Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
July 21, 2015

Where Trump Meets John Wayne

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What Washington and the political media cannot understand is that Trump’s popularity doesn’t have nearly as much to do with who the messenger is. It’s about people’s disdain for D.C., political privilege and inside-the-Beltway culture. If he’s starting to seriously piss off those in the political realm, just pricking that bubble and watching it ooze is exactly the point. Also, there’s the perfection of exposing how much the press and the pundits — finding a new way each day to elaborate why he doesn’t deserve one more ounce of attention — can’t seem to get enough of him.

The nerve Trump keeps tweaking, with his professed contempt for American politics and its patronage system, is so sensitive and runs so deep, his fans don’t care about Trump, the man. They also don’t care whether — in attacking McCain — he proves himself a petty, rich and also privileged hypocrite either. That’s especially so when Trump’s Mac attack demonstrated, perhaps for the first time in years, that Senators and Congressman across the spectrum can actually close ranks. How perfect that the catalyst, though, was not national security or national defense as much as institutional deference and turf protection wrapped in knee-jerk patriotism.

…And let’s not forget that Wayne, like The Donald, avoided wartime military service for bigger and better things, too.

Marion Robert Morrison was a figure who also adroitly managed his adversarial nature and teeming peccadillos. Individualism, defiance, independence and cowboy spirit were just so many levers of public utility. Leave it to Trump to meld the Iowa birthplace and museum, as well as The Duke himself, into his own diorama. If the personal analogy falls laughable short, the parallel is in the audacity. And then, to have an actual sheriff sidle up to the billionaire, the law creating a real-life symmetry between the cowboys, banks still another thumbs up.

(photo: Brian Frank/Reuters. caption: Donald Trump poses with a supporter as he tours the museum and birthplace of actor John Wayne while campaigning for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in Winterset, Iowa June 27, 2015.)

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