The Byline in Thine Own Eye

George Bush recently gave a speech in which he implicitly lambasted Trumpism, which is always a commendable undertaking—Trumpism, an ill-informed stew of economic nativism, anti-elitism and half-formed old-style social conservatism promulgated by a globalist bronze-gilded faux-elite adulterer and admitted sexual harasser, is a deeply stupid pseudo-ideology that should be relegated to the dust heap of history next to other broken ideologies like communism and whatever it is the Congressional Progressive Caucus is up to at the moment. It is nice to see that Bush, in his own vague and quiet way, understands this, though one imagines it is also a bit personal, given the things that Donald Trump said to Jeb Bush during the campaign, things that under other circumstances—in, say, the Texas honkytonks probably within walking distance of George Bush’s Crawford ranch—would have likely gotten Donald Trump’s teeth knocked out.

Anyway, a lot of people were really happy with what Bush said, which is great, though it’s amusing to see the Strange New Respect that a lot of liberals seem to have for Bush, given that barely a decade ago he was, you know, Hitler or something. But this is kind of how things go in this country. And this phenomenon, or something like it, is not just limited to self-described liberals. Kathleen Parker, for one, recently reminisced about the more staid qualities of the Bush administration:

No stranger to media criticism — crushing criticism — Bush never attacked the fourth estate. He also obviously recognizes that worse than a reporter’s or editor’s error is the undermining of public faith in a free press. Once the government succeeds in eliminating a country’s watchdogs, the government becomes the only source of information. Most people know, or should know, how that ends.

This is a strange criticism, because, for all of his serious and pathological faults, Trump’s criticism of the media is among the better and more justifiable parts of his presidency, his stupid and childish musings about FCC licenses notwithstanding. I am not quite sure if Trump himself attacks the media for all the right reasons—he will lash out at anyone who he thinks is snubbing him in any way or if he thinks it will give him any sort of positional advantage—but he has nevertheless managed to hit upon a certain elemental truth of 21st-century American life: our media in general are a nasty joke, a consortium of deeply biased and profoundly unprofessional individuals who will, variously, lie, ignore, obfuscate, cover up and dissemble about anything they possibly can—particularly when it comes to Donald Trump, whom the press generally cannot cover with anything less than 72-point hysterical mania.

And this is a terrible thing, because the facts of Trump’s presidency, laid bare, are generally bad enough to seriously handicap his chances for re-election in 2020. From a conservative’s perspective, Trump has done a number of good things, and he may yet still do more. From a neutral political standpoint, he has executed a number of truly stupendous idiot gaffes and blunders, both parliamentary and ideological, that should render him even less palatable than he was the first time around. If journalists genuinely wish to ensure that Trump’s presidency is held to a single term—and virtually all of them do, to a man—they might stop reporting on Trump like he is literally the Antichrist and start reporting on him like he is literally Donald Trump, which should do the trick well enough.

One comment

  1. Luke

    The press really needs to stop normalizing Bush.

    Also, I love that “a reporter’s or editor’s error” is somehow entirely unconnected to “the undermining of public faith in a free press.” Like, they have no correlation whatsoever. Make all the egregious mistakes you want—hell, even just straight up lie—but if the public faith starts to wane it can only be because of dat mean ol’ nasty govuhment!