The press treats self-promotion and combativeness like virtues. Why?
On his Twitter feed, Howard Kurtz writes, "You've gotta say this for Trump: He takes reporters' calls, doesn't hide behind flacks. He relishes the combat and never tires of promotion." I understand why journalists value candidates who make themselves available for questioning. Doing so can expose valuable information to the public. But I never understand why so many of my colleagues in the press celebrate the embrace of politics as war, or treat relentless self-promotion as if it's a boon.
Isn't it actually a character defect, even if it does cause someone to talk to journalists a bit more often?
Ponder this line again: "He relishes the combat and never tires of promotion." Aren't those things to be said against Trump? Wouldn't we prefer presidential candidates who see "combat" in politics as a necessary evil? Or better yet, candidates who forcefully engage journalists and their political opponents in substantive debate, but reject the "combat" metaphor as a lazy cliche that obscures more than it illuminates? After all, the end shouldn't be to destroy one another.
In my profile of Gary Johnson, I illustrated his aversion to self-promotion. Isn't that character trait preferable to tireless self-promotion? In fact, wouldn't it be a bad thing if the president of the United States focused a large part of his energy on zealously promoting himself? What if political reporters lauded folks for putting more value in achieving an objective than in getting credit for it?