He also apparently tweets about politics. It turns out, yipes, his political analysis is not up to the same level as baseball. But then, I guess analysis is harder when you can’t rely on a computer.
Last week, I came across a couple of tweets he left during an online debate about Trump. One read --
“Blaming Republicans for Trump is like blaming Poland for Adolph. He invaded the party and took over. What were they supposed to do about it?”
Right, because winning one’s own party nomination is exactly like blaming another sovereign nation for getting overrun. I mean, seriously?? Forget for a moment what a bizarre thought this is on just historical analysis level. But purely as a question -- What were Republicans supposed to do?? Really?? Well, for starters, one thing they could have done is NOT vote for him. And also, er…I think Bill James doesn’t grasp that he’s comparing the GOP to the Nazi Party.
The other tweet that caught my eye was --
“Democrats helped bring him to power by (1) ignoring legitimate concerns about the effects of trade, and (2) nominating a bad candidate.”
Yeah, cool, except, for that whole pesky, “He had to win the Republican nomination first” thing, to normalize himself with the public. Republican voters could have shut him down right away when he was this sick, egregious sociopath running against other Republicans, but they didn’t. They supported him enough to pick off the other GOP candidates one by one. And once he became the Republican presidential candidate, he suddenly had the near-full support of the party. Republicans supported him because he was a Republican. Period. It didn’t matter who the Democratic opponent was – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden or beloved Tom Hanks. Trump at that point was officially The Republican Candidate for President, and that’s the normalized platform he was able to run on.
I wrote all this to a friend, who's a big baseball fan and especially has sworn by Bill James for decades. He's also very liberal, and I thought he'd be interested.
He was, and couldn't begin to decipher the loopy comments about Poland. Though to my surprise he had much more agreement with the second comment about Democrats helping. I understood some of my friends' points -- but what I also understood is that my friend tends to fiercely defend to the death things he likes, and he likes Bill James. Also, my friend -- being very liberal -- had a lot of problems with Hillary Clinton and loved Bernie Sanders, so he was happy to agree with Bill James about her being a "bad" candidate. And he thought because so many Obama voters switched to Trump that this supported this perspective.
What I wrote back to my friend was detailed and lengthy disagreement. I thought he was hugely naive -- which I didn't say, because that word would have made him extremely defensive and probably even offended, especially since he considers himself deeply perceptive on most things, world-wise, and the opposite of naive. He's very sharp and has great insights -- but he also has the habit of often coming up with a theory and cramming facts to fit the theory.
As I wrote back to him, I thought his personal complaints about problems Democrats caused for themselves were reasonable. The did cause problems. But "Democrats" are NOT to blame for Donald Trump -- as much as Bill James would like to avoid Republican responsibility. And I sensed that my friend was bending over backward to be fair to Bill James, trying to interpret what he meant based on what my friend himself believes, overlaying his own belief on that of Bill James. But their perspectives are total opposite, which makes the comparison wrong. You can't blithely ignore the first bizarre first statement by Bill James because it's inconvenient, and just read the second statement alone (wrong-headed as it is) and consider that to be Bill James' thinking. Suggesting what was meant without the two comments together doesn’t fit. Bill James shows us what he means.
While it's correct (in part) to look at the general election, that ignores the far-larger and indeed main point I had made – that Trump had to get there first and become normalized. He had to go from this joke of a clownish TV personality character and get accepted by the GOP first to be seen as a The Official Republican Party Nominee. That was the biggest hurdle he faced by far. Once you’re the official GOP nominee for President of the United States, you’re guaranteed 35% of the vote without trying. He pulled in 11% more.
Moreover, Trump’s acceptance by the GOP started long before even the campaign, when he went around pushing birtherism and making demands to see Obama’s college transcripts, building up Republican support based on race baiting. And going to evangelicals and getting their support for “moral” issues while they hypocritically ignored that Trump may be the least religious candidate of a major party in U.S. history. So, before even getting to the GOP primaries, the Republican Party had already started the process of normalizing Trump.
By the time of the general election, Trump had already long-since been able to alter his perception in the public from clownish TV fake-reality joke mogul into Official Republican Party Nominee for President. All because Republicans kept voting for him and eliminating the party of serious candidates, one-by-one, putting Trump on the pedestal as Our Leader.
Sarcasm alert. And yeah, absolutely, sure, Trump's victory in the Electoral College was ALL about “trade.” Right, that was what got him in the Oval Office. His election was all about "trade." That's what his base cared about -- trade! Not emails, "Crooked Hillary" FBI investigations, "lock her up," hating Muslims, "the fake media" and building a wall to keep out Mexicans -- but "trade." Right, sure.
