Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kabuki Trump

     Journalism is a kabuki. 
     I've been saying it for years.
     What does that mean?
     Kabuki is a highly stylized form, a centuries-old type of Japanese theater, with long-established plot lines worn smooth from time, repeated again and again and again, with the same characters going through the same motions.
     Journalism too has its tropes, its cherished plots that withstand the test of time, and are performed over and over again by the same actors. 
     Look at Donald Trump's supposed gaffe in New Hampshire this past week A supporter prefaced his question by saying that Muslims are a problem in this country, and that Barack Obama is neither a Christian nor a citizen.
     "Muslims..." he said, his voice dripping with contempt. "We know our current president is one." 
     Trump did not correct him, and this led the news media to dab on its face paint, don its kimonos, snap open its fans, and begin to go through the motions of the classic tale, The Would-Be Leader Stumbles. Again and again we heard serious reporters ask gravely: Is this the mistake that would finally bring the high flying Trump down to earth? I almost burst out laughing, listening to the NPR panjandrums ponder the possibilities. 
    What planet are these people living on? Association with that kind of hateful rhetoric won't hurt Trump. Exactly the opposite; it's what put Trump where he is. He's been a birther for years. Heck, his acceptance of the supporter's hallucinogenic bigotry will no doubt make him more popular, as exactly the kind of bold truth teller that right wing GOP wackjobs adore. They'll be rolling at his feet like puppies, while Trump juts out his Mussolini lip and preens like Il Duce. 
     The man is a demagogue—he only has one message: embrace him, accept his Cult of Personality and he will save us from everything. I almost said he's dangerous. But thank God only a third of the nation are stone crazy right wing haters, and that will be our salvation. And I'll be honest. Say what you will about Trump, I'd prefer him in the White House, hands down, to Ted Cruz, a frightening nightmare image, not from kabuki, but out of science fiction. Every time he opens his mouth and lets another falsetto squeal of moral indignation out, I see his face 60 feet high, mouth moving grotesquely, uttering mendacious slogans, something out of Orwell, projected against the sides of public buildings. 
    We count on journalism, or what's left of it, to be intelligent. To describe reality, not to try to jam reality into the molds of our expectation so it takes a form we recognize. Trump isn't George W. Bush saying something stupid by mistake, he's Huey Long saying something stupid that he really believes and his followers really believe. Let's focus on that, not a witless rendition of hackneyed story lines that really don't apply to every circumstance. Trump won't be president, not because he'll blurt out something that reveals him as he actually is, but because only 33 percent of the voters in this country passionately lap up the poisoned gruel he's serving. 


  1. You're right, NS. He does jut his jaw out like Benito did. Except Benny's hair or lack thereof was more natural.

    Trump will go down, but not because of such comments. He will go down after debates when it shows his depth of knowledge, especially on foreign policy and the military, etc is minimal. This recent debate showed the Achilles heal. He can't always have an audience of worshipers.

    Agree that Cruz is scarier and I'd add Walker & Huckabee as well. I'd take Fiorina over any of them.

    It seems Hillary's campaign is cooked. Since Bernie is a long shot maybe Biden will have to come to the rescue.

  2. Actually, I thought Fiorina, who was lauded by the press for her performance, was actually the scariest of the bunch, with her sabre rattling. And her comment about Planned Parenthood, which warmed the hearts of pro-lifers everywhere, described a filmed sequence that apparently doesn't exist. She told what outside of the political realm would be termed a bold faced lie.

    Fiorina was, incidentally, highly praised for that in today's full-page piece in the Sun-Times by Mona Charen. evidently the paper's replacement for Steve Huntley. I suppose they have to have a right wing ideologue on tap in order to be "fair and balanced," but I wonder why they picked this woman. Wasn't Attila the Hun available?

    Tom Evans

    1. I read the Charen column as well. While not a fan, I like how she compares Trump to a hot air balloon.

  3. The Ghost of Christmas PastSeptember 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    All politicians, Republicans and Democrats, are just the same, vile bigots whose job is to divide and oppress the people. Down with Sanders, Clinton, rump, Bush and the rest of them.

    1. All you anarchists should go live in Somalia! Ha ha, rump instead of Trump, good one.

  4. All else aside, I'm doing the finger-snap for "panjandrums."

    1. Yes, the rolling alliteration resonated with the "P" in NPR.


    2. I had to look it up.

      Impressive Neil, impressive.

  5. Another subplot of the nightmarish Kabuki dance that is playing out between Trump and the mainstream media, is the saga of Jorge Ramos. Jorge blew his chance for dramatically asking his excellent questions. A little more patience and he could shout out when Trump says one final question, or better yet as Trump turns his back to leave. We end up with the MSM thinking they have the money shot, Trump dissing an Hispanic reporter. Instead, through some miracle Trump makes the perfect sound bite that resonates with xenophobes, "wait your turn!" A complaint of anti-immigrant racists for decades. A notional image of immigrants pushing ahead of everyone else and taking jobs, and government benefits.

  6. Ramos should have acted in a more professional manner.

  7. For Trump's targeted audience, the Muslim hater took the conversation off the debate results (where Trump pretty much failed to make an impression) back to his successful, bigots-at-large targeted message. The national media have become little more than tools in this process, also evidenced during the debate.


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