The Gish Gallop
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the mercurial speed with which Donald Trump is dispatching the Republic, you’re not alone.
And neither is he. It’s like a sign I read at the recent Woman’s March, “Don’t blame Trump, he did everything he could to prove he was unfit to be President.”
Indeed, even before his inauguration, his enablers–the Republican Party of America– had a Vote O’ Rama preparing the way to eliminate Obamacare once and for all. Well past midnight in the wee hours of January 12th, the GOP controlled Senate voted down amendment after amendment offered by Democrats trying to safeguard things like providing care for pre-existing conditions, allowing children to remain on their parent’s insurance till the age of 26, funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), etc. In the deluge of news following his first week in office, that deeply disgraceful episode was lost in a whirl wind of announcements and orders—muzzling Executive Branch agencies, freezing all Federal hires, the resignations of the entire senior level staff at the State Department, moves to build a wall against Mexico, to build barriers against the Muslims, to end a trade deal with Asia, to allow black site torture chambers …once again. Oh, the lies, the pure quantity and velocity of his lies spewed out with the rapidity of an AK-47. Breathtaking stuff, really. HUGE.
On my Facebook wall, at last count, there were well over fifty separate calls to action. If I heeded each one, it would be a full time job. But of course, none of us are getting paid for this, at least I’m not, and most of my friends aren’t, which brings up another lie. When I told my father I was attending the Woman’s March, he said he heard that the attendees were all being paid. Well paid.
“Where’d you hear that?”
“A news source.”
“Which news source?”
“I don’t know, one of them, a good one.”
“Well, I’m happy to hear that. How much am I getting paid?”
“One thousand, five hundred dollars?” I repeated the longer format just to make sure I’d heard him right.
“Yes, the money is coming from Clinton. Her campaign’s war chest I suppose. What’s left of it.”
“Hillary Clinton, who didn’t even attend the march, really? She’s giving every marcher $1,500?”
“That’s what the news said.”
“Wow, so how do I collect this money?”
“That’s up to you, buddy boy. You’re the one with all the hotshot connections.”
Now, sad to say, my dad voted for Trump. Not so much a vote for Trump as a vote against Hillary Clinton and the so called liberal elite. He got on this band wagon way back in the Reagan era when the term limousine liberal was popularized and all those Republican heads exploded with thoughts of poor black women eating bon bons on the Government dole. Yet another lie that brings up a larger truth. This kind of nonsense has been around since the founding of the Republic (Here’s a quickie for you doubters out there. Most people mark Yorktown as the end of our own Revolutionary war. Yet 365 people were killed after that battle, more than at Bunker Hill, Lexington, Concord, and Quebec combined. But extending the end date would require explaining the Western battles against Native Americans, and young America’s awkward role as a proxy between Europe’s two great powers, England and France—not a great spin if you’re talking point is how the U.S. was a young, independent country. So we 86’d it. Just decided not to talk about that part of our history for the last 235 years or so. Never mind.).
Anyhow, it’s not the fact that some news is fabricated, or that nearly every interested party spins to a degree, it’s the velocity of the lies that are killing us today, and their quantity.
How did this happen? I don’t know but some people have theories. Back in the golden days of truthiness, circa 1984, there was a fellow named Duane Gish. He was a creationist, well versed in the art of obfuscation. His technique was simple. In the words of Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education– who had the misfortune of debating him at length– he spewed “forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn’t a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate.” She dubbed this approach “the Gish Gallop”
The Urban dictionary has an even more colorful definition for this technique:
“A Gish Gallop involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse a Gish Gallop will often have one or more ‘talking points’ that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it’s not totally false but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation.”
So here’s the theory. President Trump’s tenure amounts to one enormous Gish Gallop. As all things Trump, it will be the biggest, the grandest sack of bullshit ever assembled in one Presidential term. Lies, distortions, obfuscations, scatterbrained ideas, wholly unworkable schemes, blue print cons and conspiracies, the whole works, presented under the imprimatur of the President of the United States.
I’m not sure how to feel about this, but it does have the ring of truth, don’t you think?