Monday, July 03, 2017

July 3, 2017--Jack: Political Bull Fight

"I know you love Joe and Mika."

"Not really," I said to Jack who has taken up residence in the Bristol Diner.

"Don't you watch Morning Joe all the time?"

"Not so much in Maine where we limit our TV watching. Especially cable news."

"But I assume you're aware of the flap between them and Trump?"

"How could I not be, though I already disagree with you."

"I'm all ears."

"It's not between them. It's a situation that Trump created by his venomous tweets. And I mean them since the tweets were almost as nasty about Joe Scarborough as they were about Mika Brzezinski. I think the president called him a psycho, among other things. And of course got into all that blood business again, this time about Mika bleeding from the chin."

"And you think Mika and Joe are wholly innocent?"

"Whatever they might have said about Trump is not in any way equivalent. He's the president of the most powerful country in the history of the world and they are talkshow hosts."

"Let me quote a few things to you that on the air they said about Trump. Let's see if you feel they crossed the line."

"Before you begin let me agree in advance to one thing."

"I can't wait to hear this."

"During the campaign for the Republican nomination Joe and Mika, like a lot of other TV and print people, cozied up to Trump because he was a good story, quotable, and whenever he was on the air they would see their ratings skyrocket. And of course it was good for Trump as well as it gave him many millions of dollars worth of free air time. It was win-win for them while for the country it was lose-lose."

"And then," Jack said, "after he was elected they thought he would continue to be their pal and remain available to them. But once he was in the Oval Office he was no longer so eager to be on their show. He had other ways to communicate with his base. Mainly via Fox News. And tweeting of course. Joe and Mike admitted at the end of last week that he cut them off when they began to criticize him after they tried to influence his appointments and policies. He ignored them and they felt used, left out, conned. All of which they were."

"So far there's nothing new about this," I said, "Talkshow people like Sean Hannity, Mika and Joe, and real journalists are all about their contacts and sources. They live off access and leaks."

"That's why they snuck off to Mar-a-Lago New Years. To hobnob with Trump."

"It's an ugly business all a round. But remember, Trump's the president and what he said about the two of them went way over the line. Though as Maureen Dowd said yesterday, he's not a sexist pig but a pig."

"I'll get to her in a minute," Jack said, "but before I do, do you disagree that over the past few months Mika and Joe have questioned his stability, mental health, and ability to serve as president? This is different than criticizing his policies and the activities of his cabinet and White House staff. This is to call him crazy."

"But again," I said, "he's the PRESIDENT (all caps) of the United States. They are, what, by comparison small time operators. If he could manage to keep his mouth shut or stop tweeting, basically ignore them, that would be the best way to retaliate. Ignoring them is the best way to deal with people with big personalities and egos."

"But again, I mentioned Mika and Joe not to talk that much about them but about something that should be of greater concern to you."

"I'm happy to move on. Do you want to talk now about Maureen Dowd's column where she did in fact call him a pig?"

"Not about that," Jack said, "but about something else she wrote. More in line with what Brzezinski and Scarborough and the people appearing on their show have bene staying about him. Let me read you something she wrote this weekend--

"He is not built for this hostile environment [Washington, DC] and it shows in his deteriorating psychological state."

"What's wrong with that?"

"First of all, Joe and Mika and Maureen are not psychiatrists. Calling him reprehensible is one thing, but attacking his mental health is another matter. Are they beginning to make the case that he's psychologically impaired and so it's time to roll out the 25th Amendment and declare him incompetent to continue as president? If so, expect people in the streets with torches and pitchforks."

"I could see that happening," I said, "His people are pretty riled up. Many, worse than that."
"One more thing--there was that New York Times' lead editorial on Saturday--'Mr. Trump, Melting Under Criticism.'"

"I saw that."

"And what did you think?"

"I basically agreed with it."

"I have to agree with some of it as well--particularly the part that criticizes him for all his disgusting references to bleeding, really women's bleeding. It's obviously some sort of reference to menstrual blood. He must have male menophobia--an actual condition. But now here I go playing psychiatrist! What concerns me is the title of the piece. How it too suggests Trump's unfit, maybe psychologically unfit to be president. The Times even praises Nixon, if you can believe it, for the 'grace,' that's the word they used, with which he handled the press during the height of Watergate. That's as low a blow as anyone could deliver to a president--comparing him unfavorably to Nixon."

I said, "I too thought that was way below the belt. Nixon was disgraceful when it came to the press. He illegally wiretapped dozens of them and got the IRS to audit many of their taxes. That doesn't qualify as grace."

"But here's my real concern--do you and your friends really want to see Trump meting down, cornered? I mean, he appears to be very thin skinned and if he feels trapped who knows how he might act or, worse, retaliate. And I'm not talking tweets and stupid videos of Trump body slamming a fake CNN reporter at a WrestleMania  match. I'm talking Syria, North Korea, Putin, China, and a few other little things like that."

"Say more," I said, "And by the way, you're being very reasonable this morning."

He ignored that and said, "From your perspective would you want an out-of-control Trump or Mike Pense in charge? Pence who could probably work more effectively with Congress?"

"I'll have to think about it. I did write a few months ago that from a progressive perspective a weak Trump for three-and-a-half more years may be the best thing to hope for."

"You told me once that when you spent a half year in Mexico and during your times in Spain you enjoyed bull fights."

"I admit that I did. I know it's not politically correct, but I went to a lot of corrida de toros."

"And as part of every fight in an attempt to weaken the bull the banderillas planted barbed sticks in its shoulders. This did weaken him, lowered his head, but also enraged him and, my point, made him more dangerous."

"I am getting your analogy."

"I know you and your friends are enjoying Trump's fall, but maybe you're also making him more dangerous. If I were you, I'd think about this."

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