The antics of our president aren't funny, but reading and watching the reactions of journalists who are wrestling with disbelief and bewilderment that a president of the United States would behave the way he is behaving can be amusing. My wife and I have enjoyed a few chortles in recent days over the nonplussed looks and bewildered reaching for adjectives among reporters who are trying to describe the unprecedented schoolyard behavior of President Trump. It's funny to watch.
Journalists are loving it, no matter how much pious lip service they give to deploring it. CNN has something outrageous to talk about all day long. Newspaper columnists are not sitting around, staring into space, wondering from whence a subject worthy of 500 words or so will emerge. The president provides. The irony is that now the news being made by Trump involves complaints about the media and threats toward the media. I'm not saying he's burning the media in effigy. No. All he's done is attack a media caricature on video, tackling it and pummeling it, then walk away all red-faced and faux-enraged. That's all.
The Trump vs. CNN video was a silly, amateurish stunt, something you'd expect from a New York real estate developer, casino operator, promoter of scams and serial bankrupt but never, until now, from the president of our country. So it's really not funny but really is shocking in the way it attacks the norms of presidential behavior and the principles of U.S.society.
But it is entertaining to watch the journalists on CNN and to read the reporters in the New York Times and Washington Post as they try to balance their glee at a president who provides them with such good material with their confusion at someone who would get elected president and act this way. Then there is the nagging fear that what is amusing now could become deadly serious later.
To understand the danger of what is happening right now, we have to appreciate what makes Trump appealing and why he is able to get away with the outrageous things he does. A big part of the explanation, I believe, is the ambivalence of people, like me, who find his behavior appalling but also find amusement in the spectacle.