Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Great Trumpf Take Down Falls Flat On Its Face


Louisiana's Duck Dynasty Klan is split on who to support for president. None are following North Carolina Republican Richard Burr's example and pledging fealty to Bernie Sanders, but Phil Robertson, patriarch of the reality TV show went for Cruz while Phil's son, Willie, a former Bobby Jindal backer, is now pumping for fellow TV reality star, Herr Trumpf. "Mr. Trump is a real leader. He represents success and strength, two attributes our country needs. Like me, he is a successful businessman and family man and I endorse his candidacy for President of the United States," said Willie. Willie Nelson, of course, supports Bernie Sanders.

Greg Sargent detects some cynicism among the GOP elites: they're "telling themselves that Trump doesn't mean any of it."
One Republican-aligned business figure says GOP elites prefer Trump to Cruz because Trump “has no obvious core values.” One Republican donor says: “in the middle of the campaign a lot of people say things that they think are going to help them get elected.” Another donor says that while he finds Trump’s demagoguery to be wretched, that’s overshadowed by the fact that Trump is the only contender with the “entrepreneurial spirit” to solve our country’s “big problems.” Bob Dole says that Trump is preferable to Cruz because in reality, Trump is “kind of a deal-maker.” Translation: Trump won’t actually go through with all that crazy stuff he’s talking about.

As I noted the other day, the emerging argument is that Trump’s various pronouncements (even if these establishment types personally loathe Trump’s expressed values) merely reflect an entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit-- they are the inevitable byproduct of thinking big, of a refusal to be constrained by convention. Come to think of it, that’s a good thing, isn’t it!
Yes, they think-- like the German industrialists thought in the early 1930s in regard to their version of Trumpf-- that they'll be able to handle President Trumpf. So just as the Republican Big Money Establishment convinces itself that Trumpf is just fine and is practically one of the boys, as long as he can stop Cruz who they-- and everyone in DC--now hate more... a last ditch effort to stop Trumpf breaks out from the Republican Not-Big-Money Establishment.

The GOP civil war always looks strange but now it looks like the Hate Talk Radio hosts have all turned on Herr Trumpf and are urging their listeners to get on the Cruz train. Limbaugh, Beck, Deece and Levin currently treat Trumpf like the enemy and Levin seems to be implying Trumpf has a private investigator on his tail and is trying to silence him or blackmail him or some kind of crazy right-wing nonsense.

And, as you know, while the Hate-Talkers rally for Cruz, the rightist intellectual base all got together and wrote up little snippets for National Review about why Herr Trumpf is the conservatives' anti-Christ. Now, Erick Erickson, one of the organizers of the anti-Trumpf effort says he would still vote for Trumpf over Hillary (although he hasn't said if he will join Richard Burr and Willie Nelson in voting for Bernie Sanders). Erickson is basing his anti-Trumpism on the Bible: "I take my conservatism seriously, and I also take Saint Paul seriously. In setting out the qualifications for overseers, or bishops, Saint Paul admonished Timothy, 'If anyone aspires to the office of overseer . . . he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil' (1 Timothy 3:1,6)... Like the angels in heaven who rejoice for every new believer, we should rejoice for Donald Trump’s conversion to conservatism. But we should not put a new conservative in charge of conservatism or the country, so that he does not become puffed up with conceit and fall into condemnation. Republicans have wandered in the wilderness already by letting leaders define conservatism in their own image. Donald Trump needs more time and more testing of his new conservative convictions."

Public intellectual Glenn Beck kicked off the National Review anti-Trump onslaught. "Sure," he wrote, "Trump’s potential primary victory would provide Hillary Clinton with the easiest imaginable path to the White House. But it’s far worse than that. If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government. This is a crisis for conservatism." His case:
While conservatives fought against the stimulus, Donald Trump said it was “what we need,” praising Obama’s schemes of “building infrastructure, building great projects, putting people to work in that sense.”

While conservatives fought against the auto bailouts, Donald Trump claimed “the government should stand behind [the auto companies] 100 percent” because “they make wonderful products.”

While conservatives fought against the bank bailouts, Donald Trump called them “something that has to get done.” Let his reasoning sink in for a second: “[The government] can take over companies, and, frankly, take big chunks of companies.”

When conservatives desperately needed allies in the fight against big government, Donald Trump didn’t stand on the sidelines. He consistently advocated that your money be spent, that your government grow, and that your Constitution be ignored.
Cato's David Boaz's case is that Trumpf is not just crazy but that he lets everyone see that he's crazy-- bad enough, but... "From a libertarian point of view-- and I think serious conservatives and liberals would share this view-- Trump’s greatest offenses against American tradition and our founding principles are his nativism and his promise of one-man rule." So... exactly what the right-wing masses want.

Cruz organizer Brent Bozell III uses the Richard Viguerie test: does he walk like us? Trumpf, he says, doesn't. "Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all."

Mona Charen finds Trumpf too much the boor, a creep and a louse to be president and has the backup:
"My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body"
"If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her."
he tried to bully an elderly woman, Vera Coking, out of her house in Atlantic City because it stood on a spot he wanted to use as a garage.
And he's not a conservative, just an ego-maniac "simply playing one in the primaries."
Who, except a pitifully insecure person, needs constantly to insult and belittle others including, or perhaps especially, women? Where is the center of gravity in a man who in May denounces those who “needlessly provoke” Muslims and in December proposes that we (“temporarily”) close our borders to all non-resident Muslims? If you don’t like a Trump position, you need only wait a few months, or sometimes days. In September, he advised that we “let Russia fight ISIS.” In November, after the Paris massacre, he discovered that “we’re going to have to knock them out and knock them out hard.” A pinball is more predictable.

