Can’t we all just get along?
The pendulum of riots and executive pushback is getting old, tiring, and disheartening. For those who have yet to hear, President Trump recently announced that he would, indeed, not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year, despite the fact that U.S. Presidents have made a habit of attending in the past. Since President Coolidge attended the feast in 1924, every president has done so at least once.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
President Trump hasn’t been a friend to the media in months past, but that’s what makes this bow-out so puzzling.
The tweet that he sent regarding the dinner was extremely respectful and courteous, as he wished everyone a good evening, despite his absence. Is this a passive-aggressive jab at the “mainstream media,” or did he just have plans to go bowling with his chums?
Regardless of President Trump’s intentions when he released his terse remark (as he often does), many people lost their heads over it (as they often do). Within hours of this 140 character remark’s release, outrage has stirred among left-leaning crowds who see bailing out on the dinner as a cowardly action.
Many have jumped to the conclusion that he is avoiding the media at all costs in order to, in some way, save face. Perhaps this is true, but it would be odd, considering the fact that he held a press conference just under two weeks ago, at which he named his Labor Secretary nominee.
At the same time, it is important to note that President Trump is the only Commander in Chief to miss the dinner since 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was busy recovering from a gunshot wound. Even then, he called into the venue to speak to the attendees. The last president to skip the event outright was President Nixon, who told the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “The press is your enemy.”
“The press is your enemy.”
— President Nixon
This, of course, hearkens to President Trump’s constant lambasting of the media, specifically outlets that oppose him. Keep in mind that President Nixon was among the most secretive and deceptive presidents in U.S. history, going to such lengths to maintain his privacy that he attempted to withhold potentially incriminating Oval Office audio from the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the most powerful country of the world.
Now, if you think that both of the above arguments are shaky and unconvincing, you’re right. The fact of the matter is that 140 characters can’t tell us everything about an issue, and we should stop acting like they can. Especially when the respectful tone of President Trump’s tweet is thrown into the mix, it is near-impossible to make a logically sound attribution of motive. We just don’t know why he bailed. Is there any good reason to act as though we know (aside from, say, partisan agendas on both sides)?
The left’s Trump and the right’s Trump are completely different people at this point, with completely different motives and merits. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to view anyone as the caricature of themselves that other ideologues draw.
Perhaps I can only speak for myself when saying this, though I wish others would agree, but can we not write a novel out of a 140 character tweet?
Can we not attribute motives, intentions, and value as a human being (you’d be surprised what lies in most comment sections) to somebody when we lack all of the required context to do so?