Sometime in 2019, mankind may have inadvertently reached peak public shaming. It is now faster and easier than ever to impugn someone, plus it’s free.
Anyone can now publicly shame anyone, instantly, anonymously and forever.
Even comedians, whose ranks once held insult-comics like Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison, are right to be afraid.
Then there are those rare souls who appear to take public affronts and ridicule in stride, though whether all that concentrated hatred eventually gets to them, we mere mortals can only guess.
Of those strange aberrations who seem to revel in being cast as the heel, the antagonist, the villain in an increasingly theatrical and hysterical production of real life, Donald Trump stands out.
His critics say he was born without the shame gene. They say a lot of other things, too, of course.
Trump’s thick skin may be to his advantage in our modern age, but that isn’t his only advantage heading into 2020’s contentious race for president.
Trump’s other advantage in the presidential race, besides his incumbency and a strong economy, is the media’s predictable behavior as it pertains to anything Trump.
Donald Trump has the U.S. media dancing to every tune he Tweets.
Take the recent U.S. military action that ended the life of mass murderer and ISIS terrorist mastermind, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Astute political observers couldn’t help but note the very different approaches taken by President Trump and President Barack Obama. Obama was measured, respectful in his conveyance to the American people that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces.
Donald Trump’s approach announcing the death of Baghdadi was less so.
Trump’s colorful, detailed description of the events that led to Baghdadi’s death were almost gleeful by comparison. Granted, a U.S. President who has authorized a successful military operation in which American soldiers might have been killed and weren’t has good reason to celebrate.
The killing of Baghdadi was another good reason.
The Baghdadi kill, and Trump’s attitude in reveling in it, played perfectly with his supporters. Trump voters undoubtably saw this episode as a confirmation that Trump is exactly the sort of gloves-off brawler needed to address the threat of radical terrorism.
Remember: Trump voters want to be right about him.
Trump’s open taunting of Baghdadi’s successors and ridicule of Baghdadi’s last moments was roundly condemned by the left, but it may have been very strategic bordering on genius.
Saying Baghdadi died whimpering and crying, and the frequent mention of dogs in Trump’s announcement about the successful mission had a major benefit to the Trump campaign and no drawbacks.
After all, President Obama spent eight years trying not to incite religious extremists to violence. It didn’t work.
The idea that ISIS is going to kill people because Trump insulted Baghdadi is ludicrous. ISIS already kills people: as many men, women and children as they can get their hands on. They killed 62 men and children at prayer in a Mosque only two-weeks ago in Afghanistan.
ISIS isn’t going to start targeting and killing Americans because of Trump’s insults, either: ISIS already targets and kills Americans wherever jihadists can find them. And ISIS under Baghdadi’s leadership meant they raped and tortured Americans like Kayla Mueller first before killing them.
Kayla Mueller wasn’t alone: ISIS under Baghdadi raped, tortured and terrorized a great many other women as well, except most of them have last names like “ad-Din idn Adi” and “Khalaf”.
Trump’s comments on Baghdadi’s death may have been in poor taste, according to liberal standards. But defending Baghdadi as someone who didn’t deserve to be thus defamed put left-leaning media outlets in an utterly untenable, even clownish position.
The major benefit to Trump’s campaign was the media’s reaction to his big news, or more specifically, his extremely Trumpian delivery of that news.
The Washington Post’s disastrous decision to title their piece about Baghdadi’s death “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dead at 48,” ripped through the news cycle like wildfire.
Washington Post columnist Max Boot dug the Post in still deeper when he refuted Trump’s claim that Baghdadi “died like a coward” by pointing out that Baghdadi killed himself rather than be captured by U.S. forces.
Boot later issued an apology.
Other left-leaning news outlets zeroed in on Trump’s vivid description of Baghdadi’s last moments “whimpering and crying”, contending that Trump could have had no audio confirmation of that fact.
Trump says mean things about terrorists. You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to wonder “And?”.
If Democrats in office and in the press don’t understand how that little interplay fell on the ears of Trump supporters and undecideds, they deserve to lose in 2020.
The U.S. media at large, and most especially the anti-Trumpers in the press, should have given Trump a win on the Baghdadi raid. He would’ve gotten all the blame had it gone wrong.
If Trump is as terrible as everyone in press insists he is, he is bound to get the next one wrong, or the next. Giving him a win on Baghdadi would have strategically set up credibility for a storm of criticism when Trump inevitably blows it.
The strategy of never, ever giving Trump a win he could use to bolster his reelection chances isn’t working. Worse, it is conveying the deepest fear of Democrats in the media; that Trump might not ever blow it. At least, not in the eyes of the people who voted for him and intend to do so again at their earliest opportunity.
A better strategy would be to occasionally give Trump a big win in the press. That would aid credibly with the very swing voters and independents Democrats need to impress going into 2020.
Criticism loses its efficacy when it is unceasing.
Trump’s critics should have resisted the temptation of such an obvious provocation as Trump’s hour-long rant about the military operation that killed Baghdadi. It was plainly trolling.
Will progressives ever learn not to fall for Trump’s tricks?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)