Vanity Fair has been doing some good work lately. (I’m surprised too – last time I read Vanity Fair, Ana Nicole Smith was appearing in Guess ads and Kurt Cobain was feeding babies heroin or something and that’s about all I remember.) A recent piece talks about the media’s basically dysfunctional and ratings based approach to Trump.
For me, the meat of the thing is this:
Between the sheer volume of blockbuster stories and Trump’s ability to deflect them, a numbness to scandal has overcome much of the country. The press has raced breathlessly from one news cycle to the next, while Trump has barreled forward. “How many of these stories have there been? A hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? I tried physically counting and gave up,” Matt Taibbi wrote last week. “Our heads are packed with years of half-told stories that were discarded the instant they stopped having commercial or political utility.”
It might be the familiarity. I recall first seeing this shit with George W. Bush, who just piled up scandals so fast that none of them were properly pursued. Then again with Rob Ford — long before the whole crackhead thing. It was one shock after another and none of them mattered. In 2015, I knew Trump was going to win just because everything I heard Democrats say about him was the exact same shit I heard everyone in Toronto say about Ford before he became mayor. The same attitude of let’s not take this seriously, he can’t win, we’re better than this, and he doesn’t even have a chance, and JUST LOOK AT THIS NEW SCANDAL! It pissed me off with Ford, frightened, angered and dejavued me in the early days of Trump, and now? In 20 fucking 20?
Hearing people, this late into the game, thinking that there is going to be any revelation big or shocking enough to matter is . . .
Well, it’s disheartening.
Nevermind the last couple of years – where the fuck have these people been for the last two decades? How do they keep thinking like this? That scandals hurt not help? That facts matter?
How the fuck do people keep believing that shit? And the weak sauce nonsense they call scandals. Like Hunter Biden. That phone call might have been impeachable but a lot of what Trump’s done is and, unlike so much of it, defending Hunter Biden won’t get people into the streets, which is exactly what you need to do if you actually want impeachment to happen. Then taxes? The fuck? Who likes paying their taxes? Who ever thought Trump paid his? That’s not a Trump scandal – that’s an America scandal.
Whenever the Democrats pursue the most arcane and irrelevant of Trump’s atrocities, you hear this bizarre Capone comparison – about how, yeah, he was a killer but they got him on taxes. That was purely legal. Do the Democrats not realize that this situation is political? I mean, what the fuck? What is the attraction of these inane truisms? Where do they even find them? Laying around in some dustbin behind a cable channel? And ehy are the Democrats so adverse to politics? Like even the rank and file. They are supposed to be a political party. It’s fucking weird.
And a basic rule of any scandal – it’s only a scandal if it reveals something hidden and at odds with public perception. When has Trump hidden his vices? The motherfucker had a reality show where he fired people! I doubt he even has an inner life. He’s no secret! He’s right there! It’s an open grift and everyone knows.
Looking at him you can see why dictators are called strongmen. It’s not because they’re strong. It’s because being “a strong man” is the beginning, middle, and end of their whole sordid performance. That’s the whole show. And what does Strong Man do? Strong Man breaks rules. Strong Man ignores reality. Strong Man does what he wants, when he wants, to anyone he wants. Strong Man makes no apologies and Strong Man offers no explanations. Strong Man grabs reality by the pussy. Strong Man grunts. Strong Man gasps.
And the smooth brained weaklings who follow him? They just want to be Strong Man. The more scandals, the better; the more transgressive, the better. The stronger Strong Man is, the freer they feel. It’s pathetic.
One hopes for a modicum of sense or decency to prevail. Die hoping, I guess. It’s a rock show.
And I mean that. This is all the same shit people get out of rock-stars, stars, or any transgressive celeb. It’s the same fucking relationship. You pay to see rules broken, not followed.
If Trump loses, it won’t be because of scandals and facts. It will because the expectations of his supporters have been disappointed. It will be because enough of those bozos somehow came to the conclusion, probably by just looking around, that their lives are no better with Trump than without him, and that Trump is, at the end of the day, just another politician.
This cynicism might be good news for getting rid of Trump but, unless it grows up and becomes a decent analysis of the systems that created this monster, this cynicism can’t really address the underlying problems. Might even make them worse. I don’t know.
But, I think, to really beat people like this, you have to show that they’re unexeptional. Scandals do the opposite. Making Trump into an exception and an anomaly, protraying him as a divergence from America rather than as the simple hairbrained mascot of business as usual only helps him.
And fuck that guy. He’s a jerk.