Discover more from Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture
Donald Trump's Plane Landed in Iowa;
Eight years ago today as he "explored" a run for the Presidency
Facebook reminded me this morning that eight years ago today I was on Donald Trump’s plane at the Des Moines Airport as he was exploring a run for the presidency. As you can see from the above screenshot, I wrote about it for Salon a few weeks later.
I wasn’t happy with the title they chose. Not at all. If you read even the first few paragraphs, you will see that I was taking Trump seriously because of what Iowans were telling me about him.
Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Here are some bad photographs I took. You will likely recognize a few reporters (I’ll make no comment on Trump’s hand placement, I’m sure you will have plenty of your own).
If you read the piece you will find that I wasn’t happy with the questions reporters asked. I’m still not happy with the questions we are asking politicians—and I include myself as one of the offenders. We need to be relentless in asking follow up questions.
We need to recognize when we aren’t getting a straight answer and keep up the pressure until we get it. And we need to quit wasting time on questions that are irrelevant—like here, when someone asked about Iowa Olympian Shawn Johnson’s appearance on The Apprentice. It drew laughs, and lightened the mood, but other reporters had real questions to ask, and the reporter wasted that time and denied others the opportunity.
Perhaps the worst question I have ever heard asked was when a respected reporter asked former Democratic Governor of Montana and then 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Steve Bullock if he could “tell us a few dad jokes.”
It’s hard to do a good interview. Even harder when politicians spew a stream of lies or bits of misinformation at us. What to debunk first?
Julie Hotard (@upine), a psychologist and disinformation expert, pointed out the difficulty in interviewing scoundrels like Ted Cruz was because of problems pointed out in January 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. She referenced “Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle...an internet adage that emphasizes the difficulty of debunking false, facetious, or otherwise misleading information: ‘The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than is needed to produce it.’"
The reporters need to control the interview, but most of the time we are simply too polite and don’t dig in and push back. It seems uncomfortable while we are doing it, but we need to. Again, I’m part of the problem.
I was so naive in this piece about Trump. I was even a bit optimistic comparing him to other Republicans running (e.g., how could anyone be worse than Ted Cruz?) I couldn’t have possibly suspected at the time that he would lead an assault on Democracy, and that almost every Republican in leadership would be a party to it.
And here it is important to remember—it’s not about Trump. He’s the symptom, not the disease.
But I’m hopeful. Americans don’t like what Republicans are doing. Republican policies are unpopular, while the Biden/Harris administration has delivered clear results related to manufacturing, job creation, Covid response, climate change, farm policy, infrastructure, marriage equality, and much, much more.
Yet, there is much more to accomplish, including saving Democracy from autocrats, criminals, and traitors.
I would like to also point out that Twitter has declared war on Substack. Here is what you will see if you click on a link to Deep Midwest on Twitter.
This may be temporary, but we will see.
Please check out the Iowa Podcasters’ Collaborative, and take a look at the work of other Iowa Writers’ Collaborative columnists—they are doing amazing things. If you can afford it, please become a paid subscriber to their work. Here they are in alphabetical order:
Laura Belin: Iowa Politics with Laura Belin, Windsor Heights
Doug Burns: The Iowa Mercury, Carroll
Dave Busiek: Dave Busiek on Media, Des Moines
Art Cullen: Art Cullen’s Notebook, Storm Lake
Suzanna de Baca Dispatches from the Heartland, Huxley
Debra Engle: A Whole New World, Madison County
Julie Gammack: Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck, Des Moines and Okoboji
Joe Geha: Fern and Joe, Ames
Jody Gifford: Benign Inspiration, West Des Moines
Beth Hoffman: In the Dirt, Lovilla
Dana James: New Black Iowa, Des Moines
Pat Kinney: View from Cedar Valley, Waterloo
Fern Kupfer: Fern and Joe, Ames
Robert Leonard: Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture, Bussey
Tar Macias: Hola Iowa, Iowa
Kurt Meyer, Showing Up, St. Ansgar
Kyle Munson, Kyle Munson’s Main Street, Des Moines
Jane Nguyen, The Asian Iowan, West Des Moines
John Naughton: My Life, in Color, Des Moines
Chuck Offenburger: Iowa Boy Chuck Offenburger, Jefferson and Des Moines
Barry Piatt: Piatt on Politic Behind the Curtain, Washington, D.C.
Macey Spensley: The Midwest Creative, Iowa
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Buggy Land, Kalona
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Emerging Voices, Kalona
Cheryl Tevis: Unfinished Business, Boone County
Ed Tibbetts: Along the Mississippi, Davenport
Teresa Zilk: Talking Good, Des Moines
To receive a weekly roundup of all Iowa Writers’ Collaborative columnists, sign up here (free): ROUNDUP COLUMN
We are proud to have an alliance with Iowa Capital Dispatch.