Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trump's media enforcers

by digby

I wrote about Trump and the media for Salon this morning:

Now that the smoke from the election is finally clearing, the challenge facing the Trump opposition is becoming obvious. It is immense. If anyone thought that the Trump campaign was some kind of a show or simply a means to an end and that Trump would “pivot” to a more presidential bearing and attitude, enough time has now passed to put any such hopes to rest. He is as unstable as ever.

Unlike other president-elects, Donald Trump has held no press conferences and is mainly communicating through Twitter. But his choices for his staff and his Cabinet tell some of the story. He remains dependent on his children and close campaign advisers, which were culled from the dregs of the GOP consultant class and right-wing fringe. And his cabinet choices mainly hail from the constituencies of Wall Street, Big Business and the extremist edge of the conservative movement.

But lest anyone think there’s ideological rhyme or reason for his choices, The Washington Post reported that his main concern is simply that they look the part. He admitted that he chose retired Marine Gen. James Mattis because he’s “the closest thing to General George Patton that we have,” but that is assumed to be mainly because he looks a little bit like George C. Scott, who played Patton in the movie. Transition officials said that Trump passed over Senator Bob Corker for Secretary of State because he is too short and he never seriously considered John Bolton for the leading role because of his mustache, which Trump apparently hates. Mitt Romney and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson were apparently the top choices because of their silver hair and broad shoulders, which fit the image Trump has for a secretary of state.

Trump’s Twitter feed shows a disturbing portrait of a shallow egotist who spends way too much time watching TV and virtually no time learning how to do the most important job in the world. He’s taking credit for things he isn’t doing and ignoring all the norms and rules that usually apply to presidents. In other words, he isn’t changing. And just as the bizarre reality show of a campaign stymied 17 GOP rivals and the campaign of Hillary Clinton, his nascent presidency shows every sign of stymieing the Democrats and the political press.

Political scientist George C. Edwards III at Texas A&M argues in this piece in the Washington Post that all is not lost and that reality will eventually bite when Trump is unable to persuade the people to support him. He says there are four questions that might predict if he can accomplish that:

  • Did Trump receive a mandate from the people?
  • Do Americans support the general direction of Trump’s policies?
  • How polarized is public opinion?
  • How malleable is public opinion?

The answer to those questions is obvious. He did not receive a mandate, most Americans do not support the general direction of his policies, public opinion is extremely polarized and the only people whose opinions are malleable in his favor are those who already support him.

Edwards writes:

Although Trump seems to enjoy an extraordinary rapport with his most enthusiastic supporters, the question is whether he can change the views of those who do not support him. The evidence is clear that his efforts are unlikely to succeed. Indeed, presidents find it difficult even to change the views of their fellow partisans who happen to disagree with them on an issue.
He says if presidents fail to accurately assess their level of support and work within that they are prone to overreach and political disaster.

This analysis is comforting, if only because it makes one think we will come back to some sort of equilibrium once Trump fails. But there’s a feeling of whistling past the graveyard about it. Haven’t we been assured over and over again for the past 18 months that Trump was going to “overreach” and suffer “political disaster?” And doesn’t he just keep coming like The Terminator, impervious to all the normal political pitfalls?

The problem we face is that Trump is sui generis and he is operating within a unique circumstance. The party he now leads was already at a peak moment of extremism and are unable and unwilling to act as a moderating force. And the modern media environment has made it possible for a fabulist like Trump to create an alternate narrative that is likely to be believed by millions of his followers, who are already far more gullible than most people.

Politico reported that Republican officials who show any independence are already feeling the heat from Trump’s enforcers. When Representative Bill Flores of Texas rather mildly declared that some of Trump’s policies might not be in keeping with conservative principles he was attacked by Breitbart and Sean Hannity, which sent a horde of Trump supporters calling for his head. And he’s not alone:
“Nobody wants to go first,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who received nasty phone calls, letters and tweets after he penned an August op-ed in The New York Times, calling on Trump to release his tax returns. “People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.”
And that’s nothing compared to what they are facing if the president himself tweets a call to arms to his millions of supporters.

This is not business as usual. And attempting to deal with this phenomenon as if it is has not worked up until now and is unlikely to work in the future. No typical politician can do what Trump is doing. His followers see him as the ultimate Green Lantern president, a super-hero who doesn’t have to follow the rules. It’s not about reform for them, it’s about magic. Looking back at previous presidencies, or trying to create a “better message” is inadequate when Trump can lie with impunity and offer up a stirring story of success and victory in an alternate media universe. The question is what will work and I don’t think anyone knows the answer.

Happy Hollandaise everyone.