Many positive statements could have been made

Former President Trump [1] went on a platform called Truth Social on Thursday evening and offered this assessment of the January 6 Committee hearings:

“So the Unselect Committee of political HACKS refuses to play any of the many positive witnesses and statements, refuses to talk of the Election Fraud and Irregularities that took place on a massive scale,”

There is a lot to be unhappy about in this little paragraph, but the thing that really bothers me most is part about “positive witnesses and statements.” The Committee is working with what can be shown to be true and what can be plausibly inferred from that information. The scale goes from true to untrue. Trump is proposing, instead, a scale that goes from “good for us” to “bad for us.”

It isn’t ridiculous for Trump to say that there were many balloting irregularities. Those charges were made at the time, investigated at the time, and rebutted at the time. So Trump’s allegations are false, but they are not ridiculous.

But “many positive statements and witnesses” is ridiculous. If the charges against Trump—that he did what he is shown to have done—could be rebutted by these positive witnesses, that would be important. But I hear in Trump’s protest, what he said to Brad Raffensperger of Georgia, “All I need is another 11, 000 votes. Find them.”

Any coach who has lost a close game has had fantasies of cozying up to the scorer and saying “All I need is 11 more points, and I will have won.” You watch a runner stopped just short of a first down and you want to say to the Line Judge, “All I need is a few more inches.”

The proper answer to these pleas is, “Coach, it doesn’t work that way.”

The perspective in these examples is that the rules of the game ought not be followed if they don’t produce a win for my team. In the era of instant replay, you can show that a called ball was actually over the plate, but the game still goes by the plate umpire’s call. Even calls that can be overturned, like “he was out of bounds when he caught the ball” are overturned on the basis of what we now know really happened. They are not changed because the coach who is unhappy about the call gets to change the calls he does’t like. “Many positive calls could have been made?”

[1] Former Presidents are customarily referred to as “President.” No one bothers to say “Former President Carter” or “Former President Bush.” It is different with Trump, of course, because he does not consider himself a former President.

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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