False Equivalence, Delusion-Grade

Tomorrow night is the first Presidential debate, so this seems like a good time to get something off my chest.

I’m fed up with assertions that the candidates are equally flawed, that either would be a “disaster”–as if there is anything remotely comparable between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And I don’t think I’m the only one who finds those assertions dishonest and self-serving.

I understand the propaganda when it comes from people who don’t want to admit, even to themselves, that their support of Donald Trump is rooted in his–and their–bigotries. I don’t understand it coming from people who actually understand that we are hiring a chief executive for an incredibly demanding job, and who disclaim support for Trump, but then say they will vote for a third party or not at all–both actions an effective, if indirect, vote for him.

I participate in a listserv focused on Law and Courts. It’s a conversation between political scientists and law professors whose academic research centers on legal and constitutional issues and the ways that judges approach and resolve those issues. A recent thread about impeachment law included a post from a (male) scholar who expressed his distaste for both candidates in a fashion that suggested such a near equivalency; that post generated a response that is worth sharing in its entirety.

I categorically reject the idea that one could put Hillary Clinton in the same category as Donald Trump vis-a-vis “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Absurd. Clinton has been in public service for more 40+ years and, by and large, has abided by the rule of law governing the offices she was in, the roles she inhabited, and the causes she advocated for. Did she do some stupid, wrong and probably illegal things during some of that time? Yes, she did. Was it above and beyond what similarly situated men have done? Men whom we laud as tireless public servants? No, she did not.

Not only that, she has endured a relentless 25 year campaign to undermine, demean and thoroughly discredit her. I defy any male politician in public service as long as Hillary Clinton to come away from such a microscope with nothing more damning than the email nonsense.

We can and should be vigilant about the rule of law and the abuse of political power. But the double standard on display right now is among the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime. I was not a particularly vehement supporter of Hillary Clinton when this campaign started but I bloody well am now.

Sorry. But I just can’t take it anymore.

Like the writer of this post–with which I agree 100%–I was not a particular fan of Hillary Clinton at the beginning of this campaign. My attitude was not based upon her performance in the various offices she’s held, which was in each case highly competent; my reluctance to support her was based upon a concern that she was not–and is not–a gifted candidate.

Not unlike George H.W. Bush (the competent Bush), Clinton’s interest is clearly in governing, and she is uncomfortable “selling herself” on the campaign trail. In her case, the 25-year campaign referenced above has made her defensive and scripted. Understandable but unfortunate behaviors on the campaign trail.

Like the writer of this post, however, I’ve been “radicalized” by the double standard applied to Clinton, the raw misogyny, and the obvious delight in criticizing her every move by our so-called “liberal” media. (Since when is working through walking pneumonia without whining about it a “lack of transparency”?)

There is no equivalency between Trump and Clinton. None.

If you needed an operation, and your choice was between a respected surgeon who had saved numerous lives during a long career during which he had also made a few bad calls, and a local B-list actor with delusions of grandeur who had never performed an operation,  who displayed monumental ignorance of medicine generally and human anatomy specifically, I don’t think your choice would be difficult.

There’s false equivalency, and then there’s monumental intellectual dishonesty.

Think about that as you watch the debate.

57 thoughts on “False Equivalence, Delusion-Grade

  1. People say this to cover up their ignorance of politics as a necessary part of life in a self-governing society.
    It’s another case of “My ignorance is just as valid as your knowledge.”

  2. I have a close friend who worked with Hillary on the Healthcare Reform Taskforce during the Clinton Administration. My friend said she was the smartest person she’d encountered. She has nothing but respect for Secretary Clinton. Contrast that to a lying, cowardly, bully whose MO is strictly me, me, me! No one would tolerate that kind of behavior in their five year old, let alone a candidate for President.

  3. Excellent,
    There is little reason to watch the debate in my view, reality TV is nonsense. Read about it in your favorite newspaper. Be calm, carry on!

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I’m glad that more people are beginning to point this out publicly.

  5. Clinton has been caught in several lies, and her “Transparency” is at best translucent. Her past, as you say, is a mixed bag. I can forgive her for honest mistakes as no one is perfect. She is no more or less trustworthy than any other member of the oligarchy, which forgives blatant lies just because…and that’s one of the things I have opposed my adult life.

    I remain very concerned about her positions. She claims to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), however, she has referred to it as the “Gold standard” of trade agreements. This would be very bad for working people and environment and needs to be shut down. I can’t trust she would do that. There are others as well, but I don’t want to write a book here. She is backed by the same people who have wrecked the economy and poisoned people and planet.

