Talking Points

The only way Trump can win

Fifty-four percent of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump’s handling of the presidency. He trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national polls by more than 7 percentage points. Biden leads in every swing state, often by substantial margins.

The only way for Trump to turn it around is for his campaign and its cheerleaders in the right-wing media to deploy a strategy based on the fallacy of composition — which is the act of claiming that something is true of a whole because it is true of a part (even a very tiny part). We see this all the time on the right when a muckraking website like Campus Reform highlights an extreme left-wing statement by a professor and uses it to describe American universities as a whole as uniformly Marxist, even though the overwhelming majority of the country’s thousands of faculty members are not Marxists.

This is exactly what Trump did in a Saturday tweet when he asserted that “the Democrats took the word GOD out of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democrat National Convention.” In fact, every recitation of the Pledge during the primetime segments of the DNC included the “under God” line. This line was left out during just two individual caucus meetings out of more than a dozen at the DNC.

So beware, Democrats: Any politically unpopular, stupid, ill-advised, extreme, over-the-top statement or act by anyone who can be described as a member of the party will be attributed to all members of the party — very much including those at the top of the ticket. And this will be true even when Biden distances himself from the statement or act, as he has consistently done with the call of some activists to “Defund the Police.” If one Democrat says it, Trump will pretend all Democrats think it. If they deny it, the disavowal will be treated as evidence of deceit.

Because such flagrant dishonesty may be the only way for Trump to prevail on Nov. 3.