It has now been pointed out by many that the President of the United States watches hours of FoxNews every day, and that his favorite show his “Fox and Friends”. He often responds in real time with tweets to things he sees on FoxNews. Sometimes this creates a weird kind of public conversation between the POTUS and the on-air personalities, e.g. this two-hour interaction recently.
He also checks the Breitbart web site often, though this is hardly necessary as his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, is nearby to tell him what he needs to know about the site. Trump regards everything on Breitbart as true and news, which has gotten him into trouble recently with the whole “Obama tapped my wires” thing. Read what Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, has to say about Bannon’s time at Breitbart, including his turning the comment section into “a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”
All in all, it’s a real problem for America. Trump does not trust or consult subject-matter experts, professional bureaucrats, or really anyone but a few close confidantes, and then only when what they say matches his worldview and mood. Whoever had his ear last before he picks up his twitter will have the most influence on what he says.
He is impulsive, given to conspiracy theories, and largely ignorant of world history and current events, apart from what he chooses to absorb from “the shows.” He doesn’t read, and it’s been speculated that, in fact, he cannot read above a fourth grade level. This shifts a huge responsibility to the outlets he trusts, as what they assert, or even speculate about, may quickly become the basis for Executive Orders and national policy. How has FoxNews responded to this new reality?
The other day, Sean Hannity, referring to “deep state holdovers” from the Obama administration (i.e. anyone in a government job that might not have voted for Trump), said,
“It’s time for the Trump administration to begin to purge these saboteurs before it’s too late.”
Bill O’Reilly, referring to the recent cache of CIA documents released by Wikileaks and emphasizing that the leaks took place during the Obama administration, said,
“Treason is in the air”.
And, almost immediately, the purge began. I have no problem with any administration choosing their own people and firing, with cause, those who they have a legal right to fire. But I have a huge problem with the idea that anyone who ever worked in the Obama administration is, by definition, actively trying to “sabotage” Trump, and is an enemy to be “purged”. This kind of intemperate language (and thought) is exactly what we don’t need in public discourse, particularly given the mercurial nature of our commander-in-chief.
Which brings me to the dilemma facing every citizen who understands that the man-baby is profoundly unfit and unqualified for the job he has won. Do we wish for the “success” of President Trump? And, if in some sense we do not, does that make us un-American?
I can say that I wish for the success of America.
I hope everyone who needs a good job can get one, and can support themselves and their families.
I hope everyone gets the health care that a citizen of a rich, industrialized country deserves (and already has in every other rich, industrialized country).
I hope everyone who wants an education can get one. I hope science can stand on its own without being politicized.
I hope we can avoid wars and, that if we are called upon to deploy our military somewhere, the cause makes sense and the objectives are clear. I hope there is a an exit strategy from any conflict, as well as a morning-after plan for those who will have to live with the consequences of our policies.
I hope we all recognize the importance of working towards cleaner air and water, developing renewable energy sources, and repairing the damage that has been done to the planet over the last century.
I hope that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that have made our country unique, that civil discourse is restored, that dissent is tolerated or even valued, that no one needs to fear the consequences of speaking or thinking something different than those charged with running our government, and that the line between “leaders” and “rulers” remains clear and bright.
If these measures of success for America also define success for Trump, then I wish him all the success in the world.
I do not want to live in a kleptocracy, a one-party-state, or a country where loyalty to an individual is more important than loyalty to principles or country.
I do not want to live in a country where, if you are unlucky enough to have voted for the losing candidate, you will be purged as a saboteur or accused of treason. Those who use their powerful megaphone and deep pockets to distort and exaggerate and appeal to our worst instincts, and who have the audacity to do so during times of peace and prosperity, are the enemies of our American ideals and way of life.
Maybe it is Hannity and O’Reilly who should be purged.