Analysis by Kyle A. Lohmeier
Being something of a masochist, I’ve been reading opinion pieces reacting to Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey Tuesday night. Honestly, I’m finding it difficult to even really care about the probe into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia at this point. It’s reminiscent of “Deflategate” where, for some reason, sports talk radio hosts were prattling on about the outcome of the AFC Championship Game all the way up until the start of the next season – despite the fact that nothing was going to change and the Patriots had already won the Super Bowl. At that point, whether or not the balls Tom Brady threw in the AFC Championship game were a few PSI under spec was kind of immaterial.
Presently, Donald J. Trump is the president of the United States – the election is over and historically death or resignation are the only things to remove sitting presidents from office, so, it looks like he’s going to be president for the foreseeable future. The 2016 election is as relevant now as the 2014 AFC Championship game was as Tom Brady hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl LI, i.e. not at all. Beyond that, the likelihood that some smoking gun will turn up that proves Russian hackers broke into the DNC’s servers at the behest of the Trump campaign seems about as great as the NFL ever allowing players to put whatever name they want on the back of their jerseys, i.e. not at all. As tiresome as “Deflategate” got, this ongoing saga promises to be even more so.
More than likely, a good part of the reason that “Deflategate” became such a huge story was because it starred Tom Brady, a polarizing figure among NFL fans who plays for a team already busted for “Spygate” years before. Had it been almost any other quarterback on almost any other team, the story wouldn’t have had as much staying power; a little bit of celebrity goes a long way. Trump is a bit like Tom Brady; he’s married to a model and, more importantly, he has people who passionately adore him, just as Brady does. Brady also has a lot of folks who despise him, just as Trump does. The good news is that Tom Brady is only ever relevant for twenty or so weeks out of the year; sadly, people tend to pay attention to the president year round. Eventually “Deflategate” went away and the NFL went on with its business. We won’t be so lucky with this “-gate.”
Trump was a somewhat polarizing celebrity figure before he became president; now as a celebrity president, he will be the center of a three-ring media circus for his entire term, that’s to be expected. And, as Yahoo News’ Matt Bai pointed out in a column posted today, it’s exhausting.
Bai likened our current political climate to that of the USA at the height of the Watergate scandal, yearning for the sort of relief that came when that ordeal finally ended.
“This is why the most resonant line from that period came not from Nixon or his accusers, but from the man who mercifully pardoned him. ‘Our long national nightmare is over,’ Gerald Ford said, eliciting a national sigh.
In effect, he was giving grateful Americans permission to finally leave politics in the 6 o’clock news, where it belonged, and go back to their bowling nights and disaster movies,” Bai wrote.
Of course, in 2017 “politics” has long since escaped the confines of what we were told on the “6 o’clock news,” back in the 70s. Given that the “news-cycle” became a 24-hour affair some 20 years ago now, the media cannot ever afford for there to be a shortage of scandal, real or imagined. Bai concluded his piece on a hopeful note, but it’s one that I think is a bit overly optimistic.
“So if you believe, as I do, that Trump is unlikely to govern well in any event, you should be glad to see him fire Comey. You should hope he digs in, antagonizes Congress and law enforcement, tries to shut down the media, or whatever other kind of crazy compels him.
Because the more he flails at enemies and flexes the muscle of his office, the more Americans will seek shelter from the raining blows. And the further his approval ratings drop, the further members of his own party will run in the other direction, leaving Trump isolated and diminished.
And the sooner, perhaps, this particular nightmare will abate,” Bai wrote, seemingly acknowledging that any relief regular people might find when “Russiagate” finally ends will be temporary at best; then the next nightmare begins. There will always be one.
For its occasional controversies, bad officiating, cheating, bad player behavior, etc., the NFL at least provides its fans some entertainment. They get a chance to yell at their televisions over events that have exactly no bearing on their lives. “News” networks like Fox and MSNBC give their fans the same opportunity, only the events on screen do actually have some bearing on their lives, and they have just as much control over those as NFL fans do sitting in their armchairs screaming at the referees.
When Americans finally find that fact exhausting – that we have an out-of-control government that lies to us via our mainstream media constantly – we might actually have a chance of our long national nightmare ending and not being replaced by some fresh hell.