How Trump is Making America Great

It sets my hair on fire that journalists treat Donald Trump like he’s remotely qualified to serve as president of the United States. By casting this election as simply a more extreme or unusual of politics as usual, they make Mr. Trump appear more acceptable and mainstream. He’s neither.

Consider, for example, this lead from The Atlantic:

On Wednesday, Donald Trump gave, by his standards, a restrained and subtle speech.

True, the Republican candidate referred to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as “a world-class liar,” “maybe the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency,” and someone whose “decisions spread death, destruction, and terrorism everywhere.” And yes, the speech was full of lies and half-truths. Yet Wednesday’s speech, delivered at an upscale hotel the candidate owns in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, was nonetheless the most focused and cohesive address he has yet given, one that laid out a cogent populist argument without resorting to overt racism or long insult-comedy riffs.

This is how “normalizing” happens. This is how we become desensitized to the awfulness of Mr. Trump’s candidacy. By giving him credit for occasionally not making racist, misogynistic, violence-inciting comments. By being quick to give credit to him for a speech that is – in parts – coherent (which are clearly written by someone else and spoken by Mr. Trump who gives this speechwriter every impression that he’s reading the words for the first time).

Mr. Trump should not be given any credit for “pivoting,” “rebooting” “moderating” or “being disciplined.” All he’s doing is pretending to be something other than he is: a shallow, ignorant, incurious, emotionally immature narcissist who is less qualified to be president than the average person on the street. (I’m not kidding about that, by the way: I think I’d take my chances with a person chosen at random from anywhere in America than Mr. Trump.) All he should be given credit for is a willingness to do anything he thinks will advance his interests at any given moment. That includes reading aloud words written by someone else. Any notion that he understands, agrees with, will be bound by those words is simply wrong.

I’ve buttonholed a couple of journalists on these points and they have uniformly 1) gotten defensive about the media’s efforts to report on the various aspects of Mr. Trump 2) hidden behind the notion that “it’s not their job” to decide who and who isn’t qualified to be president. I’ve also seen in their eyes the panicky look that says they know I’m right (or that I’ve gone stark raving crazy and they’re trapped in a conversation with a lunatic).

In normal elections – i.e. any other election in my lifetime – I would agree with them. Not this one. This election makes a higher claim on all of us to not simply do our jobs but to stand up and be counted. As the saying goes, “When your grandchildren ask you, ‘What did you do to stop Donald Trump?’ what will you say?”

That applies to journalists too.

– Austin

7 thoughts on “How Trump is Making America Great

  1. William Souder says:

    Could not agree more. One of the worst offenders is MSNBC’s Mark Halperin, who seems to relish normalizing Trump.

    Ron Reagan has it right: Every media report on Trump should include a disclaimer that he is unfit and unqualified. (The Huffington Post, by the way, carries this statement at the end of every piece on Trump: Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.)

  2. I have watched many individual reporters reach their personal breaking points with Mr. Trump and I want to be clear that if he’s elected it won’t be the media’s fault; it will be a collective failure of American democracy. That said, some of us are better positioned than others to influence the outcome.

  3. I think journalists have found parts of their spines and professionalism recently. I think they’re ashamed of the free ride they gave him, at least some of them are, and many are now asking him hard questions and pointing out to him when his facts and figures are wrong.

    I’m not sure the Huffington footnote does anything but disqualify what they write, in the eyes of a Trump supporter (who wouldn’t be reading HuffPo) or in the eyes of someone who’s still undecided. Better to include his own words and include facts that contradict his right in the story. Let him hang himself, but point out when he’s stretching or ignoring the truth.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Even more bewildering to the novice political observer is how he ever achieved the prominence he has. And why his opponent isn’t eviscerating him by 30 points in the polls.(Despite those who consider Hillary distasteful for any number of reasons.)
      Either Trump’s supporters are in utter denial, or don’t care he’s a fraud and refuse to be persuaded otherwise. Cognitive dissonance?

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