Not Political Analysis but Theater Criticism
I just wrote about it but it deserves another post-the media pundits reaction to Trump’s speech is so telling. In my last post I talked about the Chris Cillizza media that cares only about optics.
The media is in ecstasy over Trump’s old wine in new bottles. They honestly don’t seem to realize that Trump’s speech said nothing new-other than he wants to start a ‘I Hate Immigrants Bureau.’
This is the quality of political analysis we’re getting today:
This is the best morning of Donald Trump's presidency. He is basking in positive pundit reviews. All that tumult feels like yesteryear.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 1, 2017
Armando has the right answer:
And this is the worst morning for American Journalism in Trump's presidency. https://t.co/YGzciVToXk
— Armando (@armandodkos) March 1, 2017
There were a couple of interesting pieces yesterday about Trump and the fact that he’s just a performance artist. He was never a businessman so much as someone who pretends to be a businessman on tv-‘You’re fired.’
“More than 27 years before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, Bruce Nobles, then the president of the Trump Shuttle airline, assessed with some befuddlement the business and managerial practices of his boss. Nobles had climbed a conventional corporate ladder at American, Continental and Pan Am, companies with org charts any MBA would recognize. The Trump Organization, on the other hand, was smaller, looser and much more freewheeling, and working for Trump, Nobles discovered, was a markedly different experience.”
“It surprised me how much of a family-type operation it was, instead of a business kind of orientation where there is a structure and there is a chain of command and there is delegation of authority and responsibility,” Nobles told a reporter from Newsday in the fall of 1989. “As the organization gets bigger, and it seems to be getting bigger all the time, he’ll have to do a better job of actually managing the place as opposed to making deals.”
“Mere months into Trump’s time as the owner of an airline—the purchase was finalized that June—Nobles already had concerns. Trump had overpaid with more than $400 million of borrowed money, he seemed most interested in cosmetic touches like the size of the “T” on the tails of the planes, and the debt service quickly became crippling. Once, Trump suggested cutting costs by flying with two pilots, not three, and Nobles had to tell him that would be illegal.”
This is reminiscent of his talk about keeping the cost down on the price of Boeing fighter planes, keeping Carrier jobs in the US, etc. It’s the equivalent of the size of the “T” on the tails of planes. Doesn’t amount to much in the big picture but it’s a soundbite that impresses the Chris Cillizzas of the world.
“When we worked together,” Nobles said, “he had three casinos in Atlantic City and he had the shuttle, and all four companies had their own operating systems, and I went to him and said, ‘Why don’t we combine these things?’ And he said, ‘No. I want those guys competing against each other. I think it will make all of them stronger.’ Any normal businessman I know would have said, ‘Let’s take advantage of the economies of scale here.’ He didn’t think like that.”
Doesn’t think like a businessman but like someone who plays a businessman on TV. In the day this Politico Magazine piece came out, Ezra Klein had a piece out Vox with a similar theme: Trump is a performance artist. As Klein puts it, Trump doesn’t want to be President he wants to play the President on TV.
But this brings us back to the media. This is not good news for the country-the man in charge is not really interested in being in charge just looking like he is. He’s not going to do the job just pretend he is.
But it works well with a media that’s all about optics.
This morning is a good reminder that so much of what passes for political analysis is just theater criticism.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) March 1, 2017
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