In choosing his cabinet, the God-King-elect wants “the look.” Welcome to ‘Government’ as Reality TV. (More)
“It’s more about the look and the demeanor and the swagger”
Donald Trump believes that those who aspire to the most visible spots in his administration should not just be able to do the job, but also look the part.
Given Trump’s own background as a master brander and showman who ran beauty pageants as a sideline, it was probably inevitable that he would be looking beyond their résumés for a certain aesthetic in his supporting players.
“Presentation is very important because you’re representing America not only on the national stage but also the international stage, depending on the position,” said Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller.
To lead the Pentagon, Trump chose a rugged combat general, whom he compares to a historic one. At the United Nations, his ambassador will be a poised and elegant Indian American with a compelling immigrant backstory. As secretary of state, Trump tapped a neophyte to international diplomacy, but one whose silvery hair and boardroom bearing project authority.
Note the words: “rugged,” “compelling,” “authority.” Our God-King-elect has run his business empire through bombast and brute force, and he wants the same from his appointees:
“He likes people who present themselves very well, and he’s very impressed when somebody has a background of being good on television because he thinks it’s a very important medium for public policy,” said Chris Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a longtime friend of Trump. “Don’t forget, he’s a showbiz guy. He was at the pinnacle of showbiz, and he thinks about showbiz. He sees this as a business that relates to the public.”
“The look might not necessarily be somebody who should be on the cover of GQ magazine or Vanity Fair,” Ruddy said. “It’s more about the look and the demeanor and the swagger.”
Again the words: “the swagger.”
“Hard-charging determination to bend others’ wills”
Consider that the God-King-elect’s choice for Secretary of State – the one whose “silvery hair and boardroom bearing project authority” – is renowned for his intimidating tantrums:
Twenty years ago, as Rex W. Tillerson was rising through the ranks at Exxon, he was charged with negotiating with the government of Yemen to build a natural gas export plant. The talks got bogged down over Yemen’s insistence that it have veto power over important business decisions.
Mr. Tillerson, at one point, flew into a rage, throwing a five-inch-thick book across the room and storming out, perhaps for dramatic effect. Yemeni negotiators and other representatives of other oil companies partnering with Exxon in the international consortium looked on in bewilderment.
In the end, Yemen got at least some of its demands. But that kind of hard-charging determination to bend others’ wills could be exactly what President-elect Donald J. Trump is looking for in a secretary of state.
Coz this is what real diplomacy looks like:
“After meeting with Trump, Boeing CEO relents”
“But no one will stand for that,” I hear you thinking. “The media will eat Trump for lunch if he and his people behave that way.”
“Cancel [the] order!” Donald Trump, the incoming president of the United States, tweeted ominously about a contract with Boeing to build Air Force One, the state-of-the-art airplanes he and future presidents will rely on.
It took a matter of hours for Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg to get on the phone with the president-elect and smooth things over. On Wednesday, two weeks after the kerfuffle, he made his way south to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to meet face to face.
Trump had slapped a $4 billion price tag on the program to build two more of the next generation of planes and he had pronounced it a waste.
But after his meeting with Trump on Wednesday, Muilenburg faced the media, hat in hand, so to speak.
“We’re all focused on the same thing here, we’re going to make sure that we give our war fighters the best capability in the world and that we do it in a way that is affordable for our taxpayers,” Muilenburg said. “And his business head set around that is excellent. It was a terrific conversation. Got a lot of respect for him. He’s a good man. And he’s doing the right thing.”
As for that $4 billion price tag, Muilenburg promised taxpayers would get a break – though by the time the contract is finished and the planes are flying, Trump is not likely to be still in office.
“We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens,” he said. “And I was able to give the president-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company.”
That’s the Washington Post celebrating … exactly nothing, as No More Mister Nice Blog’s Steve M explains:
So let’s sum up: No one at Boeing ever said the cost would be $4 billion. The budget is $2.7 billion. Experts have persuaded PolitiFact that the cost will be just under $4 billion. And Muilenberg has promised that the cost will be … under $4 billion.
So for all we know, Muilenberg’s promise is merely to deliver the plane for about what it was always expected to cost. What’s more, all we (and the president-elect) have is his word. There’s nothing binding.
But the media loves this narrative: Trump tweets and large corporations tremble! With 140-character bursts of rage, Hero Trump rescues jobs and saves taxpayers billions! The problem is, there’s exactly zero evidence that Trump saved us a dime in the case of Boeing.
But hey, Washington Post, you just print the legend if that’s what makes you happy.
Or “if that’s what preserves your White House access and stops the God-King-elect from siccing the IRS on your owner.”
“I want to make sure there’s legitimate education going on”
Okay, it’s only the God-King-elect and his immediate cronies, right? Wrong:
Turning up the heat on the long-smoldering relationship between state lawmakers and the University of Wisconsin System, leading Republicans are threatening to pull any hope of more state funding unless a new course at UW-Madison called “The Problem of Whiteness” is canceled.
