Pushing the White House off the front pages

Since the election of (now) President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, a few friends have come around to ask me what I think will happen post-inauguration.

(Inauguration happened on January 20, 2021, by the way, without any undue drama, just for the record).

Of course, the pundits out there have been predicting all kinds of things. Everything from first day actions (executive orders on all kinds of key items of the administration) to just the overall exhaling from about half the country that the administration of former President Donald Trump is now that, former.

I have predicted, to answer this question, something bolder than just signing executive orders or the repeated call for unity during this “uncivil war” (nice wordplay there, by the way).

That bold vision is simply this – take whatever is happening at the White House (and Congress if he can) off the front pages of the news. I suspect that the new President, in his folksier ways, plans to reverse the concentration of interest on whatever his office is saying, in the news.

Joe Biden
Putting the bullhorn down and toning down the political noise may be the best thing this President can do now he is in.
“Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This prediction has some necessary benefits to all of us. It stops the constant chasing of the tail of our news people on whatever breathless statement the President has to say that day. Trump relished in dragging the tail of the media dog around with every Tweet or every off-the-script, off-the-cuff statement made in his rambling speeches.

And in many ways, not only did he drag the media’s tail, but just about every American as we got lugged into discussing the latest off-the-wall tweet that made front-page news.

That constant attention to reporting on what I considered a lot of times “noise with no substance” to be overall detrimental to the mentality that Americans have to their government. Because if you are forced to concentrate on everything said, even if it is nonsense like it was at times from the Trump Administration, you are unable to sift through that noise to figure out what is going on.

What it led to was leaving novice armchair political pundits to make guesses as to what the President was doing. I would hear more often than not the whole “5-dimensional chess-game” analogy in which Trump was playing at a higher level than everyone else.

Considering that I didn’t have a more compelling reason (because saying Trump was an idiot to people who thought he was playing 5-D chess was not a valid reason to Trump supporters) I just said “sure”.

This cooling down of politics-as-the-only-news will also have benefits to Americans who are looking for a mental foundation to stand on going forward. While some who read this who are Right-leaning will disagree, the vast majority of Americans are not particularly concerned about what happens in the White House that day, but more about whether they can afford the basic things of life – a home, food, transportation.

We can see an example of that in Hawai‘i politics right now, with the new administration of Rick Blangiardi as Mayor of Honolulu.

O'ahu - Honolulu - Capitol District: Honolulu Hale
If President Biden is looking for how to keep the political noise down, maybe he should call on Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi for advice.
“O’ahu – Honolulu – Capitol District: Honolulu Hale” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When the new Mayor came into office on January 2, the constant press conferences that were held by the former Mayor, Kirk Caldwell, ceased almost entirely. Since he came in, Mayor Blangiardi has held one “informal Q&A” with the media and one announcement about new housing opportunities in Honolulu.

This silence of the political microphone, in these times, has been seen by pundits here in Hawai‘i as a general breath of fresh air in these uncertain times. It turns out our new Mayor adheres to a philosophy of speak when you have something important to say. The former mayoral administration was of the mindset that it had to still say something, even though what was said, in the end, amounted to very little.

As with the Mayor of Honolulu, the benefits of keeping the White House off the front page, to let people get back to what they were doing, will help in the long run to recharge our civic verve as we move from crisis to rebuilding.

That is the prediction I have been telling people. Let’s see if Biden/Harris actually does that. We can only hope.