It’s Friday, February 17, 2017.
It was on this date in 1963 that Michael Jordan and Larry the Cable Guy were born. Go figure.
OK, so here’s why I’m not as shell-shocked as many of you from Trump’s train wreck of a news conference yesterday.
I didn’t watch it.
Yes, that seems wrong for a journalism professor. But I was in the process of heading to that job and I missed it.
I sure as hell heard about it.
I own an Apple Watch – a cherished gift from the woman I love – and it practically buzzed itself off my wrist as I held the steering wheel.
One text that came across said Trump made Sarah Palin look like a stateswoman of the world.
I, of course, have read a lot about what transpired yesterday. It sounds scary. For anchors at CNN and even Fox to use words such as “unhinged” is not something traditionally ascribed to the world’s most powerful person.
So, instead of analyzing Trump’s comments, because I didn’t see them in real time, I just have two questions:
1. Why would he do this?
People talk a lot about the jujitsu of Trump. It goes something like this: Anytime you think there’s something so amazingly negative about him, he somehow survives and maybe even flourishes.
In that way, he’s like a virus. If an antibiotic isn’t strong enough to kill it all, the virus mutates and becomes resistant.
If there’s any analogy that fits Trump, it’s that he’s a virus.
The killer antibiotic that didn’t work was the Access Hollywood tape. Trump was on the defensive for a day at most, and then went on the attack. He survived and won.
If that didn’t finish him off, what else could? Even the idea that he’s Russia’s choice and in Vladimir Putin’s pocket seem to have become another way for the virus to become more resistant.
So a news conference in which he looks certifiably insane doesn’t really faze Trump much. It’s like batting practice to keep the resistance to antibiotics strong.
And it has the added bonus of feeding his constant need for attention.
How many times have we gone two days without hearing from or about Trump since the summer of 2015 when he started running? His need for attention doesn’t even take holidays off.
What rational people saw yesterday was an ignorant, self-obsessed spoiled rich kid with way too much power was what Trump viewed as playtime.
And despite the record low approval ratings for the start of his presidency, he’s still got his loyal rooters – the 40% of this country that thinks he’s doing a good job.
2. What will it take to get his supporters to see the light?
No, it won’t be yesterday’s news conference.
The antibiotic analogy works here, too. They’ve seen so many things that would normally crush belief in a politician – and their faith just gets stronger.
So when you and I and people we think are rational see a lunatic, there are people – especially in my neighborhood – who see a guy giving it to the forces that diminish their lives.
Democrats. Immigrants. Blacks. The media. Environmentalists. Educators.
That’s a fair list – not totally inclusive, but you get the idea.
As long as Trump is seen by these people as riding roughshod over their perceived bad guys, they’re happy as hell.
Which brings me back to the question – what will it take to wrest them away?
One way is going to be economic dislocation.
There are people who believe this economy is terrible. They are dead wrong. They seem to have forgotten what a bad economy is.
It’s double-digit inflation percentages, not the current 2.5% annual rate – which itself is a spike from recent years but still reasonable. It’s double-digit unemployment percentages, not the current 4.8%. It’s a loss of confidence in our country as the worldwide driver.
It’s going to start from overseas. A decline in demand for U.S. products, in some cases just out of spite. If Europeans stop buying Coca-Cola and McDonald’s because they hate Trump, that begins the snowball running downhill.
Who with money to spend is going to visit this country if there’s all this turmoil and hassle? Is that how you want to spend your vacation?
Couple that with the impact making immigrants – legal or otherwise – too terrified to go to work, and you have more economic problems.
When Trump’s lunacy affects Americans’ wallets, that’s when his message might start to go sour.
The other way Trump could be taken down is when he finally reveals his true contempt for the masses who admire him.
This guy has sold the Brooklyn Bridge to people who believe that he’s a great businessman who help make them rich, too.
And yet, every freakin’ proposal he’s made so far is aimed at helping those who already have as opposed to those who barely have or don’t have at all.
At some point, what he and the Republicans are proposing for such things as health care, tax reform, trade and the environment are going to crush the people who voted for him.
And he will reveal that contempt. It will come at an unguarded moment. Or when he’s tired. Or when he’s pissed off enough. Or when he believes that he’s become so immune to the brickbats of his critics that he doesn’t think there’s anything he can say or do that can affect him.
That’s when vainglory will bite Trump in his ample rear end.
I still have to believe that moment is coming. Because yesterday’s news conference wasn’t quite it. Yet.