Thursday, August 9, 2018

How (Some) Trump Supporters Feel

The Mainstream Media (The Omnivore is looking at you, New York Times) has spent a lot of time interviewing Trump-voters to find out how they feel. One thing is pretty clear: they don't feel like they "won." No--despite having a substantial Electoral Vote victory, both chambers of Congress, and a solid ideological majority (now) on the Supreme Court, it still appears they still feel like  . . . well, losers.

How can this be?

Well, it's a small group that The Omnivore has access to--but since small groups allowed Salena Zito to write a book, a handful of people on Twitter can work for a blog post.

The Psychology of the GOP

In a very direct way the psychological position of the modern GOP can be seen as a direct progression of the loss of John McCain to Barack Obama in 2008. The justification for this kind of sweeping statement is pretty straightforward: The metric by which the GOP base measures victory has not yet been delivered.

That metric is Cultural Respect.

The motivating force for the Tea Party was never high taxes or even the ACA (although concerns about the government meddling in Medicare were, in fact, a significant underlying force). No--it was about the major policy position of the liberals (and, uhm, some racism) being enacted despite maximal opposition from the GOP.

When it went through, the psychological dam broke and the modern GOP was fully minted. Where Obama was a devoted family man, Trump has multiple wives and affairs. Where Obama was accused of needing a teleprompter to speak, Trump's teleprompter speeches are met with extreme relief because without them, he is often incoherent and unpredictable.

Where Obama led congress--or, at least, bent them to his will--Trump has abdicated the leadership role of the party to McConnell and Ryan, leaving Congress to flounder when coming up with uniting policies.

Where the media loved Obama, they hate Trump.

:: record scratch ::

:: Freeze Frame ::

[Voice Over] You're probably wondering how The Omnivore wound up specifically here [ /Voice Over ]

The Metric of Cultural Respect

The Omnivore avers that the thing that Republicans most wanted--and still have not gotten--from a Trump presidency was cultural collateral. If they could not earn it, they would take it by force. This is seen in the evangelical circles where Trump is praised as literally heaven-sent because he will "fight" for their principles.

Never mind that these so-called principles are things like kicking transgender troops out of the military (and bogusly blaming it on cost-cutting), making a slew of meaningless gestures, and installing a justice that literally any and every Republican president would have (meaning Trump's flaws are not in fact measured against Gorsuch).

Outside of the evangelical world, people The Omnivore has heard from say it is okay to be more outwardly Republican. This is probably true: look at the explosion in racist video rants we see on the Internet. Coincidence?

Uh . . . no. No, it is not coincidence. The big, nazi-riffic Unite The Right rally was held under Trump's watch (this is because the various little nazi groups felt ascendant and wanted to consolidate). The next one will be held in Washington DC.

Fox "Entertainment" has gotten more avowedly white-nationalist with Tucker Carlson and Loesch basically coming out and saying the things that were sub-text previously. Fox News people have resigned in disgust--but ratings? They are up.

And Yet . . .

And yet, what pisses of the right--what powers the emotional engine of resentment--is that the stuff they want--respect from the masses--they aren't getting. The Media's stories are 90% anti-Trump. We get weekly Kayfabe between Trump and Jim Acosta. Saturday Night Live continually mocks Trump in a vicious and effective fashion.

For most onlookers, people like Sarah Sanders are objects of amused contempt: when Trump administrators go out to dine, they must always wonder if a new mother, with a baby in  her arms, will ask them to resign. It's tough out there.

Is The Media Being Unfair?

If an alien came down to earth and looked at a few specific claims, what would they think? It's hard to know, really--but we can use Google to look at some specifics.

CNN's Fake News

The Omnivore was told that CNN just more or less makes stuff up. What stuff?

  • Wikipedia's CNN Page: There are two false stories (one about Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund--three reporters resigned). One about Don Jr. getting special stuff from Wikileaks--CNN corrected the story and put new procedures in place.
  • CNN made it look like Trump screwed up in feeding the fish with the Japanese Prime Minister.
  • CNN claimed that the FBI director would refute Trump's claim that Trump was not "under investigation" (This was indeed false--but the idea that Trump remains a subject isn't)
  • Don Lemon and Jim Acosta get lots of flack for blaming Trump for things like death-threats made to CNN, claiming that Republicans had shut down the government, and so on.
If this seems like pretty small-ball stuff, that's because it is. The big mistakes resulted in firings and new procedures being put in place. The other stuff? Well--it's about a lack of respect. It is clear that CNN isn't making stuff up.

Don Lemon and Disrespect

One thing that isn't made up is that across a number of media outlets commentators don't like the president. Don Lemon's interview of LeBron James included a question about what LeBron would say to Trump if sitting next to him. LeBron noted he wouldn't. This, according to a Trump supporter, kinda pissed him off with the disrespect. 

If The Omnivore cared about POTUS being disrespected by celebrities, the Obama era would have killed him--but hey, we all get to have our own standards, right? Right? Well . . . it turns out? No.

Respect has to be earned.

We all agree on this basic tenant of the rules governing 'respect' and, as America does not have literal royalty, just winning the presidency doesn't entitle you to "a crown" or any such cultural station. No, if you sit in the big chair, the onus of governing and leading falls to you.

Trump and his admin sparring with CNN is, in fact, a symbiotic relationship. Trump wants his base to hate CNN so he has cultural traction to rail against. CNN gets hate-clicks and specific cultural cachet by being the target of presidential ire. With both of these forces interlocked in a mutually beneficial (albeit toxic) relationship, you cannot blame just one side.

Both of them are to blame. 

It is true that Obama did, in fact, say some things about Fox News--but not nearly as much--or as incendiary as Trump against his preferred media targets. It's that pacing and intensity that you can use to measure the comparison.

Did Don and LeBron disrespect Trump? Yes. Did he deserve it? Yes (if nothing else, he proved it by his response claiming both were stupid--but even if you call that "punching back" the fact is that anyone can legitimately criticize the president so long as they don't threaten him--that's part of being American--literally. That's 1A).


It is hard to think of a metric other than the continuing improvement of the economy by which the Trump administration is not a moral and governance trash-fire. Trump's roll-outs of policy are amateurish and fraught. Trump's White House leaks like a sieve. Trump, himself, often speaks in gibberish and lies about what he has said or changes positions literally in mid-speech. 

To think that the media would or should . . . or could report positively on this stuff requires very, very, very special pleading: Please just say good things about him--whatever it takes--oh please. 

That's fine for Fox--which has people resigning over that stance. It's not reasonable for anyone else.

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