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He Can’t Help Himself

Joe and Mika live in TV Land. They are not Trump's problem (Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

Trump supporters must want to put their heads on the table at this kind of thing. Here is a man who stands a chance of becoming President of the United States, but he cannot stay focused enough on the campaign to do what’s necessary. Instead, the media have gotten inside his head.

Somebody inside the Trump campaign apparently twisted his arm to get him to quit reading his Twitter feed long enough to get down to Louisiana with some relief supplies. He handled himself well while he was here, and even won praise from the Democratic governor, and our former US Senator, also a Democrat. He did well! It ought to have been the occasion for a campaign reset, however small. The fact that Hillary Clinton has been attending fundraisers with the superrich instead of visiting the suffering here is a golden campaign issue that reinforces his themes about the elites being out of touch.

But no. Here he is on Monday morning, being Trump at his Trumpiest, bitching and moaning about the hosts of a low-rated morning television show, and doing so in language that does not demean them, but demeans himself. See, this is a good example of why he’s unfit for office. Can you imagine being on President Trump’s staff and having to get him to put down his smartphone and listen to the daily briefing? Sad!

At just about every turn, Trump steps on his own chances, through his egotism, his lack of self-restraint, and his inability to focus on the long game. Yes, the media are biased, but at some point, he’s got to realize that his greatest obstacle in the task of being elected president is himself.

UPDATE: I mean, look. Here’s how easy this would be.

Right now in south Louisiana, everybody who can get time off of work to go help gut flooded houses is taking it. It’s a race against time, because if mold sets in, the houses may end up uninhabitable, or at least it will be a lot more difficult and expensive to make them livable again than if you had been able to get the soaked drywall, insulation, and carpet out onto the curb. Plus, there is widespread anger here over the lack of media coverage of what we’re going through. We keep hearing from volunteers coming in from around the country that they had no idea it was as bad down here as it is. TV had not told them. Bob Mann, an LSU professor who was Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s communications director during Hurricane Katrina, wrote:

If it’s not on television, it didn’t happen

Shortly after the storm passed, Louisiana National Guard helicopters and state Wildlife and Fisheries boats rushed to New Orleans to rescue stranded citizens. I asked if a few reporters and photographers could tag along. The leaders of both agencies told me there was no room for the press. One official even told me, “Every spot on one of those boats that we give to a reporter is one less person we can save.” At the time, I thought that was a compelling argument, so I didn’t press the matter.

Now I know I should have urged the governor to order both agencies to make room for reporters and photographers on just a few boats and choppers. Rescuing people was clearly the priority, but public confidence in government is also essential during times of crisis. The public deserves to know that public servants are working effectively on their behalf — and showing them is far more effective than merely telling them. If I had told reporters, “You can go, but you might have an evacuee on your lap for a hour,” most would have eagerly accepted the arrangement.

While the US Coast Guard did a heroic job of plucking many people from rooftops, there are people today who think that federal agency made all the rescues. In truth, there were more people saved by state employees on Wildlife and Fisheries boats and National Guard helicopters. The Coast Guard, however, had cameras mounted on its choppers and captured dramatic rescue video. We had no pictures and no video — just statistics and anecdotes.

If I were Ivanka Trump, I would frog-march my father to his plane, send him down here to spend a little time gutting houses, and let him use that to complain about how the media ignore the little people. Nobody gives a rat’s rear end about whether or not morning TV hosts are mean to Donald Trump. A lot of people care about whether or not media attention, or its lack, is hurting the relief effort. Even Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said on TV over the weekend that he’s surprised by how few contributions have come into the Red Cross for Louisiana disaster relief.

It is breathtaking that this should have to be explained to a man who wants to be President of the United States, and is running on populist themes. Hillary Clinton will be at a huge Hollywood fundraiser tonight. The contrast between Trump being on the bayou gutting houses and Hillary being in Beverly Hills picking pockets, would be stunning. But no, Trump can’t stop thinking about how mean Joe and Mika are being to him. For pity’s sake, Hillary was at a $50,000 a ticket fundraiser at Lady Rothschild’s beach house on Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday night!

If I were a Trump supporter — and I’m not — I would be so angry at him for blowing this, over and over. The Democrats are handing him a great issue, and he doesn’t know what to do with it.

UPDATE.2: And no, my liberal readers, it’s not that we’re asking for more government help. This job is beyond the ability of government to handle alone.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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