Trump, The Movie

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, writing about mass hysteria a few days ago, cited “insult without supporting argument” as one indicator of hysteria. He was making much the same point that I was making yesterday when writing about mismatches between reality and models of reality. With the unexpected election of Donald Trump, a great many Americans discovered that their model of reality no longer matched reality. But instead of adjusting their model, they wish instead to adjust reality – by removing Donald Trump from office.

There was a very good example of unsupported insult in the Guardian yesterday. The insults (my emphases added) directed at Donald Trump began in the first paragraph:

It is difficult for Americans to watch the presidential parody that is Donald Trump with anything approaching equanimity. But it is also hard for non-Americans – long-time friends and admirers of the United States – who look on helplessly from afar.

Reactions range from amazement and amusement to shock and dismay. How has this frightening travesty come about? What does it mean for the America we love? And what does it portend for a world accustomed to sensible, reliable, rational American leadership?

Every country has its political mavericks and clowns. But to put a shadow figure like Trump, a profoundly ignorant, self-obsessed narcissist lacking any discernible moral compass, in charge of the nation’s affairs looks like an act of collective madness.

Seven months after he took office, the situation has not “normalised”. On the contrary, it grows more abnormal by the day. Just look at Trump’s aberrant press conference performance on Tuesday when, breaking his word of the previous day, he deliberately re-opened America’s most sensitive wound – racial division – and picked at the Charlottesville scabs until the blood gushed anew.

This reckless divisiveness, this shameless moral ambiguity, this historical know-nothingness, this thinly-disguised bigotry – these are not the qualities one expects of an American president. This is not leadership. This is not change. This is not greatness renewed.

This unworthy man, and the far-right ghouls who cling to him, set a dreadful example for the rest of the world, from the very country that is deemed by many to be the ultimate symbol of justice, liberty and democratic governance.

Why is Donald Trump a “parody”? Or a “frightening travesty”? Or a “shadow figure”? Or an “unworthy man”? In what ways exactly is he “a profoundly ignorant, self-obsessed narcissist lacking any discernible moral compass”? Does he really display “reckless divisiveness, shameless moral ambiguity, historical know-nothingness, and thinly-disguised bigotry”? I don’t see any of these things in him. Why is this abuse being rained down on the current President of the United States by someone who purports to not only be be a friend and admirer of the USA, but to actually love it? And in raining abuse on Trump, isn’t the author also raining abuse on those millions of Americans who had the temerity to vote for him?

I think Donald Trump is one of those larger-than-life figures that America throws up from time to time, usually in the form of movie stars like Gary Cooper or Humphrey Bogart or John Wayne. He is in fact, like Ronald Reagan, a screen star. Perhaps that’s what is so insufferable about him – and Reagan before him -, that he has crossed the threshold between fiction and reality, and stepped out of the screen into the real world, like Superman or Batman or Conan the Barbarian? And he has, like one of those superheroes, set out to “drain the swamp”, “build the wall”, and generally clean up Dodge. And his presidency has become a re-enactment of the role of Gary Cooper in High Noon, with the Frank Miller gang stalking him through the streets being played by the Deep State and the Democrats (and many of the Republicans) in Congress, and with the roles of Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado being played by the American people.

Perhaps the Guardian columnist simply thinks that the lead role in the movie is being played by the wrong guy, and it has been handed to someone wholly inappropriate, like Charlie Chaplin or Jerry Lewis. What was needed was someone like Gregory Peck. Or maybe Clark Gable. Instead they’d got someone surprisingly resembling Charles Laughton in the role of the populist Gracchus in the 1960 version of Spartacus.

Further down the long column – in which the unsupported insults hurled at Trump never let up – the author looks back affectionately at the presidency of the elder George Bush, as a good “example for the rest of the world”. For him, the president is above all a role model, and must show himself to be “sensible, reliable, and rational”. Bush was charming, and the reporter had been charmed. If you’re playing the role of POTUS, you have to be “sensible, reliable, and rational”, and charming and handsome as well.

And Trump, like Charles Laughton, isn’t very handsome. And he isn’t very charming either. He’s a flawed character. He’s not unambiguously good, like the elder George Bush launching the “Great American Workout” by saying:

“We need balanced and nutritional diet. And we’ve got to avoid tobacco and drug use, avoid excessive alcohol use. And fitness really can enrich the human mind and body by lowering stress and blood pressure and cholesterol.”

