BOSTON (CBS) – If you’re a news consumer, you have to be careful of a lot of things: fake news, fake use of the term “fake news,” and the ever-blurrier line between fact and opinion.
One emerging cliché comes to mind – the notion that by repeatedly pushing the envelope of presidential behavior and sparking a heavy stream of outrage spasms, President Trump is “normalizing” all sorts of bad behavior and ideas.
But what exactly does that mean?
My trusty Webster’s defines normalizing as promoting conformance with an “accepted standard.”
If you want to make the case that Trump’s bullying and reactionary positions on race have caused some kids in school and others to act out, go ahead.
But if you’re arguing that our country is being widely transformed into some kind of Trump cult, you’re going to have to explain away the latest ABC/Washington Post poll confirming a clear polling trend – the more people see of Trump’s manners and leadership skills, the more they’re repulsed.
Six in ten of us strongly disapprove of his work, a number that keeps growing even as a modest plurality of voters still pledge allegiance.
Majorities have listened to his rhetoric and concluded he is biased against women and black people.
A whopping 66 percent say he lacks the “temperament and personality” to be president.
That doesn’t look like “normalization” to me.
Instead, I see this White House forcing people to reflect on what they’re willing to accept as “normal” – tolerance or intolerance, due process or autocracy, good manners or vulgarity – and take a stand.
So far, that’s a debate Trumpism is not winning.