Mon, 29 Aug 2016 Feature Article

The Melodramatic Criticisms Of Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Are Overdone

The Melodramatic Criticisms Of Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Are Overdone

The mainstream media is relentlessly smack talking Donald Trump for his smack talking. Most mainstream headlines on Trump can pretty much be boiled down to more or less harsh variations on Tsk! Tsk!

Trump proves undeterred. Meanwhile he, and various Republican commentators, have criticisms of Hillary Clinton surpassing the histrionic.

I here described Donald Trump (like me a native of Queens, New York) as a galoot (like me). Sometimes I find what he says beyond galootish all the way to deplorable. That said, I find the refined superciliousness of the Eastern Establishment at least as bad and in some ways worse.

Count me skeptical about the Establishment’s claim to moral and practical superiority. It may be that a Check Your Privilege moment for the political elites is overdue.

The Establishment considered both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to be déclassé galoots. The Establishment really did not deign to learn from their successes in job creation and upward mobility. As Paul Hoffmeister recently pointed out in Trump/Pence, and the Coming Economic Boom in RealClearMarkets:

As Rich Lowrie of Put Growth First has shown, real incomes for the bottom 90% of wage earners grew 85% during the 23-year post-War period; whereas between 1971 and 2012, income adjusted for inflation for the bottom 90% has been flat.

Reagan and Clinton were job-creating outliers during a long and elite-managed Little Dark Age. I yearn for some signs of humility from the elites. Sixteen years — by some counts, 40+ — of economic stagnation for working people? Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by the Establishment's excellence.

Meanwhile, of course, the candidates naturally are Saying Mean Things About One Another directly and by proxy. Trash talk is the calliope at the political carnival. It’s also a distraction. As Mental Floss usefully reminds us of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of our most revered Founders:

Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a ‘hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.’ In return, Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson ‘a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.’ As the slurs piled on, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward.

Rather puts one in mind of Harry Truman's famous observation that "A statesman is a politician who's been dead 10 or 15 years."

The mass media hysteria over presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is vastly overdone. As my absolutely favorite gonzo journalist, the chronically hysterical Matt Taibbi, discerningly observed at Rolling Stone :

One of the great propaganda successes of the past few decades has been the myth of the liberal media. The idea that a monolithic herd of leftist snobs somehow controlled the news spread in part because of a seemingly key but really irrelevant demographic truth, i.e., that most individual reporters lean blue in their personal politics.

But whatever their personal leanings, influential reporters mostly work in nihilistic corporations, to whom the news is a non-ideological commodity, to be sold the same way we hawk cheeseburgers or Marlboro Lights. Wars, scandals and racial conflicts sell, while poverty and inequality do not. So reporters chase one and not the other. It’s just business.

Any halfway decent boxing promoter will tell you the public must be made to believe the fighters hate each other in order to sell the fight…. (Emphasis added.)

Two necessary digressions here.
Matt Taibbi writes that “influential reporters mostly work in nihilistic corporations.” You, as reader, and I, as writer, are occupying a shared journalistic space whose signature standards are “Speak Truth to Power” and “Tell It Like It Is.” We, if only temporarily, have here escaped the Rolling Stone Zone. Welcome to, what progressives call safe space.

Taibbi’s signature style is to say mean things about Republicans who are saying mean things. The irony is delicious.

Taibbi has a real gift for pure viciousness. Free sample : “… Republicans managed to get back in the game anyway by plucking an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers out of thin air and training them into a giant ball of incoherent resentment.” Impressive.

Digressions over, Taibbi, beneath the bile, nails a home truth. “Any halfway decent boxing promoter will tell you the public must be made to believe the fighters hate each other in order to sell the fight.

Donald Trump invited Hillary (and Bill) Clinton to his wedding to Melania. The Clintons attended.

Not a signal of mutual hatred. Don't fall for it.

Having temporarily cleared away the Noise, a previously unheard Signal manifests: we mere voters have conjured two formidable candidates.

The vilification of both candidates is wretchedly overdone. One can barely utter those words without accusations of heresy from both right and left.

Yet there it is. The System, much to the consternation of the Establishment, is working in its ostentatiously preposterous, lurid, and resilient way.

Trump and Clinton are not merely formidable. They, despite their manifest imperfections, impressively reflect fundamental, powerful, and legitimate aspects of America’s values.

The candidates best reflecting these legitimate, and legitimately competing, values have managed to emerge as the nominees. They did so despite the heroic efforts of our political betters to save us from ourselves. Time to put an end to the melodramatic criticisms. "A statesman is a politician who's been dead 10 or 15 years."

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