AP NEWS

Nation of Mike: Time to focus on what matters

June 3, 2017

We’re six months into the Trump presidency and my best guess of what will happen next is he will be abducted by aliens.

Given what’s gone on, particularly in regard to the never-pause-for-a-breath coverage of the Trump Follies, that seems to be the logical progression.

In the same week that news broke that North Korea is nearing developing nuclear missiles that can reach the United States, the big news of the week may have been Trump’s Twitter typo. The entirety of the media industry seemed consumed with “covfefe.” Fat thumbs and small phones — we’ve all been there.

Actually that crisis moment was soon topped by the outrage over an offensive joke about Trump made by comedian Kathy Griffin. That stunt got more traction than German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reaction to Trump’s world tour that it meant that Europe should get used to going it alone. What’s of greater importance: A stupid joke or the dissolution of a long-standing alliance of nations? You be the judge.

Perhaps the Trump presidency was the inevitable outcome of our increasingly shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture, but the outcome of his term in office is much more serious than a season of “The Bachelor.”

Thursday afternoon Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accords, signed by 190 nations to reduce carbon emissions and slow global warming. Whether you support that decision or not, that’s serious stuff. Merkel must have had a sense what Trump intended to do because, at least in regard to global climate, the United States has not just abdicated a leadership role but all sense of responsibility as well.

We — media, media consumers, citizens et al — must do better in responding to what matters in the Trump presidency.

I’m tempted to apply my mother’s strategy when dealing with me. In response to one of my aunt’s questions about how she put up with some of my comments my mom said, “I don’t understand half of what he says, and I ignore the rest.”

I think a slight variation on that could work with the president of the United States.

One thing we can and should do, is ignore every thing Trump posts on Twitter. His Twitter posts are not legislative proposals or even executive orders. There are just midnight or early morning ramblings of a remarkably self-obsessed human being. From a psychological evaluation viewpoint they might have some value, but in terms of serious governance of the nation they are less than worthless — they are a distraction.

You can ignore everything he says off-the-cuff because he will say something one day, contradict himself the next and then deny the contradiction on the third day. If he is standing behind a lectern with the United States presidential seal, and not the seal of his country club, on the front, you should probably listen. Even then, if he wanders off and starts talking about his glorious victory over Hillary Clinton, you can tune him out.

More importantly you can ignore everything someone else says allegedly representing what Trump says or thinks — and yes, that means you never have to listen to Sean Spicer again. There’s no such thing as someone speaking for Trump. There is Trump and that is it. There is only one planet in that universe.

I haven’t done a thorough analysis yet, but my guess is this is going to free up a lot of time. There’s still a lot of stuff to talk about, it’s just all that’s left is important. There’s the president’s proposed budget, which gives you an excellent idea of where his values lie. There’s the still ongoing attempt to pass a new health care bill — remember health care? How about tax code reform? And now we have the Paris Accords decision. Discussions, even heated disagreements about that, will be a welcome relief from the ongoing media version of Trivial Pursuits.

OK, we’ve had six months to get over the shock of President Trump. It’s time to move on, partly because the pace of going into a super spin cycle over ever inane Trump comment and tweet cannot be maintained for four years.

Focus on what matters. It’s true that filtering through the fluff to find what matters may take some effort, but future generations will thank us for putting in the work.

Contact assistant editor Michael Gallagher at mgallagher@kvnews.com. To view Nation of Mike videos, go to the Daily Record Facebook page and search #nationofmike.