Saturday, June 20, 2020


I spotted this exchange on Twitter a little while ago:

Is that it? Do mainstream politcal journalists really want Trump to win?

Their coverage of Trump has been quite negative throughout his term; I wouldn't say that "they want him to win." But what he's doing right now resonates with them on an almost unconscious level. He seems like an assertive Man of Action, making things happen in Tulsa, generating great copy. He may not be the candidate they want to win, but he's the candidate they clearly find exciting to cover. He's being the take-charge Republican Daddy, even if he's a crazy Daddy.

Joe Biden isn't a Man of Action. He's now a soft-spoken, sentimental older man. He's male (unlike that icky Hillary and all those icky women who ran against him in the primaries), but he doesn't seem like a real man, if you know what I mean.

America's mainstream political journalists seem as if they're at least culturally left of center, but they've hated every Democratic presidential candidate of the past half century with the exception of the two young bros, Barack Obama and (at least briefly) 1992 Bill Clinton. If you're a Democrat and you're not a fortysomething New JFK, the press corps doesn't want anything to do with you.

The risk in this election is that the press will try to turn the race into a contest about vigor. Trump wins on those terms, but only because he's a manic rage monster who thinks his job, as candidate and president, is to create endless spectacles, many of them focusing on his own out-of-control emotions. He does it with just enough testosterone that the press feels a thrill up its leg every time he stirs the pot. And the voters who like the pot-stirring are Heartland white people, whose opinions the press always overvalues. (The press also has a crush on Trump's male voters -- they're considered real men, too.)

I hope the vote in November reflects the fact, obvious from the polls, that most of the public is sick of this. I worry, however, because the press clearly isn't.

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