Trump to Base: I Won

Here is Donald Trump’s response to yesterday’s devastating testimony by former FBI director James Comey:

Ezra Klein says that Trump isn’t even trying to offer a coherent argument here:

It would be a mistake to think of what Trump is doing here as persuasion. He is not trying to offer a more consistent or credible account of events than Comey did. He is not marshaling evidence that disproves Comey’s testimony, or offering alternative explanations for the interactions Comey recorded.

No fair-minded person would look at Comey’s testimony and the White House’s pushback and see anything of value in the latter. Trump isn’t crafting believable lies or arguing with how Comey understood events or even trying to convince observers of an alternative timeline. He’s bullshitting.

I disagree. Not about Trump being a bullshitter, of course. He is. But as always, keep his audience in mind. Trump’s tweets aren’t aimed at me or Ezra or the editors of the New York Times. They’re aimed at his base supporters, many of whom will see little about the Comey hearing other than what Trump says.

For that audience, this is an extremely coherent, consistent, and persuasive statement. They didn’t watch the hearing, and they don’t read Vox or Mother Jones. This is it. And given the opportunity to have first crack at their headspace, Trump doesn’t bother spinning or exaggerating. He just flat-out says he was totally vindicated, and he says it as if this were common knowledge.

And why not? He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. If his base will buy it, there’s no reason to be subtle.

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