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“Demystifying the presidency” means, in Trump’s case, soiling it



My libtard friends (I use the phrase proudly) sometimes ask why I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a simple one-word answer:


Writers are always looking for inspiration, and the WSJ gives it to me. When my blog was about wine, back in the day, I frequently struggled to find a subject matter worthy of my readers’ attention, five days a week. But now, all I have to do is turn to the op-ed pages of the Journal.

The main thing I love about the opinion pieces is how hard the writers try to find nice things to say about Trump. A lot of them weren’t for him, but they have to pretend to be now, and it’s amusing to watch their contortions. Take, for example, yesterday’s piece by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. (what a name—sounds like an mean frat boy). Holman writes that Trump’s greatest achievement may be “demystifying the presidency.”

Of course, since Holman can’t point to anything substantial Trump has done (besides Gorsuch), he has to resort to metaphysical accomplishments. So what does he mean by “demystifying the presidency”? Well, by his own account, he’s talking about Trump’s “indisciplined tweeting.”

Segue: In one of those celebrity magazines I sometimes pick up at the gym, they have a section called “Stars: They’re Just Like Us.” It will show, like, Jennifer Anniston pushing a shopping cart at Raley’s, or Ryan Gosling slurping a smoothie. It’s cute, and makes us feel closer to the stars, but it also demystifies them. I think that’s what Holman is driving at. He’s essentially saying, “Here’s a president that’s just like you! He tweets!”

Unfortunately, tweeting isn’t the only thing Trump does, so what Holman’s message really boils down to is: Here’s a president that’s just like you! He insults people. He lies constantly. He has white supremacist friends. Yes, here’s a president that’s just like you! He’s ashamed to release his taxes. He grabs women’s pussies. He says Mexicans are rapists and criminals. Isn’t that just like you?”

Oi. I could go on and on…

Now, when Holman says Trump is “demystifying the presidency,” by implication he’s saying previous presidents “mystified” it, or failed to demystify it. Which previous president could Holman be referring to? Could it be the president he called “out of his mind”? The president who presided over “an alchemy of distortions”? The president whose concerns about the environment Holman called “sloppy indulgences”?

Yes, that one.

How did Obama not “demystify” the presidency, in Holman’s view? Because he was presidential, in the way we have come to expect our presidents to be: dignified. Obama and his predecessors somehow seemed above ordinary life; they exemplified moral excellence. This was true even when presidents tried their best to come across as ordinary—Reagan eating a blintz on the Lower East Side, Bill Clinton hitting up McDonald’s, Barack shooting hoops. Despite the ordinariness of those activities, most of our past presidents seemed to be the “honest and wise men” John Adams prayed would always occupy the White House.

Until now. Now we have a man who “demystifies the presidency” by making it dirty, vulgar and ugly.

But wait, there’s more from Holman Land. After Trump’s #1 achievement, demystifying the presidency, Holman also finds a “chief virtue” of this president. I have to quote his entire segment: “So much of Mr. Trump’s recent career involved pretending, not doing. The day may come when we have to admit this is one of President Trump’s chief virtues.”

How’s that again? Take a moment…inhale that phrase. Trump’s “chief virtue” is “pretending, not doing.” Dear readers, if you can parse that in a way that’s sane, I wish you’d let me know. In the meantime, all I can do is infer what he means. What is this president “pretending” to be doing, and what is so “virtuous” about it? When he tells us we desperately need the Mexican wall, is he pretending, or does he really believe it? When he tells us we need to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, is he pretending, or does he really believe it? When he says we simply must cut taxes on the richest among us–his class–is he only pretending? When he tells us we need to destroy the Iranian nuclear agreement, is he pretending, or does he really believe it? When he tells us Obama tapped his phones, is he pretending, or does he really believe it? When he says Americans don’t care about seeing his taxes, is he pretending, or does he really believe it? When he says he didn’t really grab any woman’s pussy—well, you get the idea.

You see the hole that Trump has dug himself into. He’s lied so much, and so often, that nobody call tell the difference anymore between stuff Trump just makes up (for his own purposes) and stuff we really ought to know about. People now accept the fact that he lies, even Republicans. But they normalize Trump’s aberrant behavior. “Oh, that’s just Trump,” they chuckle. “Watch what he does, not what he says.”

I just hope to live long enough to see somebody in the Oval Office who brings back a little dignity and charisma. Somebody (and their family) we can be proud of. Somebody who “does” things, instead of “pretending” to do things. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  1. Bill Haydon says:

    Yes, Obama was “dignified” and “classy.” He also missed a historical opportunity for the Democrats to turn its back on Clintonist 3rd Way corporate politics and return it to its New Deal roots. Instead, I watched him fill his cabinet with the worst kind of corporatists and Wall Street apparatchiks such as Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, Bill Daley, Penny Pritzker and Queen Hillary herself.

    The banks were bailed out, and Main Street was foreclosed upon. There was no meaningful Wall Street reform, and the banks are bigger and more powerful than they were before the crash. Not a single significant Wall Street banker was prosecuted (educate yourself on the Holder Doctrine). At the same time, he refused to fight for single payer healthcare reform and gave us a private mandate scheme cooked up by the Heritage Foundation. In his first term, 95% of all income gains went to the top 1%, and 37% went to the top 0.1%.

    I loved Obama as a man, but as a President he was a bitter disappointment. His legacy is essentially Trump and a Democratic Party that is in utter disarray and has been repudiated at every level of government.


  2. Bill Haydon, what you say makes a lot of sense. Of course, in politics there’s always Monday-morning quarterbacking. I’m not sure how historians will treat Obama. I always thought that he (and Bill Clinton before him) made the best of a bad situation. They compromised a lot, but that’s how a two-party system works. They kept the spark of liberalism alive, even if it wasn’t a full-fledged fire. I guess it comes down to, Half a loaf is better than none.

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