We should be bored by now — perhaps we are. Certainly, the anger against Donald Trump’s tweets isn’t quite as vociferous as before. We are used to @realdonaldtrump now. Three years in, who cares if he sounds presidential?
But the media outrage machine still limbers up, on demand, at every provocation.
Today’s doozy: Trump compared the Democratic attempts to impeach him over Ukraine to a ‘lynching’.
Sure enough, the media explainers did their job. Lynching, we are told by every wired copy monkey who has to file 600 words to their line editor, is a ‘racially charged/loaded term’ that refers to — here I quote the BBC — ‘historic extrajudicial executions by white mobs mainly against African Americans.’
The inevitable ‘backlash’ follows. Cue pundits and politicos all agreeing that this sort of language from a president is ‘unprecedented’.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, told CNN: ‘I’ve studied presidential history quite a bit and I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this.’
Bless you, Jim. Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, added his two cents on Twitter: ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ He asked the president:
‘Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you.’
He asked the president to delete the tweet.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the New York Democrat, added: ‘The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter of American history.’
Then come the wannabe-reasonable Republicans, who say that, while they wouldn’t use that language (no no!), they sympathize with the president’s frustration. Thus every political talking point gets boiled down to an eighth-grade group seminar about civil rights and appropriate language. That’s the only public conversation we seem willing or able to have.
Everybody knows — sort of — that the president does it on purpose. But nobody can help themselves. Pundits and politicians react this way because they feel they have to: the temptation to sound important — by saying the president shouldn’t be so trivial — is overwhelming. The feedback loop never breaks.
Sane people wish it would stop. Sane people can see that Trump uses provocative words because he wants to provoke, such as when he says immigrant Democratic radicals should ‘go back’ to where they came from.
It isn’t because he’s stupid. It isn’t even because he’s smart. It’s because the media is stupid and thinks it is smart. Trump may have foolish traits but he’s astute enough to see that. He knows the mainstream media will always fall for his bait, even when it knows it is being baited.
The media rarely stops to ask why Donald Trump might be goading them into talking about the impeachment story. The answer is that Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real phenomenon and it never ends. It always makes his fiercest critics look silly and vain. It only ever makes the president look better.