When James Woods makes a point, he makes it stick.
The conservative actor has make a reputation in recent years as a master of the Twitter medium, attacking big-name Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and skewering the cultural heathens of the entertainment world.
But when he took on a CNN analysis of President Donald Trump’s opposition to the Democratic push for voting by mail, he used a delicate push of pure reason to make his meaning go even deeper.
Woods’ target this time was CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who published a piece of mostly psychobabble on Tuesday that pretended to take a look at the potential for fraud in mail-in votes, but really came off like an attack on Trump’s honesty, maturity and possibly the president’s sanity.
Cillizza’s thesis, such as it was, was that Trump is using accusations of fraud in mail-in votes now to set the stage for excuses should he lose the November presidential election.
“If Trump does lose, he will insist that it was not the result of voters choosing Biden over him but rather a function of those cheating Democrats and their ‘rigged’ mail-in ballot scheme — because Donald Trump doesn’t lose. And the only way he could lose is if he was cheated in some way,” Cillizza wrote.
Considering Cillizza’s employer is the rabidly anti-Trump CNN, the idea no doubt played well at work. It’s likely a hit in liberal social circles, too.
The problem is in some of the arguments Cillizza used to back up the thesis — including a bald statement from Fox News’ Chris Wallace that’s basically taken on faith, and a statistic from a Washington Post article in 2016 that, if it weren’t for some intellectually dishonest wordplay, would be ludicrous on its face.
“In the 2016 election, in which more than 135 million votes were cast, there were a total of four documented cases of voter fraud, according to The Washington Post’s Philip Bump,” Cillizza wrote.
The wordplay here is using the word “documented.” The only reason for the word there is an an official sounding fudge — a shield to muddy up the fact that no one really knows what fraud is taking place if it’s undiscovered.
The intellectually dishonest part is that the word is being used to buttress the implication that in the 2016 election there were only four cases of voter fraud total out of 135 million case — a percentage so small as to be non-existent.
Only someone with an inflated opinion of human nature — or an utter fool — would believe something like that.
And James Woods is clearly neither:
If you had to bet your life, literally at the point of a bayonet, would you say this figure is a lie or accurate: “In the 2016 election, in which more than 135 million votes were cast, there were a total of four documented cases of voter fraud.” 👇👇👇 https://t.co/SK8BSSaYQ6
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 26, 2020
Needless to say, Woods wasn’t one of the believers. And he had plenty of Twitter followers who agreed:
I knew I wouldn’t believe it as soon as I saw “CNN”.
— M3thods (@M2Madness) May 26, 2020
four per second?
— Craig Daliessio (@Craig_Daliessio) May 26, 2020
I’d need clarification of the question because my answer is yes & no. Do I trust that there were only 4 DOCUMENTED cases of voter fraud? Yes. Do I think those are the only true cases of voter fraud? No.
— The Joan Zone (@joangvs) May 26, 2020
It’s a Clintonesque lie that pivots on the word “documented.” Documented by whom?
— Dan Goorevitch (@DanGoorevitch) May 26, 2020
Basically, it’s inconceivable that there could be 135 million human actions for anything without there being more than four — four — who tried to do something underhanded.
Considering that it’s politics we’re talking about, and considering that probably about half of those 135 million votes involved Democrats, it’s fair to say it’s impossible.
Almost as bad as citing facile statistics that don’t stand up to a half-second’s worth of critical thinking was Cillizza’s decision to take a statement from Wallace as though it came down from Mount Sinai etched in tablets.
Wallace claimed on Friday’s airing of “America’s Newsroom” that “I’ve done some deep dive into it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting.”
Fox’s Chris Wallace: “I’ve done some deep dive into it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting.”
“It’s being carried out in Republican states, it’s being carried out in Democratic states.”https://t.co/V9kqtJx21x
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 25, 2020
Well, with all due respect to Wallace, a veteran newsman who really should know better, it didn’t take long for social media users to turn up evidence to the contrary.
In fact, one brought up a link to a 2012 New York Times article outlining the potential perils of mail-in voting to a clean election. Of course, at that time Republicans were more likely to use mail-in votes in Florida, where The Times story was written, so the Gray Lady had a reason to call their integrity into question.
Narrator: Chris dove into the kiddie pool
“Votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth”https://t.co/awdNQURuZr
— mallen2010 (@mallen2010) May 25, 2020
The gist of The Times piece boils down to this:
“There is a bipartisan consensus that voting by mail, whatever its impact, is more easily abused than other forms. In a 2005 report signed by President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III, who served as secretary of state under the first President George Bush, the Commission on Federal Election Reform concluded, ‘Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.'”
Well, that used to be the “bipartisan consensus,” until Democrats decided that having voters show up at the polls in person to vote was too much to ask of proud residents of the world’s greatest country.
(It might also have been before Democrats fully realized how easy it was to use “ballot harvesting” to steal elections, too.)
The point here is that logic and common sense combine to bring the conclusion that mail-in voting is inherently less trustworthy than voting in person at the polling booth — and should not be expanded beyond traditional absentee voting laws (which should probably be tightened to preclude voters using the mail for ballots simply out of convenience).
When a ballot is cast in a voting booth, the voter is alone — except in cases where disability makes assistance necessary.
When a vote is cast by mail, there is literally no way of knowing whether the vote was cast by the individual voter, whether that individual was alone or in a group, pressured or possibly coerced into marking a given candidate.
The potential for fraud abounds in vote by mail, and intellectual honesty and any understanding of human nature should require even CNN journalists to acknowledge it.
But when they don’t, James Woods is around to point it out.
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