Further, one of the lawmakers, Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville, on Wednesday told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he has directed his staff to scour other university course offerings to make sure “they’re legit.” And while stressing he doesn’t want to manage the university, Murphy also said he wants the professor teaching “The Problem of Whiteness” course dismissed.
Asked what he and his staff would be looking for in courses, Murphy said they would not need to look at disciplines like chemistry or business, but “we’ll be looking at the humanities. I realize college is a place to discuss ideas that aren’t necessarily everybody’s idea of how things ought to be, but I want to make sure there’s legitimate education going on.”
For the record, that course discusses how whiteness has been socially constructed, and how it walled off from discussions of “race”:
One student who signed up for the course, freshman Erik Franze of Waukesha, said he was intrigued by the title, so he dropped another class to take it.
Franze listened to a guest lecture by Sajnani this fall. The professor has dreadlocks that touch the ground, is a hip-hop artist and “is not your average, boring lecturer,” said Franze, who is majoring in international studies and Spanish.
“White people forget we have a race, too – that issues of race aren’t only for minority people,” Franze said. Opposition “comes from discomfort people have with the idea of critically examining the biases white people have, consciously or subconsciously.”
While the government has a certain responsibility for public universities, as Murphy suggested, “there still should be a separation,” Franze said. Murphy calling for the class to be dropped “steps too far into the university.”
Yeah, well, “should be” doesn’t change the fact that the GOP dominates the Wisconsin legislature. That’s called “power,” and Republicans aren’t shy about using it to stomp out ideas they don’t like. And while it’s true that a federal court overturned Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies after a trial this summer, but columnists are still howling and this week Bill O’Reilly defended the Electoral College as the protector of the “white establishment””
In Tuesday’s broadcast, O’Reilly was specifically arguing that places in which fewer people live should have disproportionate political power so that presidential candidates are forced to campaign in those places in order to win. In other words, he’s suggesting that the power of the popular vote should be muted to give more power to the minority of Americans who live outside of cities. Eighty percent of the country lives in an urban area and those who live in rural areas are disproportionately white. O’Reilly is suggesting that those rural voters deserve a special privilege – more weighted electoral votes – and he’s reinforcing that argument by pointing out that it will benefit whites. Privilege for whites. White privilege.
Another way to frame O’Reilly’s central premise is this: In the face of a diversifying American population, should protections be maintained that continue to support the political dominance of white people? A lot of white people, including O’Reilly, would say yes.
But white privilege is a myth, right?
And anyway, that’s just in Wisconsin. It’s not like Republicans plan to weaponize the First Amendment to allow discrimination against LGBTs….
“What’s shocking to me is how quickly and decisively the world bought it”
Thus we return to the God-King-elect and his ability to declare reality to be whatever he says it is. Turns out all those years hosting The Apprentice were a warm-up act, according to one of the show’s producers:
There’s a larger issue at hand: non-fiction or “reality” television has obviously become a huge force in shaping the minds of the populace. The Apprentice contributed to that. People lapped up what the producers were putting out, and the danger became real as news directors, desperate to compete with ratings, started putting music under soft news stories. Facebook started pushing altogether fake news. Opinions on Twitter became truths over lies. People were prone to clickbait no matter how salacious or factually questionable it was, and the entire journalism world turned on its head.
At the very same time, some clever producers were putting forth a manufactured story about a billionaire whose empire was, in actuality, crumbling at the very same time he took the job, the salary, and ownership rights to do a reality show. The Apprentice was a scam put forth to the public in exchange for ratings. We were “entertaining,” and the story about Donald Trump and his stature fell into some bizarre public record as “truth.” This is nothing new, and the impact it’s having on the history of the world is best depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Network, a satire.
So it’s more than just about lewd, lascivious behavior, and narcissism on set. It’s about a complex global system that uses the media to construct its allies and to sway the populace to move like lemmings toward the ballot box. We are masterful storytellers and we did our job well. What’s shocking to me is how quickly and decisively the world bought it. Did we think this clown, this buffoon with the funny hair, would ever become a world leader? Not once. Ever. Would he and his bombastic nature dominate in prime-time TV? We hoped so. Now that the lines of fiction and reality have blurred to the horrifying extent that they have, those involved in the media must have their day of reckoning.
Well, “their day of reckoning” has begun and, if the Washington Post story about Boeing is a clue, the media have reckoned that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
It’s not just that story, and it’s not just the Post. It’s the endless laments on the plight of working class white men, and phony studies that claim to prove women and people of color are taking white men’s jobs, and of course media outlets’ frantic search for pro-Trump writers.
So yes, a “day of reckoning” is at hand … for anyone who doesn’t like “swagger” and tantrum diplomacy and political suppression of college courses and the rest of the looming ‘Government’ reality TV show. They – including we – are about to get a harsh lesson in the efficacy of rule by brute force.
But hey, keep whining that Hillary Clinton was a “flawed candidate” and fantasizing that Bernie Sanders would’ve won in a landslide. Reality TV delusions aren’t just for Republicans….
Photo Credit: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)
Good day and good nuts.