The Double-Down False Equivalency of the Eviscerated Dog Whistle Pivot

Every election cycle has its themes and a language all its own. Words and phrases rise up to capture the attention of the moment.

Here are a few from this season.

Doubling Down

This comes from the world of gambling and is apparently what Trump does after saying something outrageous and being called out for it. The first outrage, insult or slur is then repeated with greater force. Trump does this with such regularity that it must be his attempt to play the Putinesque strongman routine. Perhaps he thinks of them as Churchillian “Never surrender” moments.

Hillary Clinton doubled down with her “basket of deplorables” non-apology clarification.  But then of course she was entirely accurate in the first place and deplorable is a polite way of saying scum.

And the beauty of it was it controlled the airwaves and had its targets in faux-outrage uproar as they tried to distance themselves from the associations.

Most of the rest of us thought she was underestimating when she said “half”. And the research bears this out.

Kissing the Flag

Kissing the Flag

Discredited By Snopes

Discredited By Snopes


This apparently means how things will be seen in that blink of an eye that passes for close attention.

So good optics would be photographed seen kissing the flag or putting your hand on your heart during the national anthem.

Hillary's Go-To Gesture

Hillary’s Go-To Gesture

That same gesture of hand on heart of course is seen as questionable and insincere when adopted by Hillary, here seen accepting the nomination at the democratic National Convention in July.

No Flag in Mexico

Bad optics would be forgetting to take a flag to Mexico with you and to be seen standing next to President Enrique Peña Nieto without the Stars and Stripes.

Which optic is worse – having the father of the Orlando shooter attend your event?  Or having someone you claim as a friend – the disgraced former congressman Mark Foley – at your rally?

False Equivalency

This is the logical fallacy that presents two situations as equal when in truth there is no equivalence between the two. It is of course the absurd idea of trying to appear fair and balanced when dealing with out-of-whack crackpot ideas.

At best it’s a journalistic trap. At worst it’s an unscrupulous weasel-way to present inconsistency as logical. It’s a style that Fox News has long practiced. It has nothing to do with seeking or presenting the truth or calling liars out on their lying lies. Science tells us that the truth about climate change is overwhelming. On the other hand …

Trump calls women pigs and Mexicans rapists while surrounding himself with racists and misogynists. Call them deplorable? Oh no! – nasty Hillary is calling us names!


This seems to be the term of choice when someone goes on an attack that is seen as effective. Trump has been eviscerated so many times that his internal organs should have been fed to the dogs by now.

Rudy Giuliani is Getting Eviscerated

50 Republican National Security Officials Eviscerate Trump

Michelle Obama Gently Eviscerated Donald Trump

Watch Elizabeth Warren Absolutely Eviscerate Donald Trump

Sooner or later the word choice will move along. As we seem to be getting more graphic and violent perhaps it will be disemboweled.

Dog Whistle

This is an old term that gained popular currency in this election cycle. It refers of course to the fact that dogs have better hearing than humans and are aware of things that we are not.

When Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi – the site of the abduction and subsequent murder of the three civil rights workers in 1964 –  it was a dog whistle to racists and separatists. They heard it loud and clear. Few others did.

The dog whistle has now turned air raid siren and you don’t need to be a dog to hear the racism, misogyny, and religious intolerance.

But of course it is a moving target. Who knew just a few weeks ago that Pepe the Frog was a dog whistle for white nationalists?  And that when Donald Trump Jr. posted it to Instagram he was sending a clear message to the deplorables?


Ah! Pivot – spinning like a top, swiveling  from one position to another to reach the mainstream and broaden the appeal. Many in the GOP assumed that Trump would pirouette to more moderate positions once the campaign was really underway and he had secured his base base.

We did see a foray into a black church. We did see him tell an all-white audience what black people need to do. But so far no pivot.

The troops on the bottom right are Waffen-SS Nazis.

The troops on the bottom right are Nazis.

And by now it’s too late. The doubling down has eviscerated the opportunity
and we are stuck with optics of his early campaign ad that had Waffen-SS soldiers in the background of the American flag.

Maybe that was not incompetence and inattention to the details of stock photography. Maybe it was a deliberate dog whistle.

The Basket of Deplorables

Best of all of course is that felicitous expression and hashtag #BasketOfDeplorables.

Thank you for that Hillary.

I now imagine that collection of fear-mongering haters snarling at each other and eviscerating each other in fear and hate.


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