Thursday, January 31, 2019

WHY WON'T THE PRESS ADMIT THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP?

In today's New York Times, David Leonhardt's trenchant observation of the media's bias toward centrism -- in the cause of appearing balanced and impartial -- hits the mark.  However, I wonder if he or Margaret Sullivan (also a great article, in the Washington Post) would blame centrism for  the mainstream media's surreal ability to roll over Presidential insanity -- and I mean that; literal insanity -- as if it's just some sort of foible, akin to Uncle Ed's behavior at Thanksgiving or Dad's shouting at the TV news.   I, for one, am shocked by what they don't say.  Their meek acceptance often makes me wonder if I'm losing my mind.  You?

I say all this because less than four hours ago, the President of the United Sates held an impromptu press conference during which he rambled incoherently, jumped from one subject to the other, and contradicted himself within actual sentences.  This isn't new, but is that an excuse anymore?  He told us that the wall is being built -- right now!  As we speak! -- but he might still shut down the government if he doesn't get funding for.... his wall.  Which is being built.  As we speak.  Right now.

As he went on, shuttling from boasting how he had has made the USA number one economically (as it has been since World War Two) and "solved the military", and done more than any other President ever, I was confident.   I thought: "This is it.  As soon as this is over, the commentators are going to come on and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, clearly we have a national emergency.  The President has revealed he is a complete and utter jabbering idiot, and the 25th Amendment will likely be invoked in the next hour.'"

But I was wrong.  Again.  They came on, but they said their usual, "Okay, a lot of things to unpack there, we're going to White House Bob, our Washington correspondent; Bob, the President talked a lot about national security, are we right to assume..."

That was it.  They just took it in stride.

I sat dumbfounded.  The Commander-in-Chief rolled out lie after lie, contradiction after contradiction, and no one was going to call him on it.  They did say, "The President said the wall was being built and that's simply false," but pointing out a lie is not the same as accepting the liar.  Whether they admit it or not, the mainstream American media seems to have accepted the liar.

Things have never worked out well when they've gone down this road (Vietnam; WMD's), but I'm convinced this is the worst case, because this is the President being clearly unfit to be President.  A crazed, off-the-chain fantasist.

To be clear, I'm not hinting malice in Trump's behavior.  In fact,  I believe he believes the wall is being built at the moment he says it, just as I believe he believes he's 'fixed' the military.  I believe he believes he's the most productive President who has ever lived as well as that he has saved the world from nuclear Armageddon.

And that's the point. He believes it.  So he is unfit.    And the press is so obsessed with trying to appear professional that they -- our surrogates -- aren't calling it as it should be called.

History has not dealt well -- and distance will make this judgment even harsher -- with how mainstream journalists handled the fallout of 9/11 and America's entry into two never-ending wars that have killed hundreds of thousand.  But I suspect history will be even harsher when it examines the lackluster and lapdog response to a demonstrably unstable and unfit chief executive.

I'm tired of hearing the smooth commentators as well as the mainstream historians who cheerily tell us the country has weathered worse and will be fine (both untrue and pure Pollyanna).

Why does the press become so easily distracted from this key issue?  They did jumping jacks and shouted with euphoria that Nancy Pelosi made Trump "cave" and she showed him there's a new sheriff in town and all that other bogus tough talk, but they're failing in their most fundamental job, which is to report to us that we are facing a mortal threat to our nationhood and maybe, God forbid, our actual existence.

This picture of sort of normality -- and by that I mean anything short of 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a crisis here' -- is a gutless abdication.

Leonhardt called it earlier and his piece is better, but he wrote before Trump held his cuckoo for cocoa puffs press conference.  Since even then, Trump has tweeted that his intelligence chiefs were misquoted in a live broadcast we all watched.

Mass madness, folks.

The question isn't when are we going to get fed up with Trump, the question is when are we going to become fed up with ourselves ... for tolerating Trump.  And we need the national press to help us get to that point.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

LETTER TO MY KIDS: TRUMP LESSONS # 1

Dear Coneybeare Kids,

There are only two things to do with a bully when he's down: kill him, or let him save some face.  Then, when he comes back, he might think differently about how he's going to handle things.  He's the dog who still has the scars from the porcupine quills.

