Rock Polishing and Trump


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Online videos illustrate the results when plain-looking stones slowly turn in a rock tumbler with a mixture of special grit and a liquid solution. After 30 days of continuous tumbling, the agate, quartz, and jasper mineral specimens come out looking glassy and gleamy and so much more valuable than when they went into the tumbler.

The presidential campaign has less than two months to go. My concern is that Donald Trump is being rock-polished into an acceptable enough-looking political option that he could win in November. The rough-cut, raw material that was Trump coming in to the primary season is being rounded and smoothed more with each 24-hour news cycle. The constant rotation of his image on visual media, especially, but also the repeated exposure in paper-media, is making him so familiar that he appears less threatening with each go-round. The outrageous statements, outlandish comments, outlying opinions—all these are getting softened and evened-out so that they lose their abrasive edges. We have seen and heard so much of him for about a year that the harshness is less evident. This added “tumbling” is on top of the high recognition he began with because of his years as a TV program star and tabloid fodder.

I stepped away from cable TV political commentary at the end of July because I was saturated. I had been following the news closely up through the nominating conventions. Since then my “feed” has been newspapers and social media for the most part. But tuning back in this week to “Morning Joe” and other coverage on CNN and MSNBC, I got another look at Donald Trump and sensed that something was changing or had changed. Are people getting so used to him that they are adjusting their assessments? Will people who are not diehard Democrats or disgusted Republicans be drawn to him not for what he says but for what they think he can represent for them? Can he become a placeholder for a lot of complaints? Are we headed for a Brexit vote in November? Could it happen here? The rock keeps tumbling.