Over the last year, the nation’s political intelligentsia has evolved from dismissing Donald Trump as a joke to panicking about fascism should the public elect him president. The failure to grasp what unfolded before them, and their inability even now to learn from that experience is an eye-opening experience.
Mind you, these are the people who advise the public and the politicians on matters of war, health insurance, and taxes. And yet the punditry class missed the one area of its expertise, elections. That’s rather chilling.
Chuck Todd of MSNBC and Meet the Press fame is perhaps the best example of getting Trump and the people who elected him wrong.
On January 25, 2015, Todd told the nation, “Nobody’s going to mistake Donald Trump for a presidential candidate, I don’t think, other than Donald Trump.”
On July 9, Todd told the nation, “On Wednesday, we reached peak Donald Trump, with two national TV interviews, including one by NBC News’ Katy Tur. We also learned on Wednesday that RNC Chair Reince Priebus called Trump and asked him to tone down his rhetoric on immigration — yet another acknowledgement of how the New York real-estate mogul is hurting the party. But here’s a fairly safe prediction: Trump’s poll position in the GOP race is going to go down. It might not happen tomorrow, or next month before the first debate, or the month after that. But it’s going to happen. And it won’t be due to immigration, but instead past statements on a slew of important issues to the GOP base.”
On July 12, Todd began accusing Trump of racism in an effort to stop him.
“We’ve seen versions of Donald Trump over the years. And I just don’t mean versions of this Donald Trump, but I mean, you know, a George Wallace and things like this. This does happen. And they do strike a chord,” Todd said.
Many are the examples of this. The pundit class spent most of 2015 and early 2016 trying to convince the American public that Trump was Bozo the Clown, Hitler, and P.T. Barnum. Had these pundits bothered to check him out, they would have discovered a fellow whose accomplishments included helping save New York City. Oh, he is a blowhard, sure, but he delivered the goods.
Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone wrote a profile of Trump, published on September 9, 2015. Seemingly everyone read the paragraph that quoted Trump as pointing to Carly Fiorina on television and saying, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”
The public and the press duly wrapped Trump’s knuckles. That was a dumb thing to say. But what the pundits missed was this insight from the same article.
“In all the hysteria, however, what’s often missed are the qualities that brought Trump here. You don’t do a fraction of what he’s done in life — dominate New York real estate for decades, build the next grand Xanadus for the super-rich on the far shores of Dubai and Istanbul, run the prime-time ratings table for more than 10 years and earn a third (or sixth) fortune at it — without being immensely cunning and deft, a top-of-the-food-chain killer. Over the course of 10 days and several close-in encounters, I got to peer behind the scrim of his bluster and self-mythos and get a very good look at the man. What I saw was enough to make me take him dead serious. If you’re waiting for Trump to blow himself up in a Hindenburg of gaffes or hate speech, you’re in for a long, cold fall and winter. Donald Trump is here for the duration — and gaining strength and traction by the hour,” Solotaroff wrote.
And yet all these experts, all the punditry’s horses and all of its men wound up with more egg on their face than a Trump supporter in San Jose. They did not read the article. They did not do their homework. They did not see what was happening before their eyes.
Just as they missed the Gingrich Revolution in 1994, they missed the Trumpvolution. Globalism looked good on paper in the nation’s capital but globalism was killing the provinces. Free trade boosted the profits on Wall Street, but closed the factories across America. Illegal immigration raised the crime rate in the barrios and elsewhere, but provided cheap labor for the patrons of all those think tanks in Washington — left, right, and center.
American workers had a cause without a rebel.
Then along came Donald Trump.
The experts missed it.
They deserve to eat some crow. On Friday, I start serving the crow in my new book, “Trump the Press: Don Surber’s take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race.”
I quote more than 321 people. Not all of them got it wrong. But those who did should pay, and we should all learn a lesson from their gargantuan mistake.
The message — Make America Great Again — was more important than the messenger.