The big State of the Union reset

Is, just a BS media frame.  Love this from Conor Friedersdorf:

Karl Rove brings us closer to how pernicious the metaphor can be.

“This is a moment where he can reset,” he says of the State of the Union, “but the reset depends upon him following through in the weeks and months ahead.”

But a real reset does not depend on what follows it.

To draw on the only actual reset button that I can recall using in life, if I forget to have Mario use the warp zone in level 1-2 and reset my Nintendo, the effectiveness of that reset does not depend on what I do going forward. To reset is to be at a new beginning, whatever comes next.

This is not a moment when Trump can reset, because none of us is going to forget his frequently crude, erratic, boastful, emotionally immature way of communicating, no matter what tone he strikes in the most formal speech of the year.

Our attention spans may be attenuated, but few people besides cable-news pundits are inclined to utterly change their professed judgment of a person’s long-observed, persistent traits, based on him once reading words someone else wrote. [emphasis mine]

That partisan Republicans would like the American people to forget Trump’s misdeeds, and would like to pretend that a good State of the Union renders them irrelevant, is understandable. Journalistic complicity in that charade is not.

If Trump ceases to lash out like a man who cannot master himself for six months or a year, I’d have no objection to a backward-looking piece that identifies when that change began.

Until then, every piece of news analysis that touts a reset is far more likely to be misleading than enlightening, because more often than not, resets are invoked by people who want credit for real change without having to do the actual work of effecting the change in question.

The metaphor is meant to do all the work for them.

It’s almost like they got tired of the “pivot” and moved on to the even more inapprorpiate metaphor of the “reset.”  No matter how much certainly journalists may want to follow this spin, Friedersdorf, is right, there’s no forgetting the past year of Trump.  And more importantly, there’s clearly no changing who this 71-year old man fundamentally is.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The big State of the Union reset

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Notably, this SOTU was pretty much the last chance Trump had to command a national TV audience absent a national crisis of some sort, before the mid-term elections, despite the fact that every Democrat from dog catcher up is effectively running against Trump rather than their true opponent, as far as voters are concerned in mid-term elections. He is the one who drives mid-term outcomes, not individual candidates down-ticket, but he can’t defend himself in each and every one of those races. Query if this incentivizes him to create a national crisis to regain that stage.

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