Tags: Barack Obama | Donald Trump | Hollywood | Presidential History | Russia Probe | apprentice | democrats

If Politics Is Reality TV, Trump Wins on Ratings and More

us president donald trump in the roosevelt room of the white house in washington dc
President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Tuesday, 28 May 2019 05:08 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Is Donald Trump deranged, as the Democrats would have us believe, or is he, in fact, one of the greatest "stable geniuses" our politics has ever produced?

What is it that makes Donald J. Trump so hateful to his political opponents?

One clue is that he is the first person elected to the presidency in our country with no prior political or military experience.

He's both succeeded and failed spectacularly in the business world, experiencing bankruptcies, but ending up with the trappings of wealth greater than that of any previously elected chief executive officer.

He is our second successful professional media figure elected President (Ronald Reagan was the first), but Reagan was a California governor — after he was a movie star.

Trump, though, starred in a television reality series, "The Apprentice" for several seasons.

A much more demanding performance venue.

Somehow this gave this president an ability to understand the actual nature of American politics which is, when all is said and done, simply a large-scale reality TV show.

Every now and then this facet of Trump’s command of his current medium is revealed.

It happened most recently in the brouhaha this week over U.S. House S peaker Nancy Pelosi’s remarks that the president was engaged in "obstruction of justice" and a "cover-up," and that this could constitute impeachable offenses.

This was a reference, of course, to the Mueller report’s observations that Mr. Trump contemplated firing Mueller because his investigation of non-existent Russian collusion was interfering with and diminishing the effectiveness of the Trump administration.

Given that Mueller’s report concluded that there was no such collusion, and given that Mueller was never fired and his investigation was never actually hampered, given that there was no crime to cover up or obstruct, it's not unreasonable for the president to have labelled the whole investigation a "witch-hunt," and an inexcusable attempt to frame or tarnish him by his political enemies.

Thus, the president’s ire at Pelosi’s totally fanciful accusations and the continuing investigations by Democrats of purported Russian collusion and Trump’s finances are reasonable and understandable.

There are real and important differences between this unique president and his political enemies. His astonishingly successful program of making America great again," is all about reducing taxes, reducing regulation, returning the courts to interpretation rather than legislation, increasing jobs (particularly for minorities), increasing our industrial productivity, reversing unfavorable trade deals with other nations, returning more power to state and local governments — and reforming our immigration system.

The Democrats, if they have a plan other than simply attacking the president, seem committed to restoring the philosophy of the Obama administration, which was essentially antithetical to everything Trump stands for.

Explaining the deep policy differences now separating left and right in this country is difficult. It's far easier simply to fabricate "narratives" that motivate, usually by invoking fear or hostility.

Perhaps all astute politicians understand this, but President Trump has a refreshingly honest way of revealing his understanding of this element of our political culture.

Thus, he exposed the latest falsehoods being peddled by Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Schumer, when the recent White House talks on rebuilding infrastructure were suspended following Ms. Pelosi’s latest fabricated charges of obstruction of justice.

Wishing not to acknowledge that her own desire to pacify her rabidly pro-impeachment base was what led her to maintain now increasingly unbelievable charges against Trump, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer blamed the talks’ collapse on petulance on the part of the president.

Exasperated, the president remarked at a press conference that the Pelosi and Schumer "narrative is I was screaming and ranting and raving," and then elicited comments from his staff also present at the meeting that his demeanor was precisely the opposite.

The president was emphasizing by his choice of the term "narrative" the essentially fabricated nature of our current political discourse.

Democrats have, in the last 75 years, since the Eisenhower administration, sought to paint Republicans as stupid, unhinged, or malevolent, and occasionally (as with Nixon, Reagan, Goldwater, and now Trump) as all of these at once.

Donald Trump, understanding the importance of both strategy and tactics in business and entertainment, is probably the first Republican in decades able to respond in kind

He is also able to craft a counter-narrative that has maintained a constant level of support in his own base, which counter-narrative, unlike that of the Democrats, has the virtue of more closely corresponding to reality.

In an ideal country, perhaps politics ought to be more elevated, and our debates ought to be about issues rather than personalities, about goals and values rather than name-calling and denigration.

Unfortunately, given our current media culture, appearance is as important as reality, and our current reality show of presidential politics will continue through the 2020 election.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.


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Unfortunately, given our current media culture, appearance is as important as reality, and our current reality show of presidential politics will continue through the 2020 election.
apprentice, democrats, witch hunt
Tuesday, 28 May 2019 05:08 PM
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