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August 23rd, 2017

Insight

Adoration and glassy-eyed wonder not unique to Trump supporters

John Kass

By John Kass

Published August 27, 2015

Adoration and glassy-eyed wonder not unique to Trump supporters

Why are so many journalists -- particularly liberal journalists -- mocking the true believers of Donald Trump?

Because it's just so darn easy, that's why.

It's much safer to ridicule Trump supporters than dare question Planned Parenthood's gruesome and tax-subsidized baby organ harvests.

It's much easier to do a Trump-said-something-crazy story than question Hillary Clinton for compromising national security by using a private email server.

And it's less risky to mock Trumpians for their nativist ways rather than question the racism inherent in the angry all-lives-don't-really-matter crowd.

Daring to question Planned Parenthood or Hillary Clinton's lies or racial hashtag dog whistles can lead to frosty looks in the newsroom. And who wants frost at the end of summer?

I'm no fan of Donald Trump, leading in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination. He's a betrayer, though his fans don't know it yet. And he can't be elected president with his high negatives with women voters.

He's also a pretend conservative Republican (actually more of a Democrat) who promises, in Big Government fashion, to wield the federal hammer and impose his Trumpian will upon the republic.

But his basic populist appeal is this:

He knows American politicians are corrupt because he's bought dozens of his own and says so.

And he vows to kick the High Priests of Political Correctness -- meaning journalists -- in the private areas until they cry.

So it's no wonder that self-censoring journalists (including the handmaiden scribes of the establishment GOP) have animosity toward this wild and wealthy populist with the bad hair.

This animosity is often expressed by mocking the people who flock to hear him, since ridicule is our one stable currency.

Trump is always good for a crazy sound bite, and he just started another vulgar Twitter war with Megyn Kelly, the warrior priestess of Fox News.

And rather than shy away and hide from social media shaming, his Trumpians throng to his populist rage as they did by filling that football stadium in Alabama.

So what is it about them that drives liberal pundits mad?

Perhaps it's that they're so darn wiggly with excitement at Trump's approach. Their eyes become glassy with adoration. Their mouths open in wonder. They've given up their hearts and minds to him, and they will be betrayed.

So they're mocked for fools, and the Twitterverse is turgid with snark against them, as if they're children shy of the age of reason or some vanguard of the new Idiocracy.

But as they're mocked, I wonder if the mockers can remember just a few years ago.

Because I've witnessed the same exact Trumpian phenomenon in another distinct group.

These weren't desperate Americans susceptible to populist appeals. They weren't black and white blue-collar workers displaced and feeling as if they'll be jobless forever. They weren't the people of border states overwhelmed with illegal immigration and told their concerns were based in racism alone.

The people I'm talking about -- who acted exactly as the Trump supporters now being mocked -- would consider themselves superior and educated and thoughtful and inoculated against populism.

But there was that same adoration, the identical enraptured crowds, the same wiggly eagerness you find in excited puppies, and it's a safe bet that a few carpets were soiled. By whom?

Journalists, when Barack Obama drew near.

I saw it with my own eyes: journalists in love, liberals of course, with the same open-mouthed, glassy-eyed wonder of children listening to "The Neverending Story" at bedtime after warm milk, or Trump in a football stadium.

Mocking the crowds wasn't a staple when Obama stood before those Greek columns as some kind of philosopher king at the 2008 Democratic convention.

And there wasn't much mocking of crowds when candidate Obama -- having clinched the Democratic nomination for president -- raised his hands like a messiah to shout:

"This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal!"

"This was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth!"

One war may have ended, but if George W. Bush destabilized the Middle East with his war on Iraq, the region is in complete chaos now under Obama. ISIS lops off heads without a vigorous response from the White House, and Iran reaches toward nuclear weapons.

Our nation isn't exactly secure, with porous borders that Democrats and establishment big corporate Republicans are unwilling to address.

And those who suggest an answer might be found in the use of computer technology like the E-Verify system to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers, and a fence at the southern border, are denounced as a racist.

The unemployment numbers look good, until you realize that many have given up looking for work and are uncounted by the Department of Labor.

So they're angry and frightened. And Trump shouts that he has the answers.

Americans have long been teased by elite demagogues playing the populist card, appealing to wide mood swings in the electorate in their bid for power.

But mocking the people thirsting for populist appeals isn't a contemplation of the future of the republic.

Mocking isn't understanding the nature of things or the hearts of the Americans who feel betrayed by their leaders.

It's just mocking.

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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.

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