I’ve been amused at the number of pundits attempting to provide context and analysis in the wake of Trump’s racist spewage this past week. Several appear to have confused the elephant debris with an actual parade.
Let’s begin with two commonly accepted premises. First, Mr. Trump is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, perhaps he’s the quintessential “taco short of a combo plate.” (H/T the great Ann Richards) Secondly, he’s impulsive and undisciplined. There have been more than enough whines from the executive office concerning how his tweets send underlings scampering to catch up to drive home that conclusion. Based on these two notions the following conclusion isn’t too difficult to reach.
There is no strategy. There is no plan. What we are witnessing are staffers, deputies, and media stenographers, attempting to make sense of the obvious nonsense. Uncertain of this? Then consider the usual timeline, and the latest debacle fits into the pattern of obvious nonsense.
Initially, Trump is Trump. Boorish, illiterate, illogical, and racist. Then he lies. He didn’t do it, whatever it was, or someone made him do it, whomever they were. Out come the Explainers. The president really didn’t, actually couldn’t, or truly was misrepresented by the Evil Press. Unfortunately for the Explainers there is video or a nice screen shot or two. Translation: The elephant has defecated in the street again and the Explainers are deployed with their brooms and dust pans.
Now that the debris is swirling the secondary Explainers launch. What, they pontificate all over my television screen, does this mean? The easiest thing would be to park at square one and conclude the President is boorish, illogical, not very bright, and a racist. Surely not, the chatterati opine, there must be more. There must be strategy. Tactics? Ramifications? Implications? Proximate and approximate results? Why does there have to be anything?
After all is said, and said, and said it’s not the President who provides all this icing on the inedible cake, it’s the punditry. It’s a brilliant move to fire up his base? A strategy to drive the narrative away from his real agenda and take up air time? A deflection to establish foils in the advance of the Democratic nomination? Or, how about it was a boorish, stupid, racist thing to say and the President said it. Period.
Combine Trump statements with cable news shows desperately trying to fill air time in the cheapest possible way, adding in more than a dash of polling information of questionable utility, and we get 24 hours of the same 12 hours of the same 15 minutes of what might pass for news. The remainder is the culmination of the Explainers’ efforts to remove or re-pile the waste.
Enter the Commentators. They follow the Explainers and shove the story past that “stupid thing to say” point with personal, anecdotal, and if we aren’t lucky, poll driven analysis. Polls can be informative, but we’re getting altogether too many without seeing the actual questions respondents were being asked, and without notice given that some results have remarkable margins of error.
Commentators can be insightful; however, if people are too willing to allow those analysts to direct their own thinking, then we’re not using our own noodles. Each commentary is pedicated on the analyst’s own premises, previous assertions, or perspectives. Please let us not confuse how the elephant leavings are stacked or strewn with the parade route.
An endless loop can be manufactured by having the President issue one of his half hearted, half arsed, semi-non-apology-apologies. Off they go again! The pile, the Explainers, the Commentators; a new configuration for the piles, followed immediately by the Explainers and the Commentators.
Let’s do try to simplify matters. It will often come to pass that a stupid, boorish, racist, man will say boorish, racist, things. There’s only one answerable question: Do you agree with him or not? That sums up the parade.