It ought to be clear to every thinking American voter that being right by accident is the same as being wrong. In a way, it’s worse. We’ve seen it before, some obscure political scientist from a little known university “accurately” predicts the outcome of every presidential election since 1980, say. We invest him (as the predictor is almost always male) with exceptional powers of forecasting, when in fact all that’s happening is he got lucky.
We ought to understand why this happens instinctively, without the need for an explanation. In a country of over 300 million people every possible combination of prediction is available, so naturally someone, somewhere, is going to get it right by accident. The same sort of thing happens at racetracks where the pick 6 is just as likely to be calculated by a little old lady using the hatpin method as the most seasoned tout. No one in their right mind thinks that a lottery winner guessed the correct six numbers through shrewd calculation.
Yet we imbue these political pundits with unmerited clairvoyance. Sometimes all they have to do is get it right once, provided that the outcome is both sufficiently counterintuitive and horrifying. When Michael Moore “predicted” a Trump presidency against all odds and in the teeth of all sane calculations on the sole spurious notion that he “knew” the people of Michigan, we ought to have been clear about what he was up to. It turns out, and becomes more transparent with each new revelation about how Trump won, that Moore didn’t have enough information to “know” any such thing. He took a chance because his brand was fading. Besides, had he been wrong a lot of people would have forgotten about it long ago.
Before you give him too much credit for not exploiting his appearing feat of political legerdemain it ought to also be clear to you that he doesn’t need to. Can anyone name a Michael Moore interview where his “stunning insight” hasn’t been mentioned? I can’t. But I can’t comment on his demure insistence that if ever he wished he were wrong that was it, except to say such a confession seems inconsistent with who Moore is. Moore has never met a lie he won’t tell if it suits his purpose. For example, that Hitler rose to power in January 1933 because he was appointed to the chancellorship by German President Hindenburg was an inconvenient truth for Michael Moore. So in his most recent film, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” he instead has Hitler “winning” the election of 1932. It made for bad history but effective drama, and a nice parallel to Trump.
Nor can one discount the extent to which Moore participated in Trump’s awful victory. His demonization of the Democratic National Committee and promotion of the misbegotten idea that they somehow “cheated” Bernie Sanders out of the nomination is, of course, idiotic, and an insult to the millions of voters who spurned Bernie and voted for Hillary. When the pick 6 winning tout was seen earlier skulking about the paddock we ought to naturally be suspicious.
And now I’ll be damned if Michael Moore is not at it again, this time slamming the DNC for “clearing the way” for Michael Bloomberg. It is Michael Moore’s latest effort to weaken the DNC and he has no shortage of admiring idiots willing to take up the battle cry. Every conspiracy theory has its bêtes noires – Moon Hoaxers and Flat earthers have NASA, for example. For Moore, his followers, and some of the wackier supporters of a Bernie Sanders candidacy, it’s the DNC. Michael Moore is already (with a weary reluctance that is starting to look histrionic) predicting a second term for Trump, and we will all be Trump-deserving idiots if we make his prediction come true and allow him to divide us again.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.