Recently, a famous movie star threatened to leave America to protest the escalating inadequacies of Donald J. Trump. Perhaps his proclamation was mere hyperbole — actors’ careers are made of it — or perhaps it could have been the admission of a coward, only pretending to be noble.
Quite a few people who commented on Robert De Niro’s announcement sympathized with his position. On the other hand, feeling disgust for a quitter is an equally valid reaction. Despising great pretenders for protecting their wealth and notoriety is a longstanding tradition.
Why leave? Trump is not forever, perhaps not even for very much longer, Mother Nature will see to that.
The bigger question is whether the president will die the same sniveling weakling he is in life.
As for De Niro, he worked his entire life learning how not to show fear in front of a camera, apparently without it ever making an impression in real life. At least he will be credited with being a unique individual. History will remember Trump as a unique kind of monster.
The president has repeatedly shown himself to be a miserable, pathetic creature who depends on the opinions of bootlickers for reassurance that he’s not the complete ass everyone else knows him to be. Believing his own bullshit has already spelled his doom.
Trump’s M.O. never varies and always leaves behind a unique fingerprint. When Trump fails to attain his murky goals he runs away, blaming his shortcomings on others. Conversely, he makes much of the few things that have actually succeeded under his watch. Taken together, he leaves behind the scent of rose petals and mustard gas.
So how is De Niro any different than our treacherous president? Like Trump, he depends on others for his notoriety and sense of purpose. Combine that with his overweening opinion of himself and we have Donald Trump with darker hair.
In his book, “Rage,” Bob Woodward, the dean of investigative journalism, revealed new tidbits about Trump that more intelligent life forms from another galaxy may one day mistake for a dark comedy, should they happen across it.
Woodward’s revelations about Trump’s lies also raise ethical questions about Woodward himself. Did Woodward keeping silent as long as he did about Trump’s knowledge of the seriousness of COVID-19 also help doom thousands of innocents in the name of ethical principles? Was it Woodard’s responsibility to forego another treasure of blood bucks in the name of humanity? His were tough choices that only a few writers are ever damned to make.
News in its many forms is first a commodity. Its value is in its appeal to consumers to pay for the privilege of learning new secrets. Anyone who pursues the art of writing for a living spins a thread in a fickle world. Only rookies fail to understand that spin doctors, advertisers and accountants mean far more to any news organization than a reporter’s ethical sensibilities. Veritas is often a distant second in the motives driving how information is revealed.
When “Rage” appeared, did the timing have anything to do with wiping out future gains by several other tell-all books trashing Trump? Publishers are notorious skinflints. They like keeping their wallets in their buttoned back pockets. Only for the Bob Woodwards of the world is a publisher’s wallet readily pried open.
The timing of “Rage” is also about every writer’s desperate need for competition, beating the other reporter to a top-of-the-fold headline, or writing a book that actually earns them money. Trump’s supporters will assure you that “Rage” is fake news, somehow manipulated by the “deep state” to harm Trump at election time.
Writers and reporters write for the same reasons other victims of OCD obsess over trifles. A great story in the name of common good is the kind of thing dedicated writers salivate over. From that point of view, hurrah for Bob Woodward, you crafty old bastard. Well played.
Then again, does a guy who has written so many blockbusters really care about one more book? Does he feel the same thrill a rookie beat reporter feels after seeing his story under a double-deck headline?
Woodward is obviously proud of his work, which causes his journalistic colleagues to rub up against him like a cat on a willing leg. Bob Woodward knows how to play the rich and famous. So does Donald Trump and so does Robert De Niro.
Why one person’s behavior is viewed as despicable and another’s as taking the high road is an ethical conundrum. Ethicists argue that people of principle intuitively know what is right, something the Trumps of the world will never understand. For them, gas-lighting is the high road.
Hopefully, there will be enough principled people left to know the difference on November 3.