Virtually everything Trump does requires his followers to be misinformed. This is not hyperbole, nor a false overgeneralization. His policies and rhetoric are overwhelmingly based on narrow views of people, the country, and the world. He paints a picture that is distorted as can be, then concocts harmful policy that serves a single purpose: get his followers to feel like he’s solving their problems (problems they didn’t face in the first place). My wish for us all is that we care when we are misinformed, and instead of attacking those who try to inform us (e.g., calling them “fakenews”), we welcome the education we receive.
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.
I don’t know why, but I’m still trying to view the Trump administration through rational eyes. Perhaps there are several versions of rational. There really shouldn’t be, but maybe what I think is rational isn’t actually rational. I am saddened by what I see as missed opportunities (see here and here), but I’m starting to accept the fact that it’s never going to happen. I’m starting to accept the fact that we all have things that motivate us, and I think what motivates Trump has more to do with celebrity than anything else. That’s not inconsistent with doing good things for the country, but I’m not convinced that it’s what drives him. I can imagine that he can convince himself that it’s driving him, but I think deep down the things that he embraces are things that feed his celebrity status. I should be clear that I’m not saying that there’s no concern for others in that. I think he enjoys entertaining people. I think he likes it when they’re excited to see him. I think he thrives on that. There’s a level of admirable selflessness in that. Like the comic who stands on stage making fun of himself to make you laugh. On the other hand, it leads to some pretty strange moments when the President of the United States acts that way.
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.
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.