    There is no doubt she is better than Trump, but that doesn’t mean she is good for our nation.

  6. The single greatest purveyor of false equivalency has been Fox News. Their term for it is “fair and balanced”. Greedily, most other sources for the news have, over the years, joined Fox in this destruction of truth in their relentless push for ratings. When you add to this the idea that opinion and conjecture are the same as news one can see how we got to this point.

  7. Thank you Sheila. This has been on my mind for sometime. They want to equate them as the same to legitimize his candidacy. No way! It not apples to apples comparison.

  8. Thank you for today’s blog! I intend to save this, print it, and cite it when people I know use the whole “both sides” nonsense.

  9. Absolutely! False equivalency is the word of the day. Would we all understood it. Thanks again Sheila.

  10. My primary objection to Hillary (and I WILL be voting for her) is her membership in, support of and from corporate America. Her mistakes, mishaps, carelessness at times regarding E-mails with that effing single-server (also used by Colin Powell and other government officials with government permission), the repeated investigations regarding the single-server and Benghazi have all resulted in clearing her of any and all deliberate guilty acts on all levels. All of these investigations have cost US millions of our tax dollars. Trump has, at the same time, been allowed to “walk back” some of his ignorant comments, denying he ever said them or saying that wasn’t what he meant…and carry on with his candidacy, reportedly upping his numbers in the polls. Trump is keeping these Hillary issues at the forefront, giving him free air time every time he opens his mouth during his miscast position in this presidential election. It is all fodder for his grist mill in attempts to take attention from his total ineptness, lack of intelligent understanding of the presidency and the place of the United States in the diplomatic world. The media is electing him; a perfect example is the “Breaking News” media event when he DECIDED President Obama had been born in the United States.

    I do agree with Trump that the debate is rigged; one intelligent, competent, qualified nominee with years of political experience against a fool who believes he is in a popularity contest which he can buy with family money.

  11. Thank you Sheila,

    You’ve saved me from a lot of keystrokes this morning given what you’ve posted. It’s the “monumental intellectual dishonesty” of this entire spectacle really trips me up, along with everything else you mentioned. Donald Trump and those that work with him have reduced our entire political process to the level of some moribund game show. My only hope right now is that during this upcoming debate he acts true to form and hand grenades on the debate stage.

    I, like you, started out not as a Hillary Clinton supporter but right now her being elected may be the only way that we can stave off the total destruction of our country as we have known it, or at least, its possibly irretrievable downward slide. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that things would end up really coming to this.

    My late father, who was in his middle teens at the height of the Great Depression used to tell me that someday this country would fall. Having seen what he saw and felt what he felt during that extremely difficult time I could see where he was coming from. He didn’t envision that we would fall due to an invasion by a foreign power but that that we would do it to ourselves. I now know that what he was telling me was a very astute observation that has turned out to be prescient.

  12. Much of the equivalency talk comes from Sanders supporters who feel cheated. I understand this. I supported Sanders and feel that there was some underhanded dealing by the DNC. Yes I think more progressive policies would be good for the majority of the people in our country. But there is something wrong with processing capability of Trump’s brain. He seems to have succeeded by bullying and bluster. He intimidates to bend a situation to his advantage. He has learned this behavior over time and it will not change and this mind set has no place in government. So whether the DNC played hanky-panky with the primary process or not we can not have Trump elected to the highest office in our country.

  13. I, too, have been “radicalized” by the way Hillary has been treated, and I am particularly incensed by the willingness to overlook Trump’s daily whoppers in order to claim that Hillary “can’t be trusted.” What are they worried she might do? Sell us out to the Russians? They’d better look at their own guy if that is the case.

    I also was a reluctant Hillary supporter, but after close examination, I realized that it came from the constant drip, drip, drip of Republican nonsense over the last decades. Even though I knew their claims had no substance, the psychological result of their mantra was that it rooted itself in my psyche. It’s an evil sort of premeditation to plan and execute a program of ruination over a period of decades. I’ve never seen this happen with men.

  14. “I’ve never seen this happen with men.”

    Men are certainly flawed creatures but differently than women.

    Most men would know exactly how to treat Trump. It would take very few words.

    Most women would treat the problem more subtlely.

    It doesn’t matter much though as long as neither vote for him.

  15. Thank you Sheila. I expected false equivalency or less from Fox News, but the major networks and even the New York Times also piled on Hillary Clinton while expecting little from Trump and giving him pass after pass for a year. There likely is not enough time left to do all the digging needed on Trump’s Foundation, foreign and domestic business entanglements, relationships with thugs, employment of illegal and legal workers – including importation of child models that may violate human trafficking laws, Trump’s lifelong exploitation of lenders, contractors, employees, and renters, and God knows how much else.

