"The Daily Show's" satirical Trump Twitter Museum, set up as temporary pop-up inside Union Station's newly renovated Burlington Room, pokes fun at the president. Oct. 19, 2017. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune)
President Donald J. Trump has proved that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
While most of us believe that by pointing out the errors of his ways we are somehow weakening his authority, he has proven to the world that all this publicity keeps him at the center of everything — and he loves it. While most of us are offended and/or bewildered by his crazy thought pattern, he loves the attention and free publicity he generates; all the while the free publicity helps him to get his message out to his base, and they love him all the more. He commands our attention and he gets it, and with attention, he gets power.
I am in total agreement with The Baltimore Sun’s recent editorial, “Trump trolls his own Justice Department — again” (Jan. 2), detailing how President Trump uses his tweets to deflect attention from his own wrongs by unleashing an attack his on enemies. I agree that he is wrong and dangerous when he suggests possible nefarious intentions of his former political foes, and I wish he would stop it. Yet, I can’t help feel that by dedicating all of this attention to “a few dozen words on Twitter,” he has already won. He has deflected our attention from other issues.
This is how he won the primaries and the election. He drew all the attention to himself by consistently making outlandish claims that the press seized upon. He managed to keep the focus on himself instead of the issues that we should have been talking about. We kept thinking that no one as crazy as him could ever get elected — and we kept talking about the weird stuff he said and did. Yet he proved to us that in the end that the polls don’t really matter but ratings do. The more the press paid attention to him and his crazy claims the more he won. Nothing has changed.
If he were a high school boy behaving badly, we would hope that his parents and those in authority would punish him for lying and other childish behaviors by taking away some privilege. Alas, as he is now president, the time and opportunity to do that has long since passed and there are few who have the ability to correct him, and therein lies the problem. Maybe the special counsel will dig up something that will convince a few good people to take away some privileges. We’ll see.
Another way to deal with an obnoxious high schooler is to ignore them. Once when I was teaching, I moved the trouble-maker from the front of the classroom to the back of the classroom where the other kids couldn’t see him as easily. He didn’t like the move and became less animated when he realized he didn’t have the attention of the other students.
I know it is hard to ignore someone who has his finger on the nuclear button, but can we as a society learn to ignore the ignorant chatter that this president likes to spew out? Can we discern the difference between real news and attention-getting headlines, reporting on the former and ignoring the latter? I don’t know, but maybe the survival of our society hinges on the answer.