Friday, October 21, 2016

Sure, we say it every four years, but isn't THIS the craziest presidential election in memory?


He-e-e-ere's Speaker Louie! DailyKos caption: "Now, doesn't this inspire confidence?" Yeccch! My proposed new Louie Rule: From now on, the only living Louie to be acknowledged publicly will be Louis CK.

"Whoever comes next will have the task of restoring respect for the law and a common adherence to the Constitution -- the heaviest of burdens, even for a candidate prepared by training and disposition to carry it."
-- David Bromwich, in the new (Nov. 10) NYRB

by Ken

I mean, here we are watching the far-right-wing crazies defending -- as only far-right-wing crazies can, viciously and with a strong whiff of impending violence -- their boy the Billion-Dollar Loser, who isn't even a conservative. Unless you count where he sort-of-plays one for totally cynically selfish reasons on the, you know, campaign trail.

Here's Kerry Eleveld at DailyKos:
Step aside Paul Ryan, Hannity has announced your replacement as Speaker: Rep. Louie Gohmert

Fox News host Sean Hannity is all out auditioning to be chief correspondent of the loons once the new Trump-bart debuts. And first on the chopping block after Trump is roundly defeated by overwhelming majorities at the polls: Paul Ryan, whom Hannity called a "saboteur" of Trump's campaign. Allegra Kirkland writes:
Speaking to the Washington Post in the spin room after the final presidential debate, the devoted Donald Trump ally hinted that the intra-party war between far-right conservatives and their more moderate counterparts would continue regardless of who wins the presidential race on November 8.

Hannity told the Post that Ryan, who has offered only tepid support for the Republican nominee during the 2016 race, “needed to be called out and replaced.”
Nice! Ryan, who hasn't even had the guts to disavow Trump, is now responsible for the miserable failure of a campaign Trump has run. Sorry, Paul.

Hannity also had a lot of good ideas about members of the House Crazy Caucus who could unite the party (ahem) upon Ryan’s ouster: Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (chair of the Crazy Caucus), North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (who devised the wildly popular 2013 government shutdown), and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert! LOL. Gohmert! The wackiest of the wack jobs, who has called Hillary Clinton "mentally impaired." Speaker Gohmert! ROFLOL.


I mean, Sean Hannity threatening to take Paul Ryan down for being insufficiently conservative? PAUL RYAN??? Wouldn't you think that if there's one thing Speaker Paul doesn't have to answer for, it's being insufficiently conservative? Has anyone in our public life done more to drag us back to the 16th century? And I include Sean Hannity, who's all mouth, whereas Speaker Paul is the, er, "brains" of the Far Right politicos, providing a steady stream of actual legislative proposals to do the deed.

In fairness to Shifty Sean, what he lacks in brains -- which sure seems to be quite a lot -- he more than makes up for in savagery, uninhibitedness, dishonesty, and naked self-promotingness. Still, to plug some of the evident gap in ideological awareness, here's some of what David Bromwich has to say in a compendium of ten frequent contributors' thoughts "On the Election" running through the new (Nov. 10) issue of the New York Review of Books:
From the first debates of 2015, Donald Trump stood out because he wasn’t one of the usual suspects. He was the to-hell-with-it candidate. If you dislike politics generally, don’t study or understand them but are sure the country has declined and that the future looks worse than the past, Trump is your man. He doesn’t know politics any better than you do, but he says (reassuringly) that it is a mug’s game, and he ought to know. He comes from money, lives for money, and before he entered the race he was in the business of buying favors from the mugs.

Who better to avow that the system is rigged? Everyone admits that the Clinton Foundation has done good works. But anyone with a nose can tell that it uneasily mixes philanthropy and aggrandizement. Trump took his cue and blew it up and—since Hillary Clinton is known to have met with donors while she was secretary of state—he called the foundation itself a pay-to-play scheme. Trump the insider has the best and biggest nose for such things; and in the mood of perpetual disquiet these last two years in America, the undeniable blots on his character have made people strangely trust him more.

Comparisons with Reagan are misleading. Reagan was intimate with politics and political interests as far back as his presidency of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He tricked his opponents into underrating him, right up to the election of 1980, but the reason wasn’t the lack of a consistent ideology or a coherent personality. Reagan was undeviating in his overall views: the people who supported him knew what they were getting. With Trump, they prefer not to know, and he panders to wishful ignorance by saying that whatever he does in his first days as president, he’ll do it good and do it fast. The vagueness, bloat, and feckless reiteration of the promises (the height of the wall with Mexico, the total ban on Muslim immigration, the vow to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”) go against the grain of a representative government based on checks and self-restraint.

Trump the post-political billionaire can seem refreshingly heterodox only if one performs a drastic curtailment of common judgment. The right-wing anti-imperialist Pat Buchanan thinks that Trump has the mind-set and stamina to extricate the US from our half-dozen wars in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia). On the evidence, one would guess that Trump indeed has a less hearty appetite for wars than Hillary Clinton, but his solutions often sound like “Bomb them back to the Stone Age” rather than the reasoned noninterventionism this branch of apologists are looking for.
For the record, the other NYRB "On the Election" contributors are: Russell Baker, G.W. Bowersock, Mark Danner, Andrew Delbanco, Elizabeth Drew, Benjamin M. Friedman, Diane Johnson, Nicholas Lemann, Jessica T. Mathews, Darryl Pinckney, Marilynne Robinson, Garry Wills. (Yes, they're presented alphabetcially!) And to be clear, David Bromwich continues with a powerful takedown of Hillary Clinton, including this:
[H]er stated positions and political history leave her unequipped to repel [Trump's] charges against immigration, the American jobs lost through trade deals, and the scenes of disorder in American cities that followed the killing of black men by police and the killing of police by black men. Hillary Clinton is the reverse of a popular politician—she is more like an ideally dutiful chair of a committee—and it has been an odd feature of the campaign to advertise her as “the most qualified person ever to run for president.”


Which is decidedly mournful:
The domestic state of the nation is so unpropitious in October 2016 that one may pity the winner of this election as much as the loser. We are living in a country under recurrent siege by the actions of crowds. There is the Tea Party crowd with their belief that global climate disruption is a scientific hoax; there is the Black Lives Matter crowd with their ambiguous slogan “No Justice, No Peace”; and there are more ominous developments, such as the acts of serial defiance of the federal government by the Bundy family in Nevada and Oregon. Whoever comes next will have the task of restoring respect for the law and a common adherence to the Constitution—the heaviest of burdens, even for a candidate prepared by training and disposition to carry it.

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