When I learned (on ALL In last night) that Joe Biden's approval rating on the economy had sunk to 38 percent I nearly popped a blood vessel. As I asked Janice: "What are these moron people smoking? Don't they see the jobs numbers are better than ever and job choices are plentiful, savings at a peak?" She merely smiled, shrugged and replied: "I keep telling you this country is full of morons." But Robert Reich has another take, writing on his Substack platform:
The latest Gallup poll shows that just 17 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country. That’s the lowest percent since Joe Biden became president – and it coincides with his lowest job approval rating, as well as a rock-bottom 18 percent congressional job approval, sagging economic confidence, and the expectation that inflation will rise in the coming months.
But wait. At the same time we’re so down on America, our satisfaction with our own lives has ticked up to 85%. That’s just five points shy of the January 2020 record-high point. Take a look:
Why such a huge gap between public and private now?
It’s easy to understand why we’re so dissatisfied with the way things are going in America. The news from the mainstream media is unrelentingly bad — and those negatives are amplified by an angry, nasty (and often paranoid) social media. "
Reich's point about the mainstream media is spot-on and needs to be more widely disseminated. Searching frantically for a way to get eyeballs on websites, and keep attention (and $$) after the blustery, chaotic, insane Trump years, the corporo- media has taken to digging at every Biden flaw or perceived misstep. To remind readers, it was a 24/7 news cycle which had covered almost every inane Trump outburst or unhinged, vile tweet. No one knew what the ambulatory orange fungus would pop off about next and the media made a game of following him slavishly.
Now in a normal setting- with a president that adheres to norms and doesn't shred citizen's neurons tweeting crap 10 times a day - the media can't deal with it. By which I mean the lagging interest in regular news about the presidency, the policy aspects, law-making, normal international conferences, and the rest. But especially the fall off in circulation and profits as the interest in everything Trump waned, especially after he was barred from Twitter. So there were no more turbulent 24 hr. cycles with Trump meltdowns, narcissistic rage or rhetoric to obsess over- or waste column space on to grab eyeballs or clicks. They got conditioned to so much circulation and profit during the tumultuous Trump years they got addicted to it. It is admittedly a kind of human flaw- even for the collective media - but unforgiveable in these times after an insurrection and a dissembling, psychotic political cult (GOP) that refuses to be changelings.
What to do? Well, pile onto Biden, lowball his achievements by negative framing - then exaggerate his perceived fumbles to at least get a lot of Trumpies into the click bait fold. Especially vile and deranged is how so many can heap scorn on Biden for the economy when it is doing literal gangbusters, as Robert Reich (above) notes when individual perceptions are recorded. But extend that perception to the national level and everyone's brains turn to mush: "Oh my Gawd, it's awful, prices too high, Covid rampaging, Russians threatening...."
Apart from the daily corrupt distortions and propaganda spewed on TRUMP TV, aka FOX the biggest failing of the 'normal' media is the tendency to seek objectivity by resort to false equivalence. Indeed, one sees almost every day examples of this as when media equates Repuke "lawmakers" - still invested in promoting Trump's Big Lie- with Democratic lawmakers fighting to protect voting rights.
Washington Post political columnist Dana Milbank called attention to this kind of anomaly in a Dec. 4th column, writing:
"Think about that. In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office.
And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today. How to explain why Biden would be treated more harshly than a president who actively subverted democracy?....I suspect my peers across the media have fallen victim to our asymmetric politics. Biden governs under traditional norms, while Republicans run a shocking campaign to delegitimize him with one fabricated charge after another"
Milbank's take is essentially correct regarding the U.S. media falling victim to asymmetric politics. It has become so desperate to avoid being seen as "partisan", i.e. to one side (left), that the mainstream media over compensates by basically ignoring the transgressions of a bunch (Repukes) that has ceased to be a political party - and is now a deformed political cult. A cult devoted to authoritarianism and violence and willing to burn all our norms to cinders in obeisance to a vile traitor. And he went on to warn:
"How about being partisans for democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians."
But sadly the media may already be too damaged by the cancerous Trumpist mind virus to function properly - even to the degree of ensuring a check on the national slide to authoritarian fascism. Having been repeatedly torched as "public enemies" during Trump's 4-year reign, the media is mow trigger shy. The slightest hint of being perceived as supporting one (sane) side's position, say to support democracy in the face of lies, gives them the willies. They've become essentially accomplices in the nation's headlong dive toward democratic extinction.
