Friday, August 12, 2016

But Trump is Precise

By Bob Ferris

I was interested to read a CNN piece today where Donald Trump was being criticized for his statements.  The catalyst for the article was Trump’s claim that Obama and Clinton were the co-founders of Isis (see here).  Now Trump has tried to pass off this outlandish statement as sarcasm, but if that was the case he must be terrible at sarcasm because his audience cheered the statement rather than laughed.
“Trump supporter Newt Gingrich on Friday said that the GOP nominee has failed to understand the importance of being precise.”  As quoted in CNN piece 
Newt Gingrich was quick to defend Trump implying that Trump had a "precision" problem brought on because Trump “uses three words when he needs 10.”  In this Gingrich makes a common error and confuses the concept of precision with that of accuracy.  Trump does not have a precision problem because he makes precisely the same mistake each and every time.  What Trump has is an accuracy problem because his statements do not reflect the truth or reality.  Precision and accuracy are related issues but not the same.

An example of this was Trump’s claim that Clinton was going to do away with the 2nd Amendment.  A President does not have the constitutional power to do away with amendments so what he was saying was inaccurate, but it was precisely what his audience wanted to hear and believe.  If you look at the target in the upper right of the above graphic that is a correct depiction of Donald Trump’s campaign.

If there is any accuracy at all in the Trump approach it is that tiny grouping smack in the center of what his base believes to be true, but is not.  It is not surprising that this pattern also reflects the news coverage on Fox and the rhetoric coming from folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  It also matches closely what Gingrich (see above clip) describes when he tries equate feelings with facts just as he is now trying to get us to think that the precision of Trump’s campaign means that it is accurate too.  We should understand this important difference and not be followed.

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