Saturday, January 28, 2017

Two ways to think about Trump's first week as President

I've spent the last week writing about congressional coalitions and prospects for an Obamacare repeal-and-replace.  As such, I haven't faced the dilemma of how to write about Trump.  Of course, I wrote a lot about Trump during the election because I study elections, and I write about Obamacare now because I study Congress.  This is just what I do.  There is more to it, though.

Figuring out how to cover Trump is, like River Tam's food, problematic.  At one level, he does normal things, like sign executive orders on abortion.  When the presidency flips from D to R, the president signs an executive order putting in place the abortion gag rule, and when it flips back, the president rescinds it.  The pipeline executive orders were likewise normal and expected.  Move along, folks, nothing to see here.  Just a normal president acting normally.

Then, we have a guy obsessed with lying about the size of his... inauguration crowd.  To the point that he is demanding more photos from the park service.  Because, hey everyone!  Look at how yuge my... crowd is!

News broadcasts have limited time.  Print newspapers have limited space.  While there is no functional limit on what can be posted on-line, there is a functional limit on what can be posted in heavily frequented web pages and their most-clicked locations.  Media outlets make choices about what to cover.  Do they cover the normal aspects of the Trump Presidency, the very-not-normal elements, or some specific mix?  How do they decide?

There is no clear answer about the proper mix.  I've been writing mostly about Obamacare recently because, as a Congress junkie, I find it fascinating and I think I have something to say on the basis of stuff I have read and written in the past.  And, since I just write these things in the morning as I have my coffee, who cares, right?  I'm nobody.  (Not even a number...  Get it?)  The press, though?  They've got a problem on their hands.  A yuge one.  To ignore the normal and pretend that all that happens is Trump going on his childish, little tirades is to ignore the actual, serious policy-making, and that stuff matters.  To focus entirely on the normality and ignore the extreme lying, lashing out and other childish stuff is to miss the very important warning signs that Trump's basic unfitness for office is going to lead to real policy problems very soon.

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