Jeff Bridges has advice for Republicans, Democrats, Donald Trump, and everyone else: Just take it easy, man. In a CNN Money interview, the actor channeled his inner Dude from The Big Lebowski and counseled people to stop freaking out in politics. Wouldn’t it be better, Bridges says, to “stop pointing fingers” and wait to see how events unfold first? This is a very complicated case … lots of ins and outs ...
“We point fingers at people, we point fingers at [Donald] Trump, he points fingers at people. How are we going to come together and realize that we’re on this little dust spec in space, you know? Things are finite here, you know. How are we going to work together to make the most beautiful existence that we can, you know?”
Speaking to CNNMoney from his home in Montecito, Calif., Bridges sounds like a more spiritual version of ‘The Dude’, the character he famously played in “The Big Lebowski.” He speaks of zen and peace and quotes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and calls for patience and understanding among all Americans.
“That’s what I think is needed today, to kind of put a check on ourselves and knowing what’s right or wrong and being so sure that Trump is an asshole and that he’s going to be terrible and all this,” Bridges says. “You can have very strong opinions, but to go after this peace and this beauty that we’re after I think we gotta show up and give a little space for something beautiful to bloom out of it.”
“As the Dude might say,” he adds, “‘this aggression will not stand.'”
Yeah, but for many in politics and commentary, aggression really ties the room together, man.
If The Dude isn’t your cup of tea in the spiritual-adviser department, then perhaps a more conventional voice might be better. Pope Francis took a moment this past weekend to address foreign-media concerns about The Big Trumpowski, and had a remarkably similar response:
Almost a year ago he said in a pointed reference to then-candidate Trump that, “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
But in the inauguration-day interview, the pope was more cautious: “I think that we must wait and see. I don’t like to get ahead of myself, nor to judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will form an opinion,” Francis said. “But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that will not come to pass. We will see what he does and will judge accordingly. Always work with the specific.”
Exactly. The endless media loops around Trump’s antics distract from the fact that his actions have pretty much fallen into line with his campaign promises. His Cabinet picks have hardly been off-the-wall choices, but mainly solid candidates from traditional conservative ranks, as well as outside executives with long track records of success in the private sector. That reflects what voters generally wanted from a Trump administration, and his opening executive orders have mainly focused on fulfilling campaign pledges and reversing Barack Obama’s own executive actions.
The best approach is that which The Pope and The Dude advise, in their own ways: always work with the specific. Take a fair approach to events as they unfold rather than exhaust one’s self with the daily hysteria that has become a pattern. Criticize the actions that require criticism without treating them like the end of the world, and offer advice and support on the actions that deserve it without considering them the sine qua non of politics.
Of course, Trump seems to enjoy sending the media into daily spirals of outrage, perhaps to distract from the progress being made in policy. Glenn Reynolds points out Trump’s “gaslighting” strategy and its benefits:
In fact, Trump’s basically gaslighting them. Knowing how much they hate him, he’s constantly provoking them to go over the top. Sean Spicer’s crowd-size remarks on Saturday were all about making them seem petty and negative. (And, possibly, teeing up crowd size comparisons at this Friday’s March For Life, which the press normally ignores but which Trump will probably force them to cover).
Trump knows that the press isn’t trusted very much, and that the less it’s trusted, the less it can hurt him. So he’s prodding reporters to do things that will make them less trusted, and they’re constantly taking the bait.
They’re taking the bait because they think he’s dumb, and impulsive, and lacking self-control — but he’s the one causing them to act in ways that are dumb and impulsive, and demonstrate lack of self-control. As Richard Fernandez writes on Facebook, they think he’s dumb because they think he has lousy taste, but there are a lot of scarily competent guys out there in the world who like white and gold furniture. And, I should note, Trump has more media experience than probably 99% of the people covering him.
Glenn’s advice to the press is very similar to that from Francis and El Duderino (if you’re not into that whole brevity thing, man) — patience and discipline. However, Glenn is very skeptical that the media is capable of either. Perhaps we can set the example.