I see signs of the media giving second thoughts to their obsession with Donald Trump. It must mean something that we cover him so much, reflect unreflective media types. It must mean he deserves it.
So good for him and let’s cover him some more. Political correspondent Patrick Healy, writing in the Sunday New York Times, called Trump a “scene stealer” folks will tune in Thursday’s Republican debate to see because they know he’ll “dominate the spotlight.” I might have said on another day that it’s the media’s spotlight and they decide where to aim it, but Healy wants us to believe Trump deserves every lumen he gets. Healy compares the Republican race for president to the new hip-hop musical hit Hamilton, with Trump being the candidate satisfying the audience’s hunger “for direct, colorful language.”
Trump speaks to Healy as a thoughtful authority on himself. “Do I get in trouble with some of the things I say? Maybe,” he says. “But you have to start a campaign by finding ways to get people to listen to you.”
Facebook just introduced me to Monday’s Jimmy Fallon sketch where President Obama (Dion Flynn) calls Trump (Fallon) and offers predebate advice. The sketch is sort of funny but it gets more toothless with each passing minute as Obama and Trump get on, compare notes on AutoTuning, and make music together. Its original twist—if there is one—isn’t how the sketch lays into Trump but how it doesn’t. He’s one of 17 declared Republican candidates for president, but he’s not one of 17 here; he’s the one who matters.
And on talkingpointsmemo.com, Josh Marshall calls Trump “crazy” but in the best possible way. He’s state-of-the-art: “Donald Trump has flooded the market with a new, purer brand of Crazy that has left the other candidates scrambling and basically unable to compete . . . . In the economics of Crazy, there is purity and volume. Trump has brought to market a purer and more widely deployable product.”
The first time I read that I thought I was reading “a more widely deplorable product . . .” I was wrong. I’d been conditioned by the media’s first-wave reaction to Trumphalism. But we’re on to the second wave. It’s a lot more respectful.