    Whether Hillary used a State Dept. server that’s been hacked several times or her own server (for which there’s no evidence of hacking) pales in comparison to the lifetime of snake oil Donald Trump is selling.

  16. “There is no equivalency between Trump and Clinton. None.” Make no mistake about it. This election we are voting either for democracy, as messy and imperfect as that is, or for fascism, in which case there might not be a 2020 election. And don’t think that is an exaggeration.

  17. Great one, Sheila!

    All: Check out The Daily Beast for “Hey Hillary Here’s How To Debate A Narcissist”.

  18. There is every reason for reasonable people to vote for a candidate who is the most experienced candidate we have ever had versus a candidate who is probably the worst candidate we have ever had for the office. When are people going to realize that his bluster and claims made out of thin air and not fact are just that, bluster and groundless claims. I am hearing nothing from this guy that relates to his vision of where America and its people are going and how he proposes to get them there. Hillary should be voted for in her own right irrespective of this buffoon’s bluster and claims, of course. She deserves our vote. Is she perfect? Of course not! Who after 35 years or so in the national limelight doesn’t have some warts and moles and scars? There is an old saying that scar tissue is tougher that straight skin, and I think she will make a tough, battle-tested president who will move this country ahead.

  19. Without the threat of Trump,the Democrats have nothing to offer. The DNC have thoroughly enjoyed the hippie-punching of the last few months and the Democrats and their sheep have been nothing but condescending and smug toward their fellow Democrats unwilling to support the “favored” candidate. How’s that working out? I will not vote for Trump. I will not vote for Clinton. I do intend to vote against against every Clinton Super-delegate possible. It’s my vote and mine alone. If that angers a Caucasian-privileged subgroup amongst the Democrats,so be it.

    Perhaps someone with a functioning brain reading this forum will understand the following:

    “I would like to suggest that the threat these young voters pose to technocratic liberalism is not the possibility of electing Donald Trump. Despite Clinton’s flagging numbers, her chances of success remain high. Rather, the fear is that if younger voters really are committed to a host of ideological positions at odds with the mainstream of the Democratic Party, then that Party, without a Trump-sized cudgel, is doomed. It should not escape anybody’s notice that politics by negative definition—the argument, at bottom, that “we’re better than those guys”—has become the dominant electoral strategy of the Democratic Party, and that despite the escalation of the “those guys” negatives, the mere promise to be preferable has yielded diminishing returns. At some point, the Democratic Party will either need to embrace a platform significantly to the left of their current orthodoxy, or they will lose.”


  20. Anyone not named Clinton would have served time for illegal commodities trading, irresponsible care for classified information, not to mention her position changes for political expediency on gay marriage, TPP, NAFTA, as well as the wrong headed positions on second amendment and health care. Other than that, she should be fine.

  21. What’s really a bit unnerving is her choice for VP, Kaine–as Governor–isn’t much different from Pence.

    Isn’t that a hoot!?

  22. Nancy,

    William 1’s comments, which unnerve many on the blog, are on target as he is very much aware that American politics at its DNA core is racist. That’s a fact, not an unproved theory.

    You might chalk that up as your first lesson in systemic politics.

  23. From a systemic perspective just as racist as Nazi Germany. How is it that Donald Trump has made it up to this point? Will we ever quit living in a dream world?

  24. I am done wasting breath on this. Anyone who votes for Trump is an idiot, full stop. Anyone who votes for a third party candidate is probably an idiot as well.

    Per Merriam-Webster:

    Full Definition of idiot
    1 usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation
    2 a foolish or stupid person

    Medical Definition of idiot
    dated now offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation

    Legal Definition of idiot
    a person with especially a profound intellectual disability

  25. Listen Liberal!!!

    Nancy,Democrat. Unfortunately,the Democrats have been taken over by supremacist Republicans. Do you believe Republicans simply became racist since the courtship of evangelicals? I don’t. Having said that,I’m left (pun intended) wondering how the proprietor of this blog could have supported the Republican Party for decades prior to 2000? There’s much white-privilege that resonates within this blog and its comments. Lots of supremacy as well. The best thing to happen to The New Democrats is for them to go. The Democrat Party MUST evolve into something more than continue its role as Republican-Lite.

