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Trump Surrogate Brigade's Trademark Tactics Hit Galling New Low

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Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler's minister of propaganda, was famous for the "Big Lie" -- the notion that an outrageous lie was more likely to be believed. This election season, Donald Trump's spin doctors are gaining fame for their new creation: the "Lie, Pivot and False Equivalency."

The current U.S. presidential race has taxed my patience, particularly when it comes to the ongoing torrent of sexist, racist, misogynistic and anti-democratic statements from one Donald J. Trump. The man definitely has a knack for annoyance although, at this stage, I find his pronouncements more humorous than annoying.

What I continue to find troublesome, however, is what I call Trump's basket of spin doctor deplorables. These are the campaign representatives who appear on news networks like CNN to defend the Trumpian view of the universe.

This group of surrogates includes former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former Reagan apparatchik Jeffrey Lord and the KKK of the Trump spin universe: Kayleigh McEnany, Katrina Pierson and Kellyanne Conway, his current campaign manager.

They haul out some superficially similar situation and effectively say: "He did it, too!"

Over the years, I've watched spin practitioners from both parties practice their dark art. The expectation, of course, has been that each "doctor" will put the best "spin" on his or her candidate. But in my experience, most such folks, both Democrats and Republicans, were at least willing to concede on obvious points. In this election cycle, however, that rule has gone out the window, at least for Trump's operatives.

The last presidential debate was representative and, as always, infuriating. Although Trump said he wouldn't necessarily accept the result of the election, his enablers either denied he said that or did such a quick pivot that it was surprising that they didn't incur a serious case of whiplash.

Watching a post-debate CNN panel that variously included Lord, Lewandoski, McEnany and Pierson was frustrating. Every one of them employed the same silly talking point, namely that Trump's anti-democratic stance was no worse than Al Gore's delayed concession in the contested 2000 election.

trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This is a common tactic of the members of the Trump media brigade; they haul out some superficially similar situation and effectively say: "He did it, too!" In polite circles this is known as a false equivalency although it really is nothing more than a childish playground ploy.

These so-called commentators operate from the same playbook as Trump. When confronted by some outrageous misstatement by their candidate, they either deny he made it or claim that his opponent has said worse. And before anyone can contest that specious position, they immediately pivot to unrelated issues.

One spin doctor, asked about Trump's position that Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should have nuclear weapons, denied he ever said that (although clearly he did), admitting only that Trump wants these nations to pay more for their own defence. The spinner immediately pivoted and condemned Hillary Clinton for her "33,000 e-mails."

That grown adults can continue to defend the indefensible is beyond the pale.


As for the current campaign, I am no longer surprised, amazed or annoyed by the latest outrageous rants from Donald Trump. I've accepted him for what he is: a demagogic, narcissistic blowhard who couldn't change his stripes even if he wanted to.

But I continue to be surprised, angered and outraged by Trump's coterie of apologists who continue to use all manner of foul means to defend him no matter how outlandish his pronouncements. That grown adults can continue to defend the indefensible is beyond the pale, and what is particularly galling is that his female operatives defend him despite his sexist words and actions.

I'm hoping Donald Trump will lose and that he will lose in a massive landslide. It's not that I want to see him go down to a convincing defeat (although I won't really mind); it's more that I hope a trouncing of Trump will put an end once and for all to the nefarious and irresponsible propagandizing that surely is a greater danger to the nation than one silly demagogue.

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