Streetwise Professor

March 19, 2018

The WSJ Tut-tuts That Trump Should Take the High Road–and End Up Road Kill

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 6:14 pm

A Wall Street Journal supports McCabe’s termination, but then proceeds to lament:

All of which should have been cause for Mr. Trump to let the dismissal speak for itself, but the President is too self-involved for such restraint. Instead he tweeted on Saturday, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.” [Emphasis added.]

How clueless can they be? Facts speak for themselves? About Trump? Now? Give me a break.

The legacy media (to which the “news” sections of the WSJ firmly belongs) does not report facts and let people decide for themselves.  They spin these facts relentlessly, and in an outrageously biased way, especially where Trump is involved.

We saw this–and are seeing it–in the McCabe episode.  The stock media line is that Trump fired McCabe, and did so out of revenge as part of an attack on respected American government institutions. It was a classic case of the old expression about a lie making it half-way around the world before the truth puts on its shoes.  And this would have been the nearly universally accepted narrative had Trump remained silent, or delivered a temperate statement.

For better or worse, Trump feels obliged to fight fire with fire.  And it is understandable that he feels that way.  He is meeting rhetorical extremism with rhetorical extremism. This is war to the knife, and the WSJ treats it like croquet.

We are in a bad equilibrium.  We have a vicious and fundamentally dishonest media and political class that is out to destroy.  I can guarantee that the optimal response to this strategy is not “let the facts speak for themselves.”  The optimal response is something more along the lines of what Trump is doing.

A let the facts speak for themselves strategy would make more sense in a more balanced and less strident media environment where contending sides could keep one another relatively honest, and where there would be a penalty for flagrant and repeated misrepresentation by a particular media outlet–contending factions in the media would check and balance one another, and an intra-media adversarial process would facilitate the identification of facts.  But that’s not the environment we have now, with the overwhelming ideological hegemony in the politco-media class.  In such an environment, shouting louder and taking no prisoners is a best reaction.

This is yet another illustration of what I have been writing since Trump became recognized as a serious challenger for the Republican nomination: Trump is the creation of our current politico-media culture, not its creator.  Whether by accident or cunning, he has seized upon what may be the only strategy to succeed or even survive in opposition to the establishment political culture.  Anyone following the WSJ’s tut-tutting advice to take the high road  would be road kill in smack dab the middle of it.  Trump may end up as road kill, but he has a chance of survival and more by brawling and trash talking, and rallying his tribe to fight tooth-and-nail against the tribes attacking him.

If you hate his strategy, what you really hate is the game and the other players: because his is a response to them.

If you don’t like Trump, or his style, I can understand: but don’t be superficial about it.  Think a little bit more deeply about how he could ever emerge, if he is such a horrible human being.  If you do, you will  realize that he is but a symptom of a deep degradation of American political culture, driven largely by the homogenization of the media and the political class, and its isolation from and disdain for vast swathes of America.  And when those people condemn Donald Trump, they are really condemning themselves, for they made him–but they are just too absorbed in their own self-righteousness to figure that out.

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  1. Bingo, professor. Spot on.

    Comment by Tom Kirkendall — March 19, 2018 @ 6:57 pm

  2. Pretty much… yep.

    Comment by Howard Roark — March 19, 2018 @ 7:16 pm

  3. I am unhappy at the ever greater motive these buffoons supply to Trump to decide never to relinquish office. If he does, won’t they try to jail him and ruin his family? Well then, ……

    Comment by dearieme — March 20, 2018 @ 4:22 am

  4. I suppose the key word should be “reckless”. They were reckless to attack Iraq, they were reckless in converting the Afghan attack into a War of Occupation, they were once reckless over Vietnam, they are currently reckless in their behaviour towards Russia, and they are reckless in their treatment of Trump. “They” being The Swamp, the Establishment, the Deep State i.e. the permanent bureaucracy and semi-permanent political class; has this always been a feature of American life, or is it mainly a phenomenon of the 20th and 21st centuries?

    Comment by dearieme — March 20, 2018 @ 4:27 am

  5. Something I have been saying for a long time now, and that is Trump is a symptom of America’s political system, not a cause. The other thing I have recently started saying is that the modern media is simply the propaganda arm of the ruling classes.

    Comment by Tim Newman — March 20, 2018 @ 7:16 am

  6. @Tim–Great minds! Re your “other thing”, that’s pretty much why I refer to the politico-media complex. They are just complementary pieces of the ruling class.

    The thing that is very striking is the increasing homogeneity of that class, in terms of background and outlook. Credentialism has become much more important than it was historically in the US, and as a result entry barriers into the ruling/governing classes are much higher now. Credentialism is extremely pernicious precisely because it tends to be a mechanism for enforcing conformity. I am sure you see it in a corporate setting. God knows I see it in academia, where school-based selection and the top journal syndrome have led to a far greater homogeneity than was the case in the period that just was ending when I entered grad school.

    Another point, that I made on Twitter yesterday in the context of the urban-rural debate, is that historically in the US political parties had to form coalitions embracing both urban and rural interests in order to prevail nationally. Now that’s no longer true. The Democratic Party can survive on urban votes alone (which creates the striking red-blue maps). This basically reinforces the homogeneity of the party, and its media appendage. Access is largely based on credentials from “elite” educational institutions, which in turn select based in part on adherence to class values, and which are unremittingly hostile to anyone that they do admit who are out of step with those values. The perfect recipe for creating a self-referential–and self-reverential–elite that is utterly oblivious to anything from outside of it. It makes 1788 French nobility look open minded by comparison.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 20, 2018 @ 9:49 am

  7. Bill Lind, he of fourth generation warfare, disciple of John Boyd and Trump supporter, has been calling Washington, “Versailles on the Potomac” for as long as I’ve followed him. It truly is Plato’s Cave. He predicted the next war the US fights will be fourth-generation tactically and operationally on US soil. Putin’s efforts would seem to make that prediction more believable.

    Comment by The Pilot — March 20, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

  8. Just to stay grounded, Tim and SWP; in my experience, fools don’t differ much either.

    Comment by The Pilot — March 20, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

  9. @The Pilot grounded? Say it ain’t so!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 20, 2018 @ 5:40 pm

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