Topic: The Media
For conservatives devoted to the cultivation of schadenfreude—you know who you are—the election of Donald J. Trump, alarming as it was in some ways, had much to recommend it. Can we all just admit that memories of the parade of shocked and fraught faces that flashed across our TV screens on election night are sweet indeed?
Among those who had obvious trouble coping with the Trump Putsch was ABC’s Martha Raddatz, whose tragic visage and trembling voice were widely mocked. Late in the evening, with a Trump victory balanced on the brink of certainly, Raddatz lamented his lack of qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief. Fair enough. But then she went on to relate how Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate who has a son serving in the Marine Corps, had publically stated that he’d fear for his son’s safety if Trump were elected president. (More on that later.)
Now it will be obvious to anyone reviewing the Raddatz snippet that she was distraught over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Nothing surprising there. Serving as a presidential debate moderator Raddatz had made plain her contempt for and detestation of The Donald. It might be argued that to laugh at her display of emotion is petty cruelty, and there’s something to that. But on the other hand Raddatz is a highly paid, highly privileged member of the media elite who has made no particular secret of what she thinks not only of Trump but of his supporters: a fascist thug leading a parade of deplorables. So to the extent that I feel her pain, I believe she had it coming.
Enter Matthew Dowd.
I should mention until the incident about to be related I had very little idea of who Mr. Dowd is. Later I learned from Wikimedia that he’s “an American political consultant who was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney ’04 presidential campaign and current ABC News political analyst.” But at the time we crossed paths on Twitter Dowd was, to me, no more than a hazily recalled name.
What happened was this. In the course of his kick-off thank-you tour speech in Ohio on December 1, Donald Trump mocked what he characterized as the over-the-top media reactions to his election, mentioning in particular one journalist who, he said, had gone so far as to cry on the air. Though he named no name there was little doubt that Trump was referring to Martha Raddatz.
This sally apparently infuriated Raddaz’s ABC colleague, Dowd, who took to Twitter to nail Trump’s monstrous lie. Truthfully enough, he pointed out Raddatz had not actually cried. This I happened to see because someone I follow retweeted it and I replied: “Merely, her lips trembled and her voice quavered, i.e. Ms. Raddatz was clearly distraught…”
Well. My comment was not at all to Mr. Dowd’s liking. He shot back a denunciation of my insensitivity and lack of regard for “context,” capped by the news that he was blocking me on Twitter and punctuated with a final “Adios”—a grievous act of cultural appropriation, incidentally. Guess he thought he showed me!
About that word, though, “context.” Though he didn’t deign to elucidate I suppose what Dowd meant by it was Raddatz’s subject matter: national security and, specifically, Senator Kaine’s shot at Trump. She called his statement “extraordinary.” Well, I had a different take: Kaine’s words struck me as vile and outrageous. I believe I have the standing to make this criticism because my daughter, a US Army veteran, spent a year deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-11. Alex was an MP, hers was a post of some danger, and it was a stressful twelve months for me and my wife. Fortunately, though, Alex was returned to us safely. Today our daughter is married and as of this writing she’s an expectant mother of twin boys.
I’m no great fan of President Obama and have been a constant critic of his performance as commander-in-chief. But I would never have made such a statement regarding Obama, as Kaine did regarding Trump, while my daughter was a serving soldier—not to her or to anyone. I try to imagine myself telling her something like that while she was back home with us on mid-deployment leave. Not possible—not even thinkable. But what kind of a father would say a thing like that? Apparently one like Kaine, who saw in his son’s service the opportunity to strike a low political blow. Nor do I believe that Martha Raddatz’s evident distress on election night had much to do with Kaine’s (irresponsible and opportunistic) statement. No, she was upset over the growing likelihood that Trump would be elected president.
So what was up with Matthew Dowd? I’m nobody special, just an on-line dabbler with a blog few people read and about 280 followers on Twitter. Should I be flattered that some ABC News big shot thought I was important enough to slap down? Nah. Mr. Dowd in his own distress over the election of Trump was simply lashing out, I happened to be standing athwart his four-lane highway to historical irrelevance, and schadenfreude will remain in season, it seems, for some time to come…