At today’s press conference, Trump once again showed himself to be the great disruptor, shattering the carefully constructed illusions of a ruling class that pretends to be pure but is utterly political. To sustain those illusions, the ruling class has in the past hectored Republican presidents into respecting this or that “convention” designed to shield it from questioning and induce submission to its wishes, and most of those presidents have honored those conventions. Not Trump. He turns the spotlight back on the ruling class’s supposedly “impartial” sources, methods, and concerns, thereby exposing it all as a pompous and self-serving charade.
Asked about the reports from supposedly infallible “intelligence agencies,” Trump pointed out that they were produced by Obama appointees who have been leaking to a press willing to traffic in the most absurd allegations. In other words, who is behaving irresponsibly here? Why pretend that one side is apolitical and the other isn’t? By blowing up that pretense, Trump can’t be cornered. If he is showing “disrespect” to conventions, that’s because those conventions don’t merit docile respect anyways.
Yesterday CNN patted itself on the back for receiving leaks from Obama’s political appointees to the effect that Trump last week received a briefing about how the Kremlin might have “compromising information” on him. But what was that dirt? CNN, pompously and cravenly (given that the subtext of the story is that the unnamed dirt should be taken seriously), refused to tell its viewers, leaving it to Buzzfeed to release the “dossier” that informed the reported briefing — a dossier that has already disintegrated under scrutiny, a dossier that featured such fictions as Trump’s lawyer meeting in Prague with Kremlin officials and a story about how Trump during a visit to Russia hired urinating hookers to defile a bed Obama once slept in. Hilariously, Trump at the press conference shot down the latter charge by pointing out that he is a “germaphobe.”
Some pundits have described today’s press conference as a “circus.” But whose fault is that? Trump didn’t create the circus; he just exposed it. The circus started when the media and “intelligence community” entered into collusion to embarrass Trump over fake news. CNN, which at once wanted to flirt with fake news without directly reporting it, has no one to blame but itself for the ensuing fiasco. As CNN and Buzzfeed squabble over the fake news, Trump looks once again like the victim of an overreaching and desperate ruling class.
At one point in the press conference, Trump took a question from a BBC reporter, saying, “The BBC, another beauty.” The comment was funny because it is so true: the media, in its flailing attempts to nail Trump, is making an ass out of itself. Trump is deflating the media masterfully, seen even in such small ways as responding to a pompous three-pronged question from a reporter by saying sarcastically, “Do you have any other questions?”
Meanwhile, as the oh-so-serious media shows itself to be unserious partisans, Trump, the supposed buffoon, surrounds himself with serious cabinet officials such as Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson, who looked like a giant next to “little Marco” as the Florida senator punkishly grandstanded about Putin. Rubio looks about as a viable a rival to Trump as Cory Booker, who launched his 2020 campaign by trying to defame Jeff Sessions as a racist in unprecedented testimony at that cabinet hearing. All of it adds up a good news day for Trump.