Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Point-counterpoint: Normalizing Trump?

Point:Why we should ‘normalize’ Trump” writes Doyle McManus in the LA Times (reprinted in the Daily Star this morning). Here are snippets.

At every step, anguished opponents have appealed to the public, to the media and to Congress: Don’t normalize Trump.

In a narrow sense, they’re right: When Trump violates norms of public conduct – by lying about nonexistent voter fraud, refusing to accept evidence of Russian hacking or dismissing concern over conflicts of interest – nobody should pretend that’s normal.

For the media, treating Trump as a normal president means we should cover Trump and his administration as aggressively as we can. The media accord most presidents a presumption of honesty when they come into office; Trump forfeited that during the campaign. Newspapers and broadcasters should continue to use words like “false,” “bogus” and even “lie” in reporting his tall tales.

What’s more, this is an opportunity for a renaissance of investigative reporting. An administration staffed partly with rookies and hotheads is going to have plenty of problems. A first family with global business holdings will run into conflicts of interest, even if they try to avoid them (which this one isn’t, so far).

That doesn’t mean no off-the-record sessions at Mar-a-Lago. The media know when a politician is trying to co-opt them. Trump isn’t the first president-elect to offer a reporter a drink. He knows he’ll need goodwill from the people he described as dishonest scum.

We should give Trump a chance – a chance to normalize himself, in the sense of complying with the norms every president should observe. Giving him a chance doesn’t mean giving him a break; quite the contrary. It means subjecting him to tough scrutiny, holding him to high standards and judging him against his own promises. In short, treating him like a normal president – whether he likes it or not.

Counterpoint: ‘Normalize’ Trump? That’s impossible. LA Times readers respond in these letters to the editor.

To the editor: Doyle McManus writes as if the opponents of Donald Trump like me question his legitimacy as president-elect. Not so. I fully accept that an unfit con man has been voted in as president, and it strengthens my resolve to fight him. (“Why we should ‘normalize’ Trump,” Opinion, Dec. 21)

McManus suggests that Trump “normalize himself” despite no evidence he can do so. People with eyes and ears know that this spoiled man of 70 is not going to change. He brags that he’s great the way he is, and he’s a big winner, so why change?

McManus urges Trump to stop tweeting, tell the truth, listen to his advisors and honor his campaign promises on jobs and cheaper healthcare. I’m actually a bit jealous of McManus for the faith he has put in a pathological liar, but as for the rest of us, we tremble in fear because of the power vested in an amoral and unqualified man. We will oppose, denounce and resist Trump at every turn.

I am afraid of my new president. He cannot be normalized.

Counter-counterpoint: Another reader responds.

One prime normalizing force will be Congress. Who actually believes that it will actually pass legislation covering tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare, financial reform, infrastructure upgrades and any of the other Trump promises that require congressional approval? This is a Congress that could not even pass a proper appropriations bill in 2016.

Whether Trump likes it or not, he will be normalized.

Scriber responds: The readers are correct. Left to his own devices, Trump will never “normalize” himself, and Congress is unlikely to act productively. And all that is exactly why McManus is also correct: only the press can hold Trump accountable and must do so whether he likes it or not.

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