But how to stop the slide? A lot depends on regular citizens' forcing themselves to adjust their national perceptions to a more objective reality - the reality of what's really going on. Reich mentions "this terrible period" in public life, which is indeed full of upheaval for many. For him there are many positives including more space in one's personal life, enabling a slowing down, less concern over clothing, haircuts, makeup etc. and "how we present ourselves to the world".
But also less going out to eat, socializing, movie going, which does stick in the craw of many - as well as their kids having to still wear masks in some locales. I suspect a "pile up" of too many perceived negatives have been projected outwards onto Biden, as if he alone has the power to stop them in their tracks. Which is nonsense. Add on excessive individual exposure to negative memes in the mainstream (and social) media and you have the perfect storm for a "woe is me" syndrome which then gets vicariously dumped onto imaginary 'woeful' citizens nationwide suffering under Joe Biden and his team.
This is not to say Biden's administration has been flawless in its governance, but hell, it's been about 1,000 times better than Trump's bunch - mainly stacked with losers (like Stephen Miller and Mark Meadows) and Bimbos - like Kelly Anne Conway and Kayleigh McEnany! You can't tell me nearly all those dumping on Biden in the polls don't feel major relief to have Trump's incessant Twitter toxins evacuated from their headspace and a return to relative normality. NO way!
Enter now William Davies in his book; 'Nervous States: Democracy And The Decline Of Reason'. which accounts for how easily humans' perceptions can be deformed by outside events beyond their control, sending them into negative, nervous funks. Davies' point is that manipulation of political truth - as well as external objective truth - is at the center of nervous states that lead to malformed perceptions. To readjust those perceptions then, people need to break away from the sources of manipulation. That means putting the cell phone down and social media contacts away, and less watching news on the tube (especially from FOX).
The latter embodies further evidence of mental - nervous derangement, especially regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci (Denver Post, today, p. A10, 'Fauci Under Attack From Republicans Across U.S.) noting:
The Republican war on Fauci is partly a sign of Trump’s strong grip on the party. But Fauci, both his friends and detractors agree, has also become a symbol of something deeper — the deep schism in the country, mistrust in government and a brewing populist resentment of the elites, all made worse by the pandemic.
And Fauci, whose perpetual television appearances have made him the face of the COVID-19 response — and who is viewed by his critics as a high-and-mighty know-it- all
A "high and mighty know it all"? He's trying to lead you imbecilic imps out of the Covid wasteland. Would you rather have Robert Redfield, CDC's worst ever, giving pandemic advice? Or Donald Trump? This discloses all the more reason for these brain -besotted Trumpie minions to get outside for a walk in the sunshine instead of watching reruns of Trump tirades on FOX. Or, alternatively, taking up a distracting, mind-building hobby at home. Get the "reality meter" back into synch with what's really going on amidst the pandemic, not what the media (or social media) tells you what's going on.
That in the end may be the only way out of the psychological disabling Covid funk, not to mention the misplaced (and exaggerated) blaming Joe Biden for all national afflictions. Interestingly as Thomas Friedmann has pointed out (NY Times today) , the blame game is epidemic in America now but no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions.
Everyone demands "rights" (like the idiot pack of "Freedom Convoy" truckers laying siege to Ottawa) but no one wants responsibilities, such as for masking, vaccinations - as legitimate ways to escape the predicament of the pandemic. Doing what enhances the collective welfare instead of acting like spoiled brats and blaming Biden for everything from inflation to bad hair days and toenail fungus. Cited in Friedmann's piece is Dov Seidman, founder of who has aptly pointed out:
"We are losing what could be called societal immunity. That is, the capacity for people to come together to do hard things and look out for one another in the face of existential threats, like a pandemic. Or serious challenges to the cornerstones of their political and economic systems, like the legitimacy of elections or peaceful transfer of power."
We are losing this societal, collective immunity because we have lost the ability for deep thought, especially critical thought. We have done so because we have become mindless hostages to our devices and the media, and especially to corners of that media invested in political and social malpractice by way of lies and manipulation of our minds. Biden's poll numbers are not likely to stop dropping - on this basis - until most Americans come to their senses and see that the "fault is not in the stars but in themselves".
See Also:by Robert Reich | February 8, 2022 - 7:57am | permalink