Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Taking Dictation

David Remnick of The New Yorker reports on Trump’s meeting with media executives this week.

The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.

First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?

For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.

This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.

[…]

The participants all shook Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him, but things went south from there. The attendees included around two dozen anchors and executives from CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC, including Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Gayle King, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz. The Trump people did say that they would allow the new President to be followed, as tradition has had it, by a team of pool reporters.

Participants said that Trump did not raise his voice, but that he went on steadily at the start of the meeting about how he had been treated poorly. “It was all so Trump,” one said. “He is like this all the time. He’ll freeze you out and then be nice and humble and sort of want you to like him.”

“But he truly doesn’t seem to understand the First Amendment,” the source continued. “He doesn’t. He thinks we are supposed to say what he says and that’s it.”

This is how dictators talk, think, and work.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

And They’re Off

So tonight is the first event in the long road to next November.  And I’m already tired of this election.  Or, as someone somewhere noted, I am really running short of damns to give.  I just want it over with.

Don’t get me wrong: I care very much who wins the election.  A great deal is at stake as it is with every election.  The next president will probably choose at least one or more Supreme Court justice, and even a cursory glance at the rulings over the last five years shows just how important that selection can be, from Citizens United to Hobby Lobby.  Letting someone like Ted Cruz or even John Kasich choose a lifer for the court is enough to make Oliver Wendell Holmes spin in his grave.

What I object to is the way this campaign has become little more than a reality show on crack.  Even serious attempts by candidates to talk about the job that they will take up has been overwhelmed by the bullshit and infantile back-and-forth that would make a middle school bully proud.  I really don’t care if Ted Cruz is Canadian or Chris Christie has a large waistline; I even don’t care if Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server was in her basement or if Bernie Sanders is a socialist.  None of that will matter when war breaks out someplace in the world, a hurricane hits Miami, someone shoots up the Mall of America, or the economy takes a nosedive.

It would be really easy to blame all this on the media and the pundits, but we brought this on ourselves; if we didn’t want it, they wouldn’t sell it to us in between the commercials for adult underwear and cholesterol medicine.  I would hope that at some point we would rise up and say “Enough!” but given our penchant for ballyhoo and bunkum — there’s one born every minute — I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime between now and next November.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Friday, November 27, 2015