We’re in very strange waters, and this makes it so difficult to predict the future. The President has survived things that would have decimated politicians in the past. He insulted John McCain, and specifically attacked his experience as a war hero, yet supporters, even those in the military, stood by him. He bragged about sexual assault in a more vulgar way that we’ve heard from most politicians. He threatened to use the justice department to jail his political opponent if elected. He blamed President Bush for 9/11. And all of that was before he got elected. Any one of those would have destroyed the candidacy of any normal candidate, but Trump wasn’t a normal candidate. Likewise, there have been so many things that would have crushed a sitting president, and it doesn’t seem to be doing too much harm to him.
FoxNews.com has a headline story about Trump’s jump in approval. And here is another in the series (see here, and here, and here) about why you should be angry if you get your news from FoxNews: They wrote a headline based on a single poll, from a polling organization that is known to be republican leaning, and there is NOT A JUMP in his numbers when you compare the most recent Rasmussen data with the last poll they reported. In fact, the President’s approval rating is EXACTLY the same as it was in the last Rasmussen poll. Other polls, including one from Gallup that’s as recent as the Rasmussen poll, have his approval where it was before, in the mid-high 30s.
My wife has some strong opinions about things, and some of them she raises over and over again. One (of the many) with which I agree is that trust plays a fundamental role in how we feel about our leaders. We trust some leaders, and we don’t trust others. If we trust a leader, we assume that some action is legitimately justified. If we don’t trust a leader, that same action can be nefarious or a sign of incompetence. I’ll come back to something more contemporary in a minute, but let’s start with Obama and Bush.
I’ve been posting a lot on FaceBook (as me, not as Hitting Bregma) about the lousy journalism and logical fallacies I’m seeing on FoxNews. I don’t watch a ton of FoxNews, but I flip over somewhat regularly, just to see what’s going on. Many of these times, I’m struck by how different the coverage is. For instance, while all the other networks (regular networks and cable news) are focused on one story, like a new leak about something from the Trump administration, FoxNews will run a story about a person killed by an immigrant in a hit and run, or something equally unrelated to what everybody else is covering. I’ve also spent a lot of time harping on the classic straw man fallacies that they are so good at. They construct this ludicrous picture of a “liberal” or something that liberals are mad about, and then justifiably call them silly or hypocritical. The problem is that the whole premise gets it wrong. It’s not just FoxNews, but it’s also clearly a tactic of the Trump administration. Let’s look at a couple of key examples, including one from today.
I’ve been relatively quiet lately. I’ve had some pretty horrifying things going on in my life that have captured my attention (an old friend with a daughter who has been missing for more than three weeks). Between that and some actual work I’ve needed to do at work, it’s been hard to find time for this. I also started this to write about the things I think are important, and my comfortable place was always defending things that Obama, Clinton, or some other democrat was fighting for. Now we’re in a bit of different world, and I’m on a less solid foundation. On the one hand, almost everything I’m hearing terrifies me, but I’m also aware of how silly folks on the right looked when they talked about the radical changes that Obama was making to the country. So, just to keep from getting too stale, here’s something that caught my eye today. A perfect case of illogical thinking, that is supposed to be the antithesis of this project. And it all comes from a tweet from President Donald Trump.
I spend a fair amount of time on FaceBook, and I keep a pretty diverse group of friends, so I get to hear lots of different perspectives. I have quite a few friends who are just not happy with the election. They don’t like the choices, and they think the whole thing is messed up. When people say they have to vote for the lesser of two evils, I have a tendency to feel like this says more about the nomination from the party that person is more likely to vote for, than it says about both candidates (read more here), but there are nevertheless plenty of people who just despise both choices, especially this year. When I think about the people who aren’t happy, some of them dislike the candidates as people (Hillary is a crook, Trump is a pig, etc), but I’ve been friends, at least on FaceBook, with others for long enough that I get the sense they will never be happy, with any candidate, unless that candidate fits their hopes/dreams/values/desires perfectly. It makes me wonder if we’re expecting a bit too much…maybe spoiled by modern society.
Is the media biased? A question that many have asked, and that probably more assume can be answered “yes” without giving it much thought. I’ve generally felt that people have many biases (I certainly do, as I wrote about here), but that strong journalistic integrity helps prevent those biases from affecting reporting as much as possible. Of course we face a world of 24-hour news cycles that fill the time with editorial, that gets confused with news, but for the most part, I think the news does a reasonably good job at staying objective (a few outlets, like FoxNews are exceptions to my view on this). WNYC’s On the Media had a great episode about liberal bias in NPR news (click here). This story, and many other analyses, left me pretty firmly convinced that the charges of media bias are largely overstated (again, this does not include “news” outlets and websites that have a clear agenda). This election cycle has caused me to question my view.
My Facebook feed is full of people who are dissatisfied with the election options. Meme after meme pokes fun at the candidates and the options the voters have this presidential election cycle. “I don’t think America should elect any president in 2016. We need to be single for a few years and find ourselves,” is one that I find amusing.
I find this one is a bit more offensive, but I get the point.
Here’s my problem with all of this: It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of BOTH candidates. What matters the most is what each person thinks of one of them. That is ALL that matters.
I’m not a historian, and I don’t know one well enough to ask, but it seems like the illegitimate president is a modern trend. Even if we’ve had one or two before, my guess is that we haven’t had three, could be four, in a row. What do I mean by an illegitimate president? A president who a large swath of Americans reject as the legitimate president because of one thing or another. Clinton, failed to get a majority of the vote. Bush, had a presidency that was decided by a Supreme Court case (which, in my non-legal expert opinion, was decided against the ideology of every single Justice on the bench). Obama’s citizenship, or fraudulent citizenship, made him illegitimate, and now, the election is rigged, so if Clinton wins, her presidency will have the illegitimate label also. Let’s look at each of these in a rational manner.