice media types is laughable. Use some holistic thinking, people. People are sick and tired of the media selectively destroying people, making our decisions for us.

I still can't stop laughing about the Mussolini quote. Masterful trolling, and these corrupt prostitutes deserve every bit of it.

Chuck said...

Bret Stephens writes a wonderful column in the Wall Street Journal. It requires a subscription; I hope that everyone seeks out the full text. Here are some selected lines:

[After citing some of the latest ugly rhetorical things coming out of Trump]: None of this seems to have made the slightest dent in Mr. Trump’s popularity. If anything it has enhanced it. In the species of political pornography in which Mr. Trump trafficks, the naughtier the better. The more respectable opinion is scandalized by whatever pops out of the Donald’s mouth, the more his supporters cheer him for sticking it to the snobs and the scolds. The more Mr. Trump traduces the old established lines of decency, the more he affirms his supporters’ most shameless ideological instincts.

Those instincts have moved beyond the usual fare of a wall with Mexico, a trade war with China, Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim Exclusion Act, or his scurrilous insinuations about the constitutionality of Ted Cruz’s or Marco Rubio’s presidential bids.

What too many of Mr. Trump’s supporters want is an American strongman, a president who will make the proverbial trains run on time. This is a refrain I hear over and over again from Trump supporters, who want to bring a businessman’s efficiency to the federal government. If that means breaking with a few democratic niceties, so be it.

...

Mr. Trump exemplifies a new political wave sweeping the globe—leaders coming to power through democratic means while avowing illiberal ends. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is another case in point, as is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Trump presidency—neutral between dictatorships and democracies, opposed to free trade, skeptical of traditional U.S. defense alliances, hostile to immigration—would mark the collapse of the entire architecture of the U.S.-led post-World War II global order. We’d be back to the 1930s, this time with an America Firster firmly in charge.

That’s the future Mr. Trump offers whether his supporters realize it or not. Bill Buckley and the other great shapers of modern conservatism—Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Robert Bartley and Irving Kristol—articulated a conservatism that married economic dynamism to a prudent respect for tradition, patriotism and openness to the wider world. Trumpism is the opposite of this creed: moral gauchery plus economic nationalism plus Know Nothingism. It is the return of the American Mercury, minus for now (but only for now) the all-but inevitable anti-Semitism.



http://www.wsj.com/articles/staring-at-the-conservative-gutter-1456791777?cb=logged0.7025561878022569

David Begley said...

TCom

"Trolling the corrupt media" is not part of the job description for POTUS.

PB said...

Next up: Strategic Cognitive Dissonance. Practiced only by Grand Master Persuaders, not mere Master Persuaders!

Brando said...

"Brando, while I don't disagree on his supporters standing by him, watching the GOP, the argument that THEIR deal would be worse is not far fetched. This is the party that took the Iran deal from a sure to be defeated treaty to simple legislation that could be easily defeated."

That'll depend on the deal itself though. If let's say he gets Congress to allocate enough money to triple border security and extend the fencing, enable state police to back them up to 100 miles inland, and trade that for providing amnesty for those paying fines with clean records (or some other limit as Trump has suggested) then that would be a better deal than the nothing we've seen so far. Something far less than that--just some cosmetic temporary stepup on border patrols in exchange for broad amnesty--well, it makes one wonder what all the fuss was about.

As for the Iran deal, Obama never got a treaty, so if the deal is looking bad the next president can unilaterally undo it. It's still an abuse that presidents can do this (dating back to FDR, natch) but Congress has limited options short of getting the courts involved or cutting his funding.

tim in vermont said...

OMG! The Wall Street Journal is against Trump! I think we should all lay down and let the elites continue their long term project of engineering a more compliant, pliable, and dependent electorate. That's the way to go and anything Trump is up to has to be worse than that. Stop struggling and let the pillow do its work people! You're just making it worse!

Limited blogger said...

Everybody is arguing about why Trump is on top. The fact is, Trump is on top.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If you want to tie this to your con artist thread I think the better comparison is to a "psychic" doing a cold reading. You throw a ton of junk out and rely on people to remember the hits and forget the misses. You count on the fallacy of personal validation to make people identify with your message...never mind that your message itself isn't consistent nor, often, even coherent.

Brando said...

"I still can't stop laughing about the Mussolini quote. Masterful trolling, and these corrupt prostitutes deserve every bit of it."

