Didn't Barack Obama deliver speech after speech about the greatness of America and how we can accomplish impossible tasks? Eight years of that didn't stop the country from being so warped by rage and cable news that it elected a reality show host president. Replacing Obama's rhetoric with Trump's smirking, it stands to reason, shouldn't make much of a difference. But the president's words matter, if for no other reason than that they send other politicians and pundits scurrying to fashion their own narratives.
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The chief executive's attitudes can trickle down to the rest of the country and set a toxic tone. Trump's well-known pettiness has created mountains out of personal beefs—witness the recent banning of CNN reporter Jim Acosta from White House press briefings over an exhaustively dissected video of Acosta pulling a microphone away from a White House aide.
CNN is now suing the White House in response to that ban.
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Meanwhile, a Trump-supporting congressman who assaulted a reporter last year, lied to cops about it, and was subsequently praised by the president won re-election last week. Or think about all the other Republicans who have embraced Trump's tactic of crying voter fraud without evidence. Trump's refusal to denounce white supremacists has no doubt emboldened racists , and his railing against the caravan of migrants headed slowly toward the US from Central America likely helped fuel wall-to-wall media coverage of that non-threat.
Trump's general disrespect is surely less harmful than his race-baiting, but that, too, seems to has trickled down. Not that politics pre-Trump was a debating society, but now people gather outside his rallies to scream abuse at each other ; at least one rally during the campaign turned into a literal brawl.
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Perhaps every politician has a strain of supporters who believe vile things, but Trump is unique in encouraging his fans' worst instincts. Who else would have even tolerated the " lock her up " chants that have become routine at Republican events? Importantly, none of this nastiness is particularly connected to any sort of policy agenda. Strip away Trump's carnival barker persona and what's left is an unimaginative domestic Republican agenda of tax cuts and regulation slashing , coupled with a pro-authoritarian foreign policy.
But if Roman emperors stayed in power thanks to bread and circuses, many Trump supporters seem much more attracted to the circuses side of the equation.
That might be an attractive message for a presidential candidate, but you want an actual president to stop fucking things up at some point. As corny as it sounds, a president is supposed to instill some sort of pride in citizens, the sort of pride that comes from knowing that there are serious, respectable people somewhere doing serious, respectable things.
One measure of Trump's failure on this score is that a record-low 47 percent of Americans were "extremely proud" of their country, according to a Gallup poll this summer.
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Another measure is that this week Saturday Night Live got praised lavishly for apologizing for making fun of a Republican politician with an eyepatch. You know the country is badly starved for bipartisanship when SNL is getting those kinds of kudos.
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You'd be so bored. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. Thank you very much,'" before jokingly tottering like a penguin away from the podium. It was sort of a funny imitation of a president, only the actual president was doing it.
It's not surprising that a man who got rich thanks to inheritance and tax evasion and got famous for being a rich asshole does not have a huge amount of reverence for the office he now holds. In recent years a new generation of the children of immigrants has revitalized the musical theatre. Their work blends popular forms — hip hop most notably, with older Broadway musical traditions.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.
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