Lessons from a pig pen – the media frenzy around Trump’s tweets


LaVarr WebbI’m a fairly traditional person who believes we ought to play nice (although I sometimes fall short of my own aspirations). I also believe politics ought to be civil and respectful.

So, like many people, I’ve been baffled by the president’s late night/early morning tweets that often mock his opponents or take a weird spin on a policy position (or even reverse a previous position) – resulting in a media firestorm.

But I have a new theory about the Trump tweets.  You’ll have to bear with me (for quite a while) before I get to my point.

I’ve raised pigs. They are loud, obnoxious, greedy, boisterous animals. “Eat like a pig” and “squeal like a stuck pig” are accurate descriptions of bad, pig-like behavior.  I’ve been asleep at my farmhouse and suddenly hear squealing like the banshees of hell are attacking. I’ve jumped out of bed thinking a cougar must be attacking the pigs. I run to the pigpen in my underwear (not a pretty sight), gun in hand, and the pigs are just hanging around, dozing and grunting – no indication of what caused the ruckus.

Since I’m a pig guy, I enjoyed a very funny speech about pigs several weeks ago, actually in a church setting — but it has application in politics.

The speaker was an Idaho farmer, quite an accomplished farmer, who knew how to talk like a country boy in a farmer drawl using farm life to relate moral lessons of life. He told how when he was a young boy growing up in the 1950s in a small Idaho town one of the local farmers had a large corral full of pigs of all sizes and varieties.

The boys in town delighted in climbing up on the corral fence on a hot summer afternoon just to watch the pigs root, chase each other around, fight, bite, squeal, wallow in the mud, and generally engage in hog-like behavior. Pigs can be quite entertaining. The speaker said it reminded him of today’s television reality shows. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

But then things got better. There was a Hostess outlet store over in Twin Falls, and the farmer arranged to pick up out-of-date baked goods. Once a week or so he would back up a big truck to the pig corral and dump a load of Twinkies, DingDongs, Sno Balls and CupCakes (you get the idea) into the pig pen.

Well, the result was utter chaos and mayhem as those hogs went berserk over the sweet treats, fighting, squealing, knocking each other around. It was a spectacle to behold, more fun than a farm boy could imagine, the speaker said. He said it reminded him of today’s social media frenzies.  

The packaging was still on the Hostess treats but the pigs didn’t care. Then the boys sitting on the fence received a little inspiration. The Twinkie packages in the hog pen might be dirty, stinky and gross, but if the packaging was intact . . .

“Pretty soon, we were down there amidst the hogs, wallowing in the mud and pig poop for Ding Dongs and Twinkies . . .,” the speaker said in his old-farmer drawl.

It was a funny story, and it could be applied to politics in several ways. But one way is this: Trump tosses out outrageous Twitter posts like the farmer dumped a load of Twinkies. The news media go berserk over every tweet, obsessing, squealing, breathlessly over-analyzing, fighting for the next scoop – like the pigs going after Ding Dongs.

Trump sits in the White House laughing as the news media root around in the over-the-top, politically incorrect, brash, rude and crude Twinkie and Ding Dong tweets he tosses out. He stays up late planning his next Twitter assault, instinctively knowing what will send the talk show hosts into a frenzy.

It isn’t a good way to govern. It has detracted from Trump’s policy priorities. It is often unbecoming of the president of the nation that should be a beacon to the world.

But Trump can’t help himself. He must enjoy watching the news media furiously attack his every tweet like a pen full of pigs brawling for Ding Dongs.