Media’s Anti-Trump Obsession Could Backfire in 2020
Similar to the laws of physics, there are certain universal laws of politics. Unlike physics, a few may be suspended from time to time, but sooner or later they all play out in the real world.
One concerns how long a “hot candidate” can maintain mass appeal. Typically, even well known, popular leaders experience difficulty in sustaining long-term ratings. Think of FDR, Reagan and Obama for context — candidates who came into office with (or acquired) big expectations but left with decidedly pedestrian approval numbers. No surprise here. Executives make unavoidable decisions that invariably upset various constituencies. Universal approval is accordingly next to impossible to maintain.
To boot, the higher the original expectation, the higher the political downside. Recall George H. W. Bush’s rapid fall from 90 percent approval post-Iraq War to under 50 percent two years later.
The second law of political physics states that it is impossible to suck the air out of every 24-hour media cycle without exhausting your base. The law provides no exception for presidents, but to be fair, no chief executive has pushed the envelope more aggressively than the man who does not sleep, Donald J. Trump.
The underlying rationale for this rule: too much drama leads to too much exposure which leads to political exhaustion — a condition wherein even your most enthusiastic supporters grow weary of constant drama.
Today, GOP leaders are fearful of just such a phenomenon, given the frenetic nature of the Trump White House. Here, what is good for the 24/7 media may not be so good for the long term health of the administration. Alas, even enthusiastic partisans need to step back and catch their breath sometimes.
Granted, the wildly enthusiastic crowds at Trump campaign events appear anything but worn out. But elections are run outside of one’s base. A polarizing leader cannot afford to exhaust those all-important “leaners.”
Recall it is this group (made up of soft Republicans and moderate Democrats) that delivered Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the 2016 election. You can bet that the never-Trump media will continue to devote its energy to the “exhaustion” storyline as it serves to keep a prominent anti-Trump narrative alive.
This same media have (so far at least) neglected to report about its own exhaustion — or maybe it’s a mood disorder problem. I refer of course to the monumental letdown suffered by the never-Trump world in the aftermath of the long-anticipated Mueller report.
Talk about dashed expectations — a two year, non-stop broadside had the American left drooling in expectation — until the heretofore beloved Mueller concluded there was absolutely no evidence of collusion. Reports of dramatically reduced television ratings for the most prominent anti-Trump networks (CNN and MSNBC) were one immediate negative consequence of the letdown. But Mueller disappointment may not be the most important result of the 444-page report.
It is here where the other “leaners” come into focus; liberal-leaning Democrats who have little regard for the president but are not bomb-throwing partisans, either. Post-Mueller, they too suffered a dramatic letdown once they discovered there was no “there” there. For those of you of a certain age, they could very well have been the little old lady in the Wendy’s commercial who kept looking at competitor hamburgers and asking, “Where’s the beef?”
The Democrats’ biggest problem with this important voting block is not identity, but more like trustworthiness. Poor theater does not help the cause.
Then, a group of congressional Democrats read the Mueller report aloud in a Capital Hearing room (broadcast by C-Span) but, again, to little avail.
Even worse, last week’s widely panned dramatic reading of the Mueller report by certified Hollywood lefties in front of a friendly audience at Manhattan’s Riverside Church met a similar fate.
Now, Mueller himself will testify to … nothing new (as he had previously promised) on July 17. Seems no amount of revisionist post mortems concocted by House Democrats over the summer will resurrect their original enthusiasm.
Indeed, post-Mueller can-kicking may even serve to cool some anti-Trump passion. More than a few may conclude that the president is indeed both Teflon and maybe, just maybe, not as dangerous/inept as the media has posited him to be for the past four years.
Unseating an incumbent president is never an easy task. The Democrats have made it more difficult by desperately clinging to a narrative that is now largely disproved. Where is a certified Trump hater to turn?
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