The boy who cried ‘Trump’

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The boy is crying wolf, but the townspeople ignore his increasingly dire warnings. Why wouldn’t they? He has cried wolf many times before, and each time his claims turned out to be false. This time, they won’t be fooled by the boy’s alarmist calls for help.

We all know the story, but like all moral truths, its lesson needs periodically to be relearned. Today, the wolf is Donald Trump. And the boy is the mainstream media howling at the top of their lungs that Trump is a liar, a misogynist, possibly a racist, and a narcissist who may be so thin-skinned and sensitive that he is unfit to be Commander in Chief.

The townspeople, of course, are the general public, not political junkies who know the difference between a caucus and a primary and can tell you which party is defending more Senate seats this cycle. Think about your uncle who announced his support for Trump over Thanksgiving dinner. Why should people like him listen to the media’s warnings (mine included) about Trump?

Sure, Trump referenced Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle and Carly Fiorina’s looks, sprinting across several lines of decorum usually observed by major political candidates. But the average voter probably never heard or read either comment directly – they heard only that Trump is a “sexist” or “offensive to women.” And what do those words even mean any more in the political world, when pundits accuse every conservative or Republican candidate of being part of a nefarious “war on women”?

Mitt Romney, who has more class in his pinky finger than Trump will ever know, was pilloried for saying that he had “binders of women” – a reference to notebooks of resumes of qualified female professionals that Romney, as Governor, consulted to ensure that his administration always considered women for key positions. The New York Times probably had to hand out a thesaurus to its editors to come up with new words for “sexist” in the wake of that innocent comment.

And yeah, maybe Trump made up a story about seeing “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrate as the World Trade Center fell on 9/11, but so what? According to the media, every conservative politician is a liar. “Bush lied, people died,” remember? (Never mind that Bush was told by his own intelligence services that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or that the existence of chemical weapons was only one of several justifications for going to war in Iraq.)

Off the top of my head, I can recall the media accusing Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie, all of lying. And if many of these attacks on GOP candidates were unfair and biased media hit jobs, why should the average voter believe that critiques of Trump are anything different? When the media calls all conservative politicians liars, the word loses meaning.

Trump’s latest statement to draw howls was his mocking of the physical disability of a New York Times reporter. View the video and look at the reporter. There is no question what Trump was doing (his lame denials notwithstanding) and that it was a cruel gesture. But any more so than Paul Ryan’s “cruel” budget or any other Republican proposal to limit the cost of the welfare state? Those who follow politics with same intensity that I follow the Oscars (I think I’ve seen two movies in a theatre since the 1990s) already know that the media considers Republicans to be “cruel.” Their description of Trump, therefore, rings hollow.

So here we are. The leading candidate for the presidency on the Republican side may actually be a sexist (imagine, a guy on his third wife who runs beauty pageants), a habitual liar, and a bully, among other things. But unless you pay close attention, why would those characterizations scare you – according to the media, they apply to half the political world already. In a world where Mitt Romney is sexist, George Bush is a liar, and Paul Ryan is cruel, what word is left to describe Donald Trump?

Possibly “president,” because repeated cries of “wolf” have made us numb to the term.

Robert N. Driscoll is a native of the Boston area who currently practices law in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this column are his own and not those of his firm. Nor are they the views of his wife, daughters, or greyhounds. Read his past columns here.