Summary: Every week Campaign 2016 becomes more obviously Circus 2016, as the latest smear of Trump shows. We must understanding how and why this happened in order to retake the reins of America. Ratings are one reason, the needs of the 1% is another. The second is obvious, the latter is hidden.
A new smear: Howard Stern interviews Trump
Here is a fine example of clickbait journalism in the service of Clinton, from the “objectively pro-Trump” media: “Trump Admits He Found 12-Year-Old Paris Hilton Attractive” by Alana Horowitz Satlin (editor) at the Huffington Post. Congratulations are due to the Huffington Post’s attorneys. It is skillfully written. Here is the text that Alana finds so awful.
Trump: “Now, somebody who a lot of people don’t give credit to but in actuality is really beautiful is Paris Hilton. I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she’s 12, her parents are friends of mine, and the first time I saw her she walked into the room and I said, ‘Who the hell is that?’”
Stern: “Did you want to bang her?”
Trump: “Well, at 12, I wasn’t interested. I’ve never been into that. I’ve always stuck at that 25 category.”
Stern: “But even at 12 you…”
Trump: “I saw her at 12, she was beautiful. Honestly, Paris gets knocked at a lot, but she is very beautiful.”
Satlin also mentions that Trump “admitted that he had watched her sex tape.” As had millions of other Americans. This was picked up by the liberal echo chamber, such as in People and at Mediaite (“a trusted source on the intersection of politics and media”).
This follows a major theme of the Clinton campaign. There were the widespread stories that Trump has a perverted attraction to Ivanka (see the details of that smear). This use of smears is a signal Clinton move, as when their apparatchik Sidney Blumenthal spread rumors that Monika Lewinsky was “a ‘stalker’ and that the President was ‘the victim’ of a predatory and unstable sexually demanding young woman“.
These smears are not Clinton’s only attempt to convert Campaign 2016 in to Circus 2016 (aiding Trump’s efforts). There was the well-conceived and executed trap set at the debate about Alicia Machado (Miss Universe 1996).
It’s important that we not see issues
Populism powered Trump’s ascent to the GOP nomination. He has since lost that focus, probably due to his indiscipline and political incompetence. Why has Team Hillary focused on Trump’s appearance, outrageous soundbites (e.g., about Alicia Machado and Khizr Khan), his character (e.g., racist, sexist), outrageous smears (e.g., fascist, Hitler, NAZI, pervert), and anything but the great issues of our day?
Clinton prefers to ignore issues because she is smart. Trump is the champion of populism — opposition to massive immigration, unfair trade practices (e.g., the Trans-Pacific Partnership), our futile foreign interventions, and the rapacious mega-banks. Trump has the popular side of these issues, some of which also powered Sanders’ astonishingly successful insurgency (populist and progressive issues overlap, as Molly Ball at The Atlantic described). Clinton is poorly positioned to respond to these, given her fervent support from Wall Street bankers and neocon warmongers (plus the liberal “Responsibility To Protect” warmongers).
That’s not to say that Clinton lacks powerful issues. But the 1% relies on passive, emotional, alienated “citizens”. Engaging them on issues would be self-defeated (much as arming the slaves would have been for the Confederacy). Circus 2016 better suits the 1% — both its Democratic and Republican factions — than would any Campaign 2016.
Circus 2016 requires complicity by another group of Americans. Us. We enjoy the Circus too much to protest the trivia-fest fed us by both campaigns and journalists (including the mindless debates and trivial pursuit fact-checking). We could express revulsion and demand that the candidates debate the issues. America is ours, not theirs. Here is a first step to take it back.
“Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!”
— Advice from Screwtape to his nephew, from The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).
Other chapters in this series about the Anything But Issues election
- Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.
- The Left calls Trump an ‘authoritarian’, a false & futile attempt to suppress populism.
- The Left calls Trump a fascist instead of focusing on the issues. It’s why they lose.
- Does Donald Trump have a perverted attraction to Ivanka? Details of a smear.
- Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
- Did Trump have a perverted attraction to 12-year old Paris Hilton? Details of a smear.
- The hidden details of the October surprise about Trump’s “sexual assaults”.
- The moral panic about Trump’s assault on Arianne Zucker.
- Consequences for the Republican Party.
For More Information
- Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.
- An anthropologist looks at the narrow choices we’re offered in Campaign 2016.
- The best response to Campaign 2016: anger.
- 2016: a historic unification election for America!
A great book about this serious problem
“Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media — from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs — it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.”
— From the publisher.