It is well known that people can convince themselves of anything if what they want to be true is more alluring than what actually is. This can happen to anybody, of course, but Republicans have made it an art-form. And sometimes the process is so glaringly painful to watch that even Megyn Kelly notices it, as when she called out Karl Rove’s “math Republicans do” back in 2012 as Romney’s hopes crumbled.
You’ll remember Rove trying to massage the numbers in such a way as to prove Romney could still win, when it was obvious to any dispassionate observer that he had already lost – and lost badly – prompting Kelly’s famous question: “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?”
We’ve seen it many times since, but seldom more glaringly than when conservative political pundit Bernie Goldberg sat down with Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor Thursday and told O’Reilly that Trump “hasn’t done anything to my knowledge that would offend so many black people.” And icing on the cake: neither he nor O’Reilly could understand the poll numbers and Goldberg explained that “one of the problems is, and hear me out on this — is that you’re looking at this rationally.”
Watch courtesy of Media Matters for America:
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): Here is more startling number, and I don’t understand this number. African-Americans favorable for Trump, 7 percent, unfavorable 91 percent. What did Donald Trump ever do to African-Americans? I’m not getting this, it’s far and away the biggest repudiation of any political candidate.
BERNIE GOLDBERG: You know what? That’s a fair question, because he certainly hasn’t done anything specific. You can make the case that he made comments about Mexicans, that Mexicans, you know, Latins, Americans don’t like, or Latinos in this country don’t like —
GOLDBERG: — You might make that case.
GOLDBERG: But he hasn’t done anything to my knowledge that would offend so many black people, but I think it’s the persona. Hillary Clinton is very popular among black voters, very popular. She panders to the black electorate a lot. And understandably she is, you know, they like her. So if she is the opponent of a Donald Trump. So if she is the opponent of a Donald Trump, you can see how they might say we like Hillary, therefore, we don’t like Trump. But there is no rational reason. You are on to something there.
O’REILLY: I don’t understand. Our African-American viewers, if you will write me and let me know, I mean, I’ll do it tomorrow. We will do a segment on it.
O’REILLY: African-Americans like Cruz, a lot more than they like Trump. Again, why?
GOLDBERG: Well, they like him a lot more than they like Trump, but I mean they probably like David Duke a little more than they like Trump —
O’REILLY: But there is no rationale for either the favorable for Cruz among African-Americans, or unfavorable. I don’t understand the number.
GOLDBERG: Well, one of the problems is, and hear me out on this — is that you’re looking at this rationally.
So yeah…O’Reilly thinks Trump’s unfavorable among blacks is a “startling number” and Goldberg agrees. You just might be a Republican if you say something this catastrophically stupid.
Remember, this is the same Bill O’Reilly who told Trump Monday that, “that many African-Americans are ‘ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads.'”!
When Huffington Post looked at examples of Trump’s racism on Leap Day, they quipped: “He claims to have ‘a great relationship with the blacks,’ which is totally something a normal person would say.”
Warning bells already, right?
Here’s what they found:
- The Justice Department sued his company — twice — for not renting to black people
- He refused to condemn the white supremacists who are campaigning for him
- He questions whether President Obama was born in the United States
- He treats racial groups as monoliths (“the Hispanics,” “the Muslims” and “the blacks”)
- He trashed Native Americans, too
- He encouraged the mob justice that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five (in 1989)
- He condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester
- He called supporters who beat up a homeless Latino man “passionate”
- He stereotyped Jews as good negotiators — and political masterminds
Now notice how O’Reilly and Goldberg also treat ethnic groups as monoliths in their analysis. They can understand why “Mexicans” or “Latins” might dislike Trump, but what has he done to offend blacks? Well, plenty as it happens, and that was just up until February 29. But what makes them think racism directed toward a group other than your own is more palatable? I’m a white man, and I’m offended by Trump’s comments towards Native Americans and Mexicans. Why wouldn’t blacks be?
Republican math is an interesting phenomenon. I first began to see it under the Bush administration, where Dubya and the gang of thieves he surrounded himself with would deal with problems by defining them out of existence. This process has continued, uninterrupted, and become, if anything, more pronounces since Obama’s election in 2008.
We are not likely to see the end of it, and we should probably take note here of Goldberg’s fantasy at one point that Herman Cain was the “second coming” of Ronald Reagan. This isn’t political analysis: this is speculative fiction. You’d get as clear a picture of American politics by watching Game of Thrones on HBO as by watching political analysis of Fox News.
The only real surprise Thursday was that between O’Reilly’s false gravitas and Goldberg’s fantasy fiction, that the two elderly white male conservatives did not turn Trump into a champion of the Civil Rights Movement.