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Uploaded:2019-09-06
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In the last few years, we haven't talked much about President Trump. Maybe we're hoping that this channel is something of a respite. But it's also that I literally have no idea whether giving this stuff more attention helps or hurts America / The World. But I think, at the very least, understanding it is important, so that's what this video is for.

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Good morning John,

A couple of days ago President Trump shared a former map of Dorian (the hurricane)’s projected path.

First, hats off to the people at NWS who do hurricane projections because the 3 day forecast, which is the most important for evacuations, has been spot on for this entire hurricane and that has saved lives.

Second, the Sharpie mark- see the President also said a few days ago that Alabama was like in the cross-hairs of Dorian and this is something that would be a totally normal flub; like people sometimes when they’re talking say the wrong thing but then, probably President Trump maybe someone else drew a Sharpie line on the map to like include a little slice of Alabama and then it was like a front-page in a lot of a lot of places, Sharpie-gate trended on Twitter and people were suggesting that maybe Donald Trump should be prosecuted for sharing false weather data. That last one- no, it wasn’t a predictive map, it wasn’t shared as a predictive map: it was saying “Here’s what we thought might of happened and we got lucky and that thing didn’t happen but it is also very clearly weird.

We think that newsworthy and important are synonymous- they’re not. It’s important that the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t fall down today but it’s not newsworthy because it’s normal. The first condition to whether something is newsworthy is whether it’s abnormal. Is Sharpie-gate important? Maybe as like an illustration of the degradation of the shared foundation of truth in the most ham-fisted way imaginable. But mostly from what I saw, it was used as like a window into the inner workings of the President’s mind and that’s always gonna be guessing- like we always know that’s gonna all guessing.

But here’s a thing I know: it’s easy to say that President Trump is bad at everything but one thing he really gets is attention and I think that pretty much everybody, like even his supporters, get that he prefers the spectacle of this whole thing more than the process of actually governing and so like 2 or 3 times a week, we have some fresh spectacle that he is responsible for like it’s at this point pretty not a bug, it’s a feature. This isn’t to say that it’s good for him like personally of for his re-election chances. There’s like 30 York from Herman patty wrappers in this trash attesting to the fact that just because you like something, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

It’s also not to say that spectacles are unimportant- part of the process of governing is actually getting stuff done, part is creating a shared story that people can believe in, it’s fighting for a particular story and theatrics are a good way to tell a story and people at the centre of attention are the most able to shape a narrative and to some people these weird theatrics are exciting, somebody draws a line on a map and suddenly everybody’s exploding- it fits into the narrative of like the press and Liberals being ultra critical of Donald Trump but by being abnormal, Trump gets to always be in the spotlight and because he’s in the spotlight he gets to craft a narrative like he’s the producer of a reality TV show.

But the wild thing to me is, the only story he wants to tell with this great power he has is one about himself, one where he’s the ultimate and only saviour, one where everyone has to be loyal to him or else and one where he’s always right even when like it’s clear he made a mistake.

Ultimatley, I think this is why we are so exhausted- not just because like we a time back before we had to be paying attention to this and there was some fresh new spectacle coming out of the Oval Office every two freakin days but because the spectacle is ultimately always about the same thing: it’s pompous and it’s selfish, it’s egotistical and it’s smug. He has a tremendous skill for controlling and crafting narrative but instead of using that for any kind of shared vision, it’s always only about himself and that’s exhausting not because it’s always in your face but because
of how dangerous it actually is.

I don’t know the way through here, I’m just describing a situation. If we don’t treat abnormal things like they’re news  then they just become normal but when the strategy just becomes be abnormal for the sake of attention, the only thing you can do is realise it and then like vote it out every time.

John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.