We didn’t need to preview “The Donald Trump Presidency” to know it was going to be a double-barreled dumpster fire that could only end horribly. Everything about the prequel to Trump’s presidency — his life — suggested he was a terrible businessman, a terrible husband, a terrible father, a terrible American and an even worse human being. His candidacy did not change one iota of our assessment. If anything, Trump’s presidency has proven that we underestimated his awfulness. By a factor of a million.
Nothing about it makes sense. It’s like a rabbit hole designed by a dunderhead. It was never going to make sense anyway but now, it’s completely incomprehensible.
What the hell is THIS?
Even the news media — incapable of judging Trump despite the wall of immorality he presented every day of his presidency — has given up on any pretense that this isn’t “bonkers” — a word CNN used to describe Trump. America — by a margin of SIX MILLION VOTES & COUNTING — voted to go another way (the way we actually voted to go four years ago!) We all agreed: it’s time to turn the channel on this show because it sucks.
Most Americans enjoyed the Barack Obama story. We survived the George W. Bush story but only just. The Donald Trump story started off bonkers and then got steadily crazier.
It’s taken “bonkers” to places even “bonkers” had never been to.
That’s one more feature the Republican Party to add to its “brand” (in addition to “CORRUPT”, “RACIST”, “MISOGYNIST”, “BIGOTED” and “TREASONOUS”) — “BONKERS”. Thanks anyway, GOP — We The People have had our fill of bonkers. We’re moving onto healthier fare.
What is it about returning to “Square One” every day that America’s news media finds so alluring? It’s as if, in their heads, even after the Red Wedding, they all keep waiting for Eddard Stark to reappear in the story. If our news media had been doing its job correctly, our starting point every day — in the Donald Trump Presidency story — wouldn’t be “a different kind of POTUS running a different kind of presidential campaign”. It’d be about a stone cold TRAITOR, surrounded by co-conspirators, stumbling through their coup d’etat’s death throes. That IS the story that we’re starting with TODAY, Election Day 2020.
The genius of a “previously on” segment in a story is that, with a few quick reminders — visual and auditory — most of what’s gone on BEFORE this episode started gets re-established in the audience’s mind: here’s what you need to know NOW if the next part of the story’s going to make any sense to you. Of course, “previously on” assumes the audience is up to date enough with where the story is that these quick reminders will set up the next part of the story. That assumes, of course, that the storyteller is up to date. Our problem, here in America — our storytellers don’t seem to know much about the very story they’re reporting on!
I watch a lot of news. I don’t watch so much “for” the news (that’s what Twitter’s for — even the news networks keep their fingers on that pulse), I watch (through metaphorical fingers) for how the news networks report the news. I’m a storyteller by trade and nature. So are journalists — they’re real-time storytellers. Regardless of whether you tell stories in real time or with a little hindsight, the rules of storytelling are the same. If you want to do it correctly, every scene needs to add new information to what we knew in the previous scene. Even if it’s to subtly shade a story nuance, a scene must add something or it doesn’t belong. It’s telling the audience something it already knows.
Why, we have to ask, is the storyteller doing that? For the benefit of the story? No. For the benefit of the audience? No. They’re doing it for their own benefit — because they need to keep reminding themselves what the story is. And, if you’re telling a story this important to the Commonweal and the greater good? You had better deliver your A-game. Alas, that is not happening with most of our news media.
That’s the frustration a lot of us have felt all along as we watch this story unfold — and as we watch the news media struggle to tell the story. Their audience is often miles ahead of them. Now, to be fair, a news audience doesn’t have to maintain the journalistic standards journalists must to maintain their integrity. Me? I can spew anything I like, supported or unsupported. I’m just a guy with an (informed) opinion.
But, that informed opinion is informed mostly by the news media’s reporting. I’ve been aggregating the story all along in my head. You know — “keeping track of it”. Following the characters as we learn more about them — seeing how both they evolve and our understanding of them evolves. Kinda like how Fusion GPS started with one view of Donald Trump — before they began the oppo research the conservative, Jeb-Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon hired them to do in the leadup to election 2016 — then switched to another view of Trump after their due diligence turned up surprising information about him. As Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder, explained in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, Fusion’s due diligence amounted to getting their hands on every piece of publicly available Trump-related material they could from newspapers, magazines, the radio, TV or anywhere.
The reason Fusion contacted Christopher Steele — to help answer some of the questions their due diligence had raised — was because Steele had the best contacts inside Russia of pretty much anyone outside Russia. Fusion was adding information to the story and using it to constantly update their idea of Trump, who he is and what he’s really up to.
On the other side of that equation is our news media who, to this day, continue to scratch their heads, mystified by Trump and his “different kind of POTUS” behavior.
You know what the news media should have been reporting every day? That Donald Trump is the FIRST PRESIDENT EVER to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED — for CHEATING in the very election he’s now running in. And everyone with a double digit IQ agrees that the Republican-led Senate failed to live up to their oaths of office by not even having a real hearing to address the charges.
Think of everything we KNOW about Trump. Think of the cruelty. Of the sexual predation and rape. Think of the cheating on his wives. Think of the racist business practices. Think of the consistently suspicious behaviors — now outed as outright crimes. Think of all the Constitutional violations that, for some reason, we’ve decided to ignore. Think of all the dubious if not downright treasonous relationships Trump has with authoritarian rulers and thugs. Think of what Trump (and Jared Kushner) pal Mohamed bed Salmon did to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Think of this photo (with Trump’s literal “face of treason”) —
Real journalists like Seth Abramson & Sarah Kendzior, working outside institutional journalism, have produced work — using the news media’s own product — to aggregate the story of a criminal coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the Republicans. This is not some imagined fiction. There are receipts FFS. Mountains of them. Hell, we watched treason happen — live and on TV. We’re still watching it today as Donald Trump takes a sledgehammer to what remains of our electoral process, all at the service of Vladimir Putin.
