Thursday, October 27, 2016
Give Thanks To Donald Trump, Because We Could Do A Lot Worse (And Probably Will)
A view from the Left. What he fears actually sounds hopeful from a conservative viewpoint. He thinks Trumpism will outlive Trump
Some years ago I defended a film that included a portrayal of Hitler where, at times, the man seemed human. I argued that if we insisted on demonizing such figures to the extent of caricature, we would never recognize the threat when it appeared, as it usually does, with a human face.
That’s the glory of Trump. He arrived onstage already as a caricature with pitchfork in hand, horns on head and breathing smoke. Even more remarkable in this age of spin, there has been no ambiguity, no shift. The man positively insists on staying in character.
And that’s the danger of Trump. It is all too easy to see him for what he is. The persona of the man shocks and awes and alienates. Targets don’t come much larger. If the Democrats and Clintons can’t win this election then the barbarians are well and truly inside the gates, and the Dark Ages upon us.
Unfortunately, the man will be defeated not because what he stands for has been weighed and rejected, but because the man himself is unsellable. The resentments and perception of disenfranchisement that are clearly felt by a very large number of Americans remain smouldering away. A Trump defeat resulting from his personality is more likely to increase rather than resolve the polarization of the USA. Arguably, a Trump defeat may well be more dangerous than a Trump victory.
Trump has been shown to be lazy, doesn’t like dealing with detail and doesn’t have any fixed policies. In all likelihood, a President Trump would strut the stage but leave core decisions to the professionals. He’d blather on in his usual way to cover policy reversals on promises but there is a fair chance that his actual administration, while chaotic, would largely be pragmatic. Admittedly with Trump, you never know….
The media is full of commentary claiming that the GOP is in crisis and broken. I think they are wrong. The senior Republicans are not abandoning ship, they are abandoning Trump. Already they are preparing the battle plan for a one term President Clinton. The focus is now on preserving as many Republican representatives as they can to launch the counter attack.
They have learnt from the Trump debacle and they have learnt that extreme right policies are marketable. It is sobering to acknowledge that a policy platform like that of Trump could come as close as it has to winning the Presidency.
Compare Trump to Ted Cruz. Cruz is an ultra-conservative Protestant fundamentalist with commitment to an extremist agenda. He genuinely believes in that agenda and is driven by it.
In power, he’d want it implemented without compromise. Already he is re-building his base and is reported to be dutifully taking part in telephone campaigning on behalf of Trump. Just enough to show he is a good Party loyalist, not enough to be tainted.
President Cruz will have policies and self-righteous conviction that are much more to be feared than the ramshackle posturing of a President Trump.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats might look at the Australian experience. The Australian female PM was hit with media/shock jock abuse on an unprecedented scale. What was thrown at Gillard was small beer compared to the floodgates that will open on President Hillary Clinton.
Gillard enjoyed a wave of popular support when she became PM. Clinton is widely unpopular to begin with, and her previous record has issues that will make her vulnerable from the outset.
Now add the bitterness of the Trump supporters and then consider the traditional Republican media and supporters who have abandoned Trump. The pressure will be immediate and unrelenting. Rumours and innuendo, the inevitable slips, President Clinton can expect a very rough ride indeed.
It won’t just be President Hillary Clinton on the receiving end. She will be identified with policies from the previous President such as Obamacare. The storm awaiting President Clinton will sweep over those policies as well.
A resurgent GOP President after a one term Clinton Presidency will be confident in pushing policies much further to the right. In Australia, that backlash was tempered by the division of power in the upper house. In the USA, the current Republican emphasis on retaining seats rather than Trump is likely to mean there will be no such restrictions on an incoming President with an agenda like Cruz.
In the short term, the left should be grateful to Trump. He’ll defeat himself on personality grounds. The extent of his success however shows that Clinton would probably have been defeated by a more orthodox Republican candidate.
