This is the latest in the liberal media’s ongoing ultra-hostile narrative: deliberately intended to destroy President Trump’s presidency. For example (one of many such articles): “Trump Humiliates Himself By Not Knowing That Israel Is In The Middle East” (Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA, 5-22-17). This article quotes the President: speaking to Israelis in Israel: “Our Secretary of State has done a great job. We just got back from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and we were treated incredibly well.” Easley continues:
The President is apparently so out of it that he didn’t know that was still in the Middle East, or even worse, he doesn’t know that Israel is in the Middle East. Since this is Donald Trump that is being discussed either option is realistically possible. . . . It is impossible for the world to take Donald Trump seriously when he doesn’t even know where he’s at. Every single day, Donald J. Trump finds new ways to humiliate the people of the United States of America.
Let’s examine these claims a bit (break them down). I interpret it as a simple slip of the tongue (which, of course, the liberal news media thinks is newsworthy). Liberals and Never Trumpers and other folks who don’t care much for the President immediately assume that this proves that Trump doesn’t know that Israel is in the Middle East, whereas I give him the benefit of the doubt and hold that it is implausible (and downright silly) to assert such profound ignorance based on something like this.
That’s what the army of Trump critics out there do: always assume the worst. I know the routine well, because as an apologist, this sort of thing is done to me all the time, by anti-Catholic Protestants, reactionary Catholics, politically liberal Catholics, angry atheists, etc. They read my words and somehow get out of them thoughts that never crossed my mind or that I never held. And this is what is done with Trump. It flows not from logic but from existing strong personal hostility. And that makes people become very illogical and uncharitable.
What Trump did is like me traveling to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and saying after I came back (I live in metro Detroit), “I just got back from Michigan.” It’s silly and funny, but also obviously a slip of the tongue and not immediately indicative of any lack of knowledge. But by liberal / Never Trumper reasoning, it would be concluded that I didn’t know that Allen Park (suburb of Detroit and my current residence) is in Michigan, too.
There are plausibility structures to all knowledge and hypotheses. In this case, Trump critics are saying that Trump actually doesn’t know that Israel is in the Middle East. I find that astronomically implausible, and not worthy to be entertained as a live opinion, for a second. If the choice is between that and my opinion that it was a simple human error / slip of the tongue, then I immediately choose the latter.
And this would be true regardless of party affiliation, etc. If President Obama had done this, I would have said exactly the same thing; although, when Obama said “corpseman” for “corpsman” several times in one speech (i.e., a hard p), it seemed most likely that he actually didn’t know how it was pronounced, because he did it repeatedly, for one thing. So, say that Trump has said this five times in his discourse with the Israelis, rather than once: then the plausibility of his not knowing such an elementary thing would rise considerably. But of course, the media would have never covered such a silly thing if Obama had done it. No one would have ever known about it.
Once in a while, conservatives turn the table and point out Obama gaffes that the liberal media overwhelmingly ignores. In April 2009, President Obama mused, “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian” for “wheeling and dealing.” There is no such thing as an Austrian language. Austrians speak German. Obama said this to an Austrian reporter (oops!) at a news conference regarding NATO, in Strasbourg, France. Europeans thus would have thought he was truly ignorant, to say such a stupid thing. Was it a slip of the tongue? Yes, quite possibly! The difference is that it is not then taken and made out to be compelling proof that Obama is an abject idiot, imbecile, and ignoramus. Same sort of thing; completely different treatment.
We have the spectacle of the liberal media and anti-Trump establishment and Never-Trump forces majoring on this silliness, whereas Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has stated: ““For the first time in my lifetime, I see a real hope for change.” Had Obama or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton brought about such a sea-change, it would be praised 24-7 for two weeks by the liberal media.
When President Obama went to Saudi Arabia, he wasn’t greeted by the king right off the plane. But supposedly anti-Muslim, anti-Arab President Trump was, with a red carpet.
There’s some real (and highly relevant) “data”. Trump critics should be ecstatic at such prospects for actual peace and the defeat of ISIS. Instead, they want to claim and devote articles to this tripe that Trump doesn’t know Israel is in the Middle East.
Of course Trump says silly things, like all of us do. How would anyone reading this (but especially Trump critics) like to have every word of yours dissected, parsed, cynically interpreted to fit into some narrative? He said a silly thing here. The difference is that the critics make what I believe to be a fantastically implausible and hyper-insulting claim based on the silly thing said, that I think was a simple slip of the tongue. I don’t conclude as they do because it is implausible, and I don’t believe things I believe to be utterly implausible. And I don’t conclude that people are imbeciles and ignoramuses unless there is compelling reason to do so.
President Trump is not stupid. He managed to become President when no one thought he could do so. Do his relentless critics think that’s easy (ask 16 other Republican primary candidates about it)? Do they think a profoundly dumb and stupid man can manage to do that? If Hillary was so blasted brilliant and intelligent (as Democrat talking-points would have it), how in the world did she lose to this supposed troglodyte? What sense does that make? None!
Trump hyper-critics can interpret all this stuff they bring up daily (at a 93% or so rate on the major liberal newscasts, according to a recent Harvard study), according to the “narrative” all they like. I don’t buy it. The same basic fallacy is simply applied over and over again. It has an appearance of strength, but strength is only as good as the weakest link in the chain, or weakest rope strand.
In this present case, there isn’t a link at all, or the slightest rope strand. It’s simply absurd and ludicrous. If this kind of nonsense doesn’t expose the pure silliness and non-substantial and irrational nature of much of the literally rabid, fanatical, obsessive Trump criticism, nothing will.