TL;DR : We can’t be grateful that candidates and public figures are learning to push back on media narratives and PC assumptions. But we make a serious mistake in confusing that with a qualification for President. Neither Carson nor Trump – nor anybody – is qualified for President simply because they are saying things liberals in the media oppose.
Early this year, the now defunct candidacy of Scott Walker got off to an interesting start when he refused to ‘play along’ with the media asking irrelevent questions about creationism. Since then we see the same pattern repeated. Cruz challenged on “if your daughter were gay, would you love her?”; Carson challenged on “Would you vote for a Muslim?”. In variably, the premise and the ‘correct’ answer share assumptions that are liberal. In June, after Trump got in the race for one week, this is what he is asked:
When asked whether he supported South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to call for the Confederate battle flag to be taken down from out front of the State Capitol building, Trump said he did…..
Then, when asked what woman he would like to see on the new $10 bill, he responded — to laughter — “My mother.”
Trump was not asked about Obamacare, Iran negotiations, Putin in Ukraine, budget deficits, the entitlement crisis, EPA’s war on coal, oil drilling, job creation, economic growth, etc. he was rather asked side-issue ‘dog whistle’ trivia questions, questions that are really indirectly asking “Are you now or have you ever been insufficiently genuflecting to liberal attitudes?” When the same dumb question about the $10 bill came up in the second debate, only [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and Carly Fiorina had the gumption to refute it directly and suggest that maybe founding father Hamilton should be kept there instead of patronizing women.
Indeed, candidates have gotten attention and gotten ahead by NOT playing along. Play along and the media has no story – “Ho hum, Kasich declares himself a nice guy who will go to a friend’s gay wedding.” Can’t have CNN talking heads on that. But call some Mexican aliens rapists (or even not do that, but appear to) or kick a journalist out of a nes conference and 24/7 news has their story of the day.
The pattern has been repeated again and again:
- Media asks an off-the-topic question of a candidate
- Candidate responds in a way that doesn’t satisfy media’s test of PC reasonableness.
- Media firestorm erupts.
- Candidate gets MORE support as conservative voters ‘rally’ around the latest anti-PC hero.
- Candidate acquires the ‘baggage’ of political incorrect position – some support, but some negatives that will hurt them down the road.
Indeed, Trump has used this media PR cycle to grab most of the media attention to himself, by being the most outrageous and most willing to offend media sensibilities. Call it the ‘shock jock Howard Stern’ affect – bad behavior begets outrage, which begets attention, which begets ratings, begets visibility and poll increases.
I want to make a simple point here. Such behavior – whether we are thrilled by someone putting the media ‘in their place’, happy to see courage under fire, or displeased by how it might tarnish the image of Republicans as a whole – is not a qualification for President. One may argue that the ‘courage’ factor shows conviction, but invariably these are on trivial matters and side issue hypotheticals. They do not show either conviction or courage or wisdom where it counts – on real policy.
So enjoy the media kerfluffles and the ‘punch a hippy’ behavior of some candidates, but don’t make the mistake of picking a Presidential nominee based on it.