Violence and Sympathy

The Washington Post asks why the media hasn't covered the attempted assassination of Donald Trump as a major story. Indeed, it's arguably the second assassination attempt -- that one guy jumped the stage and Secret Service had to stop him.

It may be because we don't worry that much about criminals who are morons. This guy built his plan around stealing a cop's gun, which might have worked if he'd had a plan for dealing with the cop. As it was, he apparently believed that (a) he'd be able to get a cop's gun away from him while the cop was free to fight back, and (b) that he'd be able to do so in such a way that he'd still have time to get some shots off. Clearly, this is not a professional we're talking about. The Post article makes a similar point: perhaps we don't think this guy was a serious threat.

Instapundit suggests it's because some wish the attempt had succeeded. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air points out how obviously different the narrative would be if another politician had been the target.
Can you imagine the coverage we’d be seeing if someone had attempted to shoot Hillary Clinton? The same could be said if it had happened with Barack Obama in the summer of 2008. Questions would be debated on air for weeks on end about the evil lurking in the hearts of men and why someone would be so desperate to prevent the election of the first black or female president. But when someone plots for more than a year to kill Trump, travels across the country to find an opportunity and then launches his attempt, it creates barely a ripple in the media pond.

And what of the fact that Sandford is an illegal alien?
I'm going to give another reading. I think it's because seeing Trump as vulnerable to violence might create sympathy for him.

Brexit polling shows that the "Leave" camp suffered a significant hit when a neo-Nazi killed a British politician on the "Remain" side. This is, in point of fact, completely irrational. Whatever your reasons for thinking Britain should stay or go aren't in any way touched by the fact that some psychopath happens to kill an innocent third party: it is the sort of act that shouldn't have any impact at all on your political judgment on this entirely unrelated question.

But humans aren't fully rational beings, and sympathy plays a huge role for some people in deciding what they take to be right and wrong. The thought that you might be on the side of a neo-Nazi, or have been against that nice young woman who was brutally killed, will sway some voters. The fact that the "Leave" camp is really mostly not neo-Nazis, or that the "Remain" camp has some deeply anti-democratic ideas and imperils the future of British common law and self government, is lost at least for a while in the emotional imagery.

In the case of Trump particularly, the narrative building around him is that he's an entirely unsympathetic character. It's not hard to build that narrative, since large parts of it are true. He's disrespectful, heedless of the truth, careless with his language, and apparently shameless. But he is human, and therefore he is vulnerable. If people came to see him that way -- if he actually got shot, for example -- it would pierce that image and make him a more sympathetic character.

If that happens, people might become more inclined to do what Byron York did last week: give Trump's proposals a sympathetic hearing. That can only happen if you are inclined to think well enough of the guy to look past what he actually said (which is often careless and poorly constructed) and try to find the best possible interpretation of his point. Still, when York did it, he found a core to the argument that isn't absurd, and in fact is pretty well-supported by the evidence.

My guess is that the press understands this at some level, and -- being almost exclusively Democrats -- the last thing they want is people giving Trump a sympathetic hearing. Play him as a strongman -- he's happy to play with you -- and he looks unsympathetic in the extreme. Play him as a vulnerable human being, and people might take a second look at what he's saying. If they do so in the spirit of sympathy, they might find what York found. And then he might win.


Anonymous said...

The problem the Washington Post has is that Donald Trump's statements do not merit the "ape shit" responses by those who think they have a right to run this country, and too many people know this. The actual videos are available, and anyone can find them. He is very good at forcing a discussion on topics that are needed. The aphorism "crude but effective" comes to mind. His remarks may not be smooth, but the points he makes are not stupid.

For blatantly stupid, I give you today's story about the Attorney General of the United States of America that blaming the Orlando attack on a failure of love and compassion on our part, This fits well with an administration that pretended to think that a terrorist attack on one of our embassies was caused by a trailer for a proposed movie that had no effective circulation.


Grim said...

A lack of love and compassion for gays is evident in the reaction to the Orlando shooting, though -- I mean by their purported allies. In the wake of the shooting, feminists like Marcotte wanted to make the shooting all about problematic masculinity. Liberals wanted to make it all about guns, especially the AR-15 that they hate so much even though that gun was not used in the shooting. The Obama administration wanted to make it all about protecting Islam from criticism. Or they wanted to make it about Christians, somehow.

The people who really suffered here, and suffered for being who they were, got lost. All their supposed allies turned instead to their favorite hobby horse. The deaths of all these gays was treated as if it could be spent as currency toward some political goal their allies wanted more.

It was a fairly disgusting display.

Ymar Sakar said...

But he is human, and therefore he is vulnerable.

Anything that lives, can also be killed. Now that Hussein has ordered that Presidents and their families get life long SS protection, the fact that Hussein has corrupted the SS should be a very vital and important facet to consider.

A lot of people back Trump on the hope (hope and change) that he will go to DC and change the world from there. Of course, that's assuming Hussein steps down from power. That's assuming Trump makes it to DC alive... that's assuming a lot of things which I never assume in war.

Whatever happened to plan for the worst, hope for the best? People are hoping, but that's about all. Then again, they fell for the propaganda about Iraq in 2005, and thought what they were told to think. Just as they now think what they are told to think about Syria and Benghazi. These voters don't even have free will and no evidence that they have used it.

Ymar Sakar said...

It was a fairly disgusting display.

People should get used to it. The Left did plenty of things similar to and worse than that, in the 2008-2012 years. Also the 20th century were full of em, Vietnam included.

If people continue to be surprised and/or shocked, their anti Left capabilities will decrease to about zero as a result.

Texan99 said...

The vibe I get is, "Sure, someone tried to take a shot at him. Who wouldn't?"