You're on to something, but the real interest of the media is getting their clicks and views--individually journalists may hate Trump, but as an institution they love every bit of it. And he has proven excellent at getting attention whenever he needs it--why buy ads when you can just call any media outlet and they'll come lapping up to you and put you on air?

Of course, I don't know how non-famous candidates would be able to do this in the future. This is a very different election season but I don't see how it can be replicated (unless other celebrities decide this is their time to shine).

Limited blogger said...

CNN's latest poll has Trump at 49%, Cruz at 15%. And this after the catastrophic week Trump just had. Nobody I know is voting for Trump, do you know anyone?

Chuck said...

Tim in Vermont again does that thing I hate. There needs to be a name for this thing and "deflection" is not nearly disparaging enough.

Tim takes criticism of Trump, and turns it to the subject of Obama. As if the alternative to Trump, is Obama.

Obama isn't running again. Actually, in the person of Hillary Clinton, some people might think that Obama IS running again. But no matter what, Trump isn't the opposite of that. Trump is a bunch of squirrely things that are more like the Clinton Foundation (of which Trump has been a big supporter) than ANY other real Republican.

Limited blogger said...

You have your choices, decide - Trump, Clinton, No vote.

Chuck said...

Tim in Vermont: I'm going to lob one down the middle for you. Tell us the three main characteristics/results (however you wish to phrase it) of a Trump Administration. If you want to make the list two things, or five things, that's fine.

(If one of the things is "the destruction of the Republican Party As We Know It," you already know my reaction; it is "Fuck you; and if you really don't mind, as a Republican myself, I'm not too terribly interested in the destruction of my party." Do you expect other Republicans to accept that? Do you expect a whole convention of Republicans to accept that?)

traditionalguy said...

Trump has reinvented politics says Professor Gingrich (Newt is a History Professor with a good education who then spent 30 years teaching himself political skills).

He uses TV masterfully. Better even than Hollywood Actor Reagan did it.

He aims at Making American Greatness happen again. And that is a Huuuge target to hit.

The Bush GOP has merely parasitically used the USA to enrich itself and its cronoies, and they are through with us.

But along comes Trump. That just doesn't seem fair.

Meade said...

"You have your choices, decide - Trump, Clinton, No vote. "

Will I have to answer without lying to my grandchild someday asking, "who did you vote for in 2016, granddad?"

No vote.

Chuck said...

Limited blogger: With the choice being "Romney, Obama, No Vote," do you mind my asking where you stood?

[Anybody else who wants to supply an answer is most welcome.]

tim in vermont said...

Well Chuck, my point is that successful politicians are often vague and it doesn't seem to disqualify them. So the fact that Trump is maneuvering within that vagueness is not the huge blow against him that you imagine.

Now for my virtue signalling: I will only vote for Trump if it is a choice between him and Hillary. I noticed to day that Sanders beats Trump by a significantly wider margin than Hillary does, so I think about five percent of the electorate feels that way. And remember that 5% is 10% of 50% before you write us off.

BrianE said...

We're surprised that a politician (and yes the difference between a salesman and a politician small) says one thing but intends to do another?
I wonder what will happen to Trump's supporters when they realize he IS a politician.
It's kind of like when Congress passes a bill titled "Getting Tough on Criminals Act" and you find out the bill is really about building tennis courts in prisons.
If you peruse Trump's position paper on immigration on his website, you will see the word deport used once in relation to criminal gangs. Return is used several times (which I suppose could be synonymous).
There is nothing about deporting 11 million illegal aliens. In fact, other than making Mexico pay for the wall-- apparently by impounding money transfered to Mexico, Trump's position isn't much different the the rest of the candidate.
In fact, you won't even find anything about a lifetime exclusion from the possibility of citizenship for illegals already here.
https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/immigration-reform

Beth said...

Plausible deniability.

mccullough said...

Reagan, like FDR, is having his legacy redefined. Massive deficit spending and amnesty are not viewed as fondly these days. Too bad for the Wall Street Journal. Also, people aren't fond of the neocon foreign policy. Eventually the guys at the Weekly Standard might have to take up arms and actually fight themselves against the monsters.

tim in vermont said...

I think a lot of people support Trump in the vague hope that he will do to the government what he has already done to the Republican Party. So by that metric, he is already a proven quantity.

