Trump can be both a con man and a racist

Scott Adams continues his sad descent into incoherence. Trump is clumsily attempting a general election pivot (a month or two too late), and Adams insists this is creating a “cognitive dissonance trap” for Trump’s critics. Because Trump says he wants to help black people (while grossly distorting and, yes, stereotyping their lives), he’s acting “non-racist” and thus ruining the mental models of those who have turned from him in disgust because he’s racist.
According to Adams:
“This creates a situation in which the pundits either have to change their self-images and admit they were wrong about Trump all along, or they have to reinterpret Trump’s clearly non-racist actions as racist actions in disguise. Cognitive dissonance happens when people are unwilling or unable to modify their self-image to match the observed facts. In this case, to protect their self-images as wise pundits, they are forced to default to pretzel-like explanations of their reality.”
He goes on to say: “The anti-Trumpers have two conflicting mental models of Trump now. Is he a racist or a con man?”
But Adams apparently never considered that Trump could be both a bigot and a con man, and that the con is what’s happening now, not what happened during the primary. We’ve seen the real Trump all these months: The Trump who disparaged a judge because of his Mexican heritage. The Trump who proposed a blanket ban on Muslims (even American citizens) coming into the United States. The Trump who attacked a Gold Star mom because of his misconceptions about her faith (“maybe she wasn’t allowed to have an opinion”). The Trump whose campaign assumes black people at his rallies are protestors (even when they’re high-ranking state campaign officials for Trump).

But now, as he’s in a polling free fall, Trump is attempting to project a softer image. (Adams even calls it “The Softening” — which, I have to say, from a “persuasion standpoint” is pretty devastating rhetoric for a 70-year-old man who is oddly obsessed about the size of his hands. Just sayin’.) Part of that softer image includes an explicit appeal to African-Americans — but one always made in front of Trump’s usual lily white audiences, and one made, as I mentioned before, using gross distortions and stereotypes of the black American experience. Not all blacks live in poverty. (Most don’t.) Not all blacks live in violent neighborhoods. (All neighborhoods are much safer from violent crime than they were 30 years ago.) Not all black teens are unemployed. (Too many are, but Trump’s 58 percent figure is grossly distorted; using his methodology, 50 percent of white teens are also unemployed.)

According to Adams, all this is supposed signal that those who saw Trump as a racist and bigot while watching him during the primaries (and, let us not forget, beyond) came to the wrong conclusion. He isn’t a bigot. If he was acting like a bigot, it’s because he was trying to win the Republican nomination (and, yes, that notion isn’t going to help the Republican brand much).

It’s been fascinating to read Adams’ blog and note all of his attempts (which I’m sure he believes are oh-so-subtle) to tweak how Trump is viewed by his readers. My favorite recent example is from the post where Adams attempts the argument that Trump won’t be a disaster because, essentially, he has no principles and will change his positions to match whatever the public tells him. Adams writes: “If you think a Trump presidency – guided by the kindness of the public – would be extra-dangerous, you have been hypnotized.”

No one wants to be hypnotized without knowing it, right? So I just have to rethink my notion that Trump would be dangerous — even though Trump has repeatedly demonstrated he absolutely lacks a presidential temperament and would, indeed, be an incredibly dangerous president.

Sorry, Scott. But your persuasion attempts are falling flat. Maybe you need some refresher courses.

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