We Have Met The Enemy …

… and it is us.

This is an OpEd written by former Nightline host and journalist, Ted Koppel, in The Washington Post yesterday.  His words ring true, predictive, and if so … we are our own worst enemy.  The “enemy of the people” may well be … the people.


ted-koppelOn July 21, 2016, just hours before he accepted the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump and I sat down for an interview. What he said on that occasion would serve as a remarkably candid foreshadowing of how Trump would handle his relationship with the media in what, on that day, seemed the unlikely event that he would actually become president.

“I don’t need you guys anymore,” Trump told me.

He pointed to his millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook, explaining that the days of television anchors and commentators acting as gatekeepers between newsmakers and the public were essentially over. Without discernible acrimony, Trump trotted out one of the early versions of what would eventually become a leitmotif of his presidency: The media was made up of largely terrible people trafficking in fake news. There was nothing personal in the observation. It was the unsheathing of a multipurpose device, one he used adroitly in tandem with the endlessly adaptable political vehicle provided by social media during the election campaign and now during his presidency.

Is there any reason to believe that what worked for Trump before he was elected and while in the White House won’t be equally effective after he leaves office?

There is a disarming innocence to the assumption that whether by impeachment, indictment or a cleansing electoral redo in 2020, President Trump will be exorcised from the White House and that thereby he and his base will largely revert to irrelevance.

It imagines that, for some reason, Trump in defeat or disgrace will become a quieter, humbler, more restrained presence on Twitter and Facebook than heretofore. It assumes further that CNN and Fox News and MSNBC, perhaps chastened by the consequences of their addictive coverage of Trump the Candidate and Trump the President, will resist the urge to pay similar attention to Trump the Exile.

Let the record show that Trump has launched the careers of numerous media stars and that expressions of indignant outrage on the left and breathless admiration on the right have resulted in large, entirely nonpartisan profits for the industry of journalism. Why anyone should assume that Trump and those who cherish or loathe him in the news business will easily surrender such a hugely symbiotic relationship is hard to understand.

It is all but inevitable that whoever succeeds Trump in the White House will be perceived by 30 to 40 percent of the voting public as illegitimate — and that the former president will enthusiastically encourage them in this perception. Whatever his failings, Trump is a brilliant self-promoter and provocateur. He showed no embarrassment, either as candidate or president, about using his high visibility to benefit his business interests. Untethered from any political responsibility whatsoever, he can be expected to capitalize fully on his new status as political martyr and leader of a new “resistance” that will make today’s look supine.

The dirty little secret about the United States’ relationship with Trump is that we have become addicted to him. His ups, his downs, his laughs, his frowns are (as the lovely song from “My Fair Lady” once put it in another context altogether) “second nature to [us] now, like breathing out and breathing in.”

When he fails to tweet for even a few hours, Trumpologists search for meaning in the silence. Hours are devoted on cable television, each and every day, to examining the entrails of his most recent utterances. Has there been a day in the past two years without a Trump-related story on the front page of every major U.S. newspaper? How does the president lie to us? Let us count the ways. And we do, endlessly, meticulously.

Do you believe for a moment that Americans are ready to give that up merely because, for one reason or another, Trump has been obliged to reoccupy Trump Tower full-time?

A President Pence would not satisfy that hunger. Nor, for now at least, is it easy to discern within the growing ranks of potential Democratic candidates a man or woman with a matching aura of glitz, a similar degree of shamelessness, a comparable pairing of so much to be humble about with a total lack of humility.

A new president may provide a sense of relief and normalcy. But he or she will not satisfy our craving for outrage. Trump’s detractors are outraged by him. His supporters are outraged with him. He is a national Rorschach test. Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. One way or another, Trump will be renewed for another season.

40 thoughts on “We Have Met The Enemy …

  1. I have no craving for outrage and ignore his face and voice to the best of my ability for my own health. I do read about him, but can only take so much. My goal is to support better representatives of reason who might be able to bridge the divide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you! My blog is mostly political, so you probably won’t enjoy it much, but … the exceptions are Monday mornings when I do “Jolly Monday” … completely non-political, just humour; Wednesday morning when I do “Good People Doing Good Things” which is intended to be a reminder that there are good people out there and restore our faith in humanity just a bit. I hope you’ll drop by sometimes for one of those two features! And welcome, by the way!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect he will do everything in his power to rile the masses and start a revolution among his base. I really wish he would just die a nice, peaceful death in his sleep and do everybody a favour. Now, lest you be thinking that I am a cruel woman who wishes death on people … I am not. I just think he needs to go, and he is, after all, rather ancient, and it would be the best thing for the 330 million people in the nation. Rather his civic duty, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