Chuck said...

I should add, since Laurence Meade is part of the conversation...

With the choice being "McCain, Obama, No Vote," where did everyone stand?

Limited blogger said...

I've voted Republican in every election since I turned 18. Starting with Reagan in 1980. I in fact voted for Romney. I declared in an Althouse thread back in November, I think, that I would No vote if Bush III was the nominee. I don't have to live up to that threat.

Meade said...

Wish I could answer the same if asked about my first vote in 1972. All I will be able to add is "young people make mistakes; it's part of being young. 18 will always be too young to vote."

Henry said...

@Chuck -- traditionalguy has your answers:

* He will use TV masterfully
* He will aim at Making American Greatness happen again
*

Okay, that's two main characteristics, but what a list.

Nonapod said...

You have your choices, decide - being set on fire, being submersed in a pool of acid, being shot in the face with a bazooka.

Chuck said...

tim in vermont said...
I think a lot of people support Trump in the vague hope that he will do to the government what he has already done to the Republican Party.



What exactly is that? What would Trump do, to "government"?

damikesc said...

That'll depend on the deal itself though. If let's say he gets Congress to allocate enough money to triple border security and extend the fencing, enable state police to back them up to 100 miles inland, and trade that for providing amnesty for those paying fines with clean records (or some other limit as Trump has suggested) then that would be a better deal than the nothing we've seen so far. Something far less than that--just some cosmetic temporary stepup on border patrols in exchange for broad amnesty--well, it makes one wonder what all the fuss was about.

My issue is citizenship. The illegals should NEVER become citizens. I don't think offering amnesty at all is a working solution (it only encourages more of the behavior). Offering to PRIORITIZE deportations is OK (hardcore criminals should be removed before all of the other criminals here --- and all illegals, by definition, are criminals), but amnesty has been tried and failed.

As for the Iran deal, Obama never got a treaty, so if the deal is looking bad the next president can unilaterally undo it. It's still an abuse that presidents can do this (dating back to FDR, natch) but Congress has limited options short of getting the courts involved or cutting his funding.

If not for the asinine Corker bill --- which Obama never lived up to --- the Senate could just say "This is clearly a treaty" and treat it as such. If the President doesn't wish to treat it as such is irrelevant --- a strong legal argument can be made that ANY agreement between our country and another should require advice and consent of the Senate. That idiotic bill removed that option, which was a disaster.

Tim in Vermont: I'm going to lob one down the middle for you. Tell us the three main characteristics/results (however you wish to phrase it) of a Trump Administration. If you want to make the list two things, or five things, that's fine.

You're right. Trump is endlessly problematic.

But the ALTERNATIVE is Clinton. We know what she is. We KNOW we will have no oversight. We KNOW she will not put anything on the public record and we will have no idea what the government is doing. We KNOW she is blatantly on the take.

We don't know that about Trump. Sometimes, the lesser of two evils is the best option.

tim in vermont said...

What exactly is that? What would Trump do, to "government"?

Ask somebody who supports him. I am out of this election cycle. I have no dog in this fight, to use the cliche. I will probably end up voting for Bernie, since he is an honest man who probably won't be able to get much through Congress. But he will be able to raise taxes by changing interpretations of tax laws. Sort of like Dukakis promised to add a bunch of auditors to the IRS.

tim in vermont said...

Plus Bernie will not be there eight years, due to age.

Meade said...

McGovern, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Dukakis, Bush, Clinton, Nader, Bush, McCain, Romney

As of now, I strategically ambiguously support Sanders.

(My haters might say I'm still too young to vote. I say to them — feel free, Haters.)

Meade said...

Of course, if 6 yr-olds could have voted, I would have started with Nixon, Goldwater, and then Nixon. Maybe we should amend the constitution again but this time only allow 6 - 14 yr-olds to vote.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

If it's Trump versus someone, I hope that someone is Sanders.

Brando said...

"My issue is citizenship. The illegals should NEVER become citizens. I don't think offering amnesty at all is a working solution (it only encourages more of the behavior). Offering to PRIORITIZE deportations is OK (hardcore criminals should be removed before all of the other criminals here --- and all illegals, by definition, are criminals), but amnesty has been tried and failed."