    Frankly,I think anyone frequenting this blog and calling anyone an idiot is a projection of their own insecurities. Plus,it’s a weak attempt to ingratiate themselves amongst the flock. Group-think isn’t exclusive to the other side,nor is blind faith to brand loyalty. I think all of us have been out of high school for quite some time. Moreover, I believe Madelaine Albright’s comments wrt 500,000 dead Iraqi children as being deplorable. Albright,(a Clinton supporter) is simply a racist white/American/supremacist. No ifs and or buts. I believe Henry Kissinger is a deplorable human being. As far as people being considered as Irredeemable….I’m reminded of a Democrat named Byrd. I think Hillary Clinton is a lousy candidate. Biden would be lousy as well. Hell,the Democrat apparatchiks have become as unhinged and evangelical in their demand for brand loyalty as the wingers. I will not cave to fear. Neither will others. To hell with fear. The fear mostly is propagated by affluent Caucasian shut-ins anyway. There needs to be more efforts for positive change to come to fruition than being a keyboard commando and the demanding of others to vote (for the SoS) your way. Clinton nor Trump has earned my vote. But I will vote against every single one of Clinton’s super-delegates.

    I always thought fascism in America would arrive via the right-wing. I was wrong. It will arrive via the New Democrats.

    So Nancy,I hope that clarifies things. My comments should only be upsetting to you if you’re among those that cannot accept constructive criticism of the Democrat Party.

  26. Also,I’d like to think Clinton’s “problem” at the 911 Memorial was brought on by karma.

    For what?

    Perhaps that little mistake she made in voting for Iraq War–which continues to this day decades later.

    Perhaps the ghosts of those deplorable 500,000 Iraqi children decided to haunt her?

    Karma for Haiti? Who am I kidding,Haitians don’t matter. They’re to be exploited and probably just as deplorable as those outside of our little I’m With Her glee club.

    Who knows,perhaps the victims of 911 haunted her thoughts for a fleeting moment? Under her guidance and authority as SoS the US taxpayer is paying for weapons to be sent/used by AQ and its subsequent organizations for use in Syria and of course in Libya.

    Hillary can never fail. It’s the world that fails Hillary.

    I guess all of us should move to Switzerland or Italy? Perhaps some of us could get subsidized housing in a wealthy neighborhood?

    Perhaps when Hillary wins we can invade Russia!? That will be fun. Well,not for everyone. The children of the deplorables will be fighting the war whilst we spend our time arguing the semantics of identity politics.

    But hey,brand loyalty and because markets!!

  27. William 1; ain’t freedom of speech a wonderful thing! You can unload your personal meanderings and name-call (within reason) if you so choose to make your voice heard daily here on this blog. You know you are being heard because you get responses. You are one of those that an unforgettable sign at a Trump rally referred to; “Deplorable Lives Matter”!

    The Trump supporter was NOT referring to Henry Kissinger; probably never even heard of him and I wonder if he knew the definition of the word “deplorable” when he made his sign.

  28. William 1 –

    From one of your earlier posts: ” the Democrats and their sheep have been nothing but condescending and smug toward their fellow Democrats”

    Also from that same post: “Perhaps someone with a functioning brain reading this forum will understand the following:”

    Did not your second statement that I have copied do exactly what you were accusing others of doing in the statement from your post that I copied first?

    And What The Hell is This about – “Listen Liberal!!!” Were you yelling at me for statements that others made?

    And finally – I hope like hell that you are actively doing everything you can to bring back the Democratic party that you want. I sure as hell hope that you aren’t just on here yelling at us just for the sake of blowing off steam to make yourself feel better, while possibly not doing anything to bring about the changes that you desire!

  29. Marv –

    “You might chalk that up as your first lesson in systemic politics.”

    You should realize by now that I am very aware of this.

  30. Nancy,Listen Liberal, is a book by Thomas Frank. The very same Thomas Frank that had written What’s The Matter With Kansas. I suggest you read it.Then re-read it again. Then read What’s The Matter With Kansas.

    Do you ask others on this forum to actively change the Democratic Party? Of course not.

    Nancy,are you the arbiter of what is?not acceptable on this forum? No you’re not.

    Also,I didn’t call anyone an idiot. I have faith in those with a working brain can/will understand what’s written beyond the fold. Of course,my Achilles heel has always been giving folks too much credit when it comes to accepting information. I’ll adjust accordingly for the group. Perhaps I should limit myself to echoing the sentiments expressed by previous contributors? Where do I send the check for my Blue Pom-Poms?

    Speaking of fear and false equivalency, perhaps this should be a concern for all?


