Monday, January 1, 2018

Trump, Twitter, and the Sifters of Information

When we think of empathy, it’s usually in the context of being able to understand what others are feeling and, thereby, to give comfort to others during emotionally painful situations.

But is there a singular word for the following similar concept?

You are able to put yourself into your ideological opponent’s shoes, think like he thinks, and in that way, defeat him.

Observing as President Trump uses Twitter to get the traditional media in a spin over the news of the day – or to set the tone for the news of the day – made me think of this. Donald Trump has been a media manipulator for decades, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that he has grabbed hold to the media vehicle of the moment and used it to his advantage.

And I’m not the first person to suspect that he uses it to direct attention away from things he wants done without press coverage.

The other day, I got to talking with two young men. Democrats. Black. They were appalled by Donald Trump, so I asked him what he had done that was so appalling. It was the things he says on his Twitter feed. I asked them how that affects us, our area, or our finances.

They pointed to Former President Obama’s contrasting personal and Twitter demeanor.

“So, President Obama speaks smoothly, kindly and looks the part. While President Trump is funny-looking, old, and blunt.” They agreed that this was the case.

“Tell me how President Obama’s demeanor helped any of us.” Temporary silence, then they admitted that it meant nothing, that things had actually gotten worse when the man who looked like us was president.

“You guys have been around, have you not? You’ve seen good-looking smooth-talkers who will rob you blind. That’s what President Obama did. He took our pride at having a black president and told us to sit down, shut up, and lie back while he screwed us!” Exhibit A was illegal immigration.

“And we shut up, too because he’s black.” Well, not me, of course but you get the idea.

I admit that I was unnerved by the president’s Twitter bluntness and candidate Trump’s nastiness during the campaign. But, he has opened a door to the presidency that can never be shut, nor should it be. Many -- like my friends -- lament that his post-inaugural missives are "un-presidential," but what does that even mean?

What is the definition of presidential behavior and who defines it? Speaking softly while you're directing your DOJ to investigate a reporter?

Looking suave while you're screwing over your base? Or one of your allies?

Many people want to be soft-soaped, but we get none of that from Donald Trump. He has pushed the media rudely aside while he speaks directly and plainly to the targets of his message(s) and, does it in a way to manipulate the attention of the former. It’s something he’s been doing for a very long time and I don’t know why we were all so surprised at his deft handling of the sifters of information.

The media will never forgive him for this, but I don’t think he cares. I certainly don’t. We bloggers have long been trying to do this ourselves.

But while we laugh as President Trump continually outsmarts our old enemies, we should keep the other eye on his concrete actions. He’s been doing very, very well as president, much better than I expected. But he’s still a man … and still our servant.

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning DaTechGuyBlog. Latest post: Obama and Iran’s Mullahs: A Love Story? (UPDATED)

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