Ignore Trump, watch Ryan
Reader Joanne Forsythe has a letter in today’s edition voicing her frustration with the media’s wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump, and that’s probably media of every stripe, shade, or ownership. “It’s Trump, Trump, Trump!”, she writes, expressing an anger many people share. Surely there’s important news, not this man’s idiocies!
As a footnote, I’d add my own complaint that mainstream media (ie CBC) rarely pays attention to “important” news. Apparently. CBC editors and administrators think “popular topics” are more important – or, since it’s Ottawa CBC we listen to, “important” news seems to focus on traffic accidents and police reports. So “Trump, Trump, Trump” is nothing new; it’s how the media already operates, only the names change.
However, as frustrating as all the Trumpisms have become, there’s something else going on here which we would miss if we just give up and turn off the radio, TV or computer.
First, we must remember that Mr Trump is first and foremost a media celebrity. His entire career has been dependent upon media exposure, and so we have to assume any moves he makes using the media are deliberate and have a real motive, if not an obvious one. There’s always a reason why he’s doing what he does, even the most absurd thing, the silliest accusations or promises of greatness.
The most consistent motive of this showman (as was also the case with the last US showman-president, Ronald Reagan) is to extend his brand – to push his name and face, voice and visual trademarks (comb-over, long red tie, scowling face): all advertising.
Less obvious, but just as important, is Trump’s obfuscating. His crazy antics are designed to kick up dust and obscure our view. Rather than examine what this president is proposing, we are distracted by his attention-grabbing stage acting.
I suggest that Trump himself is less important to follow than are his political outriders. What is Paul Ryan doing in Congress – what changes are being quietly slipped into all sorts of bills and legislation to reduce what these conservatives feel are radical measures: health care, social security, food stamps, aid to schools, union support, Wall Street regulation, and foreign aid programs?
Paul Ryan is the ranking Republican in Congress; the geriatric Mitch McConnell is the top Republican senator – these gents manage this administration’s legislative agenda. They make the laws, not Trump.
So watch them; listen to them, when they’re quoted; read any analyst’scomments on them – disregard Trump! He’s the packaging, the glitter, the chrome; if we want to see the real vehicle, the plans to remake America into a purer “free” market economy by unleashing the nation’s corporate and evangelical demons, we’ll have to ignore the front man.
That shouldn’t be hard, since, as Ms Forsyth writes, we’re all getting tired of this presidential childishness. Digging out the truth from under his dust, however, isn’t easy. That would be the media’s contribution.