In a world of appearances, everything is about appearances. And movies are nothing but appearances. The cast of characters must display exemplary physical fitness, and forego tobacco and alcohol and drugs. And the character playing the lead role must display all these traits, as well as being “sensible, reliable, and rational”. And charming. And even-handed. And restrained.

The Guardian columnist is panning Trump’s presidency like it was a Hollywood movie that got released on 20 January 2017. It’s sending all the wrong messages to the world. And for him, the US Presidency is all about sending the right message, and staying on-message.

Here’s what changed in the age of Trump: when such angry sentiments are whipped up and magnified for unscrupulous personal advantage, when a political leader encourages ordinary people to blame other groups, races or nations for their problems, when fear and blame become the twin forks of a wicked grab for power, and when the resulting fury tips over into hatred, division, Charlottesville-style violence and “America First” xenophobia, you know you are in big trouble.

But it has not been Trump who has been “whipping up angry sentiments”: it’s been the mainstream media. It’s not been Trump who has been “encouraging ordinary people to blame other groups, races or nations for their problems”: it’s been people like Hillary Clinton telling half the American people that they’re a “basket of deplorables”. It’s not been Trump who has been filled with “fury”, “hatred”, and “fear”: that all comes from the pens of Guardian columnists.

Trump, The Movie, is anyway still in its First Act. We don’t know how it’s going to play out. We don’t really know the plot at all yet. Maybe Trump will prove to be as bad, or worse, than his critics claim that he is. Or maybe the Frank Miller gang will fill him with lead.

Or maybe there’ll be a lot of surprising plot twists over the next seven years, and when the lights finally come up, and we stumble out onto the streets outside, it will prove to have been an epic and memorable film. And it’ll be remade repeatedly, with the role of Trump being played by the likes of Gregory Peck, as a restrained, charming, even-handed, sensible, reliable, and rational man – a saint unrecognised in his own lifetime.

I’m making available A Smoker’s Manifesto on Google Docs for interested persons to add comments and edit recommendations. I’ve not tried anything like this before, so I’m not sure how it will work. You’re not supposed to be able to edit the text. So if you find you can, please let me know.

Also Walt has dug up a name:

About Susanne Nundy (aka Anna Raccoon). The full name of the Dr who presided over her mistreatment and who to write to directly is

Dr Philip Wilkins
Priscilla Bacon Lodge
Coleman Hospital
Uthank Road
Norwich
Norfolk NR2 2PJ
UK

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About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to Trump, The Movie

  1. cherie79 says:

    Trumps election seems to have driven the left insane! I was no great fan but preferred him to Hilary. They distort everything he does or says, I listen and just don’t hear the same things. Even when I do go off him the sheer unfairness of the coverage from almost all the MSM, the Democrats and some of his own Party turns me back. I have never seen just unashamed bias in my life, they wouldn’t give him credit if he cured cancer. Meanwhile they ignore the very real scandals in the last administration, it’s disgusting.

  2. Hi Frank, yes The Manifesto is editable – YOU will see the suggestions in green I think as ‘suggestions’ But can I ask you to set it to open in a new tab. The way it is now, we lose your post, You simply tick the box ‘open in new tab’ on WordPress links.
    thxs

  3. Emily says:

    Frank, interesting stuff today (as always). That Scott Adams piece hits the nail squarely on the head.

  4. chris says:

    “one of those larger-than-life figures America throws up from time to time…”

    Very apt choice of words. “Throws up”. Exactly.

    How can otherwise astute people be so incredibly tone deaf? I hate HIllary, too, but his guy is going to do absolutely nada for anyone but himself and his rich pals.

    I had fantasized that in a fit of deregulation he’d get rid of some of the the more ridiculous laws against smokers,but that’s not going to happen.

    • Joe L. says:

      I had fantasized that in a fit of deregulation he’d get rid of some of the the more ridiculous laws against smokers,but that’s not going to happen.

      This is pretty much what I hoped for, as well. Candidate Trump spoke of cleaning up the FDA, but with the recent news that the FDA is planning to regulate the amount of nicotine in tobacco products, I also fear that we’re in for business as usual.

  5. jameshigham says:

    Far more interesting now than pre-2016.

  6. Tony says:

    Way off topic:

    All those billions of Pharma profit from NRT. All those hundreds of millions of Pharma sponsorship of the anti-smoking industry. All that lobbying to get tax payer’s money in order to lobby to get the DoH to subsidise the Pharma NRT products despite their knowing how ineffective they were. All that lobbying to expel smokers from society unless they switched to Pharma products.

