Donald Trump is the president now, and no amount of controversy or trying to wake up will change that. Yet he continues to insist that voter fraud tainted the election he won. Speaking to senators last week, he said that thousands of illegal voters were bussed in to New Hampshire to swing the state for Hillary Clinton. On Friday, Federal Elections Commissioner Ellen Weintraub called on Trump to provide her office with evidence of this scheme. He did not. Neither did his adviser/mouthpiece Stephen Miller, who appeared on ABC News Sunday morning to produce this masterpiece of dishonesty:
So now we need a term for the converse maneuver to Total Fucking Denial: Total Fucking Assertion. Stephanopoulos keeps returning to the question of whether the Trump administration has any evidence that voter fraud occurred, and Miller keeps insisting that everyone knows it did.
“This issue of bussing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” he says for the first time at :30. Over the next three minutes, he repeats this claim again and again. He also trots out the familiar statistics without substance—the remark that “millions of people are registered in two states” is particularly exasperating, since that doesn’t mean any of them travel to two states to vote on election day—but he keeps returning to his central thesis: everyone in New Hampshire knows this is happening. Everyone knows it so much that Miller doesn’t need to cite evidence. But everyone knows it. It’s very serious. Everyone knows it’s happening.
In Total Fucking Denial, the liar insists that something isn’t true despite overwhelming evidence. The man in this video—which contains swearing, mild violence, and a lot of high-register whining—gets caught going at his neighbor’s doorknob with pliers and a screwdriver but insists he wasn’t breaking in. There was something wrong with his door, he says, and he needed to take apart someone else’s to see how doors work. That’s TFD. There’s no way our burglar is going to convince the man behind the camera that he was only teaching himself locksmithing, but that’s not his objective. He realizes the situation will get worse not when the cameraman realizes he’s lying—since that’s already happened—but only when he admits he’s lying. That’s what TFD is for: situations in which the worst outcome only happens when you acknowledge the lie.
Miller takes a similar tack in the clip above. But his version of Total Fucking Assertion enjoys an advantage over TFD, in that you can’t prove a negative. Stephanopoulos cannot prove that voter fraud in New Hampshire didn’t happen. He can only demand evidence for Miller’s dubious claim that it did. Miller doesn’t have that, but he knows one weak form of evidence is just saying something over and over. He keeps repeating that “everybody knows” thousands of people were bussed in to New Hampshire to vote illegally. Stephanopoulos doesn’t believe him, but some people watching at home probably will.
That’s the other difference between TFD and Total Fucking Assertion: TFA is for an audience. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need evidence to convince a lot of people. You can just keep repeating the same baseless claim, and eventually it will become well-known enough that it stops being a question of true or false and becomes a question of Republican or Democrat, real news or fake news, pro-Trump or anti-. Once people decide that a statement is political, they’re willing to believe anything. That’s what Stephen Miller is exploiting here, because he is a bad person. I hope he runs out of sleep medicine and has to think about it.