The US president went to Hurricane Harvey disaster area Texas and was widely criticized – and rightly so – for not meeting or expressing empathy with victims. The official take: He didn’t want to hinder rescue efforts and would return a few days later to connect with survivors.
Yet, the serious TV channels could not stop making fun of this callous insensitive president, who bragged about his crowd size and ignored any suffering, adding: what can you expect of him; this is who he is. They were right but left out that when confronted with disaster and hopeless people, Trump goes into all-will-be-fine mode. He forgets to feel for others’ bad feelings because he never allows himself to feel bad. His empathy shows in encouraging others.
However, President Trump returned to Texas (and Louisiana), without cap or necktie and behaved perfectly. But where are the serious TV reporting and commenting on it, praising him? Has this become a case of dog bites man, so of no importance? Or does this fall under the embargo against good news – a serious addiction of the free press? Or is it sour grapes: The serious reporters, presenters and commentators really hate Trump and therefore love to report stink about him while good news on him must be ignored? A five minute speech can be trashed for days and a five hour perfect visit barely warrants praise?
We see Trump in Texas in recordings of hours of life streaming doing exactly what he was told he should do. In the “KIDS ZONE” of a major shelter he lifts a Black girl, hugs and kisses her (on the mouth? – yuck – she walks away a bit ickied), chats with mothers (he listens and when he talks back, she nods), smiles at people, gives an impromptu press conference, makes a point of praising the media, talks to volunteers, hands out meals to survivors (comments that his hands are too big for the gloves – funny! He never wore gloves in his life and doesn’t know that they must be narrow; so he does have a thing with his small hands), gives reasonable (not too forceful) handshakes to people waiting in line for their ration, allows each of them to take a selfie with their smiling president and later talks at length with service personal.
His shelter speech was kind of embarrassing (obsessively complimenting and flattering – some people up to five times). But not for once he complimented himself. (He did stealthily plug veterans and how their situation is now much better thanks to new rules – and that he always thought that they could be improved.) His ad hoc speech with the Coast Guard (who he said saved 11,000 people – and they nodded) was better, warmer (except, he trashed others who supposedly would only risk their lives to save one life on condition that it’s a photo op).
Melania in tow was dressed as if she needed to go to a disaster area (tight dark trousers) and wore a cap with TEXAS on it.
I saw hundreds of survivors – mostly Blacks – and emergency responders who without exception were very enthusiastic to speak to their president. He was as unrushed as could be, attentively listening, beaming, responding, enjoying the experience. A popular president, close to his people!
At one moment, I saw a group of Blacks with raised hands who seemed to give the Nazi salute with their left hands. A counter demonstration of sorts? No, they were all lifting up their iPhones for taking pictures.
In other words: a perfect unscripted Trump performance of five hours or so – just what everyone had been demanding for days.
Surely some of it was just an act. But isn’t that what most politicians do all the time: perform? And, as I have pointed out time and again, he has a good heart for people he meets (and minutes later can order measures trashing their group – he doesn’t see the connection). He truly believes he’s not a bigot and his immoral policies are only to please his base and make money – and annoy the press to show them who’s the boss here.
Surely his oppressive policies are not going to be less bigoted. And he probably gained more supporters here than by any rally he ever held. (Plus: he will score big time if he can get the 7.85 billion aid package through Congress that his team has put together.) But in any case: for everyone who wanted a presidential Trump: here he was.
Meanwhile the serious reporters are busy with the Russia treason scandal, the Arpaio pardon scandal, looming obstruction of Justice prosecutions, Trump’s feuds with Congress, White House leaks and leavers, threats to DACA protection – you name it – and rightly so. But they become FAKE NEWS by excluding much reference to the powerful Trump Texas visit.
Whatever their reason was for this omission, they’d better shape up.
Their fine investigative reporting, critical following of leaders (essential for democracy) and good name are hurt by any resemblance of partiality. Trump is not OK when he calls their fine work: fake news. Yet, their good efforts need to be unbiased to make them really truthful without deliberate exclusions to boot.
We need impartial reporting, even with the US Christian dichotomy of mankind into two types: good and wicked. Trump is not evil, no matter how damages his policies are, and overstatements that he is, only prolong his reign by making workers believe him and not the media.
And the best take away from this may be that here we saw that sometimes Trump is susceptible to constructive criticism. Maybe massive criticism swayed his close friends and allies to talk him into changes (you can do it and it will help!); maybe he directly decided to improve. Anyway, this is one way to have influence on his presidency!