It’s always against our better judgment that my wife and I check in to see what Fox News is reporting.
I don’t even recall why we did it. Was it to see how Fox was reporting the story that Justice Department officials discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump as mentally unfit?
Was it to see the latest about Paul Manafort’s deep involvement with Russians or Roger Stone’s dance with Wikileaks?
Whatever the case, flipping to Fox, we were delivered to – surprise – a crisis on the border. Trump says it is so, and it must be so.
The blonde talking head first talked to a Republican someone who affirmed it was so.
Then we saw pictures that surely affirmed his affirmation: a scene of brown-skinned people in a Mexican border town being unruly.
Then Fox went split-screen as the talking head parroted Trump’s claims about how a wall would stop drugs and dangerous Mexicans.
To do this, half the split screen was filled with pills. They looked addicting. The other half was filled with one disorderly Latino-looking individual struggling with authorities.
We were not as troubled by this as some Fox News viewers no doubt are. We guessed that the picture of drugs might be stock footage of allergy medication. We guessed that the disorderly Mexican might be a Puerto Rican riled over a parking violating in New York City.
Regardless, if so inclined, a viewer of TV – like our president, when doing what he does best – could find that split screen very alarming. You wouldn’t want to fight that angry Latino for that parking space.
My wife observed that as scary as the scene might be to some, imagine how much more so with a big screen.
We have a 27-inch screen, plenty big. But imagine the fearful American family hunkered down before an 86-inch TV. By rough division, that’s 43 inches of drugs and 43 inches of disorderly Mexican.
That, of course, is the audience to which our president has been appealing ever since he rode the escalator down from on high: people who scare easily, most also having disposable income for big, beautiful TV screens.
Most of them live in places that almost never see Mexicans except in vignettes on Fox News. Most never see undocumented workers, for those workers hurry to be unseen at their hotels and motels and busing their tables.
Trump wants us to fear undocumented individuals, but even he hasn’t feared them sufficiently to not hire them to work on his properties in great numbers. A split personality?
Well, yes – 25th Amendment-style.
Talk about venting out of two sides of one mouth. In 2014 Trump tweeted that President Obama had acted to “subvert the Constitution for his own benefit” in doing an end run around Congress and creating DACA. Indeed, Trump said it was an impeachable offense.
Fortunately, multiple courts have affirmed Obama’s authority to do want he did. Trump is not going to be so lucky with siphoning billions from budgeted sources for his pet project.
Thinking about this border-wall thing, I have an idea which relates to another Republican pet initiative: school vouchers – tax dollars to let people send their kids to private schools.
I’ve always wondered why Republicans don’t demand that other public services are doled out similarly. Vouchers for fire or police protection, say. Vouchers for street repair.
Since Trump is intent on this scheme, he could follow the Republican playbook and issue “wall vouchers” to those who demand them. They could build iron slats around their white-flight neighborhoods to make them impermeable to disorderly Mexicans.
More cost-effectively, if he wants to stoke more fear he could issue emergency vouchers to buy bigger TV screens.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young now lives in Colorado.