Except this time, just enough of the press is woke — and plenty of the electorate — to move first and protect ourselves. You see, we’ve been aggregating the Trump story. We’ve seen him lie 30,000 plus times and now assume he always lies; it’s incumbent on Trump to PROVE he’s NOT lying. Imagine if the press did that!
Imagine if, during even one news conference, one member of the press — in response to Trump spewing lies at them — had said “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll need to back that statement up or it’s bullshit”. You don’t ask a liar to explain their lie, you TELL the liar their lie is a LIE. You do NOT give the lie credence.
See the difference? Even if you think the lie’s a lie (inside your head), you’ve asked the question in a way that gives the liar latitude. “Explain” assumes there’s something TO explain. Beginning with “that is a LIE” instead, puts the lie front and center as the status quo. The lie is the one thing we know for a fact. The liar is completely on the defensive and the one arrow in their quiver has no point.
There’s one basic rule of thumb when chasing rabbits. Do NOT follow them down their rabbit holes. Wait for them to re-emerge THEN whack-a-mole them.
As we begin Election Day 2020, the “previously on” segment should have made voting — for those NOT in the Trump Forever 30% — a no-brainer. After all, why would any self-interested person vote for someone as selfish as Trump whose interests begin and end with himself? They wouldn’t.
Fact: Donald Trump is the most corrupt president ever in US History. If we think of presidencies as “story cycles”, the Donald Trump presidency has been the worst horror story imaginable because it’s scary but for all the wrong reasons. From the get-go, the Donald Trump story has been one of corruption and terrible behavior. If we think of the 2016’s election as the “preview” to the Trump presidency story cycle, we knew before the movie started how awful the experience was going to be. Trump did not disappoint us. He’s lived up to every bit of the racism, bigotry, ignorance, corruption and treason expected.
Like I said — we saw this coming from afar. That’s how obvious the story’s always been. It makes our news media’s inability to see or tell the story incredibly frustrating for those of us who can see it and tell it. Unfortunately, THEY’RE the ones with the megaphone and outreach. The rest of us just have the internet and our wits.
Some of our news media still insists the election is IN a week. For most of the nation though, the election began the moment early voting began. November 3 isn’t the beginning of election 2020, it’s the end of it — of the voting process anyway. Already more than 50,000,000 Americans have voted. That’s several times the number who voted early in 2016. Americans are motivated to vote in this election like they’ve never been motivated before. Pretty much all hands ARE on deck. It’s not because all those Americans (many voting for the first time ever) are voting for Donald Trump. Yes, a few will vote for him but the overwhelming majority are voting against him.
Keep in mind, the majority of us voted against Donald the first time. We just didn’t get the result we voted for; the Republicans hijacked it alongside their Russian pals.
We can all feel the story cycle quickening. The reveals are coming fast and furious now as more and more people peel away from the Republican Treason Machine as it flies off its rickety rails. When even Goldman Sachs sees the handwriting on the wall (a Biden presidency would be good for the economy while a continuing Trump presidency would not), when even the GOP deep pockets refuse to reach inside them — because it’s good money being shoveled after bad — it’s probably a done deal. Yeah, sure, Trump and his co-conspirators will spin and juke and do everything they can to prolong the full investigation, indictment, trial, sentencing and punishment each of them has earned. That’s why we need to cut to the END of the chase — and not just the chase itself.
Trump sucks at most things but he’s awfully good at misusing our court system for his bullshit purposes. That has to stop. Instead, let’s use the court system correctly for a change — to prosecute these criminals. Let’s disabuse them of the idea that they’re getting out of this via some technicality. Instead, let’s get them used to the idea that they owe this country an apology — and that’s before we put them away forever.
The past four years have been the worst reality show imaginable — and we’ve been strapped into our seats, our eyelids pried open (like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”), forced to witness every last ounce of our collective debasement by these pirates and their camp followers. We’re done with it. We’ve BEEN done with it since even before it started.
When the bandage gets ripped from the giant, gangrenous sucking wound that is the Republican Party, we will wish we’d addressed this disease earlier — back when maybe a little penicillin or tough love would have nipped this in the bud. The cure for cancer is removal. Same goes for the Republican Party. This election is already stacking up as a massive repudiation. Even Mitch McTreasonTurtle — with his terrible eyesight — can see the loss of the Senate coming. He’s not one for creating false hopes in those with a conscience.
The end of the Donald Trump story will be the end of the Republican Party’s story too. It didn’t have to be, but there’s simply no way to undo the co-branding of Trumpism with Republicanism. We will need a second party to balance the Democratic progressive wing — and I say that as one of the crazies. For a democracy to function successfully, there must be opposition — thoughtful opposition not kneejerk political opposition. Opposition that brings receipts and cares about the commonweal as much as the other side does.
In the Trump story’s denouement, a lot of Republicans end up in prison. A whole LOT of Republicans. Others will buy their way to lighter sentences by turning on the leadership and their fellow travelers. Keep in mind, Rod Rosenstein shit-canned all counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and the Republicans. That information’s just sitting there, waiting to be heard. That’s in addition to all the other massive failures and betrayals Trump, the Republicans and their enablers have left as their legacy.
A lot of us look forward to “America: The Sequel” — where, finally, we fix the Constitution to reflect the diverse, dynamic nation we became. Clever as America’s founders were, they lacked the larger imagination to see what their creation would produce: us — a nation with extraordinary potential for greatness.
But, first, there’s the matter of a chase scene to scat through…