Sunday, September 11, 2016

Open Source: Trump Effect

Worth listening to (and worrying about):

Christopher Lydon talks to Ron Susskind, Frank Rich, Emily Nussbaum about the collapse of the 4th wall, the one separating TV (esp. reality TV) from reality. Susskind, particularly, seems to enjoy saying so too much, maybe too admiringly, but the point remains: Trump is a creature and master of the media of our day, where Clinton and her policy points get no traction.

Susskind points to Trump's inconsistencies and contradictions as McLuhanesque strengths, not bugs but features in our day of electronic visual media. They make watching him irresistible for many, and unbearable for others, myself included. There's no doubt, though, that he grabs attention in a way Clinton can't begin to.

OK, nobody likes either of them. So, who do you vote for: the dull wonk or the dangerous clown?

I'm reminded again of Philip Roth's brilliant "The Plot Against America," where Charles Lindberg, the star aviator, flies his plane across country campaigning against FDR, the wheelchair bound philatelist, to win the 1940 election.

Of course, that was fiction, Trump v. Clinton not.

Too bad neither Lydon or his guests alluded to Hitler and Goebbels, who mastered the media of their day — radio and film — as their opponents did not. In short, the opposition to the Nazis had no Riefenstahls. And you didn't have to agree with anything Hitler raved about in order to find his oratorical fury inescapable.

Yes, the United States today is very far from being Weimar Germany. But I think Susskind is right when he says watching the debates will be the one unifying event for a fractured electorate. And when he says, don't trust the polls.

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