Reading time 3:18; Viewing time – 4:05 . . .
It’s been quite a month – all just this week! – as the outrageous deluge from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes on. It’s been this way with Trump since way before the 2015 escalator “Look at ME!” stunt, when he announced with his customary ignorant certainty what he had just fabricated, claiming Mexico was sending us rapists and murderers.
He had spent years fomenting Birtherism. And he had bought the back page of section 1 of the New York Times and called for the execution of the Central Park Five. He did this after they had been cleared by DNA evidence. Yet in customary Trumpian doubling down of his boneheaded statements, he continued to call for the execution of these men.
Just this week Trump declared that he would/wouldn’t contact the FBI if a foreign government or individual offered dirt on a political opponent. For sure he’d “have a look,” he told us.
The point is that accepting anything even just to “have a look” is the crime, not the value of the information to a campaign. He also told us that Iran was behind the attack on two oil tankers, offering no evidence but his expansive declaration while ignoring evidence to the contrary. He took credit for various healthcare pluses, like reductions in the cost of prescription drugs, which hasn’t happened. All of that and far more was just Thursday and Friday.
The point is that Trump is the master of garnering attention by saying and doing outrageous things. He is the P. T. Barnum of our time.
We all love the sensational. It’s why the local news motto is “If it bleeds, it leads.” It’s why when you click on The Weather Channel you’re smacked in the face with multiple sensational pictures and headlines and it’s why supermarket tabloids sell.
We’re suckers for clickbait. Trump provides it 24/7 and the world watches. The trick is to ignore the merely outrageous and pay attention to the dangerous and the cruel:
– Like his saying it’s okay for political campaigns to accept anything of value from foreign sources. Yes, I know it’s just words, but this matters to our upcoming election, because it’s another “Russia, if you’re listening” invitation.
– Like fabricating a run up to war with Iran.
– Like putting yet more children in cages.
– Like defending Kellyanne Conway over her dozens of obvious violations of the Hatch Act – this because “she’s loyal.”
– Like ordering all agencies to cut scientific advisory boards by at least one-third.
– Like hosting a conference of climate science deniers at the Trump International Hotel.
I had breakfast recently with a couple of highly educated, highly accomplished women who each declared that they don’t watch the news. They are the latest in a continuing string of intelligent people I have heard say the same thing.
They are weary of the continuous barrage of political warfare and the painful to watch Trumpian cruelties and stupidities. They are way past overload from political bickering and lying, so they’ve tuned out. And that’s a problem for them and for America.
In some measure, many of us have become numb to the continuing outrage, which leaves us vulnerable to the dangerous things slipping past us.
This isn’t a circus freak show that we can ignore; it’s our country.
So our job is to let the outrageous and freaky stuff go. Focus on the things that can hurt us and damage our democracy.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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