Does Herr Trumpf Deserve A Second Look?
I yesterday's NY Times Maureen Dowd referred to Herr Trumpf as "a master of bling and bluster" and admits she's flown on Herr Force One. "No one," she wrote, "is more shocked at how far, how fast, Trump has come than Trump. Watching him morph into a pol in real time and wriggle away from the junior-varsity G.O.P. chuckleheads trying to tackle him is hypnotic. He’s like the blond alien in the 1995 movie Species, who mutates from ova to adult in months, regenerating and reconfiguring at warp speed to escape the establishment, kill everyone in sight and eliminate the human race... Trump really wants to be president. It isn’t a joke any more."
The most enjoyable thing about the Trump phenomenon has been watching him make monkeys out of a lot of people who had it coming.
Nor is it only the pundits who are ringing the alarm bells about Herr. Linda Drake's story ran in yesterday's New York Daily News, just another ordinary American ripped off by the fast-talking, bloviating billionaire-- predatory, fast-talking, bloviating billionaire. She and her husband invested almost a quarter million dollars in one his luxury condo complexes and got nothing for it but a legal battle.
Marco Rubio, a frothy focus-grouped concoction whose main qualifications to be president consist of a nice smile and an easy wit, has been mocking Trump as a con man.
Real estate developers are con men by nature, trying to get what they want at the lowest price and sell it at the highest price, overpromising how great it’s going to be... It’s delicious watching the neocon men who tricked the country and gulled the naïve W. into the Iraq invasion go ballistic trying to stop the Gotham con man.
...It’s amazing, having been tainted by the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that the Republican national security intelligentsia would unite against a Trump presidency in an open letter, charging that he would “make America less safe” and “diminish our standing in the world.” Sort of like the Iraq invasion?
...It’s delightful to see the encrusted political king-making class utter a primal scream as Trump smashes their golden apple cart. He’s a real threat to the cozy, greedy, oleaginous cartel, their own Creature from the Black Lagoon.
For all the Republican establishment’s self-righteous bleating, Trump is nothing more than an unvarnished, cruder version. For years, it has fanned, stoked and exploited the worst angels among the nativists, racists, Pharisees and angry white men, concurring in anti-immigrant measures, restricting minority voting, whipping up anti-Planned Parenthood hysteria and enabling gun nuts.
How lame was it that after saying he was a crazy choice, Rubio, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and John McCain turned around and said they will support Trump if he’s the nominee?
...He has a tenuous relationship with the truth and an inch-deep understanding of policy. Although it is compelling when he says he would surround himself with an A team in the White House, his campaign is not chock-a-block with A-team players. On Friday, his team put out a press release saying Trump would campaign this weekend in a town called “Witchita” in the state of “Kanasas.” And he has not brought on heavyweights who could bring him up to speed on substance.
On Face The Nation yesterday, Cruz shared his visions of a dark conspiracy of a media with "bombshells" that will bring Trumpf down but that they are saving so the GOP destroys itself and allows everybody's favorite corporate shill to win the White House. Cruz, more a receptionist than a kook: "I think an awful lot of reporters-- I can't tell you how many media outlets I hear, you know, have this great exposé on Donald, on different aspects of his business dealings or his past, but they said, 'You know what? We're going to hold it to June or July. We're not going to run it now.' ... And all of the attacks on Donald that the media is not talking about now, you'd better believe come September, October, November-- if he were the nominee-- every day on the nightly news would be taking Donald apart... Donald may be the only person on the face of the planet that Hillary Clinton can beat," especially with the drip drip drip of these bombshells that are being hidden until the general election when Cruz predicts there will be "singular focus of the media... [W]e've been burned by that before. We're not interested in losing again, particularly when the stakes, I think, are catastrophic." Cruz is clearly becoming unhinged-- which will make him a more viable primary candidate.
Professional rightists-- like Hate Talk Radio host Limbaugh and NY Times wingnut Douthat-- are all over the map, groping for a comfortable postion. On Fox New Sunday yesterday, Limbaugh said "with the case of Trump, there’s a much bigger upside than downside." while Douthat wrote he thinks the country should be grateful to Herr for showing us how authoritarianism works, how it seduces, and ultimately how it wins, his caveat being "God willing-- he’s doing it in a way that’s sufficiently chaotic, ridiculous and ultimately unpopular that he will pass from the scene without actually taking power, leaving us to absorb the lessons of his rise."
That rise has four building blocks. First, his strongest supporters have entirely legitimate grievances. The core of that support is a white working class that the Democratic Party has half-abandoned and the Republican Party has poorly served — a cohort facing social breakdown and economic stagnation, and stuck with a liberal party offering condescension and open borders and a conservative party offering foreign quagmires and capital gains tax cuts. Trump’s support is broader than just these voters, but they’re the reason he’s a phenomenon, a force.
Second, you have the opportunists-- the politicians and media figures who have seen some advantage from elevating Trump. The first wave of these boosters, including Ted Cruz and various talk radio hosts, clearly imagined that Trump would flare and die, and by being in his corner early they could win his voters later, or gain his fans as listeners. But the next wave, upon us now, thinks that Trump is here to stay, and their hope is to join his inner circle (if they’re politicians), shape his policy proposals (if they’re idea peddlers), or be the voice of the Trump era (if they’re Sean Hannity).Insurance... in case Trumpf does make it through the primary, Democrats should not take a chance on as fatally flawed a candidate as Hillary Clinton is. She is distrusted and disliked by independents and without there votes, she isn't going to the White House. Bernie out-performs her in every head-to-head general election matchup. You can support him here... and you should.
There is no real ideological consistency to this group: Trump’s expanding circle of apologists includes Sarah Palin and Steve Forbes, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie; he has anti-immigration populists and Wall Street supply-siders, True Conservatives and self-conscious moderates, evangelical preachers and avowed white nationalists. The only common threads are cynicism, ambition and a sense of Trump as a ticket to influence they couldn’t get any other way.
Then third, you have the institutionalists-- less cynical, not at all enamored of Trump, but unwilling to do all that much to stop him. These are people who mostly just want Republican politics to go back to normal, who fear risk and breakage and schism too much to go all in against him.
The institutionalists include the party apparatchiks who imagine they can manage and constrain Trump if he gets the nomination. They include the donors who’ve been reluctant to fund the kind of scorched-earth assault that the Democrats surely have waiting. They include the rivals who denounce Trump as a con artist but promise to vote for him in the fall. They include Republicans who keep telling themselves stories about how Trump will appoint conservative justices or Trump is expanding the party to pretend that Trump versus Hillary would be a normal sort of vote. And they even include the occasional liberal convinced that Trump-the-dealmaker is someone the Democrats can eventually do business with.
Then, finally, you have the inevitabilists-- not Trump supporters, but Trump enablers, who encourage the institutionalists in their paralysis by acting and talking as if the support of 35 percent of the primary electorate means Trump Cannot Be Stopped.
Some inevitabilists are intoxicated with celebrity and star power. Cable news is riddled with such voices, who daily manifest Orwell’s dictum, “Power worship blurs political judgment,” so that, “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”
Others, especially in the intelligentsia, have a kind of highbrow nihilism about our politics, a sense that American democracy’s decadence-- or the Republican Party’s decadence, in particular-- is so advanced that a cleansing Trumpian fire might be just the thing we need... Fortunately Trump’s fire should still be contained, by the wider electorate if not by his hapless party. Fortunately he’s still more a comic-opera demagogue than a clear and present danger.