At this point you’ve got to be pretty naive to think there’s a chance that Donald Trump can redeem himself as president. Most progressives have lowered the bar of expectation for him to such a historic low that liberal pundits like Fareed Zakaria consider Trump's bombing of Syrian military bases, which resulted in 16 civilian deaths, a presidential high point.
Plenty of people wake up every morning simply grateful that Trump hasn't launched a nuclear war. But the center-left mainstream media takes a more rose-colored view. Case in point: an optimistic-to-the-point-of-idiotic Sunday Washington Post headline that triggered many eyerolls this weekend.
Media critic and NYU professor Jay Rosen pointed out the absurd front-page headline on Twitter:
The Washington Post later changed this headline to something more neutral: “Amid turmoil, Trump seeking a reset with State of the Union.” But the original headline had already been syndicated at local papers across the country, including the Salt Lake Tribune and the Florida Times-Union.
The Post editors may have taken a leaf out of Karl Rove’s book, of all people. Rove told Fox News on Sunday that, “This is a moment where [Trump] can reset, but the reset depends upon him following through in the weeks and months ahead.”
You’d think liberal journalists would know better than to channel Karl Rove, but here we are. This is the same country that gives Donald Trump endless second chances at redemption, yet administers draconian punishments to first-time offenders for carrying a few grams of pot. It should go without saying that there is no hope that Trump won’t continue to be a horrendous bully in 2018, but precedent holds that the mainstream media will parse his State of the Union address for evidence of an elusive pivot. As political scientist Norman Ornstein writes on Twitter:
Memo to journalists and pundits (including Van Jones) who will comment after the State of the Union: a president reading from a teleprompter for 45 minutes without melting down does not make him presidential.— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) January 28, 2018
Be on the lookout for this kind of coverage on cable news this week. Talking heads will be overly generous to Trump. They’ll go on, gushing, about his seemingly presidential demeanor. But remember that this is not the real Donald Trump. We've already seen that person, and he's hardly presidential.