Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had the benefit of low expectations. If he could make a public appearance without growling, drooling, or saying some despicable untruth, he was praised by journalists as appearing surprisingly reasonable.
All that Donald Trump had to do to beat expectations was to not fail miserably. Of course, Trump did fail miserably many times. Yet, some days, he was able to manage to fail in a manner that was not very dramatic. These were regarded as evidence that maybe, someday, Trump might become “presidential”.
It wouldn’t be fair for us to expect more from Donald Trump, many journalists said, because Trump isn’t a professional politician.
Of course, Trump was a politician. He was running for the highest political office in the country, without ever having served in any public position before. Yet, no one asked Trump difficult questions, because he just didn’t seem ready.
Now, Donald Trump is President Elect. One might think that, finally, journalists would assess Donald Trump as if he were about to become President. It’s still not happening.
A particularly pathetic case in point is an article written by Anna Palmer at Politico. “Trump’s popularity soars after election” is the article’s headline.
Historically, a President is regarded as having high popularity if he (sorry, no women yet) achieves a 60 percent favorability rating. Sometimes, presidents have gotten over 70 or 80 percent. One President, George H.W. Bush, even got a favorability rating of over 90 percent.
For Donald Trump, however, Politico is giving a Gentleman’s A when it grades his popularity. The supposedly soaring popularity of Donald Trump that Anna Palmer refers to is not even the approval of 50 percent of the population. Donald Trump, the article explains, is rated favorably by just 46 percent of Americans answering Politico’s statistically representative poll*.
It is a sign of remarkable political weakness that Donald Trump cannot command the favorable opinion of even half of the American public just a week and a half after his election. Anna Palmer, and her editors at Politico, should have made note of that fact, rather than fawning over a politician who is widely despised by his own fellow citizens and couldn’t win the popular vote.
Given the reluctance of established political media to judge Donald Trump as they would any other politician, it’s up to the grassroots media rising up in response to Trump’s election to do the job.
*An asterisk should be placed after every single reference to a political opinion poll for the next four years, given the astoundingly inaccurate representation of the presidential campaign provided by pollsters in the last few weeks of the 2016 campaign.