Walking back incendiary rhetoric

A lot of discussion bytes are being used on how much, to what extent etc. etc. Donald Trump is “walking back” his original comments about his views on immigration.
This discussion is mostly pointless.
It is pointless because of one of the oldest quotes about the promulgation of false information, courtesy of Mark Twain:

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Most people do not remember the correction to a comment or falsehood. They mostly remember the original comment or falsehood. To put it another way; Lyndon Johnson once proposed that his campaign allege that his opponent fucked goats. To protests that this was scumbag behavior, LBJ’s response was “I know it is, but let’s see him try to deny it”. LBJ, one of the more cynical modern politicians, knew quite well the power of unfounded initial statements.
Politicians know this very well. They utter incendiary or inflammatory statements as part of a carefully calibrated strategy to appeal to specific groups of people. If those remarks cause a shitstorm, they have a clever rhetorical get out of jail card in the form of a Notpology. The Notpology signals to their core supporters that they really did mean what they said originally and they are pretending to express contrition for people who “can’t take the message”. Those people are not their core supporters so they don’t give a damn about them.
So when you read all of the column inches about “regret”, “clarification” etc. supposedly being engaged in by Donald Trump over his immigration comments, ignore it. It’s all flim-flam. Trump knows that his core supporters remembered the original ideas, which sounded good to them. All of the regretful hand-wringing is for show, merely to attempt to quell a shitstorm. It’s meaningless twaddle.
He doesn’t care what people like i think, namely that he is pandering to nativism and racism with juvenile solutions unworthy of a serious political candidate. He only cares that his initial ideas were well-enough received to propel him to the GOP nomination. So uttering nonsense had a positive payback. We can expect to see more incendiary statements followed by “what I really meant to say” clarifications all through this election cycle. Politicians do it because it works. It works because we remember initial statements more than corrections. Our bad.


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