On the morning after U.S. forces killed the most wanted man in the world, Donald Trump sent out a Tweet: “Don’t forget to watch Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf—tonight at 9 pm, Golf Channel.”
Suddenly, all the Trump coverage seems small. President Obama’s ribbing of the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” on Saturday night now seems like one of the best poker faced performances in recent political history, putting a stark contrast between him and a prospective challenger. (Obama: “You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled sir, well handled.”)
But as much as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death may have awakened everyone from a kind of trivial slumber, it doesn’t mean that Trump is over.
The decade since 9/11 has shown that predicting political and especially cultural shifts is perilous, and often just plain wrong.
The trauma of Sept. 11, 2001 had commentators proclaiming the “death of irony” and the end of its most popular primetime derivation, reality television. Instead, reality morphed from fad to familiar format, and celebrity coverage gained a new level of traction.
Again this morning, Obama talked about the sense of unity that crossed partisan divisions in the aftermath of 9/11, and the spontaneous demonstrations in Washington and New York that went late into the night last night is a good sign that Americans can still rally at a national moment. (Huffington Post reports that Friday’s top search was “middleton dress”; today’s is “terrorist sea burial.”)
For his part, very quickly after sending out his Tweet about the golf tournament, Trump got out another message, praising Obama and the Armed Forces and adding, “We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those fighting for our freedom.”
Is this unity fleeting? A turning point? For now, let’s just call it a breather.
Update: Jon Weisman writes here about how the broadcast networks cut away to regular programming last night — and why it may not be such a big deal. …Brian Lowry writes how the cable news networks restrained themselves from offering instant political analysis of the unfolding event.
As the President was speaking last night, Trump was making the decision to bring back LaToya Jackson.