The White House is the set for Donald Trump’s regular productions. Calling him the “reality show” president is wrong. He is the producer of a daily show that has nothing to do with reality. He is a child of television and how he appears on it matters more to him than most anything.
There are hundreds of examples but let’s stick to this week.
Yesterday, he held what the White House called a “press conference” but what actually was a roughly half hour platform for him to claim credit for a surprisingly good jobs number that he had nothing to do with. Jobs weren’t created, they returned after businesses closed because of the pandemic. And governors, some prematurely, began to reopen their states.
Earlier in the week Trump staged a show so he could claim to be “your law and order president.” Outside the White House he lined up National Guard and representatives from pretty much every federal agency that has something to do with law enforcement.
Then, whether under the President’s orders or not, they charged peaceful protestors to either “extend the perimeter” of protection around the White House, as the Attorney General claims, or to clear the way for the President to march across the street for a very odd photo opp in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Pick which version you like.
Since that day, the federal government has been further strengthening a wall around the White House, and Mexico isn’t paying for this one either.
If in Trump's mind his being escorted to the presidential bunker under the White House demonstrated weakness, what does building a black wall around the people’s house demonstrate?
Trump has invited the G-7 (plus Russia and a couple of other non-members) to attend a meeting at the White House. Within the wall? This is the way we show the world that we are the land of the free and home of the brave? By showing off a huge wall around the White House?
Also at Friday’s “press conference” touting the jobs number the President put words in the mouth of George Floyd, the man who was murdered on camera by police and that has sparked days of protests around the country and the world.. Trump said:
"Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that's happening for our country. It's a great day for him. It's a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
It also was the day after a memorial service for Floyd.
I can’t even.
As to the President’s claims that the country’s economy has returned to a level of “strength.” I call bull. It was a one-day number and even if it is a sign of returning to a strong economy, he did nothing to earn it.
Lastly, I do think we are at the brink of a new approach when it comes to race in this country. Floyd’s murder has hit almost everyone for the tragedy it is. The protesters that we’ve seen are a very diverse lot – blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos – the full smorgasbord that is America.
It just feels different than those hopeful times we’ve all experienced in the past when it seemed real change was coming but did not. This time, I think real change is coming.
One political sign is that Trump’s former chief of staff and his former defense secretary, men he proudly announced were “his” generals and touted as great men, publicly gave their honest views of this President who they say divides not unites the country. Trump now says they were bums. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she is struggling whether or not to vote for Trump. He immediately said he would back anyone in the party against her. Most other Republicans senators held firm lavishing praise on the president, which is the only support he really likes.
There are more reasons.
One is that our country has become even more diverse. “Minorities” are growing in America. Inter-racial marriage and the resulting multi-racial offspring are growing. This is partly how attitudes change.
No one condones the looting that happened early in the protests. But a couple of days later the real protestors were stopping looters from looting in many cities. Cops joined in kneeling with the protestors. They know those in uniform who killed Floyd are a minority of cops in the nation, and they want people to know that. And, there were more examples of police brutality including pushing down a 75-year-old white protestor in Buffalo, N.Y., who lay there as blood poured from his ear.
That’s not a reality show, that’s reality.