Editorial for Week of March 1, 2017–Triumph of the Shill Redux

 

Donald Trump addressed the joint session https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/28/full-transcript-donald-trump-presidential-address-congress  of the US congress recently. Mostly able to ignore what was probably Bannon’s horrifying touch, the creation of the VOICE of American bigotry, the pundits and the press were staggered by how “presidential” Trump sounded, how he managed to stay on message and read nearly his whole speech off the teleprompter, how much he didn’t yell.

These things were gimmes from previous politicians, but unprecedented with Trump, so the media became embarrassingly and inappropriately effusive in their praise for the Toddler-In-Chief, so much so that they seemed unaware of how damning the whole performance—theirs and his—was.

Primed as they are for his outbursts, tantrums and persistent, needy self-love, members of the media have a very low bar when it comes to Trump. With little practice at analysis or critical thinking when faced with his incessant storm of lies, it’s understandable that they want good, commercially viable access to the new regime and can’t quite resist the lure of a better relationship with the mob of liars currently squatting in the White House.

Trump knows this much better than the press does. He understands how to fleece people and he’s pretty good at it, since he turned pro decades ago. All the lawsuits, the pretend “university”, the bad real estate deals, the abuse of his partners, the bad debts, the devalued assets, the dirty tricks played on poorer neighbours, the late-if-ever-paid contractors and his constant lies about everything show that he knows the incomparable monetary value of immorality.

None of his dirty tricks are accidental and none are wasted. He has always been a salesman of the sizzle, regardless of his brief foray into steak. He’s a sloganeer and understands that most of his adoring supporters have no idea that they’re being taken, since they grab onto the tagline and think they understand the man. Every successful scam relies on the unshakable and eternally exploitable idea that people don’t believe they can be fooled. And Trump is a master of the scam.

So he’s selling sound bite solutions to people who want things to be easy, who want to return to “the good old days”, who want America to be “great again”, who want good jobs with excellent benefits and the house and the white picket fence…just like they imagine their dads had. Trump is selling them what they want: the American dream from 1952.

It’s too good to be true, of course. The world has moved on. Grown ups comprehend that complicated problems need complicated solutions, not slogans on a ball cap.

Once people realize their pursuit of happiness and the American dream is more Kafka than Capra, they may get angry enough to demand better from their leaders…but we should only bet other people’s money on this.


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