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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Like Captain Ahab spotting a breaching Moby Dick in the distance, there seemed to be palpable pundit excitement last week about the prospect of the elusive “presidential” Donald Trump finally being sighted in the wake of the United States’ bombing mission in Syria.

Eager to bestow a mantle of seriousness and normalcy upon him, some commentators rushed to proclaim the U.S. military strike on an airfield to be a defining moment for the still-new president; to stress how the bombardment meant that Trump had elevated himself in stature and was now conducting himself in a somber, statesmanlike manner.

We’ve seen this excited commentary regularly with Trump, perhaps most notably when a portion of the pundit class was eager to announce that a serious, “presidential” Trump had finally emerged following his address to a joint session of Congress in February. (It was yet another false sighting.)

Media declarations late last week about how Trump “became President Of The United States” with the Syria attack and “turned the page” on his troubled presidency presented the brief military incursion as a sweeping demarcation line for Trump’s presidency in terms of grading his seriousness.

We were told Trump had experienced an epiphany of sorts and suddenly understood how to use Oval Office power for good around the world. Indeed, Trump led with his “heart,” The New York Times announced in the wake of the strikes.

But the “presidential” spin isn’t based on fact. It’s well-established that Trump is an Olympic liar who pushes falsehoods about topics large and small alike. So why would journalists suddenly assume that Trump’s telling the truth about the motivation for the bombing attack on Syria?

The “presidential” narrative seems more like it’s the media projecting into the news cycle how they think the President of the United States should act during a time of crisis. But Trump is not normal, and his relentlessly strange behavior cannot be explained away, let alone normalized.

In its page-one analysis of the Syria bombing, the Times stressed Trump had been moved to action out of sympathy for Syrian victims of a chemical attack that authorities believe was ordered by President Bashar al-Assad.

Suddenly able to read Trump’s mind and peer into his heart (or listening intently to White House spin), the Times claimed unequivocally that the bombing raid was “an emotional act by a man suddenly aware that the world’s problems were now his — and that turning away, to him, was not an option.” (The Times also excitedly concluded the one-day bombing raid would “change the course” of Trump’s presidency.)

The Associated Press stressed that “the weight of world’s problems” had sunk in and forced Trump to act. Like the Times, the AP tried to read Trump’s mind and concluded that there’s “a growing awareness that an American president — even an unconventional one like him — is looked to as [a] defender of human rights and a barometer of when nations have violated international norms.”

The Washington Post suggested, “The Syrian chemical weapons attack seemed to awaken Trump’s sense of moral responsibility as leader of the world’s sole remaining superpower.”

But other than launching some missles at an airfield, where’s the evidence that Trump did any of those things? Where was the evidence he had suddenly transformed himself into a “defender of human rights,” or that a “moral responsibility” seemed to “awaken” in him?

If, according to one preferred media telling, the gruesome pictures of children being gassed to death last week represented an epiphany of sorts for Trump, why didn’t Trump simultaneously lift his proposed travel ban and welcome suffering Syrian refugees into America?

Trump relentlessly used the victims of the Syrian civil war as political punching bags during the presidential campaign. Yet parts of the Syria bombing coverage last week politely set that aside in order to suggest Trump had become more “heartfelt” and “presidential.”

He can’t have it both ways.

And this has been part of the on-going riddle for the press: How to treat seriously someone like Trump who is categorically un-serious. And how to treat seriously a president who seems to be profoundly uninterested in the details of policy. Or telling the truth.

This is why the pursuit of “presidential” Trump often seems like wishful thinking: Journalists desperately want Trump to meet them halfway. Lots of journalists seem completely willing, if not eager, to uniformly lower the bar for Trump in terms of acceptable behavior for a sitting president. They’re willing to rewrite the rules for him, which includes consciously looking away for very long periods of time in order to pretend he falls within the mainstream of American politics and our history of Oval Office inhabitants.

But if they’re going to craft new rules for Trump, the least he could do is alter, or improve, his behavior and meet them halfway.

But Trump’s going to keep doing what he wants to do, which is to often act abhorrently.

Still, when there appears to be even the slightest glimmer of normalcy emanating from this president, journalists overreact and pronounce that The Change, or The Pivot, has finally occurred and Trump is now ready and willing to act like an adult while serving as president.

He’s not, and he hasn’t. Yet the media’s “presidential” pursuit continues.

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers an statement about missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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21 responses to “The American Media’s Endless Search For A “Presidential” Trump”

  1. secondclassguy says:

    How could the media exist if it had to limit itself to the few headlines that describe the last election? I mean they would have to say things like ‘America has been so dumbed down they elected a pathological liar’. Or ‘A carnival barker becomes president. Or ‘Nobody understands what the hell is happening, so we have nothing to say anymore’

    Get the point? See the have to make all this seem normal, so they can feel normal, and continue to get paid for this

  2. “Olympic Liar” is quite fitting in describing Trump. We have a better chance of sighting a unicorn or a mermaid than a “Presidential” Trump, and some day, all regular humans will be on the same page and not conflate a “normal” event by Trump as a sign of becoming “presidential”.

    • Maymemrogers says:

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    • CPANY says:

      I agree with what you said about Trump being a liar, but you’re still a weirdo who believes in a dippy religion.

      • idamag says:

        That wasn’t nice.

      • dpaano says:

        It’s not a “dippy” religion….it just happens to be one religion of many. Maybe you don’t agree with other religions, but that certainly does NOT make it “dippy.” Seriously, have you EVER researched Aaron’s religion? If not, maybe you should keep quiet until you know more about it!

