The Truth Is Out There


The National Enquirer did fake news before it was cool. It’s also a fascinating glimpse into a parallel universe where people have opinions I disagree with. Look at this cover.

What’s amazing about it—not the top parts, the bottom part—is that it makes a bunch of claims that are not very controversial. I mean, who doesn’t want peace between Israel and its enemies? Who doesn’t want to prevent jobs from going to Mexico (Mexico, presumably, but you get what I mean)? I don’t have enough information to determine whether it’s a good idea to reject Air Force One, but if it’s too expensive, why not go without? Similarly, if the Iranian “nuke deal” is “dangerous,” we should all oppose it. “Slapp[ing] down arrogant China” sounds a little risky, but in principle I think we all want to keep China from flexing its muscles too much.

These things, which Trump has either done or is about to do, are bipartisan. Every American, Republican or Democrat, should celebrate them (the “nuke deal” is the sole exception, which is why it gets the admonitory adjective). There’s actually very little room for a difference of opinion here.

And yet no one in my demographic would ever post or share any of these bullet points. Why is that?

One reason is that they’re at least partly fake. I mean, Trump’s not actually going to bring us peace in the Middle East. But another reason is that they do reveal a difference of opinion. The underlying assumption in this Enquirer cover is that Trump is competent.

I and everyone I know operates under the assumption that Trump is a moron, a failed businessman, a chimpanzee. He is, in a word, bad at everything except self-promotion. His father’s name, class inertia, and a willingness to commit fraud are the only sources of his success.

Try imagining for a moment, though,how you’d see the world if you believed Trump was good at stuff.

You’d probably still hate the man, because he’s a criminal rapist who loves dictators, etc. But there are certain bipartisan issues that even your opponents want; my assumption is that Trump is too ignorant to know what these are, or why they’re important, or how to achieve them. Imagine having that stumbling block taken away.

Imagine as well that you get your news from a publication that consistently presents Hillary Clinton, and all the Obamas, as drugged-out murderers on the verge of death. Imagine, that is, someone else’s bubble.

I don’t mean to set up an identity here; the Washington Post or the New York Times are better sources than the National Enquirer; even Salon may be a better source than the National Enquirer. I think my bubble, which insists Trump is a buffoon, is more accurate than the National Enquirer reader’s bubble. But I also think I failed to understand other people’s bubbles last year, which is why I, like the pundits, assumed Clinton was going to win.

It was obvious that some people liked Trump where I hated him. But I really hadn’t considered the fact that they also thought he had skills.

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