August 02, 2016

Source: Bigstock

NEW YORK—All over America IKEA futons are groaning with the restless insomnia of journalists”€”tossing, turning, cursing the impotence of their melatonin capsules”€”burdened with the future of the Republic. Long nights of torment, and then . . .

Morning resolve! Before they”€™ve even microwaved their second Jimmy Dean Sausage Sandwich, they know that this will be the day of reckoning. They will fire up the Kia Sedona and take the long way to work, giving them more time to think about the epic 1,500 words that will make the difference between chaos and civilization.

Yes, they tell their wives, It’s time for my “€œDonald Trump is a Dickwad”€ column.

Let me make it clear here that I”€™m not talking about lesbian-rights vegans who organize fair-trade coffee boycotts at Maxwell House and agitate for medical marijuana in The Nation. Nor am I thinking of tweed-jacketed professors of sociology at Montana State submitting articles to the Journal of Spanish-American Diacritical Marks. Think-tank analysts at the Institute for Pan-Arab Non-Alignment are most certainly churning out white papers on why Donald Trump is a dangerous threat to the Maghreb treaty on fish hatcheries, but I”€™m not discussing them either. I”€™m not talking about intellectuals or activists or experts.

No. I”€™m talking about the guy who enrolled at McNeese State in the nineties and fell into deep reverence for Professor Rusty Naugahyde, the legendary teacher whose Newswriting 312 workshop was almost as inspirational as Lou “€œThe News Is Sacred”€ Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Our starry-eyed undergraduate buys a safari jacket, takes an oath of objectivity and resolves never to be a member of a political party. After that it takes years of struggle to become the lead Metro columnist at the Lotus Tree, Kansas, Daily Arapaho, days spent chronicling the brutal fights over county bond issues needed to repair the Lost Frenchman Bridge. But now that he’s a 32nd-degree Mason and chairman of the Little League committee on maintenance and parking, he knows that it’s his responsibility, and his privilege, to tell the people of Lotus Tree that Donald Trump is a narcissistic disagreeable soulless callous rude arrogant authoritarian vicious egotistical vulgar braggart and megalomaniac, possibly a lunatic, definitely a psychopath, perhaps a fascist.

This goes against everything in the journalism rule book. Elections are the ultimate on-the-one-hand, on-the-other hand story. You get the League of Women Voters to interview each candidate and then you make sure every biography is exactly the same length as the one before it and the one after it. You never say that one campaign platform is better or worse than another campaign platform. You occasionally note “€œcontroversy”€ over “€œremarks perceived to be off color,”€ but you limit your commentary to observations like, “€œIt now appears that Beaver County Sheriff Judd will bring his traditional voting bloc to the side of Culpepper, while District Judge Monahan will side with the Democratic challenger.”€ The last thing you ever do is suggest, much less state, that someone is a pathological liar, because there’s a strong likelihood that more than 50 percent of the people you write about in the course of a lifetime will be, in fact, pathological liars.

What is it about Donald Trump that makes journalists go insane?

“It’s a political movement based on the First Amendment.”

If you do a Donald Trump word search on Google, and you use various combinations of the most popular descriptive adjectives, you get the following results.

In ascending order:

puerile 85,000 (not a popular term in the Midwest)
boorish 115,000
soulless 240,000
patronizing 248,000
egotistical 253,000
megalomaniac 261,000 (this one would score higher if it were not six syllables, therefore rendering it unusable in headlines)
vengeful 304,000
callous 395,000
grandiose 406,000
combative 407,000
birther 425,000
condescending 452,000 (could be combined with patronizing for a higher score)
mean-spirited 453,000
misogynistic 479,000 (misleadingly low because “€œwoman hater”€ gets over a million)
foul-mouthed 500,000
disagreeable 503,000
arrogant 509,000
lunatic 524,000
immature 525,000 (should probably be combined with puerile)
xenophobic 532,000
fascist 554,000
authoritarian 571,000
braggart 586,000
obnoxious 606,000
narcissistic 635,000
boring 643,000 (wow, this one really shouldn”€™t make it past the fact-checkers)
haughty 645,000
obsessive 707,000
superficial 713,000
psychopathic 784,000
thin-skinned 785,000
vulgar 967,000

