Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not for Trump, but...

During the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016, I had a hard time getting my social-media friends to understand what I meant when I insisted that I was not in favor of Trump being elected, but I was absolutely against Hillary Clinton becoming president.

In these post-apocalyptic days, still early in the Trump presidency, press coverage has made it abundantly clear that the nation's choice of its 45th president was a massive boo-boo. Of course, I would have predicted this even in the advent of a totally righteous, non-left-wing-cuckoo president. Recall, again, how the national news media spent most of practically every news cycle harping on what a lousy president George W. Bush was, precisely for doing or not doing more or less the same things the press had no complaint about when done by the Democratic presidents before and after him. It is sufficient not to be of the donkey party to be branded as evil, along with all your acts and omissions in exhaustive detail.

The ideological differences between the last four or five presidents have not been very significant, excepting perhaps some of Obama's apparent veers toward the far left; they've pretty much continually led the country in the same direction - with bad and good results mixed, but a definite and constant trajectory with regard to the limits of government in-reach into people's lives. Their ideological colors as reported in the mainstream press, however, contrast much more vividly. It seems to be to the press' purpose to position one shade of purple (bluish) as the good guys and the other (reddish) as the bad guys.

It plays right in with the tired old theme of modern American politics, on which 2016 was really just a very blatant variation: What is permitted for the left is forbidden for the right, or even those perceived as being on the right because the party they represent isn't as far to the left. I'm not sure there's any honesty in it. It begins to look like theater for the amusement of the masses.

For example, the press is OK with Bill Clinton's pandering to bubbly crony capitalism, but condemns W when his virtually identical policies lead to the real estate crash of 2007.

The press is all right with Clinton's firing of the previous administration's federal appointees, but jumps down W's throat for doing the same thing.

The press considers the collapse of the FBI investigation into Hillary's email scandal a vindication of their candidate, though it's really more of an indictment of a politicized Justice Department stifling the Bureau's ability to dig for evidence by refusing to issue subpoenas; if anything, the FBI's persistence is reported as a sign that Director Comey is in the Trump Campaign's pocket.

Meanwhile, there is nary a murmur from the press about the fact that the same Justice Department opened a fishing expedition into any possible wrongdoing by Trump, using recently expanded federal powers (per W's Patriot Act) that circumvent the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. This allows the department, on some national-security rationale or other, to petition a secret court to open an investigation that can continue indefinitely without any evidence of or probable cause to suspect a particular crime. How would you like having a cop watching your every move, just for the chance of catching you doing something wrong?

The press is OK with the guy from the blue party expanding executive authority and using it at will, but it's suddenly concerned about the size of government when a red-party guy is in office. It's OK with the blue party's presidential candidate lying out of both sides of her mouth, and down the middle as well, but it will gladly run a full-court press, all day, every day, about every "alternative fact" that oozes out of the new administration.

In other words, the press is saying their favored party is right to run roughshod over Americans' civil liberties, and to issue an unbroken tissue of lies as though telling the truth under any circumstances grates on their aesthetic sensibilities; but when the other party is in power, it suddenly remembers these things are wrong and a danger to the republic. I say this, dear press, dear safeguard of liberty and whatnot, not because I want to justify Trump or any Republican for doing these things. If they're wrong, they're wrong. I say this because, dear press, I am ashamed of you, and I want you to know it.

But there is an even bigger backlash against Trump's leadership this time around - louder, more forceful, even violent at times - and the press is working harder than it has ever worked to sell the perception that the whole world is uniting, as it has never united before, to combat the evil of President Trump. I'm pretty sure a great deal of this vitriol is a distillate of the left's unwillingness to accept the result of the election. But that goes hand-in-hand with the left's inability to recognize the reason Trump won, or rather, the reason he was an acceptable alternative, for the majority of voters in by far the majority of electoral precincts nationwide, to the candidate the Democratic Party offered us.

As a newspaper writer, I can find nothing more painful than to admit that I think election night 2016 was not so much a vote for the evil of Trump or against the evil of Hillary, but a vote against the press. We had it coming to us. It wasn't really a choice between a liar and a truth-teller, or a choice of which candidate was the better liar, or of which was the lesser threat to freedom, the rule of law, and government by the people. It was a choice between the candidate whose lies the press would dutifully expose, day in and day out, versus the one in whose constant prevarication the press would be a silent accomplice. It was a choice between the president against whom the journalistic media would be doing its duty to defend the public and hold up the mirror of truth, and the one for whom it would shamefully abdicate these duties. The election was, in my last analysis anyway, mostly about the press.

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