      • Johnnierprunty says:

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj342d:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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      • Weirdo, dippy Religion? Such remarks describe a child in adolescence stage who’s prone to use infantile descriptions of concepts an ideas the child doesn’t fully comprehend.
        Rather than just say something is dippy, like a 7 year old, be prepared to give a reason for your childish assertion.If you could muster up some mental energy to read about the major Religions God has sent, you’ll find that the malcontents and malevolent people of each era had the same shallow and immature feelings as yourself.
        I strongly suggest you show some moral courage to break free of the superstitious and vain imaginings you’re a prisoner of. And learn to be objective and less incurious about things or ideas you’re totally ignorant of.

      • Oh—One other thing. Since you’re unfamiliar with Religion in general, and assuming you’re of Christian upbringing, you obviously never took the time to inform yourself of the admonition by Jesus in Matthew 7:15-20.

        “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

        CPANY—this is the criterion for determining if a religion is truly from God, or an imitation. The key is that every one who comes with a claim, any claim, of being the bearer of a Message should be able to produce actions and benefits which redound to the benefit of humanity. I’m surprised, yet not surprised, that after all your years of adult life you didn’t know this fundamental verity.

        So, to help you acquire the thinking Jesus expects of you, me, and every one else on this earth, I suggest to you again that you start by carefully investigating the summary and the links at the web site http://www.bahai.org.

        That way, you can begin to learn for yourself the bare minimum about what you call a “dippy” Religion. This is a primary duty in each Religious Dispensation, that the people of each era inquire about who the Messenger is, and about the Religion such Messenger sends the particular Day and Age one lives in. Religion is “Progressive”, CPANY—not “static” and moldy like conservatism, or like Trump

  3. Gerry Francis says:

    “…….some commentators rushed to proclaim the U.S. military strike on an airfield to be a defining moment for the still-new president” – Yep! He’s so good at distraction. Take the focus off the Russian thing.

  4. CPANY says:

    Trump is a piece of lying crap.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    The Donald was raised to believe he was superior to even his own two siblings. Mommy Mary Ann’s favoritism for her orange haired boy is the reason neither of his siblings wanted anything to do with him.

    It must have been pretty difficult for a brother and sister to withstand the sneaky, high handed and corrupt actions of a brother who shares the same name.

    His own long time friend told Time Magazine that Trump starts the conversation with a hot topic issue, knowing he is dictating the direction it will go and then, when he lies and proof is demanded he “moves the goal post.”

    The worst thing about Trump for Americans who love their country? He has turned the American Way into something Meyer Lansky would be proud of.

    • pisces63 says:

      Now he is bragging about his ‘armada’ headed towards the Korean Peninsula. Two nut jobs headed to one can only guess and pray its a game of chicken.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        If you were a gambler, this is one bet you wouldn’t ever have to hedge. Ironic, isn’t it? The two most mentally ill individuals in the entire world almost magnets to each other ready to bring Armaggedon on our kids.

        This one was so inevitable.

  6. johninPCFL says:

    So, pillow talk between Ivanka and Agent Orange led to his completely tossing out ideology that he’s been espousing since 2013? Wow. This guy points the country’s policy positions like a weathervane. Stroke him up and get a 180 degree turn.

    And then on top of that, broadcast the attack to Putin 12 hours before so that he could tell Assad to move the aircraft? Yeah, that was great. He gets points for being a wartime president without the enemy being hurt at all: Assad moved the aircraft that could fly, the runways weren’t touched, the holes in the hangars are repaired by the week’s end, and nobody’s hurt.

    • idamag says:

      Oh, he wants war. Any war. This is what he meant by making America great again. We can beat up on some small country, costing trillions of dollars and killing many people to show we are great as in bullies.

    • dpaano says:

      And the chemicals are still in their bunkers…..the excuse given as to why these weren’t blown to bits was “we didn’t want to spread the chemicals in the air if we bombed the warehouses that are holding them.” BS!!!

  7. idamag says:

    There is no presidential trump. Doesn’t exist. Never did. Never will. DeSoto never found the fountain of youth and you will never find a presidential trump.

    • dpaano says:

      HE hasn’t a clue how to be a president…..he’s been a conman all his life, and that’s what he’ll continue to be!

  8. dpaano says:

    If 45 cared so much about the children of the world, can someone tell me why he’s pushing to cut off funds for overseas humanitarian projects like Doctor’s Without Borders, etc? Seems to be a bit of a paradox, wouldn’t you say? He doesn’t seem to care that children are dying all over the world and depend on our country to help out where possible to stem the tide of diseases like Zika, malaria, HIV, ebola, etc. All of these diseases can be transmitted to the United States in a heartbeat….all it takes is ONE person getting on a plane to the U.S.! If we can stop it where it originates, research ways of doing away with many of these diseases, etc., we could do much good for this country and 45 would be glorified. But, as usual, he doesn’t care and seems to think that this ONE act of pitiful compassion will give him a break that he doesn’t deserve!

  9. johninPCFL says:

    Why Syria now? Well, because a war president always gets support, and Agent Orange is failing. From Saint Reagan’s budget director:

    “Worse, launching this feckless attack in the midst of Trump’s meeting with the leader of China was surely an amateur ploy right out of the pages of The Apprentice. That’s because within 24 hours of Xi Jinping’s departure from what will now be known as War-A-Lago, the Syrian air force had not only resumed launches from the base, but was actually bombing the very site of the original offense at Khan Sheikhoun!

    That gets, of course, to the purpose of attacking any sovereign government that has not attacked or threatened America; and, most especially, one waging a determined fight against the one threat to America’s peace of mind, if not actual physical security, on the planet today.

    That is, the radical jihadist head-choppers of ISIS, and particularly the al-Nusra terrorists desperately holed up in their last redoubt in Idlib province. Even if Assad had used chemical weapons — and there is zero proof he did — what possible purpose was there in a pinprick attack on Assad’s military capability that was hailed by jihadists all over Syria and the greater Middle East?”

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