December 7, 2018 10:35:02 AM
As a columnist who writes some pretty un-pretty things about President Donald Trump, I'm about to briefly leave the pack of wolves howling for his death.
They buried former President George H.W. Bush the other day. Trump was there, and cameras got him looking bored, or un-presidential, or not reciting the Apostles' Creed.
This is the photographer's business, finding the exact moment when Trump looks bored, or foolish, or stupid. It's the editor's business, too, looking through the photographer's submitted pictures until he finds the one that most makes Trump look like a Hitler-ish dope.
Oh, sure, you can blame it on a particular television station's or newspaper's supposed political slant, but any editor would be just a little more than ecstatic to have a picture of any president, senator, mayor or even a state representative slyly picking his or her nose during the singing of the national anthem.
And it doesn't mean anything. A picture of me furiously digging in my nostril just moments before meeting the pope wouldn't necessarily mean I'm a bad Catholic. Not at all. The faith recognizes weakness of the flesh, as it should, as we all should.
The urge to embarrass a politician is universal among people who take pictures or videos, and among those of us who listen to politicians speak. A reporter who heard a brilliant 20-minute speech about tariffs would be an idiot if he didn't focus on the politician's accidental confusion of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
It can be a slip of the tongue, a misquoted fact, an unguarded physical moment of yawning or laughing, or just a slightly cross-eyed moment of boredom at a state funeral, but it will be the picture and the story that then overshadows all facts and figures about the economy and the military, and jobs for Appalachia.
We no longer know how to tell the difference between pop culture heroes and elected officials, and we think the same kind of picture tells the story of both. The supermarket tabloid editor wants a picture of the sultry female singer/pop culture queen in dirty sweats and a greasy ponytail, coming out of a convenience store looking like she just got off a 10-hour shift at a chicken processing plant. The editor of a more "respectable" publication wants a picture that makes a president or a senator look like an ignorant, junior high school hooligan.
If you followed me around all day with a camera, waiting for me to look stupid, you wouldn't have to wait long before you got your shot.
That describes everyone. We mispronounce, and misspell, and mispunctuate, and slouch, and stammer, and scratch. When it comes to designing new electronics, we are way ahead of our ape-y ancestors. When it comes to not scratching in public, we revert to being monkey-like with some regularity.
If you point a camera at Trump, you won't have to wait until you get the greasy little assassination tool you need. The same goes for quoting him.
Meanwhile, our government is bent out of shape by bigotry, sold to the rich at every turn, betrayed in every passed bill.
Bad journalism elected Donald Trump by focusing on personality and not on specifics. Specifics are boring. We are the American people, and in our great might, we must never be bored.
Marc Dion, a nationally syndicated columnist, is a reporter and columnist for The Herald News, the daily newspaper of his hometown, Fall River, Massachusetts. For more on Dion, go to go to www.creators.com.
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