Great Moments in Journalism: Man who eats McDonalds criticised for “cultural vacuousness”

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Outstanding article from James Hamblin in The Atlantic today.  James has previously authored Pulitzer-level articles like “How People Came to Believe Blueberries Are the Healthiest Fruit”, and “Have You Ever Tried to Decline an Airplane Napkin? It’s difficult”, and, the debunked “The President Who Looked at the Sun“.


Doogie Houser here was responding to a report from another newspaper about a book about Trump (so, roughly fourth hand) about Donald Trump ordering McDonalds.  He draws some wonderful conclusions:

All of this could be taken as simple evidence of Trump’s cultural vacuousness. He should know other speeds; he has dined with other people. He should enjoy a wide array of foods; he has been afforded the opportunity to have anything he wants.

If there’s other insight to be had in gawking at these food habits—and I can’t promise that there is—it may be related to the fact that Trump is at the earliest end of the Baby Boomers. He came up in a time when packaged food was the height of civilization. Uniformity and predictability in a burger or a fish sandwich was a virtue, not an eerie flaw.

CLEAR EVIDENCE OF HIS CULTURAL VACUOUSNESS.  Does James stop by just making snap judgments about how cultured someone is based on a fourth-hand description of a busy man’s meal?  You know he didn’t.

He extrapolates that to a commentary first on his entire lifestyle, and then on his ability to “assess risk”, hoping you’ll all become concerned about global warming, North Korea and governmental fiscal responsibility.

There is no question that this diet is dangerous and is very likely to shorten a person’s life. His dietary pattern adds to the picture of a 70-year-old man who has long been living against all health advice—who does not exercise, who barely sleeps, who has tumultuous relationships, who is frequently enraged. His lifestyle seems pulled from a question on a medical-school exam where the answer is “prepare the cath lab.”

Decisions to live this way would seem to offer insight into Trump’s ability to assess risk. In light of a nuclear standoff with North Korea, rapidly warming oceans, and a looming tax bill that would leave millions more Americans without health insurance, his approach to self-maintenance is not reassuring.

Its amazing, based on James’ analysis, that the guy could be 70, bound through a gruelling Presidential election campaign against the biggest field in history, make more public appearances than his ultimate opponent, while she passed out in public, and manage to somehow be awake to work and tweet 18 hours a day.

Prepare the cath lab.




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