    It turns out that it was all a conspiracy by Big Tobacco after all. The poor anti-smokers and destitute pharmaceutical companies were all duped.

    https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/living/1437464/nicotine-patches-and-gum-dont-help-smokers-quit-and-most-just-do-both-together/amp/

  7. beobrigitte says:

    I am still unsure about President Trump. I do wonder if he is aware that smokers have voted for him in the hope that he amends the smoking ban and perhaps even gets rid of the anti-smokers.
    Nothing like that has happened or is even being discussed.

    Trump may well be a total jerk as a person, but that’s not for me to sort out. However, just before reading Frank’s blog, I found this email in my junk folder (amongst the many annoying “sexy asian girls” and “Cialis & Viagra for sale” junk mails), titled: “Stop Trumps internet takeover – in 2 days”. Curiosity won, I opened it just to read:

    Dear friends,

    Trump is forcing an internet provider to turn over the personal details of 1.3 million people who visited an anti-Trump website! From anywhere in the world!

    But we have 2 days to stop him.

    This could impact all of us — over half of the world’s websites are hosted in the US. And Trump can do whatever he wants with the data, like give it to dictator friends to help them crack down on their own citizens.

    Lawyers are taking him to court, but they’ll focus on the impact on Americans. The judge can also consider the rights of non-US citizens and if we bring a court filing backed by a million people around the world, arguing that our rights are at risk too, it could have huge impact on the case!

    Click to stop Trump’s Internet takeover

    This kind of power would mean that Trump could demand the IP addresses and behaviour of every visitor to Avaaz’s website too. Or Wikipedia or Youtube. Under US law, American citizens would have protections for what he can do with their information, but the rest of us would have nothing. It would transform our free internet into a big brother state with Trump at the helm.

    We can’t let it happen.

    Thankfully, US law could stop him if the judge feels like the threat to privacy outweighs Trump’s “security” concerns. And the fact that his first victims are visitors to a website directly protesting his power is a mark in our favour. But the argument is even stronger if we can show the danger this power holds for foreign website visitors who have no protection under US law and could be jailed or worse simply for signing a petition!

    Let’s add our voices now, and make sure the judge knows that his decision will affect the whole world!

    Add your name urgently — the hearing is on Thursday and Avaaz staff is getting ready to file our brief to the court in front of the media:

    Click to stop Trump’s Internet takeover [link]

    The internet is more than just another issue, it’s what empowers our movement to connect as human beings and win strategic fights that lift all of us up. This is our chance to make sure it doesn’t get overrun by Trump and his cronies!

    The first thing that struck me is that in this email the main tool is fear, which makes me think this is some form of nonsense to which a lot of people will respond. Who the hell is Avaaz’s in the first place?

    • Given the craziness of some of the Anti-Trump folks here in the US, I would guess that the demand/request/whatever for those personal details has nothing to do with people simply not liking Trump. I’m guessing that the Secret Service (the US group specifically tasked to protect the President, his family, et al — possibly all federal level politicians? Not sure. It’s usually just linked to the Prez. — from attacks.) has seen things on there that might make them think that some of the posters are quite possibly moving beyond “Free Speech” into the realm of actually being dangerous. In a case like that, I can see justification for them seeking details so they can investigate that possibility. Of course the justification for the request has to be proper and reviewed by whatever level of judges and courts are used for such things (in the same way that even an ordinary police search warrant on a drug-dealer’s house needs to be signed by a judge), but I wouldn’t automatically assume/agree-with the idea that “The Trump Government” is simply ignoring ordinary rights to privacy.

      – MJM

  8. Rhys says:

    Dreamhost, an American web hosting company, says the US Dept of Justice asked them for this. So I think there’s some truth in there, mixed with a generous amount of hyperbole.

  9. waltc says:

    OT 1: Learned thru a lonk at Puddlecote that her name was Susanne Cameron-Blackie tho someone here had said Nundy

    OT2: a poll that could badly use some help

    http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/ron-southwick-bill-would-raise-age-to-buy-cigarettes-to-21?platform=hootsuite

    Fwiw my only comment on the manifesto (which I only tead the once here) was that it needed paring–took too many words to make a point and readers will stop reading. Also needs bullet points for action imo

    • Frank Davis says:

      The Anna Raccoon website currently gives her name:

      Susanne Nundy sadly passed on the 18th August 2017.