        • Many people over the past two years have believed that he would either get bored and step down, or feel the pressure and resign. I always said that no, he would never, for his ego is larger than the state of Texas! His ego will never let him walk away, admit that perhaps he was wrong about anything. That is why the current government shutdown is so dangerous … he has painted himself into a corner and cannot concede or even compromise without losing face, and THAT he is not willing to do. Sigh. An egomaniac … no, worse … a megalomaniac.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. This draft-dodging egotistical creature of no principals, no moral compass and monumental ignorance who lurks in the Whitehouse purely because of a quirk of the American voting system no longer deserves your attention.
    I would disagree on this one point. You are ignore him, because there is nothing more he would loathe than to be treated with the contempt he deserves.
    I would suggest the following:
    1. No more picture of the oaf, we all know what the fool looks like.
    2. No one need quote anyone which he spouts, it is toxic bile like the rantings of some loser in a bar.
    3. Rather than report an event as being his actions simply replace his name with ‘The present incumbent’ has the report it as third person actions without comment other than ‘I disagree’.
    This wretch thrives on attention because he doesn’t feel he can be touched. If he as a person is ignored and treated as an object, Nationwide it will really get under his skin.
    To repeat your contempt dished out in a cold and removed manner is all which he deserves.
    He would hate that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right, my friend, as is rawgod. To be ignored would be, I think, a fate worse than death in his mind, such as it is. And I shall try to follow your wise guidelines … I already rarely post a picture of him, and then I go in search of the most unflattering one I can find (they aren’t hard to find). But #3 may be the best advise ever! ‘the present incumbent’ … a few extra keystrokes, but well worth it! But now comes the real crux of the matter … how do we get the media to ignore him? We bloggers can, but how many of our blogs does he even know exist, let alone read? Probably zero. But it is the constant, 24/7 media attention that feeds his ego, and I don’t know how to convince them to stop! Any ideas?

      Liked by 1 person

      • If an ‘Ignore Trump’ movement picks up on social media then the national media will notice it, which in turn will spread the message and folk will get inventive on the subject.
        If I was still a wacky youngster I’d be thinking along the lines of ‘So what old man? You’ll be gone in a few years!’ or ‘Forget him. We can repair the damage after he’s gone,’….there are more vulgar alternatives. The idea is to remind the jerk in the scheme of history he is a big nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The idea is sound, in fact is spot on. But … trying to ignore Trump is like trying to ignore the flood water seeping up past your knees! ‘Bout like trying to ignore Thatcher, back in the day.

          But … my friend … I worry about you, for I can feel your recent angst across that big 4,000 mile pond. Find some soothing music? Go for a long walk with Sheila? Better yet, have a weekend getaway … just the two of you … walks, a trip to a bookstore, perhaps a movie, and a few nice dinners out. I worry ’bout you.

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          • Thanks Jill.
            But don’t worry about me I can once more slip in and out of these identities and each has a role to play. It’s a way of dealing with the stupidity we are witness to.
            Take the slob in the Whitehouse, from my castle perspective he is a quirk of history who will soon be gone and forgotten aside from historians. I know in the scheme of things he is a ‘nothing’. Just as Brexit is in the long history of these isles a painful passing episode, such as the Civil Wars of the 17th century. Life will go on.
            🌺 🌸 🌼 🌻 🌞
            l have to do another post on how a blend of religion and science works for me.

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  3. Forewarned is forearmed. Use this as a post on how to get over trumpitis, and the world will survive without him. Ignore this post, and what it bodes, and trumpo will never go away.
    Why do I think this? Two things: Karl Marx took a good look at the future, and foresaw the fall of capitalism, the stupidest thing he ever did. He showed the capitalists what they were heading for, and that it was inevitable. It would have been too, if Marx had not forewarned them. They took the word communist, and turned it into the devil in a god-fearing world. Even today, if you asked Americans and Europeans the scariest thing it the world, it would be communism. Not Trump! Communism. Not Satan! Communism. Not atheism! Communism! By showing the leaders the future, the capitalists made sure it was not inevitable.
    In 1970, a very popular book was published, written by a Yale professor of law, Charles A. Reich. In it he predicted a cultural revolution in the USA, the revolution of, the counter-culture, otherwise known as hippies. He said it would be the greatest event ever to happen in the USA. It would take no bloodshed, no great upheaval, just a continuation of search for personal identity and humanity.
    Just as Marx before him, Reich told the passing culture what was going to happen to them. But they took that message, and turned it around. The hippie movement was at a nexus, go forward and change the world, or fall apart and go nowhere. With help from the CIA, the FBI, and Wall St. they destroyed the counter-culture, and again, the world did not change.
    If we, the people, are ever going to learn from history, we have to learn to ignore the powerful, and not let on what the grass-roots are doing. This may sound silly to a lot of people, but it is just common sense. Learn to ignore trumplestiltskin, ignore his half-truths and lies, ignore his sweet whispers. But do it while praising him, so no one notices what you are doing. Surprise him, instead of letting him surprise you.

