Donald Trump will speak on Prime Time tonight, and that is all anyone is talking about in the political world right now. I’m not sure why it comes as that much of a surprise that 1) he would try this, and 2) that the networks would air it. I’m more surprised that 1) he hasn’t already tried this, and 2) that the networks actually gave pause before ultimately deciding to air the speech.
The speech will be about eight minutes long, but here’s the deal: Donald Trump hasn’t had a new thought since the campaign. He recycles the same lines over and over and over. His Twitter feed is more repetitive than a The Walking Dead storyline. He’s not going to say anything tonight that he hasn’t already said 1,000 times. No one will learn anything new. By and large, most folks will be more interested in the Democratic response afterward, because we live during contentious times, and we’re all going to wonder whether the Democrat will successfully own or troll or clap back (if the Democrats want to ensure more eyes than Trump, get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to deliver the response, or better yet, ask Julián Castro to deliver it, because the border wall actually affects his state). The Democratic response will probably be dry and boring, but it will defuse the outrage briefly unless you decide to watch cable news afterward (do not watch cable news afterward).
Here’s what will happen. For eight minutes, 70 percent of Twitter will melt down while Trump speaks, even though nothing he says will come as a surprise. For the next eight minutes, the other 30 percent will melt down while the Democrat speaks. Much of America, meanwhile, will be like, “Where the hell is Black-ish?” Or, “It’s bad enough that he wants to waste money on a wall, and now he’s interrupting NCIS?!” Others will be obliviously watching CW shows or Netflix.
It’s a nuisance speech. He’s going to lie and f**k it up like he f**cks everything else up, and the fact-checkers will call him on it, the people inclined to believe Trump will refuse to believe the fact checkers, the anti-Trumpers will express a lot of outrage, and we’ll all wake up in the morning right back where we were: No closer to ending the government shutdown while searching for something new to express outrage over.
It’s all very 2018. But it’s 2019 now. The Trump news cycle has become boring and predictable. Let’s just jump to the end: The shutdown will go on for a few more days or weeks, and some Republicans will eventually join the Democrats in opening the government piecemeal (first, the IRS, and then air traffic controllers will start to get paid, etc.) until most of the government is open and the White House has lost all of its leverage. They’ll keep it closed a few more days anyway, just to save face, but it will mostly blow up in that face. Trump will try to declare a national emergency and make the military build the wall. It will drag on in the courts for a while, and it will be ruled unconstitutional. The media will obsess and obsess and obsess, and after all of that, the media will turn its attention back to Mueller.
All I’m saying is, don’t get caught in the undertow of the media’s manufactured crisis over the President’s manufactured crisis. You can get angry all you like about the networks airing the speech, but it’s his first primetime speech. Of course, the networks were going to air it. It was never really in doubt (and it’s not about ratings, because NCIS gets better ratings and the networks cannot run ads during the Trump speech). If Trump f*cks it up like he f*cks everything else up, the networks won’t let him give a speech on primetime again until he gives his resignation speech. The end.
But look how goddamn fabulous Angela Bassett looks. Angela Bassett is how you make America great again.
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