The long-term consequences of Trump are another matter. Next time the same policies won’t have the horns and pitchfork to alarm the voters.
The Real Problem With Leftmedia Bias
The news media has been referred to as the "Fourth Estate" for a long time. Thomas Carlyle, in his book "On Heroes and Hero Worship," attributes the origin of the term to 18th century English statesman Sir Edmund Burke: "Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all." Burke believed the Fourth Estate to be far more important than the others because its job was informing the public of what Parliament was up to.
The high regard for the Fourth Estate carried over to the colonies. When the United States was formed, the work of what we now commonly refer to as the news media warranted protections in the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment provides: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
After all, the press's function was viewed as essential to the Republic. It protected the purveyors of important information from those who prefer their activities to not receive wide dissemination, and who might use the courts or other means to keep important information from being made public.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."
However, while the Constitution can protect the media from those who dislike it by guaranteeing its freedom to tell all it knows, it does not have the ability to enforce integrity, honesty and fairness on the media. Those qualities are expected to be organizational and personal, ingrained in news providers and students of journalism, who should be taught and adopt the ethics of journalism and practice them always.
It was also Jefferson who said, " Newspapers ... serve as chimnies to carry off noxious vapors and smoke."
People in certain positions in our society have the job and the duty to play it straight down the middle, without allowing whatever personal feelings they may have to enter into the performance of their job. Among these are referees and other sports officials; judges in legal proceedings and other adjudicatory activities; and the news media — the people who provide the public with the critical information necessary to make informed decisions.
The mechanisms for defending news reporting remain intact, but sadly the same cannot be said for the ethical imperatives of news reporting, as is demonstrated daily in the national media. The most glaring example of this lack of ethics and integrity is the coverage of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vs. that of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
One of many examples arose during the final presidential debate. When asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace if he would pledge to accept the results of the election, Trump's answer was influenced by his oft-stated belief that the election system has many flaws, and he said, "I will look at it at the time." Clinton feigned dismay, declaring that Trump is "undermining the pillar of our democracy," the peaceful transfer of power.
Well, no, he was not. Given the free pass Clinton got from the FBI, voter fraud across the country and a compliant Clinton Media Machine, who can blame him for wanting to wait until the election is over before deciding whether it was handled fairly? But Clinton's position on that issue is much more highly favored by the media than Trump's, so guess what the major news outlets told the world?
Things like this bolster Trump's claims that the news media are biased against him, and a new Quinnipiac University poll finds agreement among a majority of those polled. Some 55% of likely voters agree the press is biased against Trump.
Just one small example. Earlier this month, Trump said some American soldiers "can't handle" the horrors of war, which causes their PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). This statement was then distorted to suggest Trump disdains those who suffer PTSD.
This farcical misinterpretation was identified by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, no great friend of Trump, who said: "The bias that is in the media. What he is saying is that some people, for whatever reason, and we really don't understand why, suffer from PTSD, and others don't."
The news media's reaction to Trump's PTSD comment appears to be the reaction of someone with an IQ south of 70, but we know that most media types are not stupid: Lack of intelligence is not the problem; bias is the problem.
The media's yearlong thinly disguised disdain for Trump has erupted into open contempt, and the collapse and disgracing of a critical component of our society is now inarguable. Attempting to justify this flagrant abandonment of professional ethics, New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg wrote in August that journalists have a responsibility to abandon all pretense of objectivity. "If you view a Trump presidency as something that's potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that," he declared. "That's uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I've ever known, and by normal standards, untenable."
Some reporters, editors and producers regard Trump as so bad and Clinton as so good that normal standards no longer apply, and journalistic ethics that once were sacrosanct and provided a substantial measure of balance and fairness in news reporting have become obstacles to a media agenda.
One of the worst possible situations is when the source of critical public information abandons neutrality and takes sides. Like widespread corruption in government, widespread corruption in the information system is deadly to Liberty.
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Posted by JR at 1:30 AM