In my day the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was divided into coequal parts, referred to as “math” and “verbal.” On the math side lurked a species of question known as the Data Sufficiency Problem. Such problems rendered understanding the actual statement of a question, and whether or not it was set up with sufficient information to solve it, as the actual problem proper. For example, if my sister’s wedding is in three hours and my car will travel at a top speed of 60 miles an hour, will I be able to get there in time? Not even Isaac Newton himself, were he resurrected for that sole purpose, would be able to answer that one, if he didn’t first know how far away my sister lives.
I have no idea if that’s how the SAT is done today. My point is data sufficiency is an excellent way to teach children about reality, and if the designers of the test can figure out a way to punish guessing – so much the better. Rigorous testing in such matters might make us less willing to award people like Michael Moore for “correctly predicting” the outcome of the 2016 election. We would have instead seen, correctly, that Mr Moore simply did not possess enough information with which to solve the problem in the first place.
Not only did Moore get it wrong by asserting that Trump would outdraw Hillary in votes, he simply didn’t have the necessary information with which to guess how Trump would actually win in the first place. For example, he had no idea that James Comey, just ahead of the election, would make an announcement that would cause pundits and ordinary people alike to assume Hillary was still under investigation for her emails,. He had no idea what a huge hand Trump would receive from Bernie Sanders, or how much free air time political journalists would give Trump throughout his campaign. Above all, Michael Moore didn’t know what considerable role Russia was going to play in getting their man Trump into the Oval Office, let alone the price they are currently charging for services rendered.
Never meeting a historical falsehood he didn’t love, in Fahrenheit 11/9, Moore promotes Hitler to Fuhrer a full two months early. It conveniently suited the melodramatic sweep of Moore’s film to “forget” that Hitler was not elected Chancellor in November 1932, but appointed Chancellor in January 1933, appointed by an understandably reluctant Paul Hindenberg. It also suited Moore to insist, without evidence, that the 1933 Reichstag fire was set by the Nazis – something virtually every prominent historian rejects – for the usual, common, popularly and uncritically accepted reason, that the Nazis stood to benefit by it.
But what of his prediction? Why did Michael Moore insist that we would soon have a “President Trump” instead of a “President Clinton,” as everyone else was predicting? He took a chance and he got lucky. And that, more than any other reason, ought to convince you that being right by accident is the same as being wrong on purpose. In fact it’s worse.
But the story doesn’t end there. Getting back to the Russians, it would appear that their reach and the scope of their Machiavellian machinations into American politics reaches back even further than we first thought, and deeper into the Trump organization than we had guessed. In a series of new revelations compliments of CNN, recently resigned Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, the boyfriend of Kremlin agent and NRA and Trump infiltrator Maria Butina, has offered up previously unknown insights. Byrne says he was encouraged by the FBI to get close to Butina. He asserts that Donald Trump Jr. met secretly with Kremlin agents for more than an hour during the 2015 NRA Conference in Nashville. So Donald Junior lied to Congress when he claimed they met accidentally and spoke randomly and inconsequentially. In early 2015, Butina and her boss, Aleksandr Torshin, met with Putin with the purpose of plotting to infiltrate both the NRA and the Trump Organization. Their goal was to get the American sanctions against the Russian lifted and, if possible, get Donald Trump elected president of the United States.
Butina bragged to Byrne that she had deep contacts with four of the top seven Russian oligarchs, and she could even get Byrne a personal audience with Putin if she wanted to. It was she who told him that she was working for Torshin, and their ultimate goal was to undo Russian sanctions.
It’s particularly instructive to note that, the moment the intel Byrne was feeding the (James Comey led) FBI indicated Butina was going to infiltrate Donald Trump’s campaign rather than Hillary Clinton’s campaign, “their interest went to zero.” So Comey’s people were only interested in dirt and covert operations against Hillary, and if the Intel didn’t didn’t lead there they dropped the whole thing. Something tells me Michael Moore didn’t know any of this.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.