Fareed Zakaria acknowledged that Trump is ill-prepared as president, but even if he wasn't, voters expectations make the job impossible.
April 30, 2017

I have a bone to pick with Fareed Zakaria on this segment.

His "Today, Donald Trump became president" gaffe notwithstanding, Fareed Zakaria has been very critical of Donald Trump. And this segment, which more or less sneers at Donald Trump's ignorance/naivete about the difficulties of the role of president, is pretty spot on until about midway through the commentary.

At that point, Zakaria shifted the blame squarely on the American voters. His larger point is that even if Donald Trump was at all competent, he would be running square into the contradictions of the American populace as outlined by Michael Kinsley:

Kinsley writes in the introduction that the people ""make flagrantly incompatible demands--cut my taxes, preserve my benefits, balance the budget--then explode in self-righteous outrage when the politicians fail to deliver."" Anger at Americans for their hypocrisy--and at politicians, especially of conservative bent, who cynically exploit it--is the common theme that runs through these columns.

And here comes my problem with Zakaria. He completely elided the second part of that thesis "at politicians, especially of conservative bent, who cynically exploit it." AS DOES PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA.

It's all well and good to blame the American voters for their unrealistic expectations (and let's be honest, it's not ALL voters holding up signs that say "Get Government Out Of My Medicare"), but this is NOT an issue of both sides doing it. And the media keeps treating it as such.

Trump promised to bring back manufacturing jobs and coal jobs. An honest journalist serving the public would tell the public that those promises mean nothing because those jobs aren't coming back. And even if they did, I think there's a persuasive argument to be made that they won't help the economy at all, because they would necessitate higher product costs and/or significantly lower wages for the job holders.

The Republican Party, since at least Newt Gingrich's "Contract for America" (but hints of it were there earlier), have been the party of obstruction, of lies, of playing into the ill-informed lizard brains of the populace. And the mainstream media has bent over backwards to normalize this pathology and characterize it as a bi-partisan problem. And let's face it, Trump's ignorance of not only the difficulties of the job but the larger way that government functions is as much a symptom of this failure to do actual reporting of the one-sidedness of this issue where one party, which highly imperfect, tries to make government work and the other side digs in their heels to make sure government doesn't work.

Blue Gal and Driftglass have been podcasting on this phenomena for years and Driftglass has put his own inimitable spin on it, calling the Republicans "the tribe that smeared sh*t in their hair." It's an apt analogy, when the media gets so locked in on describing the hair styling that they ignore its origins.

So yes, Trump is incompetent. But the media led us here with their own incompetence and it's about time they owned up to that.

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