The message should be "if you came here illegally, no citizenship, ever." As for immigration generally, frankly I'd prefer to deport a lot of lazy or criminal native borns in exchange for legal immigrants who are a net plus for the country. There should be some benefit to being born here, but a lot of people abuse that privilege so to hell with them.

I think any president will try some form of amnesty, it's just a question of what form it will take--but it won't matter much because Congress will never let it pass. The idea of "deals" has gotten such a bad rap lately that just saying you're talking to your opponents sounds like a capitulation.

Anglelyne said...

CStanley: This is in a nutshell what I dislike most about Trump. The ambiguous framing results in a lack of accountability...

Then you're holding Trump to a higher standard than you're holding other pols. Or just expressing a preference for more straightforward delivery of political bullshit.

All pols strive for ambiguity, especially on controversial issues. (Some of them, like Jeb, just really, really suck at it.) And ambiguities have to be custom-tailored to different target audiences; it's hard to keep them straight all the time, or contained to the target group (like, say, a Univision audience). When there is a failure to maintain the "ambiguous framing", and a pol is maneuvered into a corner where he might have to say something somewhere in the vicinity of "accountable", we see the phenomenon known as "squirming".

Most political speech is canned delivery of talking points, or essentially meaningless bromides ("good paying jobs!"), and there is no more promise of "accountability" in them than the "ambiguous framing" you're complaining about here.

As our buwaya is fond of pointing out here, you just prefer a different way of being flim-flammed.

Meade said...

Of course I have been for a long time, and will always be, a staunch supporter of Freeman Hunt For President. "Make America Good Enough Again!"

Ian F. Shield said...

What an asshole Adams is. People who oppose amnesty generally do not "hate" illegal aliens, they just think the interests of our own citizens should take precedence.

CStanley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CStanley said...

Angelyne- yes to all of that. I suppose some of it boils down to personality and temperament. I'm a "better the devil we know" type. I just find it odd that so many people are so convinced that this new type will be better. I realize the more intelligent commenters here aren't the "true believers" in Trump but I find it odd that there's little apparent concern that you're joining in with people who really do take him at his word.

Rocketeer said...

As of now, I strategically ambiguously support Sanders.

I just can't help translating "strategically ambiguously supporting Sanders" in my head as "mindlessly unambiguously screwing my children's future."

eric said...

It's going to be Trump vs Clinton.

Make your peace with it.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck said...

Anglelyne -

Trump's problem isn't any sort of excessive calculated political vagueness.

Trump's problem is that he's been rather specific about some deeply idiotic things:

~ A plan to tax automakers for imported car parts, if they don't satisfy Trump on assembly plant location in the U.S.

~ A plan for large tax cuts, with only "waste, fraud and abuse" as spending reforms.

~ Rejection of any entitlement reform.

~ A proposal to "open up" (!?) constitutional law on defamation litigation.

~ A claim to deport 11 million people.

~ An avowed use of "torture" as the left would describe it. (Not the limited and targeted use of waterboarding as was approved by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration.)

~ A planned "trade war" with China and Mexico.

~ What have I missed? This list goes on for about a hundred lines, right?

TCom said...

Begley: "Trolling the media is not the job description of president."

When the media along with the ruling class prostitutes run this country and lie to us every day, exposing and humiliating them absolutely is the job of a LEADER.

But remain ignorant. Trump built this whole campaign off the media, but I'm sure this time, the media will destroy him!

Meade said...

"It's going to be Trump vs Clinton."

Suppose they both peacefully die in their sleep tonight. It could happen. Happened to Scalia the other day.

tim in vermont said...

I just can't help translating "strategically ambiguously supporting Sanders" in my head as "mindlessly unambiguously screwing my children's future."

Just because you can't see something does not mean it is not there.

Meade said...

"I just can't help translating "strategically ambiguously supporting Sanders" in my head as "mindlessly unambiguously screwing my children's future.""

Run it through a different translator. Try this one: Wisconsin is an open primary state. I'll take every available opportunity to vote against Clinton.

Except with Trump.

I reject the "lesser evil" approach. I'm a "neither evil" kind of guy.

Henry said...

Sanders supports positions that Congress will never pass.

He is the least dangerous candidate.

Rocketeer said...

Run it through a different translator. Try this one: Wisconsin is an open primary state. I'll take every available opportunity to vote against Clinton.