Obviously these highly technical terms used in political analysis will tend to overlap, and I certainly don”€™t want to ignore those writers who put in extra effort to string together metaphorical invective like “€œa walking lie,”€ “€œa grotesque experiment,”€ “€œa witless frat boy,”€ “€œHerman Cain on steroids”€ (rethink that one, please, I”€™m having trouble connecting the reference), and “€œa combustible mix of P.T. Barnum updated by Kim Kardashian.”€ This latter one comes from Richard North Patterson writing in the Huffington Post and I”€™m not sure what it means, but it sounds good. The Huffington Post, by the way, instituted a policy whereby every article about Trump includes the following disclaimer:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims”€”1.6 billion members of an entire religion”€”from entering the U.S.

Not just one article. Every article on Trump has this same wording at the end of the piece. I knew that Huffpo was known for its liberal slant, but I had no idea they had thrown out all pretense of evenhandedness. Even Fox News pretends to be “€œfair and balanced.”€ As I say, Donald Trump makes people insane.

But let’s cut to the chase and look at what I”€™m calling the Big Eight. Of all the words used by the press to describe Donald Trump, the million-hit wonders are these:

bully 1.4 million
self-obsessed 2.5 million
vicious 9.1 million
rude 13.3 million
cruel 13.3 million
liar 16.2 million
angry 19.3 million
And the winner”€”drum roll, please:
idiot 20.5 million

Notice that five of the eight are internal attributes, only one can be fact-checked, and the most popular epithet of them all is the last refuge of sputtering incoherent rage. It’s reminiscent of the old Saturday Night Live routine, with Dan Aykroyd responding to anything Jane Curtin said with, “€œJane, you ignorant slut.”€

Ladies and gentlemen, most unjournalistic.

Moreover, never in history have so many professional journalists felt the need to issue their own press releases! George Will made a big deal out of resigning from the Republican Party, not realizing that most people had no idea he was a card-carrying Republican in the first place and, uh, George, hate to tell you this, but the fact that you joined any political party, for any reason, kind of zeroes out your credibility. What you should have done is hire a hacker to clean up your computer trail.

There was even an Edward Snowden-style episode in which Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter on Art of the Deal, repudiated his calling, booked himself on talk shows, and told the New Yorker, “€œTrump didn”€™t meet any model of human being I”€™d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn”€™t care what you wrote.”€ I don”€™t know what the rules of ghostwriting were in 1987, but I have to assume the contract says the ghostwriter can”€™t suddenly claim immunity 30 years later. Tony should seek political asylum in Zimbabwe post-haste, since that country leads the world in journalistic ghostwriting, with so many fake articles that some of the ghostwriters hire ghostwriters. I”€™m sure they would never allow extradition of such a kindred soul. At any rate, what’s unsettling is not the Schwartz “€œouting”€ of a falsified book, but that he was the chief falsifier, was paid to do the falsification, profited enormously from the falsification, and is now being treated by the mainstream media as a harbinger of truth.

But it doesn”€™t stop there. Another abandonment of traditional journalistic responsibility”€”Dr. Naugahyde is turning over in his grave”€”connotes massive ignorance on the part of the Fourth Estate, and they”€™re not even ashamed of it. It takes the form of the “€œWho the Heck Is Voting for Trump?”€ article. This is apparently a perplexing conundrum to the national press corps, especially the branch that dines at the Yale Club.

First of all, you”€™re not supposed to be asking who votes for Trump, you”€™re supposed to be telling us. I realize this might require moving outside the realm of people who wear 18th-century crests on their Princeton crew jackets, but it’s kind of why you”€™ve been given the job in the first place.

Unfortunately, the identity of the Trump voter is such an overwhelming mystery to so many that several publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, have actually hired psychologists to figure it out. Maria Konnikova, writing in the Internet forum Big Think, looked up Trump in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and went with the Eastern Long Island crowd favorite: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A long piece in Esquire, speculating on said narcissism, was headlined “€œDonald Trump Doesn”€™t Need Our Attention, He Needs Our Pity”€”€”but most of the armchair shrinks declined to participate in the group hug.

