Just consider the amount of airtime that has been occupied by deep analyses of each presidential utterance about the Charlottesville attack. Commentators keep asserting that Trump should say something different, something better, something richer and more unifying. But he cannot, and we know he cannot. He entirely lacks the capacity for grace. He hasn’t a clue what it takes to pull a country together, and I’m not sure he would do it if he could. Trump’s commentary on Charlottesville has been like his commentary on much else: scattershot, unthoughtful, belligerent, offensive and wrong.
Yet we go on asking him to say more, whereas in a saner country we would ignore him. By the Beeblebrox standard, Trump has done his job of distracting us from serious debates over policy. Try to find in-depth coverage of the Interior Department’s decision to revoke the Obama administration’s rule raising royalties for coal mined on federal and tribal lands, or of the Trump administration’s proposal for sharp restrictions on the ability of the Food and Drug Administration to hire foreign nationals, or of the debate over whether Germany, in the wake of Trump’s criticism, will or will not increase defense spending. You can dig up information, but you have to go looking for it. In this sense, news reporting has become a casualty in the Trump era. Like Beeblebrox, he is infuriating yet fascinating. It’s hard to turn away. 2