What you don't do is gloat.  You don't jump up and down like those assholes who spike the football in the endzone and crow their arms like chickens, which, by the way, is what chickens do when their heads are cut off.   Be a grown-up.  Have grace.  Have style.  Have cool.

American media has none of this in the face of Donald Trump's re-opening of the government.  From CNN to the New York Times to the Washington Post, the cry is "Trump Caved!" There is talk of a crater on the White House lawn where once stood his ego.  With this capitulation to Empress Nancy (a woman!), he is apparently now revealed as a fool, a buffoon, a mountebank, a fast talking flim-flam man -- as if further proof were needed.

Don't misread me: Trump is a charlatan who needs to be hoofed off the back of the train.  He has surrounded himself with the most odious creeps one can imagine, none of whom have any idea how to run even a hot dog stand.  He is a liar and wholly unfit to be President, and he has shown us that there are roughly thirty million Americans who are desperately in need of a civics class.

But the government is now open.

To me, that means one thing: folks are soon going to have that unbelievable relief of driving home with a week's worth of groceries in the back seat of the car; groceries that were earned --  to say nothing of aircraft not crashing into their homes.

This isn't just a perk.  That's the whole picture.

I'm not saying Trump re-opened the government for anything resembling altruistic reasons, or even anything resembling a fulfillment of his Oath of Office.  Nor am I saying that he didn't invent the crisis in the first place.  What I am saying is that there was a touchdown.  Forget the dance.

Second lesson: don't be a hypocrite.

For the entirety of the Trump Presidency, the guy has been castigated for never negotiating.  In fact, we've discovered that the subject of 'The Art of the Deal' doesn't actually know what negotiating is, or that some form of capitulation is required by both parties.  Now, finally, he has capitulated.  So to crow about he's "caved" is hypocrisy.

There's also a practical side to shutting one's yap.

If you want to keep the government open, let him get a taste of the sweet side of said capitulation: he has friends he didn't have before, and average citizens are relieved.  If you persist in "He caved" and "Nancy Showed the Old Misogynist Who's Boss", you only raise the odds that this most infantile of egos is going to make sure he never capitulates again.  Why would he?  Where's the reward?   I propose giving the rewards-oriented guy a reward.  Annnnd....

Keeping the government open.

Final lesson: put yourself in your opponent's shoes.

Trump's getting it from both sides now.  Ann Coulter, who seems to have craftily based an entire career on being a creator of nothing and destroyer of everything, who has never thought about kitchen table people once in her life, is all over the President for being a wimp (her word) simply because she wants to see the government shut down again in three weeks, while the rest of the wingnuts go into overdrive to attack their own guy for putting the country back to work (with friends like these, right?)

Sadly, the centrists, progressives, and card-carrying Democrats are behaving no better; they're exhibiting all the aplomb and dignity of schoolyard goody goodies, hiding behind Mrs. Pelosi's skirts and sticking their tongues out at the dirty-faced bully boy.

Neither side apparently cares or knows about the groceries in the car.

I want you, my kids, to know that this is not the way to handle any conflict or any victory.  And remember the following:

Stephen Douglas held Lincolns hat at his inaugural so that the new President could hold his speech without it blowing away in the wind; Hubert Humphrey telephoned his old nemesis Richard Nixon in his literal last days of life, to make amends;  less than a few months after their hard fought election, FDR asked Wendell Wilkie if he would please act as his emissary as the war began; Senator Robert Dole demanded to be lifted from his wheelchair so he could salute the casket of George Herbert Walker Bush, the man who beat him for the Presidency.

Have grace.  Have style.  Be cool.

Your ever loving,
Dad

A TRIBUTE TO BERNARD SLADE

The last time I posted to this blog, I was writing a memorial to my father, Rod Coneybeare, who passed away on Sept 5, 2019.    The in...