      Best known as Anna Raccoon, she was a staunch defender of liberty, freedom and most of all, the truth.

      As a tribute to her and her work, a project is currently underway to attempt to restore as much of the original Anna Raccoon website as is possible.

      Unfortunately the original database which contained everything was deleted and we are attempting to restore files from Anna’s own computer (kindly donated by her husband Mr.G who supports this project), from Dr.Mark Smith of Edinburgh University and from other internet sources.

      This is a time consuming process so please bear with us.

      I think that’s pretty definitive.

  10. Joe L. says:

    OT: Say hello to “Big Talc.”

    On Monday, a California jury awarded Eva Echeverria $417 million in a case against Johnson & Johnson. Echeverria, who is suffering from terminal ovarian cancer, claimed it was caused by Johnson’s Baby Powder, which she used on her perineum for decades.

    Hers wasn’t the first jury award against the company. And thousands more cases are pending.

    It has opened a long-simmering question about whether talcum powder used in the genital area can cause cancer.

    Does Baby Powder Cause Cancer? A Jury Says Yes. Scientists Aren’t So Sure

  11. I’ve noticed from the very beginning (November ’16 – April ’17) that certain media organs (The ones I had in mind at the time were the NYT and WaPo — Washington Post.) seemed to VERY deliberately be slanting their headlines and all-important opening paragraphs of news stories, along with their photos, to be as negative as possible toward Trump.

    This sort of thing goes on all the time to some extent, but I’ve never seen anything as strong or as consistent as this… not even going back to the days when Richard Nixon was being reviled. Of course under our Free Press the NYT and WP have every right to play such games, but it’s still shameful that they’d abuse their power in that way. It’d be great to see some actual studies done (They wouldn’t be that hard to design.) showing that slanting and teaching the editors at those papers that they have to be more responsible in the future.

    – MJM

    Addition: As an example… The front page facial photos of Trump could be pulled for those six months, mixed in with random photos from seemingly non-aligned or even pro-Trump papers, and then evaluated on scales like “Is this photo showing Trump in general in a favorable or unfavorable light?” or “Does this photo convey a sense of mental instability or rational leadership?”

    Similar evaluations could be done on how well headlines and opening paragraphs conveyed the main sense of the true meat of news stories as covered in the following body text.

  12. Joe L. says:

    Like Brigitte above, I am also still unsure about President Trump. However, I believe it is beyond obvious that there is an anti-Trump agenda in play in the media and among the elite. One need look no further than George W. Bush. That man couldn’t string a cohesive sentence together to save his life. Where were all the scathing reports that “Dubya” was a “presidential parody”? Bush Jr. truly was a “profoundly ignorant” “shadow figure” and “a dreadful example for the rest of the world,” not to mention an “unworthy man,” elevated to power simply for being the offspring of George and Barbara Bush.

    However, we never even saw a small fraction of such hate-filled articles and quotes about George W. Bush as we do regarding Trump. If anything, articles criticizing his “Bushisms” were mostly lighthearted in nature. The media portrayed him more as some sort of pitiful, lovable idiot while he was POTUS, whereas Trump is painted as an incompetent yet evil monster. Also, last fall, shortly after Trump was elected, Dubya released a book (of his recent paintings, I believe) and went on a media tour of talk shows to promote it. As a guest on these shows, he received unanimous praise and was treated like some sort of American hero. It was like the media completely forgot about the humanitarian disasters Bush spearheaded in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is clear that something is definitely amiss.

    • natepickering says:

      Yes, a lot of Trump’s more fervently hysterical critics seem to believe, simultaneously and incongruously, that he’s 1) such a bumbling buffoon that he can scarcely get through the day without accidentally launching a nuclear missile, and 2) such a sophisticated master of international espionage that he conspired with Russian hackers to steal a presidential election while leaving no incriminating evidence behind.

      There is not even the pretense of internal consistency in the I-Hate-Trump narrative. He is both an idiot and an evil genius. He is both anti-America and uncomfortably nationalist. Any bad thing that anyone says about him is accepted as true and woven into the larger tapestry. That once-reputable media outlets are some of the biggest purveyors is the really shocking part for me. I mean, we’ve always known the media mostly lean to the left, but the abandonment of any veneer of objectivity in the reporting about one man is something I honestly didn’t see coming. Trump was correct in describing the media as the “opposition party.” They certainly oppose him more effectively than the Democrats do.

  13. Pingback: Coming To The Boil | Frank Davis

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