[emphasis added by Abyssum in red type]
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TRUMP
I’ve had the pleasure of spending an inordinate amount of time talking about Donald Trump in the past week, on Fox. http://vlt.tc/21pb And CNN. http://vlt.tc/21pc And MSNBC. http://vlt.tc/21pa And radio too but I won’t bore you with those links. The general opinion I have about Trump is this: he’s approaching running for the presidency the same way Charlie Sheen approached dealing with a nervous breakdown. He is the perfect candidate for an era in which people feel they cannot say or do anything thanks to political correctness. He is out there with an aggressive-sounding message on immigration which is basically culled from Ann Coulter’s new book, but has no there there in terms of policy to back it up. And he has tapped into populist outrage against Washington and the media and politics as usual. This is not a problem for the GOP in the sense that it cannot last – that Donald Trump is not going to be the GOP nominee – and that having Trump as a lightning rod on these issues is not a problem in the long term. It’s only a problem if he takes his ball and goes away because the thin-skinned golden manchild feels he has been maligned – and it is this factor that Republicans need to guard against.
You see this in Ted Cruz’s latest comments, where he says it’s foolish for the GOP to criticize Trump. http://vlt.tc/21oj “I would … note that an awful lot of Republicans, including other Republican candidates, have gone out of their way to smack Donald Trump with a stick. Now I think that’s just foolish,” he said. Asked why, Cruz paused and then replied, “Donald Trump had a rally in Phoenix, Ariz. [to which] between 10 and 20 thousand people came out. When you attack and vilify the people at that rally as crazies, it does nothing to help Republicans win in 2016. I’d like every single person at that rally to show up and vote in 2016, knock on doors with energy and passion, and turn this country around. If Washington politicians show contempt and condescension to those [voters,] that is a path to losing at the ballot box.”
Tom Nichols argues what could be considered the opposing view. http://vlt.tc/21pd “I think Trump’s rise has been fueled by three things: the rise of a ghastly celebrity culture, an unfocused but intense anger at President Obama, and the low political literacy of a substantial number of American voters. None of these things are within the control of the Republican Party or any other, and if the GOP tries to “learn the lessons” of the Trump campaign, it will torpedo its chances of producing a competitive candidate in 2016… My Federalist colleague Neil Dewing captured it even more succinctly in a phrase I’ve been stealing from him for weeks. Trump loyalists, he said, are people “who fetishize their outsider status.” That is, they embrace being the underdog because it gives them a sense of importance and specialness that comes from believing they are in an ongoing struggle with The Man or The System or The Cartel. Thus they love it when The Donald says things like “everybody is stupid,” because that’s how they feel all the time.”
I disagree about the lesson portion at least. The real lesson Trump offers is not merely about the insanity of celebrity culture – it’s also about the insanity of our political dialogue. People are tired of seeing politicians play pretend with the media, and Trump’s unfiltered approach doesn’t damage him because it responds to the impulse of Americans who are tired of being fed BS. Just because Trump is full of just as much unseriousness and self-love does not mean that they are wrong about the state of the nation or its political scene. This is not to say that everybody is stupid – it is to say that we should stop pretending no one is.
Of course, there’s also another reason some people are expressing support for Trump – not in the serious sense, but in the ironic. Mollie Hemingway makes the point that for all of Trump’s defects, is he really all that different from the rest of the GOP? http://vlt.tc/21pe “Yes, The Donald has gone from saying that single payer health care is the bee’s knees to saying Obamacare is a disaster. He’s flipped on abortion. He’s flipped on his party status. He’s unable to explain if or when he actually became a Republican. It’s absolutely true he can’t be trusted and has no governing principles or logic.
“So? When it comes to trust, the GOP is far worse. You’re talking a political party that has repeatedly promised voters it will do something — about Obamacare, about the abortion regime, about the ever-increasing administrative state, which has taken over so many aspects of everyone’s lives — only to get completely co-opted by crony capitalists whose campaign cash is more convincing than any lightly held principle. That this has happened despite repeated acts of forgiveness by the base makes it all the worse. At least Trump is up front about his lack of steadfastness. He’ll cheat on you but he lets you know up front that he’s going to do it, unlike the GOP, a group that constantly promises they won’t do it again.”