Pity poor Jeff Flake.
He never knew what hit him.
Neither did Bob Corker.
Both of them can now ‘speak openly’ because neither is running again. The polls are dead against them.
They join the unhappy ranks of Jeb Bush, John McCain, Marco Rubio, and a long list of conventional politicians who have been mowed down by Donald Trump, including Hillary Clinton, who wrote the book, “What Happened.’
Indeed, any of them might have authored a book with the same title.
What indeed happened?
How is it possible that, in the words of Jeff Flake, “Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is?”
Well, clearly Jeff Flake has not spent enough time watching TV.
Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior is the life blood of TV.
And, of course, Reality TV is where Donald Trump learned his trade.
A lot of people say that John F. Kennedy was the first ‘television President’.
That is not really true. JFK looked good on TV. And TV liked JFK. But JFK was not really a TV President, even if he appeared on TV. He didn’t live the medium.
Donald Trump lives the medium. He understands it. It is in his blood. In fact, he personifies television. And, if you want to get elected President of the United States (or to the Senate or to Congress), that’s a good thing.
Americans spend an astonishing 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. It is our number one activity as a nation.
We like to say that baseball is America’s pastime. But that is not true. Nobody spends 5 hours a day, every day, playing baseball. If we did, we would ALL be out there in LA in the World Series this week. But we don’t. What we do do, every day, for 5 hours a day, rain or shine, from the time we are about 3 years old until we are on our death beds is watch TV. It is in our blood. We are world class TV watchers. We are Olympic class TV watchers - (if TV watching were in the Olympics, America would take all the gold).
So all that TV watching, day after day, year after year gets in out blood. If effects the way we think; how we feel.
And what are we watching?
Well, it sure isn’t the PBS Newshour.
It’s shows that are made of reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior. Yes! Jeff Flake, TV critic called it right. That is what rates. That is what we love, whether it is The Amazing Race or Survivor or Fox News or Naked and Afraid. Gimme more of that reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior. (Walking Dead, anyone?)
Day after day, week after week, year after year.
And so, when a Presidential candidate comes along who absolutely personifies reckless, outrageous and undignified, what do we do?
Why, we vote for him!
Of course we do.
That’s what we have been conditioned to love and respect.
That is who we are.
Donald Trump has been in the making for forty years or more.
Reckless, outrageous, undignified. There is a straight line from top rated Jerry Springer to top rated Donald Trump.
It is who we are. It is who we want to watch.
Anyone tuning in to the Hillary Clinton show?
I don’t think so.
So, here’s the thing.
You remember the movie The Imitation Game?
You remember the part where the Alan Turing character says ‘you need a machine to beat a machine.?
You want to defeat Donald Trump in 2020? You aren’t going to do it with ‘policy’. You need a bigger, more obnoxious, more outrageous TV personality. Worse than Donald Trump.
Because that is what rates. That is what we respect now. That is, sadly, who we are.