Earlier this week, Donald Trump met German Chancellor Angela Merkel face to face for the first time. It was a meeting between not only two of the most powerful and prominent leaders in the world, but two politicians who on many issues represent opposites along the ideological spectrum. It seemed like an opportune time for the two leaders, and the public in general, to open a serious discussion on many of these crucial issues.
For example, there are some in Germany who have criticized Merkel for being too lenient in her policy towards refugees, while Trump has been unable to find a palatable balance between safety and xenophobia.
Or, with Obama out of office, Merkel now stands as the political standard bearer of global corporatism; her backing of the EU, global trade deals, and open borders in stark contrast to Trump’s quest to find out when “America First” isolationism becomes harmful.
You could add the topics of Russia, Israel, Syria, NATO, and many others to the list.
Yet, the story of the meeting as presented by the mainstream media did not discuss any of these things. Rather, it was all about a handshake (or lack thereof).
Photographers: Can we get a handshake?
Merkel (to Trump): Do you want to have a handshake?
Trump: *no response*
Merkel: *makes awkward face* pic.twitter.com/ehgpCnWPg7
— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 17, 2017
I suppose it is possible that Trump is playing some sort of pro-wrestling-style psychological games with other world leaders; here, refusing to shake Merkel’s hand, or, calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “Joe” a few weeks ago.
I recall an old clip of Memphis wrestling from the 1980s in which then world heavyweight champion Ric “Nature Boy” Flair (Woo!) met local champion and hero Jerry “The King” Lawler face to face. Flair extended his hand as if to shake, but when Lawler reached his hand out Flair pulled back and asked, “Who are you again?”
Actually, that does kind of sound like Trump.
I am fond of saying that politics is a lot like pro wrestling, only faker. This sentiment can certainly extend to the mainstream media and their constant use of pro-wrestling storylines to divert attention from legitimate issues.
On a deeper level, however, it is more than just the mainstream media’s tactics of diversion. It is their tactics of redefinition.
As outlets like CNN and MSNBC have started their own Handshakegate, sources like Fox have been strenuously defending Trump and condemning the “left” for making something out of nothing.
Ah yes, the nefarious “left.”
When outlets like Fox use the word “left” to describe outlets like CNN and MSNBC, or when those outlets self-define as such, the term has little or nothing to do with progressives, socialists, democratic socialists, and others on the ideological left.
When Hillary’s emails were revealed, the “left” was quick to push a narrative of red-baiting, while the ideological left wanted to ask questions about government corruption.
As Trump quests to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare, the ”left” spend their time vigorously defending Obama’s legacy, while the ideological left seeks to insert universal healthcare into the discussion.
When Trump revealed his intentions regarding the military budget, the “left” argued the amount of the increase, while the ideological left asked why their military is campaigning across the globe.
Of course, this phenomenon applies to this week’s other hot story, in addition to Handshakegate; Rachel Maddow’s spectacular flameout regarding Trump’s tax returns.
While the “left” seeks to defend Maddow and continue their ham-handed quest to take down Trump and deliver us to President Pence, those on the ideological left are asking why, even as he paid taxes, Trump paid a lower percentage of his $100+ million dollars than someone in the middle class pays. Further, they want to talk about the section of the tax code, for once an impediment rather than a loophole for the super-rich, which caused Trump to pay even that much in tax, and which he now wants to abolish.
Meanwhile, punditry on the “right” are not forced to present a coherent argument as to why it makes sense to lower taxes on the rich instead spending their time in vigorous condemnation of the woman they are now calling “Mad Dog Maddow.”
Between the “Mad Dog” Maddow, Donald “Nature Boy” Trump, “Uncle Joe” Trudeau, and all of the other professional wrestling characters, a discussion of the tax code never takes place, and the rich get richer.
It is an incredible case of doublethink; that the mainstream media sources portrayed as the “left” are both the representatives of progressive and socialist ideology within the establishment narrative, while at the same time being vigorous opponents of these ideologies.
It looks like the ideological left may have to think up a new term for itself since “left” appears to be in use. Is the establishment still using “progressive who gets things done” or is that up for grabs?
This article was originally posted on Medium.