I realize many mainstream media outlets and pundits have stepped up to confront the vulgarity and racism of Donald Trump, but just because he can read a script off a teleprompter doesn’t mean he has suddenly become presidential or he isn’t a threat to democracy.
Again, I appreciate how The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported on the liar in chief, but this is how The Post blurbed an online article on Trump’s speech on Afghanistan Monday:
President Trump gave an uncharacteristically introspective speech last night, acknowledging that he’s changed his position on the war in Afghanistan as he escalated the military’s involvement in America’s longest war.
I get it that the word “uncharacteristically” holds some criticism, but I found nothing introspective about the speech, which seemed wooden, hollow and devoid of any major details about escalating a conflict that will never result in a seamless victory for the United States. He never answered the basic question of why we’re still in Afghanistan in the first place. He didn’t inspire me in any way nor did he seem genuine.
I’m not trying to put too fine of a line on it—The Post columnist Eugene Robinson had an excellent piece the same day questioning Trump’s mental stability—but any attempt to normalize the sexist reality television actor should be met with skepticism. A story on the CNN site adopted the same tone as The Post blurb, “Trump laced his prime-time speech with volleys of bold language that might be expected from a new commander-in-chief taking over a failing war.”
Note “bold language” and “commander-in-chief.” It seriously makes one want to gag. Of course, Trump supposedly hates CNN, as we all know, and the story is definitely NOT fake news, but as others have pointed out the speech was really about the president trying to seem in control after his hateful, racist comments about the tragedy at the recent Charlottesville white supremacy rally in which one counter protestor was killed and others injured. We should never forget that Trump’s claim that there was “many sides” and “both sides” to blame was an coded endorsement of white supremacy, the KKK and Neo-Nazism.
Trump can never take it back, and when he did make the “both sides” comments, it’s worth noting, he wasn’t reading from a teleprompter or seemed robotic. He was animated and aggressive. He was arguing a point in which he apparently holds strong beliefs. He was talking to his remaining supporters, who adore him. Does any rational person really think Trump holds strong beliefs about Afghanistan or even has the attention span to care about any war strategy? Do our major news organizations want us to believe that? Surely not.
These are not normal times under the Trump regime. We cannot tell each other that enough. Trump is under investigation for colluding with a foreign government to get elected and obstructing justice. Who knows where the investigation will lead? He’s a horrible model for children. It’s understandable that some well-intentioned people crave normalcy, especially those journalists who want to go back to the old journalistic rhetorical formulas. But we’re not going back. Normalizing Trump will only make it worse.