Monday, February 11, 2019

Emperor's new clothes

Anyone functionally capable of enjoying my posts enough to actually read them is fully aware, all on their own, by the simple nature of comprehension, that the President of the United States is unwholesome. He is deficient in wisdom. He is disingenuous. 

Oh, dash it all, he's an idiot!

And I don't mean this in the charged up way that I might have said Reagan, or George W. Bush was an idiot. I don't mean this in the emotive, frustrated, our-political-system-is-broken way it is commonly spoken. I don't mean it complexly. At least not here. I mean it matter of factly, in the same way that the Earth is round. That the Beatles wrote catchy tunes. The Godfather was a well made movie. Maple syrup is tasty. Rainbows are colorful. I mean it as a point of fact, unadorned. The way myself, the Editor of The New York Times, and Mitch McConnell all mean that Trump is an idiot is wildly variant, and how freely we express it is equally diverse, but the basic, raw fact of it is bluntly shared. Of this I have no doubt.

Why do I have no doubt? 

Because it's true. Some things simply are. These are the elements we agree on so that we have the building blocks to discuss more subtle things. If I keep having to explain that the color of a cloudless sky in the afternoon is blue, basic discussion breaks down.

And this is the problem. This is where reporting and public discourse fall apart: How, day to day, does a nation discuss a President who is an idiot?

At work today someone casually mentioned something about political correctness and, as it ever does, it rankled me. Its meaning has been stolen to express some sort of idea that one can no longer say slightly racist, or sexist, or homophobic things without people thinking it means one is a little racist, sexist, or homophobic. But the true expression of political correctness is in how a random reporter for The New York Times, for instance, cannot say, or operate from the assumption, that Donald Trump, who is an idiot, is an idiot. This has a warping effect on the discourse. It alters the plainest of reporting. It sucks the air out of any information anyone is trying to convey, making the simplest things twisted and complex. It's a constant, intentional stripping of context.

Donald Trump is not an uncommon type of character, though elevated to wealth and the Presidency he seems to be. At the library I work at I deal with people like him regularly. They are bombastic, terribly sad, broken, a little funny, heartbreaking, stupid, and so absorbed in their own self interest they easily lose rationality and common sense. In the context of my job I like these people. Someone has to. But I suffer them. And I nurse them along. And they have no real power over me or anyone else in the library. But I do not forget who they are. I do not look away from their relentless delusion in their own favor to try to find something more complex. I don't have to. But if some newspaper suddenly felt they had to spend two years writing thousands of articles about them that very attention would twist the plainness of their tragedy. How many times can one say the sky is blue without going a little mad.

We've gone a little mad.

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