On today's BradCast: Our friend David Roberts of Vox.com on making sense of Donald Trump's seemingly senseless decision making process --- and, somehow, learning to live with it and/or contain the damage. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, first up today, some good news! The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear North Carolina Republicans' appeal of the U.S. 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruling last year striking down what many have describes as the "Mother of All Voter Suppression" laws. The appellate court had found that state Republicans included provisions in the law that were intentionally discriminatory in that they were drafted in order to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision".
But while that law was blocked last year in NC and will now remain blocked for the foreseeable future there, a similarly discriminatory Photo ID voting restriction was allowed to be used in Wisconsin last year, where Trump is said to have won by just 22,000 votes despite some 300,000 voters in the Badger State --- disproportionately African-American, poor, elderly and students --- who do not have the type of ID now required to vote under the GOP's restriction.
Last week, we detailed a new analysis of the affect of that law on the Presidential election results in WI last year, finding that some 200,000 otherwise legal voters may have been prevented from casting their vote. Today, we detail some of the specific voters who were prevented from voting last November, because of the discriminatory law, including, as AP reports: "The Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver’s license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient", among others.
Then, we're joined by Vox' Roberts who, late last week, published a Tweetstorm in response to Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, in which he attempted to explain why it's so difficult, if not impossible, for journalists, politicians and the public to make sense of the President's decision making process. That is largely, Roberts detailed in his Tweetstorm and in a follow-up article at Vox and to me today, because Trump doesn't have any such process --- at least beyond what feels good at the moment he makes the decision based largely on whatever the last person he talked to told him about the issue.
Roberts' assessment, which cites psychological conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and something called "Theory of Mind", actually helps to illuminate the reasons for Trump's otherwise, seemingly, reason-free process.
"There's clearly something wrong with the dude," says Roberts. "From all indications he just doesn't have those beliefs and commitments that carry over from situation to situation. By all indications on the surface, what he's doing is: every situation is new. He gropes around for what makes him feel powerful or in charge, and then sort of lunges at that, with no thought of commitments that came before, or consequences that might come after, or how it relates to other things he's said, or other people he's committed to, or anything really!"
"I compare it to a goldfish. Every situation is new. Every day is new. And he's just this sort of bundle of impulses." But while that, Roberts explains, makes Trump so difficult to cover from a journalistic standpoint, or to understand from a political or voter's perspective, it's also what makes him exceedingly dangerous. "Imagine if there's a viral outbreak, or imagine if North Korea really tries to provoke him. Even his allies --- even the people in his administration --- have to be thinking 'Do I know what he's going to do in that situation?'"
While many try to explain Trump's decisions as some grand design, or even as an attempt to distract from one issue or another, Roberts argues it's usually far simpler (and more troubling) than that. He also speaks to what we --- journalists, politicians and citizens --- can all do now in hopes of minimizing the damage that he will be able to cause until he finally leaves office one way or another...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)