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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Is Jonathan Swan Toto?: It Is What It Is

"Yo! Semites." Rocky greeting his Jewish fans. (Phillymag.com)

Toto is perhaps the most famous dog in American cinematic history. She has become part of American mythology due to one scene in particular. Toto pulls back the curtain revealing the truth about the Wizard of Oz. This “revealing” is critical to the story. The Wizard is not the person he has been pretending to be.

In this example, the pulling back of the curtain does not reveal a bad or evil person, just someone who is not as great as everyone thinks he is.

JONATHAN SWAN

Jonathan Swan has performed the same service with his interview of the President of the United States. Spoiler alert: Toto and the Wizard were not real, Swan and the President are.

In this interview, the President of the United States, the commander in-chief and leader of the free world, and the wartime leader against the coronavirus appeared to a doddering grandfather in the White House Senior Living Home struggling to answer the questions posed by a visiting grandchild. One presumes whomever in the White House arranged for this interrogation will be fired. What was that person thinking to agree to such an exchange?

One might also ask, how is that the interviewee was so unprepared and ill-equipped to handle the expected questions from Swan. Obviously some preparation work was done otherwise there wouldn’t have been available all those nice, pretty, color graphs. Usually, it is the grandchild who shows off to grandpa all the things made in school back in the time when there was school. In this case the reverse scenario unfolded. This calls to question the skills of the staff who prepared the interviewee. They deserve credit for the failure as well. They were not compotent either.

WHY DID IT TAKE THIS LONG?

One also wonders why it took until well into the fourth year of the administration to have the shortcomings of the staff and interviewee exposed in this manner. One might think given all the public appearances during the primary, the election, and the administration, that there would have been ample opportunity for these weaknesses to be exposed. As it turns out, there wasn’t.

Consider the primary season. During that period, there were numerous public performances at professional public political wrestling arenas. Those performances resemble the smoke and mirror performances of the Wizard. There was no give-and-take during these events. There was no opportunity to pull back the curtain.

Then there were the primary debates. One problem was the presence of 10 people on the stage at once. Questions tended to be round-robin with no follow through. One-liners and crowd-pleasing zingers passed for substantive comment. There was some, but limited opportunity, to expose the Very Stable Genius as a simple-minded child in the body of an adult with the emotional maturity of a three-year old. But too often the showbiz aura trumped all other considerations.

The presidential campaign wasn’t much better. There again the public performances at professional public political wrestling arenas predominated. There were a few presidential debates. Even with two people, they suffered from the weaknesses of the format. Imagine instead of doing the debates as we do now, if over three weeks each candidate had to give three 30-minute speeches on domestic affairs, foreign affairs, and vision or theory of government followed by Q&A from the press on what was just said. Think how different that would be.

However, that is not what happened. Instead, the format was for brief answers on random questions. The most notable action occurred when one candidate stalked the other candidate as he roamed the stage and she did nothing. Nor did the moderator intervene. Think of it. A man known to harass women was given the freedom to physically intimidate a woman. In addition, despite her image as a fighter, she did not fight back and tell him to go back to his cage. So even though there was no Toto there was a revealing moment.

But what about all the interviews during the Administration? First, there were the helicopter interviews. These settings hardly provided a venue for follow-up. When the going got tough, it was easy to change the subject. Second, the few formal press conferences worked the same way. In these instances, it was possible on occasion to ask follow-up questions. I even witnessed a legitimate attempt to respond to such questions. However when the going got rough, there always was the old standby of reverting to being a seventh-grade smart-aleck dumb aleck and calling a reporter a “nasty cutie pie” from FAKE NEWS.

Finally, what about all the Fox performances? Wasn’t there a Toto opportunity there? The answer is “No.” In a typical example on Fox and Friends, the immature child was simply allowed to go on and on and on as if there were no off switch. These diarrhea of the mouth performances involved no fact-checking, no follow-up, and required no preparation by the hosts. They simply had to endure the bull trump until forced to do a commercial or the President of the United States finally decided he had something presidential to do. The same scenario played out with the Fox triplets in the evening.

Taken together, for approximately five years, there was no Toto opportunity. Then suddenly out of nowhere, Jonathan Swan was given that opportunity. Why there was an agreement to have a real interview with a non-Fox person remains a mystery. Why was Jonathan Swan picked to be that person is another question needing an answer. But we may also observe how flabby and out of shape everyone else connected with interview was including the woefully unprepared and inadequate staff. Collectively they appear to have no experience with such interviews. Perhaps they have been weakened through the constant appearances on Fox.

On the other hand, kudos to Jonathan Swan for keeping a straight face during the interview. When I heard “I read a lot,” it truly was laugh out loud moment. Similarly the claim “I probably comprehend more than any people you have interviewed” is another line destined for the funny room at the Unpresidential Library.

OTHER REVELATIONS

Jonathan Swan is not the only Toto to pull back the curtain.

Mary Trump revealed the child in the body of an adult with the emotional maturity of three-year old.

John Bolton reveal the blithering ignorance of a President who always puts his own personal interests first.

Manhattan DA Vance is in the process of revealing that the World’s Worst Businessman is worth less than he claimed, earns less than he claims, launders money, violates the law and deserves to be in prison.

Michael Cohen will reveal that the son of Fred Trump is a longtime bigot and white racist and who knows what else.

SO WHAT IF THE TRUTH IS EXPOSED  

Politically, all these revelations amount to nothing. When Toto exposed the truth, it made a difference. When Jonathan Swan did, it didn’t. Oh sure, it provided comics with some new routines to ridicule the biggest clown in American presidential history, but so what? What difference does it make politically?

Supposed after the 2016 election you made the following predictions about the United States under its new president:

1. over 160,000 Americans and counting would die because of presidential mismanagement
2. the economy would collapse as a result of that mismanagement
3. America would be the laughingstock of the world, a country other countries pitied
4. Swampbuilder would create the most corrupt government in American history
5. he would be the most racially divisive presidency in American history
6. the president not only would put his own needs above that of the country, he would put Russia’s needs over America’s.

The odds are if you had made those predictions in 2016 and saw them all come true, you would not then have predicted that 41-42% of the American people still accept him as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name and would vote for him for re-election. That revelation may be the most difficult one of all to accept.

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