President Trump did something on Monday that you’re not supposed to do during a solar eclipse. He looked up without special glasses.
Trump had a pair of glasses, mind you. But he sauntered onto a White House balcony and glanced squinty-eyed at the sky, ignoring the warnings of doctors and scientists, before pulling his protective eyewear out of a pocket.
Was the president being reckless with his retinas? Setting a bad example for others? Hardly, according to Tucker Carlson.
“In a move that is not a complete surprise, he looked directly at the sun without any glasses,” Carlson marveled on his Fox News show, “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.”
Carlson delivered the line with a straight face, perhaps the most impressive thing any TV host has ever done.
Carlson was surely joking. In fact, he followed up with a statement in which he said “it was a test to see if liberals are really as slow and humorless as people claim. Turns out they are.”
There is actually a lot of truth in his remark. He is absolutely right that Trump’s disregard of expert advice is unsurprising. We are talking about the man who once said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
Claiming to know better than people who actually know better is part of Trump’s shtick.
Plus, he’s a contrarian. His former communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, explained last week that “it’s almost like a counterintuitive thing with him, as it relates to the media. The media’s expecting him to do something; he sometimes does the exact opposite.”
Like look at an eclipse without special glasses, when the media is expecting him to don shades.
Carlson’s appraisal of Trump’s move (“impressive”) reflects an appreciation of the president’s unconventional style. Trump doesn’t do what’s predictable — what he should, in some cases — and his supporters love him for it. Some voters seem to find Trump so refreshing that they overlook the moments when the standard course of action really would have been the best course of action.
A recent situation involving white supremacists comes to mind.
Trump’s naked-eyed gaze on Monday provided one tiny litmus test for broader views of Trump. If your take mirrors Carlson’s, then you are probably a fan of the president. If your reaction can be read on the cover of the New York Daily News, then you probably are not.