Ah, God Bless You, Meade. You're voting my children's interests after all.

Meade said...

Well fine. Now your job is to raise them to be smarter than I am. (Admittedly, a low bar). God speed and good luck.

Anglelyne said...

CStanley: I just find it odd that so many people are so convinced that this new type will be better.

Are they convinced that he'll be better? Or just persuaded that there's a decent probability that he'll be better, and an acceptably small probability that he'll be any worse?

Sure, a "game changer" pol paired with a population's long-term insidious demoralization throws up enthusiasts. I don't "get" political enthusiasm, in the sense that I don't feel it, personally, but I get where it comes from, and I've seen these levels before in this country - and no, I'm not talking about Obama.

Anglelyne said...

Chuck: Bret Stephens writes a wonderful column in the Wall Street Journal.

Oh, it is wonderful.

Chuck, to your credit, your sycophancy tends to focus on only the choicest selections from our new comedy class of ever more transparently bigoted, ever more deliriously unhinged establishment neocon slimeballs.

Meade said...

"I don't "get" political enthusiasm, in the sense that I don't feel it, personally, but I get where it comes from, and I've seen these levels before in this country - and no, I'm not talking about Obama."

You must be nearly 200 years-old!

n.n said...

Strategic ambiguity is a moral principle of the pro-choice doctrine as evidenced with selective child policy, constructed congruences (i.e. selective exclusion) or "=", class diversity schemes, etc.

Real American said...

be all things to all people. Pretty sure that's how the last guy fooled a bunch of idiots and got elected.

Anglelyne said...

You must be nearly 200 years-old!

Not quite, but old enough to remember 1980 pretty clearly.

Roughcoat said...

I'll probably vote for Trump if it comes to that. After which I'll climb Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday as penance. And may God accept my penance. It'll be sincere, that's for sure.

tim in vermont said...

It's a slow motion train wreck. But as I have said many times, Halloween will be epic. Too bad the Mayan Calendar didn't wind to an end this November. They missed by such a small amount.

Freeman Hunt said...

Of course I have been for a long time, and will always be, a staunch supporter of Freeman Hunt For President. "Make America Good Enough Again!"

Why can't we have Meade for President?

Freeman Hunt said...

I would enjoy reading Althouse blogging from the White House. (Or any house, but, you know, including the White House.)

Roughcoat said...

Why can't we have Meade for President?

Because he's too short or too ironic, I can't remember which.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe we need a short president. We have a tall one, and he doesn't seem that great.

David Begley said...

Meade as POTUS and Althouse as FLOTUS. Ann could also be AG. Three for one deal.

rich hahn said...

Can one repudiate an endorsement if the endorsement was never made?

Meade said...

"Because he's too short or too ironic, I can't remember which. "

Ironically, I'm average in every way. Except for my IQ and my wealth wherein I am far above average. But then my IQ is hobbled by my stubbornness and impatience. And my wealth is hampered by my stingy refusal to part with a buck. So I'm both over and under qualified to be POTUS. That is both the long and the short of it.

"Can one repudiate an endorsement if the endorsement was never made?"

I think I just did.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


"Trolling the corrupt media" is not part of the job description for POTUS

@ Dave Begley

Correct. It is just a really nice bonus. Not a bug...a feature :-)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Will I have to answer without lying to my grandchild someday asking, "who did you vote for in 2016, granddad?"

No vote.


Serious question. Is there not the option in Wisconsin to do a write in vote?

I voted for Zaphod Beeblebrox in the last election. I'm in California so it doesn't matter who I vote for in a national election anyway, so the Big Z was just as good as Romney.

Meade said...

Except for the goofiness of it, how is that any different from "no vote"?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Except for the goofiness of it, how is that any different from "no vote"?

Well...probably because if you vote Republican in the national election (as opposed to Republican in a local election) in California, your vote is basically worthless anyway. Completely out voted by sheer numbers. This is just the reality of it. So. Instead of voting for someone that I dislike intensely (Obama) or someone who I felt I just could not bring myself to vote for a piece of soggy milquetoast, violating my principles (Romney) and knowing my vote means nothing anyway....I decided the President of the Galaxy was probably about as good a choice as any.

I could have not voted for President, but as long as I was there.....

That is a serious answer.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If Romney is the Republican candidate....Zaphod gets my vote again :-)

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meade said...

