Right now, we are embroiled in sort of a silly season of politics as media outlets look to milk the last few drops of news from this past presidential election. For now, during the holiday season, much of it is meaningless noise.
That will soon change.
President-elect Donald Trump’s opponents and critics have spent the past month and a half trying to rationalize the unexpected outcome of the election.
First it was this dark movement called the “alt-right” — which few had heard of before — that swayed the election. Then it was the phenomenon of “fake news,” which is when someone is gullible enough to not only fall for hoax, but take to the next level and base their presidential choice on that fake news story.
Next, we were told the Russians “hacked” our election. No, they didn’t hack actual voting machines, but instead hacked Democratic Party operatives who working to get Hillary Clinton elected. The hacks, released by WikiLeaks, revealed the dark underbelly of the Democratic machine. Emails exposed that members of the media were colluding with Clinton allies and that the Democratic National Committee was working to ensure Clinton had an easy road to the nomination.
The American people were not supposed to know about this brand of cesspool Democratic Party politics. The logic Trump’s critics employ requires a bit of mental gymnastics, but here is a stab at it: Since the Russians allegedly hacked the DNC and WikiLeaks released the results of those hacks, they won the election for Donald Trump.
While some Trump opponents tried to thwart the election outcome with a last-minute campaign to encourage Electoral College electors to defy the will of the of the voters and “vote their conscience,” the reality of Trump as president of the United States next month seems to be settling in.
Now the same people who did not see a Trump presidency coming are trying to use their forecasting skills to imagine what the Trump presidency will be like.
Using clues on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and the foreign policy expertise that cheered on eight years of Barack Obama, we are now told to anticipate nuclear war with Russia because of Trump. This seems odd since a few weeks ago critics accused those same Russians of supporting Trump enough to win him the U.S. presidency.
Yes, we’ve reached peak silly season in politics.
Now that the election cycle has come and gone, cable news channels are having a decline in ratings. Traffic is falling off on political news websites. It happens every four years.
Still, all of these outlets are trying to figure out ways to keep an audience engaged and a lot of what they’re experimenting with is hyperbole — particularly when some members of the media envision nuclear holocaust as a possibility.
It will be especially prevalent the next few weeks as the media and Trump’s opponents continue to speculate on what the Trump presidency will be like before he is actually sworn in.
After inauguration, it will be less about these speculations as cabinet and Supreme Court appointments take center stage and the Trump administration’s actual policy is implemented.
After George W. Bush was elected, he faced similar hurdles. The media and the political left questioned the legitimacy of his presidency for years after he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000. Bush was constantly scrutinized between his 2001 inauguration and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
His signature achievement during that period were the so-called Bush tax cuts. If you were the average news consumer, you were probably told getting a rebate check from the government was a bad thing. Outside of conservative talk radio and Fox News, there were few allies for the Bush administration.
Contrast that to President Barack Obama’s first major effort, which was a $787 billion Keynesian-style stimulus. The usual critics in conservative talk radio and elsewhere opposed it, but “elections had consequences.” The American people had spoken and as Newsweek editor Jon Meacham told us at the time, “We’re all socialists now.”
Whatever Trump chooses to do, the media and so-called elites will question it — even if it is an executive proclamation honoring a Boy Scout troop for rescuing a bald eagle.
U.S. voters may have spoken and elections might have consequences, but Trump didn’t win the popular vote — so he better not dare think he has a mandate with silly things like a border wall, an infrastructure bill, relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, etc.
There’s reason for optimism if you are a Trump supporter. This time, his supporters know what is coming. They saw Bush hammered for everything and the war in Iraq demagogued. They have seen this movie before.
Now there are dozens of pro-Trump online media outlets and you have Trump issuing his own proclamations on social media. The public is now wise to the media and Democrats’ traditional playbook ,and Trump and his allies know what to expect.