The incontinent pet theory of Donald Trump

As much as some journalists may be trying to keep from normalizing Trump’s absurdly abnormal behavior, honestly, the volume of it just makes it hard.  It is quite simply human nature to adapt to that to which you are always exposed.  Donald Trump is like a 20-year old cat that just keeps peeing all over the house.  After a while, you just don’t even smell it any more.  But if your neighbors come over all they can think is “damn, this house smells like cat piss.”  Or if you go away for a week you come back and think, “damn does my house stink.”  But day in, day out, you just get used to it.

Right now, Donald Trump is an old cat (or dog) peeing all over the house and our media is mostly just inured to it.  Yglesias:

Donald Trump went on CNBC this morning, and, over the course of a wide-ranging interview, once again reminded the world of the most fundamental fact about his candidacy — he doesn’t really seem to understand any aspect of American public policy…

A few observations about all this:

  • In a normal election cycle, a candidate making an offhand racist remark about a sitting US senator would be a big news story.
  • In a normal election cycle, a candidate making an offhanded lie about the state of his personal finances would be a big news story.
  • To be totally honest, even in a normal election cycle a candidate exhibiting total confusion about the mechanics and merits of monetary policy probably wouldn’t be that big of a news story but it would at least get some attention.

Seriously. Stop. Take a breath. Now imagine if Mitt Romney had run exactly Mitt Romney’s campaign but then suddenly in mid-September went on television and called Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for no reason. It would have been huge.

This year, basically nothing. Trump being kinda racist is a dog-bites-man story. [emphasis mine] After all, just yesterday Donald Trump Jr. shared a white nationalist meme on Instagram. Trump lies all the time, so that’s not a big deal. In fact, he lies frequently about the essential core of his foreign policy, and his business dealings pose such obvious and flagrant conflicts of interest and ethics problems that lying about his stock holdings doesn’t seem like a big deal. And of course Trump doesn’t understand what he’s saying when it comes to monetary policy — monetary policy is complicated and obscure and Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about on any other issue either…

But the truly scary thing is that Trump is redefining the concept of a gaffe out of existence. It turns out that if you just boldly repeat something often enough, it goes away as a story. We’ve become numb, as a society, to what Trump is doing. In the process we’ve normalized casual racism, intense personal insults as an approach to politics, and completely decentered the idea that elected officials should grapple with difficult policy questions. Half the crazy things Trump says or does barely merit a mention on Twitter, much less the front-page coverage they would have merited in previous campaigns.

More than anything else, the numbness that Trump creates frightens me.

We have a learned a lot this year about what you can get away with in politics if you are brazen enough. The answer is that you can get away with a lot. Whatever happens in November, that revelation won’t go away.

Meanwhile, Trump’s foundation is proving to be an absolute embarrassment and fiasco.  But nobody cares!!  Well, nobody except an intrepid reporter at the Post.  But seriously, this is so much worse than anything with the Clinton foundation, but hardly getting any coverage beyond the Post.  The media has so come to just expect awfulness from all things Trump that he can get away with an awful amount of awfulness.  Donald Trump is ruining all the carpets.

 

 

 

 

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I made the Sports pages!

So, in a first for my media appearances, I actually made the Sports page yesterday.  And, even better, in the column of a sportswriter I’ve long been a fan of.  Barry Jacobs— an amazing historian of ACC history, etc.– wrote a column on Kapernick and national anthem protests and ended up talking to me.  My quotations are decent enough, but this is really interesting reading for lots of great historical anecdotes I had no idea about.  But it’s my blog, so here’s me:

“That shows great courage,” Steven Greene, an N.C. State professor of political science, says of the anthem protests. “Anybody can wear a T-shirt that says ‘Black Lives Matter’ – you’re not going to get too much grief for that. To not stand for the national anthem, you know you’re going to get grief. You may not fully appreciate just how much … It’s a bold stance because we know how much this country values patriotism and, honestly, how much it’s tied up into sports.”

I thought I might actually get some angry emails or voicemails after calling Kapernick’s actions courageous, but nothing.  I guess I’ll take it.  And while we’re at it, excellent column from Josh Levin on how this has absolutely mattered:

What has Kaepernick’s supposedly empty gesture achieved thus far? It’s inspired football players and other athletes to speak up about race and police violence, and to do so in such a way that reporters, fans, and team owners actually pay attention. According to Robert Klemko, more than 70 NFL players, including Kaepernick, Foster, and Richard Sherman, are in a group text talking about “what Kaep started.” That’s not a gesture. That’s a movement.

The 49ers franchise announced they would donate $1 million to, in the words of the team’s chief executive, Jed York, “the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.” Kaepernick has pledged $1 million of his own money to address the same issues. “I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in a position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed,” he said. That’s a movement with money to back it up.

Just as important, Kaepernick has made his fellow Americans think about what they’re standing for, and why. No NFL player stood for the national anthem until 2009—before then, the players stayed in the locker room as the anthem played. NFL teams got patriotic in recent years because it was good for business. A 2015 congressional report revealed that the Department of Defense had paid $5.4 million to NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies; the National Guard shelled out $6.7 million for similar displays between 2013 and 2015.

And as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion noted, if you think Kaepernick’s gesture is an empty one, you need to grapple with the fact that “standing for the national anthem before a sporting event is an equally empty gesture for many people.” Consider that, as Marcus Peters raised his right fist in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, thousands of fans interrupted the supposedly sacred anthem to yell out “home of the CHIEFS!” Thousands more jersey-wearing, beer-swilling patriots booed President Obama’s pre-recorded Sept. 11 speech as it poured out of PA systems in Baltimore, Seattle, and New Jersey. Patriotism!

If Kaepernick had donated $1 million without the anthem protest, or if he’d stuck to venting on social media, then prominent columnists and TV yakkers wouldn’t be calling him an idiot. Nobody would be saying anything at all, because nobody would care. [emphasis mine]

 

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