Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Master Baiter

Have you noticed how clever our Dear Leader is in manipulating the topic for our public political debates?  The Harvard study found evidence on that during the elections, i.e., that the media tended to talk about the policies Trump wanted them to focus on, even if the coverage he received from that was mostly negative.  The coverage Hillary Clinton received was not on her policies, but on her "scandals."

In one sense we are all Trump's puppets.  The New York Times speculates that Trump's recent Alabama speech on football and peaceful protests* was red meat for his white and conservatively patriotic** base:

“It’s not a coincidence that the same week he did the DACA deal that he just flooded Twitter with a bunch of red meat for the base,” Mr. Conant added. “I think his fundamental problem is he needs to figure out ways to grow his base, and his instinct is instead to double down on what he’s already got. Whenever he tacks to the middle, his numbers tick up. But he just can’t bring himself to move beyond his base.”
That is not how Mr. Trump sees it.
In private, the president and his top aides freely admit that he is engaged in a culture war on behalf of his white, working-class base, a New York billionaire waging war against “politically correct” coastal elites on behalf of his supporters in the South and in the Midwest. He believes the war was foisted upon him by former President Barack Obama and other Democrats — and he is determined to win, current and former aides said.

I speculate that another reason why he was let loose on Twitter by his minders are the recent news which are not good for Trump, his administration or the Republican Party:

-  The Graham-Cassidy attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act looks unlikely to pass.  Trump's campaign promise was to kill it dead within a few short months.

- At least twenty-one American states were informed that their election systems had been subject to Russian hacking attacks before or during the 2016 election, and the Russians were clearly attempting to manipulate US social media  through tailored political propaganda (including fake news) on Facebook.  Findings such as these cast more doubt on the legitimacy of the 2016 election results.

-  Until now, the Trump administration has seemed fairly willing to ignore the dire situation in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria devastated the island.  Others had to demand action:

- Trump's responses to North Korea's threats are causing sleepless nights in many countries.  It's as if we have two tinpot dictators drumming their chests with their fists, each promising to measure hid greatness by how high the corpses of the enemy will be piled.

-  Several other news items are awkward for the Trump administration, such as the private email use by several of his advisors.  Given what his campaign against that crooked and nasty woman was based on, a few eyebrows should be raised by that news, too.


*  The move was masterful, because the topic matters greatly not only to Trump's base but also to all those who fight racism and police brutality disproportionately aimed at Americans of African ancestry.

It's a topic which deserves to be discussed, must be discussed.  But note that it was Trump who decided on the timing of these debates, not those who are engaging in the peaceful protests.  Still, some good is coming out of Trump's current attempt to feed his base.

** Why are the flag and the national anthem supposed to be symbols of the military so that taking the knee is seen as an insult to all those who gave their lives for this country?  I assume that this is a form of conservative patriotism, but surely that military interpretation is pretty narrow when it comes to the symbols of a country?