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TRUMP THE FRAMER

July 27, 2019

TRUMP THE FRAMER

Trump views the presidency as a show, an extension of The Apprentice in which he is the star and thus enabled to dictate the script rather than as a tough job as the leader in trying to referee competing interests and keeping things together in a hostile world, a job he is not equipped to do. However, he does a good job in framing and its timing on issues of the day, employing bluster, threat, pretense, insult, lawsuits and other means he has at his fingertips by virtue of his office in order to get his way.

He is especially adept at framing issues out front. He anticipates problems early on and effectively attacks not the substance of the issues but those who raise the issues, whether the issues involve tariffs, immigration, voter suppression etc. In the process he is also good at projecting his own shortcomings to those who hold contrary views on the issues, as in (when asked about some 20 women who complain of his sexual wrongdoings), he replies with “Well, look what Bill did!” His regular putdowns know no limits as he puts down Republicans as well as Democrats, reporters, women et al, all with a venom one would expect from a third grader defending his position in the sandbox. He doesn’t seem to understand that he is not God but rather a president subject to constitutional and legal constraints; that the United States is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump empire but rather is “owned” by all of us, that he is merely the temporary custodian of the executive branch, that We the People are the board and that, like any CEO, he can be removed for cause.

George Lakoff writes rather extensively about framing issues to demonstrate how the question can dictate the result, as in “When did you quit beating your wife?” Trump is good at framing issues to his base (albeit via insult and belittlement) who apparently do not recognize (or even care) that they are being played for their vote. The next time you hear him insulting Mueller, Cummings, AOC, and anyone who holds a position adverse to his interests, take note that he is rarely discussing the issue presented but rather belittling those who are presenting it.

Given his mindset, I worry about the corollary logic; that his total lack of insult and belittlement of Russian and North Korean dictators suggest that their positions in world politics are his, but that he dare not say so, instead covering up with such lame covers as “I love Kim” and “I don’t see any reason why we can’t get along with Russia,” etc. I do, what with Kim’s discussion of how he is brewing atomic missiles that can reach all of America and with a Putin who is trying to destroy our democracy with his ongoing interference in our elections (which Trump told us didn’t happen as he took the word of Putin over that of our 17 intelligence agencies).

So are insult and belittlement or lack thereof proof of one’s honest views on whether our democracy should survive?  I can’t prove it. You be the judge, but as for me, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck – it’s a duck.      GERALD         E

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One Comment
  1. Niel Johnson permalink

    Jerry – You are

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