"That is a serious answer. "

Fine, but that was not the serious question Limited blogger was asking. Was it?

Jonathan Graehl said...

Begley, agree that '"strategic ambiguity" is perfect for the con artist as people can believe what they want to believe about Trump' and also agree with your implication that surely Trump makes *actual* errors.

But I welcome the cover. It's the only fair chance for a realignment in the face of blistering unified attacks from our media+elite (the modern "cathedral"). The sheep need cover to break out of the slaughter-pens (such inflammatory pro-Trump rhetoric is also justified by the laughable extremes arrayed against him).

Also, you can't have missed explicit gloating about how Trump's enemies feel they're succesfully henpecking Trump into suppressing fringe turnout that would lean his way, by forcing him to disavow every group or person that they could otherwise twist into "Trump did NOT disavow XXX" weapons against his mainstream support. Simply put, that we're hearing this tactic ONLY against Trump proves that the media+elite are playing dirty. I think people notice this, so who knows what happens.

Also, to a certain extent, once you get people scared of associating themselves w/ the target (Trump), social media virtue signaling spirals may handle the rest - we'll do it to ourselves once you get it started. I'm curious to see how that turns out.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Chuck, you make a good point that those specific proposals sound either harmful or an overly optimistic opening ask [the latter is no problem - art of the deal, remember?]

Nonetheless, it's possible for a reasonable person to say: I think Trump's success will help put into play issues where populist sentiment aligns with my own (immigration policy, for me - it should be optimized to *our* benefit). Also, revulsion w/ the media-edu-PC-elite complex (which appear to have mutually parasitized each other and may as well be considered a common enemy to people who like to have a good time honestly thinking+discussing). It's important to note that this is a risky play. I say: so what? I care about those things. Political chicken.

Freder Frederson said...

Strategic Ambiguity?! Is that what all the cool kids are calling lying these days?

Freder Frederson said...

Not the limited and targeted use of waterboarding as was approved by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration.

If you believe that the Bush Administration limited its torture regime to the "limited and targeted use of waterboarding", you have your head in the sand. And it wasn't approved by the Office of Legal Counsel until after the fact. When the approval finally came to light, it was rescinded because it contradicted established law.

Roadkill711 said...

Hope and Change. The greatest strategically ambiguous bill of goods ever sold to the American public.

tim in vermont said...

On the other hand, despite arguments to the contrary after the fact "If you like your plan you can keep your plan" did not really mean "If we like your plan, you can keep your plan" when he said it, it was pretty specific. It just turned out to be a lie.

Big Mike said...

What Hillary radiates is graft and corruption on a scale not seen since Warren G. Harding. And Harding was not himself part of the corruption, in marked contrast to Bill Clinton's wife.

Largo said...

"Strategic Ambiguity?! Is that what all the cool kids are calling lying these days?"

Nope.

Saint Croix said...

I think one of the conundrums of Donald Trump is that he seems to be very clear and honest in his language--his very bombastic language. But, as Adams points out, he is also very, very ambiguous. Maybe he's a secret fascist. Maybe he's a secret Democrat. We don't know! The idea of strategic ambiguity is to empower the speaker, who hides what he really thinks. The more somebody is strategically ambiguous, the more he keeps us in the dark about what is really going on.

Law is designed for clarity. Yes, many phrases in the Constitution are very, very big. And our goal should be to stick as close to this language as humanly possible. But what is dangerous, one might say evil, is when the Supreme Court wants to deconstruct this beautiful language, to rip it apart, to ignore it. That's what Donnie is attempting here. "I will not be bound to the Constitution. It's ambiguous!" And the Supreme Court has invited this approach, by deconstructing text and by issuing rules in the name of the text that have little or nothing to do with what the text says.

I feel like our Constitution (if followed!) protects us from European evils like fascism or socialism. We've got the free speech clause! You can't silence critics! But the Supreme Court, who has used strategic ambiguity in the text to empower itself and its branch of the government, has done tremendous damage to its own brand. People like the Supreme Court because (we hope!) they are following the law and the Constitution. But as we have this massive increase in federal power, and the administrative state, we see this big disconnect between the Constitution and the actual reality of our government. And so this disrespect for the language of the Constitution invites people like Donald Trump to expand the government even more, to even bigger and more dangerous areas, where there are no limits on what rulers can do.