Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump Is Not Normal. The Press Needs to End Normal Coverage.

Donald Trump's fledgling presidency has never been "normal," no matter the hopes of observers here and abroad, and no group suffers this reality more than the press, who have tied themselves in knots trying to cover him in conventional ways. It's high time they gave up the effort.

For Energy Week, Trump took a self-aggrandizing picture. Anything actually
 new on energy? Sure, some tweets. Well, that's almost like policy!

I've been watching in horror this whole presidency -- hell, during the campaign, as well -- as the mainstream media tried to cover Donald Trump and his minions as if they're normal. Sorry, but normal they're not.

People and the press are finally catching on. First, I spotted a Alex Pareene piece on Fusion in which he helps us confront this new "normal." Hint, folks: This normal ain't new.
What most of the worst people in Donald Trump’s administration have in common is that they are Republicans. This simple fact is obscured sometimes by the many ways in which Trump is genuinely an aberration from the political norm—like his practice of naked nepotism rather than laundering the perpetuation of class advantage through a “meritocratic” process—and by the fact that many of the most vocal online spokespeople for “the resistance” ignore the recent history of the Republican Party in favor of a Trump-centric theory of How Fucked Up Everything Is.
But it is necessary for liberals, leftists, and Democrats to actually be clear on the fact that the Republican Party is responsible for Trump. The Democrats’ longterm failure to make a compelling and all-encompassing case against conservatism and the GOP as institutions, rather than making specific cases against specific Republican politicians, is one of the reasons the party is currently in the political wilderness.
Nearly everything Trump’s done with his appointments and hires, even his chief adviser’s devious plan to destroy the administrative state through understaffing and the installation of loyalists and hacks at every government agency, is just a continuation of a mission begun under George W. Bush. Mike Brown’s sole “experience” before running FEMA was that he was a friend of George W. Bush’s campaign manager. Bush’s ICE chief was a lawyer who’d worked for Kenneth Starr. Monica Goodling, the central figure in the Bush administration’s politically motivated purge of U.S. Attorneys, was a dimwit ideologue lawyer with a degree from Pat Robertson’s bottom-rung law school.
Next time you boggle at the sight of the president’s unqualified son-in-law flying to Iraq to get briefed by generals on the facts on the ground, remember that George W. Bush sent a business school chum to privatize Iraq’s economy and a 24-year-old with no relevant experience to reopen the Iraqi stock market.
Seen in that light, Donald Trump may not be the scariest aspect of this new Normal.

Another view of this comes from Josh Marshall of TPM. Donald Trump's pissing contests are at the core of his psyche: He can't help himself. Somewhere in his lifetime -- middle school, perhaps? -- he was scarred to the point where EVERY FIGHT IS THE BIGGEST FIGHT. What the media needs to do is drop out of this game because it's unwinnable.
We’ve collectively been living in Donald Trump’s house now for more than two years. We know him really well. We know that he sees everything through a prism of the dominating and the dominated. It’s a zero-sum economy of power and humiliation. For those in his orbit he demands and gets a slavish adoration. Even those who take on his yoke of indignity are fed a steady diet mid-grade humiliations to drive home their status and satisfy Trump’s need not only for dominance but unending public displays of dominance. He is a dark, damaged person.
Trump’s treatment of the press is really a version of the same game, a set of actions meant to produce the public spectacle of ‘Trump acts; reporters beg.’ ‘Reporters beg and Trump says no.’ Demanding, shaming all amount to trying to force actions which reporters have no ability to compel. That signals weakness. And that’s the point.
How does the media drop out of this game? Start by treating Trump -- and, by extension, the rest of the Republican hordes -- as exactly what he is: a bully who doesn't deserve the bully pulpit. But have it he does, and it's high time the media stop trying to be deliberative and start being the front line of the resistance. Call out every one on Trump's horrifying tweets and every one of his or the Republicans' nearly endless lies.

It's what they do, and it's now the media's full-time job to stop this nonsense. Otherwise, it continues unabated while reporters try to frame polite, tepid questions.

Of course, until it doesn't:

Okay, good. That's a start.

Oh, and for your amusement, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have disinvited Trump from watching their show, saying it's for the good of the country. True patriots.

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