Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fall flashback -- If I were writing it today I'd make more of Romano's title -- "This is the way Trump ends"

[I wrote this back in September. It got lost in the confusion until I started digging through the ever-growing draft pile. Apologies for the delay.]

I've meaning to drop the naked emperor thread for a while but I keep coming across interesting examples of the different ways that the respectable, non-partisan press tries to deal with Donald Trump while maintaining all the bizarre conventions it has come to rely on over the past few decades.

The latest case comes from Yahoo's Andrew Romano (late of Newsweek), who manages to come up with an end-of-Trump narrative that doesn't rely on repeating the name Herman Cain over and over. The rise of Trump makes the mainstream press corp incredibly uncomfortable (for reasons that, as discussed previously, have remarkably little to do with him promoting xenophobia and racist birther conspiracy theories).  Romano (who is very conventional -- just look at the Newsweek link) does his best to tell a story with a reassuring ending. Unfortunately, getting there entails various painful-to-watch contortions.

It's bad enough when you have to build you thesis around a handful of man-in-the-street quotes, but when those quotes don't even support your thesis...
Before the battleship event, I walked up and down the long line of ticket holders— an estimated 800 supporters paid as much as $1,000 to behold the candidate in the flesh — and asked a simple question: What do you like most about Trump? Everybody gave me the same answer. Each person phrased it differently, but it all basically boiled down to one thing — the single characteristic, more than wealth, fame or narcissism, that best defines the Donald.


Trump disrespects politics. He disrespects the process. He disrespects the rhetoric. He disrespects his fellow candidates. And his fans love that, because they really, really disrespect politics, too.

“It’s his frankness,” said Mark Gutierrez, a Marine Corp veteran and retired L.A. Water and Power employee. “He’s not worried about being politically correct. He’s just going to tell it like it is. The things that people are feeling, he’s saying.”

His wife, Darlene, nodded. “There’s too much political correctness,” she told me. “People are tired of listening to all these meek and regular promises that the candidates make every four years. Trump just says, ‘This is the way it’s going to be.’”

Further back in the line, a clothing designer named Gina Calabrase echoed what the Gutierrezes were saying. “Instead of being wishy-washy, Trump makes decisions,” Calabrase explained. “He’s saying things that a lot of people aren’t going to like. Usually, a politician would back off in that case. But Trump sticks to it. He owns it — like it or not.”
When Trump supporters talk about their candidate being frank and decisive, Romano hears "disrespect." This probably tells us far more about the reporter than about the reportee.

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