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  4. Perhaps the best thing for the press to do is stop covering Trump! A news blackout would be a welcome reprieve for TDS sufferers. We all need a break from him, honestly who the heck reads this madman’s tweets and why should it make the news???

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  5. Ted Koppel is a British gift to American broadcast journalism. He certainly provides insight to our less than better natures in this Op-Ed. One of the best books that I read back in late 2000, was his “Off Camera” and a few years ago his book “Lights Out”. I came across the following words in a magazine article about Koppel and tore them out because they struck me as so truth filled, but failed to retain the date. “One day most Americans will point at us in the news media and say…Why didn’t you tell us? Why did you encourage all that partisan bile and venom? Why did you feed us all that trivial crap, when so many terrible things were converging? And no one will be happy with the answer. Least of all those of us who offer it. ‘What we gave you’ we will say, ‘is what you wanted’.” Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • P.S. Please do not consider this a criticism, but merely an observation from one that observes much and does little…unlike yourself, an observer and a doer! I had hoped that being as you, like myself, are an ardent admirer of the much revered Martin Luther King, Jr. there might be a tribute on this his 90th birthday. A quote in his honor, an oft repeated but a favorite nonetheless : “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Thank-you!

      Liked by 2 people

      • P.P.S. Good Grief! It belatedly struck me that you are most likely waiting for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21st to do a tribute. If you could just overlook the previous comment on my comment and just “Like” the original comment, I would be most grateful and I’m already most contrite. Thank-you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • MLK is perhaps the man I most admire in the history of this nation, and if I have been remiss in noting his birthday, I am so very sorry! I shall make up for my perfidy next Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Please forgive … I am finding it all but impossible to be in so many places, covering so many bases, at one time. In the words of one of my favourite young men … Namaste.

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    • I always did like Koppel, as well as Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. I was disappointed to see Mike’s son, Chris, go to work at Fox, but admittedly he doesn’t always fall into line with the right-wing dogma.

      You have enlightened me again, for I was not aware of Koppel’s books, but will check them out now that I am! And yes, you/he make a valid point, and one that I have made before … the media gives the public what it wants. “If it bleeds, it leads”.

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  6. Shout moan, groan, tweet. Whatever Trump decides to do will be loud and most probably frequent. But whatever it i will be from the position as ex-President. And though some of them retain some popularity they are soon forgotten as there is a New President to concentrate on, to cheer or to moan about but the mantle will have changed.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh … true, but … his shouts, moans, groans and tweets may well keep this nation divided, keep it from healing as it needs to. He could wreak havoc with naught but a tweet. Now, if his tweets, shouts and moans go unheeded by the press, if we never have to hear them, then he will eventually sit down and shut up, for it is attention above all else that he craves. But, the media are his slaves, ‘twould seem, and we will wake up to his obnoxious voice and ugly mug on our computer screens and televisions for years to come. The right wingers will thrive on it, and the rest of us will simply slither into our rabbit holes and die. Sorry … feeling a bit morbid tonight. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Koppel makes a good point, but I hope he is wrong about this.

    What gives me some hope, is that the political right is a minority. They win elections because many people don’t bother to vote. Those non-voters have thought that it doesn’t matter who wins, so why bother.

    My hope is that, with Trump, they have learned the hard way that it really does matter who wins. So they are more likely to vote in future elections — at least for the next few years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would also hope he is wrong, but at the same time, I strongly suspect he is right, unless by some miracle Trump dies before too much longer (fingers crossed).

      Yes, the political right is a minority, but they were a minority in 2016 when the electoral college handed over the Oval Office to Donald Trump. And they are a far more vocal, more radical minority than the majority. That said, I think that two things need to happen. Well, several actually, but two very obvious ones. First, the Democratic Party needs to come up with a viable candidate, one who cannot be seriously trashed by the GOP playing dirty pool. Second, we need to start immediately convincing people that their vote DOES matter, that the MUST get out and vote, that the future of our nation depends on their vote! We cannot take for granted that the apathetic, those who didn’t bother to vote in 2016, have seen the light … I think that we still need to convince them … use it or lose it!

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  8. Jill, if it is an addiction, it is one I would break in a heartbeat. I want a boring, competent President who does something crazy like tell the truth more than he or she does not.

    As for his post-Presidency platform, I expect a lot of arm-chair quaterbacking, especially as we re-embrace civility and global responsibility. Yet, if he leaves in shame, he may have fewer followers. I look forward to a non-President Trump. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was thinking the same. Remember when Obama was president? Sometimes we could go for days without even seeing him on our favourite websites or on the news. Even after Bill Clinton was impeached, he wasn’t the headline of every news story every day! In fact, since he went on and did his job, brought the deficit down, balanced the budget, he really got relatively little attention after the buzz of the impeachment died down. Like you, I am ready to be done with the ugliest man in the world, but … I don’t think we will be, not for a very long time. Sigh. 😥

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