Then there's the issue of Hillary Clinton being a "bad" candidate, and how Bernie Sanders would have cleaned up. I do agree that Hillary Clinton was certainly flawed, and I didn’t agree with her on everything. But one can't ignore she was voted the most admired woman in the world for something like 23 years in a row, which is a leap far beyond being the "bad" candidate that Bill James wants to paint her.
Besides, importantly, thinking that Bernie Sanders would have attracted all those "disenfranchised" voters and easily beaten Trump presumes far too much. For all that I like him, Sanders was never really challenged within the Democratic primaries about his personal flaws and therefore didn’t face any serious criticism about who he is, his past, being a “socialist” and his highly-liberal positions. In fact, I’ve read what the Republicans had planned for him if he’d won, and it was brutal. Now imagine, on top of that, hearing Trump being Trump and every day smearing Sanders with every roaring name-calling epithet he could invent. Maybe Sanders wouldn’t have lost all the Obama votes Hillary Clinton did – but the opposition research on him (with problematic videos I read about that they had from his early days) was gruesome, and he probably would have lost other votes elsewhere that Hillary didn’t. If Bernie Sanders had been the nominee, it's near-impossible to think that Trump and the GOP wouldn't have gone all out to have shredded him, just as much as they did Hillary Clinton. The difference is that Sanders hadn't faced that yet. It was coming, make no mistake.
And furthermore, for all the fair criticism of Hillary Clinton, though she did lose because the Electoral College is how we run races and decide the winner, it’s important to at least acknowledge that she got 3 million more votes than Trump. She was more popular by him, and by a lot. But that’s not how we decide the presidential election, and so she lost. But getting 3 million more popular votes is hardly the core of a "bad" candidate.
But all that about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is moot. Because I repeat – Democrats didn’t “bring Trump to power,” like Bill James tries to contend. Bill James blaming Democrats for “helping” bring Trump to power is just a pathetic twisting of reality and shameful effort to avoid Republican responsibility of a despot. Democrats – in general – hated Trump and did all they could in the election to defeat him. If they made mistakes that allowed Trump to take advantage of their mistakes, that's one thing. But that’s such a small part of how Trump came to prominence and became normalized as the Republican Candidate. Blaming “Democrats” is such a wide, generic swath to paint. I’m a Democrat, I didn’t help bring Trump to power. Neither did my friend. Nor did any Democrat I personally know. And Bill James’ suggestion that “we” (and most others) did is empty, cowardly and deceitful.
Yes, it's true, there are some people who voted for Obama voted for Trump, absolutely -- but I’m certain that most of those were independents, not Democrats. And further, despite what Bill James claims as his top, #1 point, the election was not won because of “trade,” that’s utterly ridiculous. It was one tiny, near-insignificant issue out of many. It ignores, as I said, “Crooked Hillary,” and email servers and banning Muslims and building a Mexican Wall and on and on and on and on – the #1 reason Democrats lost was NOT “trade,” whatever Bill James wants to suggest.
And so that leaves only one point on which Bill James can blame Democrats for Trump by saying "they" nominated a "bad" candidate -- which is the “Dear Lord, save me from myself” theory of elections. Well…honestly, ANY candidate who loses is the wrong candidate for the election and not good enough, and therefore bad. But not nominating the right, best, ideal, most wonderful, whatever candidate is NOT the same as taking the blame for Trump. Democrats did make mistakes, no question. But Trump got there, on the debate stage, on the ballot, on the "It's either him or her" pedestal because Republicans normalized him and they made him their party standard bearer.
What's fascinating is that in both of his statements, which must be read together as part of a whole, Bill James here is going Full Trump – not taking any personal responsibility. It’s all Someone Else’s Fault. And that is pure Trump. You can't miss that it's what he's doing -- his two notes remarkably only blame others for Trump. There’s no “Oh, my God, look at who WE Republicans nominated.” It's all someone else. Just like Trump himself, he’s trying to remove ALL responsibility. Go back and read what Bill James says above, asking about poor Republicans, “What were they supposed to do about it?” Oh, woe is me. What indeed?! Whatever could Republicans have done? How about…oh, I don’t know, Bill – how about not voting for Trump in the primaries.
I understand my friend's perspective as a liberal. But he's overlaying his own thoughts onto what Bill James is writing. And it's not appropriate to take Bill James' second comment out of context. All of James' words -- all of them, together -- point to blaming others. And ultimately, Trump was the Republican nominee. Who the Republicans normalized. And all Bill James can moan is, “What were they supposed to do about it?”
Woe is me. Apparently the sabermetric computers don't have the answer. But the answer is easy -- don't vote for the racist, misognynistic, hate-filled sociopathic liar.