    I think Marvin can even appreciate Col. Lang’s credentials. I know credentials are very important to Marvin. In fact,I hope Marvin and some of the more “enlightened” amongst this forum would chime in and add their thoughts as well.

  31. Nancy,

    Remember, you asked me to explain the deep political interworkings that I had been able to observe. It’s hard to know what’s in someone’s mind. When I said “first lesson,” I was talking about teaching what the total political system looked like through a “deep background perspective.” If I ever constructed a course, my first lesson would be the DNA core. When I said “chalk that up as your first lesson in systemic politics,” I wasn’t implying that you didn’t know that the core was racist, I wasn’t referring to your knowledge but to the idea of a course.

    I just received a course I ordered today from the Great Courses on “Building Great Sentences.” I’m not much of a writer but the course title wasn’t assuming as to how much knowledge that I had. I’m sorry for not making myself very clear. I was sort of joking. I’ve have never felt that you were less knowledgeable than me on matters of race. Lessons of a course were on my mind and I was thinking about something you said a few days before.

    Nevertheless, we as a group very rarely talk about race. Consequently, because of that, It makes communication very difficult when we attempt to do it.

  32. William 1 –

    “Do you ask others on this forum to actively change the Democratic Party? Of course not.

    Nancy,are you the arbiter of what is?not acceptable on this forum? No you’re not.”

    Regarding your above comments to me: You were ranting about the members of the Democratic party as if we are all worthless and doing nothing to make changes. That is why I said I hope you are, in fact, active in making changes instead of just ranting to and writing condescending remarks directed at the rest of us.

    I have not asked others on here to actively change the democratic party because I have not yet read another post that has been so directly insulting to the rest of us, as if we are useless and don’t have a clue about what is/has been going on politically. For someone that accused others of being condescending to fellow Dems YOU were extremely condescending and I will not personally tolerate that or be bullied by you or anyone else.

    If you are going to start a post by addressing it to my name, then I can only assume that everything written in that post is directed at me. Perhaps, you might not be quite so haughty and be clear about whom you are addressing in your posts if you are, in fact, also addressing others.

    My final observation about you today with this comment of yours – “Of course,my Achilles heel has always been giving folks too much credit when it comes to accepting information. I’ll adjust accordingly for the group.”

    Just Who The Hell Do You Think You Are????

  33. Marv,

    No problem. Thanks for explaining your point. After reading William 1’s posts (that certainly appeared to be attacking everyone else’s intelligence) and your support of him, I took your comment as a bit of an attack.

  34. Nancy,

    Thanks for understanding my dilemma in not rejecting William 1. I don’t condone William 1’s personal attacks however, I feel, his political positioning, for the most part, is highly ethical.

    Because of our reluctance to tackle race, I’m at a loss as to how or why he should temper his rage.

  35. Nancy,

    I have a one track mind right now, I assume you do too……It’s to focus on defeating Donald Trump. Defeating him in the debates will not be enough.

  36. Nancy,if you’re politically astute as you claim,you should have been aware of Frank’s book and my reference(s) to it. Secondly,did you read the link to Newsweek? Of course not,you already have all the answers. That link and my posts are telling you what is wrong with the party–and why the favored candidate isn’t 50 points ahead of Trump. Yet, folks such as yourself do not want to see it,hear it and/or accept it. The Democratic Party is doomed to fail if it continues to rescind on its core values and doesn’t evolve to represent the interests outside of the investor,corporate and large donor class. Want to know why Biden would not have worked as a candidate? Ask all of those Millennials indebted to Monetary/Loan/Finance Lobby. They’re not stupid. They know Biden was instrumental wrt bankruptcy legislation. That’s one example. People are tired of voting against their interests among Democrats. The Democrats have failed their constituents amongst the 99%. Many of us are tired of the same canards and platitudes being spun by the party. We know it’s empty rhetoric. The party and the favored candidate have a long history of accommodating big moneyed interests to the detriment of all others outside of their crony club. As George Carlin said”There’s a club and you ain’t in it.” That’s why many of the interests that had supported GWB are now supporting Hillary. GWB was the worst president in my lifetime and had the wrong people with him. I don’t want anymore of that–neither do most Americans.

    Keep alienating those that have supported the Democratic Party through the decades. It sure seems to be working out for you during this election,no?

  37. William 1,

    Attacking the way you’re doing now against Nancy and Professor Kennedy in the past turns everyone off. It’s not justified. I understand your frustrations, can’t you find a more creative way to carry them out? Turning off your potential friends can’t be an intelligent answer if you really want to help things. If you want to make matters worse, you’ve definitely found the right solution.

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