Obama’s Gift of Immunity to Trump
Trump is certainly vicious, but after 2009 viciousness is no longer a mortal sin in presidential politics. If it were, Obama would have been through for his thuggish language, after advising supporters to “get in their faces,” take “a gun to a knife fight” and “punish our enemies.” Trump often ridicules the helpless. But he if stoops to make fun of the Special Olympics or jokes about vaporizing people with Predator drones, what will the New York Times or NPR do? Obama ridiculed the wealthy, who did not build their own businesses, or did not know when to stop profiting, or were clueless about the point at which they had made enough money or needed their money spread around. But then again, Obama made fun of the lower middle classes as well, who clung to their religion and guns and were stereotyped as xenophobes and nativists.
Trump can be polarizing on matters of race, but here again by what standard—when the president and his team have established new lows of racial discourse? Does Trump comment on ongoing criminal cases by suggesting one of the involved might look like one of his possible white offspring? Did Trump smear illegal aliens further by suggesting that they were “typical Mexican persons”? Would he appoint an attorney general who might refer to whites as “my people” and accuse the country of being a “nation of cowards”? Would Trump stoop to wink and nod about shared white racial solidarity with a redneck comedian who shouted out to a President Trump, “Yo, Donny, you did it, my cracker, you did it”? After Obama, there are no rules about racial discourse—and no media sensitivity to racially coarse and offensive language.
Trump, as the media has shown, is certainly a crude narcissist. But will he learn to boast as a smooth egoist that he can lower the seas and cool the planet? Does he insist that he is a better political handler and speechwriter than his handlers and speechwriters? Does he claim that he will be the fourth best president in U.S. history—albeit in an outer-borough accent rather than in an Ivy League mellifluous patois? “I,”“me” “mine” and “my” are now the normal baggage of a presidential speech.
As for the supposed fanatical Trumpsters, have they gone berserk with wild praise of Trump in near divine terms? Has a Laura Ingraham or Charles Hurt, or any other columnist, historian, talk show host, or journalist said that Trump’s neat pant crease presages that he will be a great president or that Trump makes his leg tingle, or confessed that Trump is a god, or assured that Trump would be the smartest president in the history of the office? So far, I have not read any such embarrassment in the Washington Times or American Conservative. After Obama, biased deification of a presidential candidate is old hat.
Trump certainly has wacky ideas. But will he promise to ensure that the coal industry goes out of business, or electric rates will skyrocket, or will his energy czar hope that our gas prices reach European levels? Does he plan to double the national debt in eight years or dismantle the existing health care system? Will Trump praise and subsidize a failing coal company as iconic of the country’s future in the manner that Obama coronated the soon-to-be-bankrupt Solyndra? Will he brag that setting and then ignoring red lines for Syria were among his greatest foreign policy moments?
The point is not to whitewash Trump’s crudity and outlandishness, but to explain why it so far has not eliminated him as a candidate. Obama’s outright destruction of presidential protocols created candidate Trump. The media, which in Faustian fashion mortgaged its soul to empower Obama, has now lost all credibility as a legitimate critic and arbiter of the dangers of narcissism, half-educated pop knowledge, polarizing politics, and demonization of one’s critics.