Thursday

October 18th, 2018

Insight

The derangement virus stalks the land

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published August 3,2018

 The derangement virus stalks the land

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) rarely kills, but it wounds, and it might be fatal to the Democratic crusade to take back the House.


That struggle is just beginning, and one Democratic pollster says Democrats, despite their successful run on Fort Knox to build an abundant campaign war chest, feel more "exhausted" by the current news cycle than Republicans do.


"That doesn't mean they're not going to show up to vote, Margie Omero of GBA Strategies, tells the Hill, the Capitol Hill political daily. "It just means they feel kind of weary by the news because it's so troubling. People need to give themselves a little space from the news."


No doubt, but this is not the time for Nancy Pelosi's foot soldiers and Chuck Schumer's bomb-throwers to go over the hill. Mzz Omero cites a GBS poll suggesting that 62 percent of Democrats say they're fagged-out by all the politics, and that's twice as many as exhausted Republicans. "Even in focus groups, swing voters typically say, ‘I don't know, this is just too much news.' So it's something that's pretty unifying."


If so, that's more bad news for the bomb-throwers. "Unifying" is nice, but who are the unified? A new poll by Rasmussen finds that President Trump's favorability rating has surged to 50-50, and this is 5 points better than Barack Obama polled at this point in his first term.


The president has had a very bad, awful, terrible fortnight, as measured by the news. Nothing but negative stuff, which in a news cycle on any other planet would spell gloom and doom for a president. But the Donald just keeps on truckin'.


The oddest people feel on the run. The press briefing at the White House Thursday threatened to become a riot. Jim Acosta's coiffure almost caught fire. The CNN correspondent was so upset by a testy exchange with Sarah Sanders, the president's press secretary, that he walked out of the briefing, perhaps to find a bottle of Midol in the ladies lounge. He wanted Mzz Sanders to say, right out loud, that the press is not the enemy of the people and that "the people gathered in this room right now [are] doing their jobs every day and are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that."


Mzz Sanders answered with a lecture. "The media has attacked me repeatedly When I was hosted by the correspondents' association you brought in a comedian to attack me. As far as I know I'm the first press secretary in the history of the United States who has required Secret Service protection. The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration. We have a role to play, the media has a role to play."


But Mr. Acosta wanted a pat on the head, a lollipop, or maybe someone to tickle his tummy. "You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that ‘the press is not the enemy of the people'," he said. "Are we to take it from what you just said, we all get put through the wringer, we all get put through the meat grinder in this town, and you're not an exception. I'm sorry that happened to you. I wish that did not happen.


"But for the sake of this room, for the people in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you are saying, and the White House for the United States of America, ‘the president of the United States should not refer to us as enemy of the people?' His own daughter acknowledges that and all I'm asking is you acknowledge that right here and right now."


But despite those waiting people around the world — camel drivers in Pakistan, bankers in London, sous chefs in Paris and easy riders in Memphis — Mzz Sanders wisely declined to get into a family feud at the White House.


These are unhappy days in the journalism trade. The New York Times is "standing by," at least for now, a newly recruited young reporter of the Asian persuasion whose discovered tweets reveal a proud racist who wants to eradicate white men once and for all. The newspaper says it was satire and though the newspaper doesn't condone the sentiment, it "is confident that she will be an important voice moving forward."


Once upon a time, and not so long ago, a sob and a whine for mercy in any press room would have been hissed, booed and shouted down by the embarrassed gentlemen of the press, including a few ladies as tough as muleskinners. Jim Acosta's performance would have embarrassed Helen Thomas. They weren't all giants in that ancient day, but they were grown-ups.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times. His column has appeared in JWR since March, 2000.

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