So, for those of you just tuning in, on Friday, Rep. Lewis (whose district includes about 3/4s of Atlanta) claimed he wouldn't be attending the inauguration, saying that he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president.
Trump, predictably, mouthed off on Twitter in response.
The internet, predictably, lost its shit again.
As I was recovering from a weekend illness, something was pointed out to me:
Trump hits back.
That's not something we're used to seeing in any politician. We're used to seeing deflection, laughing off, or not stooping to a vulgar level.
Politicians, by design, are rhetorical Judokai.
As are most of the press. Their interest is ~not~ in the truth. The interest of the press is in page views and covering their asses legally (lest they meet Gawker's fate). In that order.
There's an anecdotal story about Abe Lincoln, when he was a practicing attorney questioning a witness.
"Did you see my client attack Mr. Jenkins?"
"Did you see my client bite Mr. Jenkins' ear?"
"Did you see my client bite Mr. Jenkins' ear off?"
Nowadays, any lawyer, any politician, any reporter, would shut up right then and there, secure in the knowledge that they'd destroyed the credibility of that witness.
Mr. Lincoln, on the other hand, couldn't stop himself from asking one question too many.
"Then how in tarnation did you know my client bit his ear off?"
"Because I saw him spit it out afterwards."
As I said, politicians and reporters are rhetorical Judokai.
Trump, on the other hand, is a boxer.
Everyone around them is used to being hip-thrown, and he's punching people in the face. Doesn't matter that they're inaccurate or weak at times. He keeps making them, and his opponents aren't adapting to them.
With a combination of live feeds of his speeches and his own twitter account, Trump has stolen one of the press' most insidious weapons: editorial discretion.
Most of us who've created content in recent years have had to deal with the hell that is a comments section. Imagine that happening to your work in the national press. And knowing that even if they do print a correction or retraction, it'll be buried deep in a back page of a future edition, ha ha, screw you.
Imagine dealing with that shit since the 80's.
I don't think his treatment of the press is ideal or classy, but I will say that I understand his reasoning.
The Press can still spin and edit however they want. But full video and tweets are still there, and the entirety of what he said is still out there from all to see.
This does NOT save him from saying stupid shit, but it does minimize his chances of being.. selectively edited, so to speak.
Now, back to Congressman Lewis.
None of what I've said changes the fact that Trump decided to talk shit to a living civil rights icon on the eve of MLK weekend.
But it does point out that Congressman Lewis threw the first punch, so to speak.
And again, Trump is a rhetorical boxer.
We're not used to seeing that. We're used to seeing presidents laughing shit off or at least being noncommittal, then sending the DOJ or IRS or whatever department would make the subject's world difficult. On his worst day, Obama would only come back with an, "I won, John," or a "I have a pen and a phone."
Trump, on the other hand, gives as he receives.
Give him a "fuck you," and he'll give a "fuck you too!"
Give him a polite counteroffer, and he'll respond with polite interest.
My example of that?
When Trump wanted to bring back enhanced interrogations, and the world was flipping out about a U.S. President potentially ordering war crimes, the warrior-monk stood up and said, "gimme a few beers and a pack of cigarettes, and I'll get more info out of 'em than waterboarding ever will."
And we all watched as Trump had his moment of, and I realize I'm using ALL the irony by using this movie quote, "You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention."
Of course, immediately afterwards, he told the press he was still keeping his options open. But look at who's up for SECDEF.
Again, for those in the back, NONE of this changes the fact that Trump decided to insult a civil rights icon on the eve of MLK weekend.
It also doesn't change the fact that said icon openly insulted an incoming PEOTUS on national TV in the same timeframe, assuming any return would take the form of a bill being more difficult to pass, not an open, "fuck you too, buddy!"
Long story short, PEOTUS is an assclown. But he's not stock bad conservative politician #3, and treating him as such will only underestimate him.