Is Trump a liberal? Who knows? He played one for decades-- donating to liberal causes and politicians (including Al Sharpton) and inviting Hillary Clinton to his (third) wedding. Maybe it was all a game, but voters who care about conservative ideas and principles must ask whether his recent impersonation of a conservative is just another role he’s playing. When a con man swindles you, you can sue—as many embittered former Trump associates who thought themselves ill used have done. When you elect a con man, there’s no recourse.
Ben Domenech of The Federalist asserts that "the case for constitutional limited government is the case against Donald Trump," not a bad argument, although none of the Trumpf backers would care about it. "Trump assures voters that he will use authoritarian power for good, to help those who feel-- with good reason-- ignored by both parties. But the American experiment in self-government was the work of a generation that risked all to defeat a tyrannical monarch and establish a government of laws, not men. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is precisely what the Constitution offers, and what is most threatened by 'great men' impatient to impose their will on the nation."

Mark Helprin also makes the Mussolini/caudillo argument and likens him to "a tapeworm [that has] invaded the schismatically weakened body of the Republican party" and that "he is astoundingly ignorant of everything that to govern a powerful, complex, influential, and exceptional nation such as ours he would have to know."
He doesn’t know the Constitution, history, law, political philosophy, nuclear strategy, diplomacy, defense, economics beyond real estate, or even, despite his low-level-mafioso comportment, how ordinary people live. But trumping all this is a greater flaw presented as his chief strength. Governing a great nation in parlous times is far more than making “deals.” Compared with the weight of the office he seeks, his deals are microscopic in scale, and as he faced far deeper complexities he would lead the country into continual Russian roulette. If despite his poor judgment he could engage talented advisers, as they presented him with contending and fateful options the buck would stop with a man who simply grasps anything that floats by.
Should I keep going? How about William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, which probably has even fewer readers than National Reviews? He's posing questions to conservatives: "Hasn’t Donald Trump been a votary merely of wealth rather than of freedom? Hasn’t he been animated by the art of the deal rather than by the art of self-government? ... Hasn’t Donald Trump always been a man inclined to go along-- indeed, impatient to get along-- with history? ... Isn’t Donald Trump the very epitome of vulgarity? In sum: Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?"

Dana Loesch writes that she knows Herr Trumpf. "He’s been a frequent guest on my radio and television programs, and I introduced him at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015. He has always been amiable and complimentary. I genuinely like him. But not as my presidential pick." She doesn't believe his conversion (to conservatism) story. Does anyone?

David McIntosh, head of Club for Growth, which ran some ineffective ads against Trumpf to try to stop him a few months ago, says Trump isn't a conservative and that he's "no better than what we already have. He’ll say anything to get a vote but give us more of the same if he gets into office." Trumpf's platform, he says are "the ramblings of a liberal wannabe strongman who will use and abuse the power of the federal government to impose his ideas on the country."

If you've been listening to Michael Medved's Hate Talk Radio show you already know he loathes everything about Trumpf and sees him as an embarrassment to the party: "Worst of all, Trump’s brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona serves to associate conservatives with all the negative stereotypes that liberals have for decades attached to their opponents on the right. According to conventional caricature, conservatives are selfish, greedy, materialistic, bullying, misogynistic, angry, and intolerant. They are, we’re told, privileged and pampered elitists who revel in the advantages of inherited wealth while displaying only cruel contempt for the less fortunate and the less powerful. The Left tried to smear Ronald Reagan in such terms but failed miserably because he displayed none of the stereotypical traits. In contrast, Trump is the living, breathing, bellowing personification of all the nasty characteristics Democrats routinely ascribe to Republicans... If Trump becomes the nominee, the GOP is sure to lose the 2016 election. But the problem is much larger: Will the Republican party and the conservative movement survive?"

Edwin Meese, Reagan's Attorney General, compares Trumpf to Reagan and finds him negative, divisive and destructive. Another GOP Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, insists that a "Trump presidency would imperil our national security." (I bet he'd vote for him in the general anyway.)

Katie Pavlich from Townhall seems most worked up that "Trump has made a living out of preying on and bullying society’s most vulnerable, with the help of government. He isn’t an outsider, but rather an unelected politician of the worst kind. He admits that he’s bought off elected officials in order get his way and to openly abuse the system."

Can't leave out John Podhoretz, right? He makes an interesting and plausible case that Herr "is the apotheosis of a tendency that began to manifest itself in American culture in the 1980s, most notably in the persons of the comic Andrew Dice Clay and the shock jock Howard Stern: the American id. Guys like the Dice Man and Stern had been told and taught and trained by respectable middlebrow culture to believe that their tastes and desires were piggish and thuggish and gross, and they said: So be it! Clay filled stadiums across the country with young men who chanted dirty nursery rhymes along with him. Stern invited young actresses onto his show to discuss their breasts. The screams of outrage that greeted them were part of the act... The cultural signposts Trump brandished in the years preceding his presidential bid are all manifestations of the American id-- his steak business, his casino business, his green-marble-and-chrome architecture, his love life minutely detailed in the columns of Cindy Adams, his involvement with Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire, and his reality-TV persona as the immensely rich guy who treats people like garbage but has no fancy airs. This id found its truest voice in his repellent assertion that the first black president needed to prove to Trump’s satisfaction that he was actually an American. In any integrated personality, the id is supposed to be balanced by an ego and a superego—by a sense of self that gravitates toward behaving in a mature and responsible way when it comes to serious matters, and, failing that, has a sense of shame about transgressing norms and common decencies. Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id. Should his election results match his polls, he would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime."

There's more, of course-- read it all here-- but how can anyone top the Trumpf/Andrew Dice Clay comparison? By the way, you can contribute to the antidote to all this Trumpism here.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home