Trump Is A Typical Fox News Watching Elderly Man

Which means that he’s a hysterical ninny (he’s also a narcissist, which only makes things even worse). Alex Pareene nails it (boldface mine):

If you want to understand intra-GOP warfare, the decision-making process of our president, the implosion of the Republican healthcare plan, and the rest of the politics of the Trump era, you don’t need to know about Russian espionage tactics, the state of the white working class, or even the beliefs of the “alt-right.” You pretty much just need to be in semi-regular contact with a white, reasonably comfortable, male retiree. We are now ruled by men who think and act very much like that ordinary man you might know, and if you want to know why they believe so many strange and terrible things, you can basically blame the fact that a large and lucrative industry is dedicated to lying to them.

Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the “mainstream” media. Now they, and we, are at the mercy of the results of that project. The inmates are running the asylum, if there is a kind of asylum that takes in many mostly sane people and then gradually, over many years, drives one subset of its inmates insane, and also this asylum has the largest military in the world…

Now, we have a president whose media diet defines his worldview, interests, and priorities. He is not one of the men, like most of those Tea Party members of Congress, whose existing worldview determined his media diet—who sealed himself off from disagreeable media sources. He is, in fact, something far more dangerous: a confused old man who believes what the TV tells him.

Donald Trump is 70 years old. He has always, clearly, been an incoherent thinker, contradictory and prone to self-gratifying delusions. But if, for much of his life, he was able to pass as an intelligent and well-informed man, it was probably just because he religiously read newspapers, especially the New York Times. That was and is a decent way to sound like a smart person, at least for a few minutes, which is long enough to impress most rich people. Now, though, Trump is older, his thinking more rigid, his favored media outlets less trustworthy and more likely to reinforce reactionary tendencies. Cable news has largely replaced newspapers as his primary source of information about the world. He has also taken to reading conspiratorial websites run by kooks and con artists. Perhaps, if you have a white parent or grandparent over 60, this sounds familiar?

…Donald Trump today is a cruel dolt turned into a raving madman by cable news and Breitbart.com. You could see the descent happen during the Obama era, in concert with the broader maddening of the GOP. The major difference between Trump and the other old white men who’ve been radicalized by the conservative press is that his was a strangely self-directed conversion, based on his desire to make himself known as a plausible Republican presidential candidate.

One manifestation of this was Trump’s (hysterical over)reaction to Ebola (boldface mine):

In July 2014, as the largest Ebola outbreak in history was ravaging West Africa, Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that two sick American health workers were being flown back to the United States for treatment. “Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days—now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent,” wrote the future leader of free world. “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” Over the months that followed, Trump would tweet about the outbreak more than 50 times.

Trump’s social-media outbursts were among the earliest shots fired in the political war over Ebola

The naked and brutal nativism on display at right-wing political rallies obviously had much deeper roots than Ebola. But from my standpoint, the outbreak helped legitimize a kind of language previously relegated to the fringes of American politics

Insofar as Trump expresses a coherent political philosophy, those expressions can be found not in policy papers or major addresses, but in his tweets. When examining Trump’s tweets on the Ebola outbreak, the main features of his approach are plainly evident. It’s all right there: The shallowness, willful ignorance, mean-spiritedness, and empty boasting infuse every 140-character burst. And Trump’s views on the issue received massive media attention

Trump’s very first tweet is as clear a display as one could imagine of the kind of arch-nativism that would animate his campaign and the first few months of his presidency. It came on July 31, in response to news that two American medical workers infected with Ebola were being airlifted out of West Africa to the United States for advanced care in the most secure conditions (so-called Biosafety Level 4 facilities). Right from the start, he highlighted the central animus of his foreign policy in an all-caps summary, even when, as in this case, THEM might be US citizens.

Health officials assured the public that Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol—the doctor and nurse who had braved the outbreak to serve at a hospital on the outskirts of Monrovia—posed little risk of spreading the disease in the United States. But Trump wasn’t satisfied. “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” he wrote on August 1. “People that go to far away places to help out are great—but must suffer the consequences!” In other words, the Ebola fighters’ “greatness” didn’t override Trump’s desire to see them suffer because of their selfless actions…

Trump wasn’t simply calling for patients infected with Ebola to be excluded from the country. In one August tweet, he wrote, “The U.S. must immediately stop all flights from EBOLA infected countries or the plague will start and spread inside our ‘borders.’ Act fast!” Two days later, he extended his proposed travel ban to all of West Africa. “The bigger problem with Ebola is all of the people coming into the U.S. from West Africa who may be infected with the disease,” he wrote. “STOP FLIGHTS!”

…An Ebola infection on US soil certainly isn’t a trivial matter, but it was by no means the calamity that Trump, along with tens of millions of his fellow Americans, assumed it was. Public health experts, including Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, repeatedly called for calm, arguing that the United States was well prepared to contain the virus and that closing down borders would simply make the outbreak harder to manage. President Barack Obama echoed these statements. Trump accused the CDC of lying about the threat posed by the disease. He portrayed Frieden’s and Obama’s leadership as feckless, even though Frieden’s assessment would prove to be considerably more accurate than Trump’s.

That last sentence is the key point: Trump’s hysteria led him to the wrong conclusion, a hysteria fed, in part, by watching rightwing television propaganda. And once a person becomes panicked, nothing less than a ‘100% solution’ is acceptable, even though such solutions are unrealistic and impossible.

We are governed by a frightened, out-of-touch old bigoted man. This might not end well.

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3 Responses to Trump Is A Typical Fox News Watching Elderly Man

  1. This might not end well?

  2. sglover says:

    I’ll take it as given that Trump is “informed” by right-wing media, and that might explain a lot of his, erm, eccentricities. But…. Save for the (purported) reliance on Fox, is he really so different from the rest of the Beltway? That gang seems to view the world exclusively through the lens of the media conglomerates. (Does anyone in power in DC read any history that’s not about World War II or, maybe, the American Civil War?) It’s an extremely weird and distorted perspective, and at least when it comes to foreign relations, it’s a perspective that’s stoked huge strategic disasters for decades (e.g., Vietnam, Iraq).

  3. kaleberg says:

    One of the things that comes out when listening to Republicans is that they are horribly scared. They are terrified of diseases, terrified of foreigners, terrified of people even slightly different from themselves. It’s weird, especially given the things that are actually likely to harm them. Ever since George W. Bush was elected I can swear I hear America clucking. Are we really that chicken?

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