Various elite media types clucked, scolded, and clutched their pearls after Donald Trump got booed at the World Series and some of the crowd spontaneously chanted "Lock him up!" Because when ordinary voters do it, it's "uncivil." When Trump does it, it's the Voice of the People. But the talking heads' discomfort was about something more important: cognitive dissonance. Trump being booed threatens their worldview. The American media cannot accept the fact that President Trump is unpopular.
Donald Trump is very unpopular. More than half the country dislikes him. The polls have always shown this. But the media and political establishments refuse to digest this. They always find a way to attach a but or a qualification.
Unpopular, but that's just the other party. (Forget what the polls say about independents.) Unpopular, but only in the big cities (where most of the people are). Unpopular, but not in "Real America" (where most of the people aren't). Unpopular, but that's just the elite.
There's no such thing as a small elite that makes up more than half the population. If you think about that for a second, it's obvious. So some people work very hard to avoid thinking about it for even a second.
Having a random World Series crowd lustily boo the President of the United States threatens the pundits' world view. It undermines what they "know" to be true. So they organize all the excuses they can to protect the conventional wisdom from the facts.
Here's the thing: Trump, as a reality TV type used to creating false appearances, has carefully managed every appearance of his Presidency, precisely because he was afraid of this. He knows he's deeply unpopular and is afraid other people will catch on. So this may be the first time in his presidency that he's been outside without hand-picking his audience.
And look: people hate him. 100% of Trump's genuine public appearances have resulted in him being booed and jeered. The last time I saw him enter a public place where he didn't control the guest list was election day, when he went to vote in his local precinct. He got heckled. The video clearly captures some guy shouting, "You're gonna lose!"
Donald Trump is an unpopular figure with a small, fiercely loyal cult following. That cult following is a real political fact, which needs to be confronted. But it is not at all the same as wider popularity, and it becomes impossible to think about him, or strategize against him, if you don't think about the actual situation. And yet, our media establishment refuses to take the depths of his unpopularity on board. They are not at all interested in what is really happening. They'd rather go out and interview one of his stalwart superfans again, as if that told us anything.
Because Donald Trump is right about one thing: if the false perception of his popularity went away, that would change things.
cross-posted from Dagblog. All comments welcome there, not here.