I won”€™t even go into the hundreds of “€œunfit to be President”€ screeds, because they all ignore one basic fact of our system: If you receive 270 votes in the electoral college, you are by definition fit to be President. Democracy’s a bitch, dudes.

Fortunately that keen observer of the political landscape, the Belgian kickboxer Jean-Claude Van Damme, assures us that Trump can never be President”€”because the Illuminati won”€™t allow it. For those of you who have forgotten the plot of Van Damme’s most popular movie, Bloodsport, it’s a world where all disagreements are settled by brutal illegal back-street free-form fighting. It’s Donald Trump’s favorite film.

Of course, as we know from the recent convocation of the Illuminati at Bohemian Grove, there are many reasons for Trump’s popularity, but they all come down to one reason, the reason given over and over again, the reason so ingrained into the consciousness of the editor of the Lotus Grove Daily Arapaho that he tells his own readers why they are all ignoramuses and deluded throwbacks.

It’s The Angry White Man.

There’s an Angry White Man abroad. This AWM is so infused with rage that he has become a ballot-box terrorist and votes for Trump. He is determined to tear down the very foundations of the American experiment and return to some sort of gun-toting western wilderness where women are chattel and homosexuals are tarred and feather-boaed. When asked to produce one of these Angry White Men, fingers are pointed at that guy, the one with the wild hair and the crazy eyes at a Trump rally in Akron”€”yes, that guy that looks just like Timothy McVeigh. I”€™m waiting on the actual interview with the Angry White Man, but in the meantime we have a list of all the reasons he’s angry.

The main reason he’s angry, detailed at great length in President Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention, is that he lost his factory job. He’s a man with a hardhat and a lunch pail and nowhere to go. I don”€™t know how many times the Democrats used “€œloss of industrial jobs”€ to explain why people would want Donald Trump in office, but I”€™ve got news for you people: The factory closed in 1974!

That guy has grandchildren who don”€™t even know the factory existed. That factory became a derelict building in 1980, a Superfund site in 1985, a scientific laboratory in 1990 when Rutgers University biologists discovered the pollution was creating new mutant fish species in the Hackensack River, a vacant lot with a few structural walls still standing in 2000, a federally funded “€œredevelopment project”€ in 2005, a multi-purpose retail-and-residential high-rise in 2010, and today is advertised as The Factory Lofts: Luxury Starts at a Million Dollars.

There are no angry hardhat people begging for a chance to work the iron forges again. I don”€™t know who invented this. Probably Tony Schwartz.

“€œWell then,”€ says the journalist explaining The Trump Phenomenon, “€œit’s people who hate immigrants because they think they”€™re taking their jobs.”€

Actually the main complaint about immigrants in Texas, my native state, is that they don”€™t learn English and so it’s hard to order at Whataburger. You would think the only state that fought two actual wars with the Mexicans and has a sacred monument to Mexican-killing martyrs would be inclined to take a hard line on Mexican immigration, but in fact there’s been so much wandering back and forth across the Rio Grande the past 300 years that it’s more like an irksome annoyance that comes and goes. The rate of illegal immigration actually flat-lined in 2005, partly because we built all these American factories in Nuevo Laredo and Juarez and Matamoras and”€”my own personal favorite border town”€”Piedras Negras, and partly because the Mexican economy got better in general. You wanna do something about Mexican immigration? Do what we do in Texas: Get the budget fare to Cancun and spend the week ordering Coco Locos on the beach. The main reason some Texans would be opposed to The Wall is that it would screw up the pronghorn and javelina hunting seasons in Big Bend. It might stop a few Mexican Mafia guys doing cartel drug deals, but who wants to trade that for less wildlife diversity?

If it’s not the hardhat reason and it’s not the wetback reason, then it must be the Mythical Golden Age reason. This is the idea that there are millions of people in the backwoods of the Ozarks who are upset about the integration of the schools in 1957 and wish they could drive their pickups down picturesque dirt roads and go to fiddle conventions with other white people who belong to the Eureka Springs Free Will Pentecostal Tongue-Talkin”€™ Church, which is full of Aryan Brotherhood gun nuts who own tattoo shops in East Tulsa. The whole “€œmythical golden age”€ reason was apparently invented by West African exchange students at the Berkeley School for Public Policy who spend way too much time watching Country Music Television.


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