Op-Ed: Defending Trump

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2016 7:39pm
  • Opinion

I’ll spare you my vent about how the television news networks try to achieve balance when they cover issues — by seeking out representatives from the various sides to shout at each other. My opinion is self-serving: I think instead they should put journalists on the air to dissect and analyze the various issues.

Now the mainstream media have a bit of a problem, as described in The Washington Post by my buddy, reporter Paul Fahri. As Paul describes it, the news organizations — print, as well as TV — are having difficulty recruiting commentators and columnists to present Donald Trump’s side of the story. Most of those who do this kind of thing believe that Trump is a dangerous buffoon. But he’s also our president-elect, so assuming something doesn’t happen, we will have four, maybe eight years to deal with him and his administration. Millions of people voted for the guy. He deserves to have his point of view fairly represented. So I thought I’d take a crack at it. Here goes:

—He speaks for those who have been left in the garbage heap of dwindling hope by the rich and powerful. Rather, he communicates with them in simple words that they can understand: the language of bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny — you name the hatred, he talks the talk. What the disenfranchised older whites (imagine that, disenfranchised whites) really despise is that they believe their dreams and hopes of prosperity have been taken away from them, and they believe that Donald Trump can restore them. They are totally confused by the blur of progress, so they gravitate to someone who offers a return to the past, dark as it is, even though his solutions are bogus.

—He promises to blow things up, or in his words to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Good idea. D.C. and the tentacles that reach out to a calcified worldwide order do need to be disrupted; the system sucks. Whether we’re talking about the law, the financial networks or the political operations, they are intertwined and largely run by those who pretend to be performing a public service but are really serving themselves. Again, Trump articulates simple solutions. Unfortunately, these structures are, in truth, mind-numbingly complex. Simply ignoring the rules will create chaos. What it will take is the kind of tedious undoing for which he has no patience, and neither do the millions who feel so powerless.

—He promises to make America a proud superpower, not one that he portrays as needlessly inhibited by complication and nuance. The problem is that the other countries on the planet — in particular, America’s adversaries and sworn enemies — have other ideas. Russian’s Vladimir Putin has courted Donald Trump and, if U.S. intelligence services are to be believed, even helped elect him. Trump needs to be careful; Putin will walk all over him. So will the rulers of Iran. President Trump will have to sort out hundreds of life-or-death situations at each moment. He brushes off intelligence briefings; apparently, he prefers to operate on the instinct that made him such a success in business. Oh wait, he went bankrupt several times. And geopolitics is way more tangled than commercial real estate. The parties are even more treacherous.

So it’s not hard to understand how it might be difficult to find opinion leaders who can offer consistent support for the policies of a man who develops them on the fly. You can bet that many will emerge to make themselves available, the same ones who bitterly opposed him until he was elected. They are now going through intellectual gyrations in their effort to benefit from the favors of the new administration. Don’t waste any sympathy on media trying to find them. The airwaves soon will be deluged with those willing to rationalize what really isn’t rational.

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