Friday, July 31, 2015

VILLAGERS ARE DESPERATE TO BELIEVE THAT AMERICA DOESN'T HAVE A TRUMP PROBLEM

In The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nick Carasaniti write about Donald Trump and the upcoming Fox News debate -- and give us what might be the stupidest paragraph of the week:
Mr. Trump could come away a winner if he makes cogent points without sounding too hostile, presenting himself as more of a serious-minded, anti-establishment voice in a primary crowded with career Republican politicians. But there are risks for him if he turns the debate stage in Cleveland into another episode of the reality show his campaign has sometimes resembled.
That couldn't possibly be more wrong.

In reality, how is Trump going to "come away a winner"? Precisely by "sounding too hostile," and by not seeming "serious-minded" as political insiders define that term. Trump's fans like him because he's not Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, because he doesn't come off as a grind with his nose in a briefing book on Saturday night. If Trump "turns the debate stage in Cleveland into another episode of the reality show his campaign has sometimes resembled," what are the "risks for him"? That he'll go to 35% in the polls?

Oh, I guess these are the risks:
“He’s gotten away with just blustery criticisms and sweeping generalizations until now,” Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney in 2012, said in an email. “It will be interesting to see if the Fox moderators, who are trusted validators among Republican primary voters, force him to provide more specifics on important policy issues.”

“He can’t just complain about the media to a Republican audience when it’s Bret Baier asking the question,” he said, referring to a Fox News anchor.
He can't? Sure he can. Yes, the right-wing base loves Fox, but the base is more than willing to denounce Fox in the rare moments when Fox deviates from wingnut orthodoxy. Spotted at Free Republic when Fox's Martha McCallum asked Ted Cruz a few months ago if he was too conservative to win independent voters:



See also "Is Fox News Also a Leftist Propaganda Outlet?" (posted after Carl Cameron said Obama's birth certificate was legitimate) and "FOX NEWS Officially RINO Liberal Central" (posted after Glenn Beck left Fox). Trust me: If it's a battle between a Fox moderator and Trump, unless Trump seems on the defensive, the crazies are going to side with Trump.

But here's where I think we see what's really going on in the Times article:
It is possible, of course, that Mr. Trump could choose to disarm his opponents not by finding new ways to humiliate them but by being statesmanlike and courteous.
Well, actually, no, it isn't possible. But go on.
“If we live in a world where he is a serious candidate and intends to prove that he’s a serious candidate, then it is a real opportunity,” said Stuart Stevens, another former Romney adviser. “I think for Donald Trump, a boring debate would probably help.”
Ahh, there we go. What these people are rooting for is a Trump who makes nice. Why? Because that would quell their anxieties about Trump's rise and what it says regarding American politics. If Trump becomes just another politician, then we no longer have to worry that a significant percentage of the public wants a racist know-nothing demagogue as president. If Trump were to do what Stevens prays for, the Beltway insiders could say, "See? The kids are all right. They just like this harmless eccentric. We no longer have to worry that years of escalating extremist rhetoric from the GOP and the right-wing media have primed a third of the electorate to want the country run by an ignorant tyrant on a balcony. Phew!"

*****

A different version of the "Trump's all right, really" worldview comes today from Peggy Noonan, who turns his rise into a sort of Song of America:
He was born to wealth and went to Wharton, yet gives off a working-class vibe his supporters admire. He’s like Broderick Crawford in “Born Yesterday”: He comes across as self-made. In spite of his wealth he never made himself smooth, polite. He’s like someone you know. This is part of his power....

He never served in the military yet connects with grunts. He has lived a life of the most rarefied material splendor -- gold gilt, penthouse suites -- and made the high life part of his brand. Yet he doesn’t come across as snooty or fancy -- he’s a regular guy. A glitzy Manhattan billionaire is doing well with Evangelicals. That’s a first.

His rise is not due to his supporters’ anger at government. It is a gesture of contempt for government, for the men and women in Congress, the White House, the agencies. It is precisely because people have lost their awe for the presidency that they imagine Mr. Trump as a viable president....

Mr. Trump’s supporters like that he doesn’t in the least fear the press, doesn’t get the dart-eyed, anxious look candidates get. He treats reporters with courtesy until he feels they’re out of line, at which point he calls them stupid. They think he’ll do that with Putin. His insult of John McCain didn’t hurt him, and not because his supporters have any animus for Mr. McCain. They just saw it as more proof Mr. Trump will take the bark off anyone.

They’re not nihilists, they’re patriots, and don’t experience themselves as off on a toot but pragmatic in a way the establishment is not. The country is in crisis, we can’t keep doing more of the same. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We have to do something different. He’s different. If it doesn’t work we’ll fire him.
Of course, we wouldn't be able to just "fire him." I'm not even sure we could impeach and convict him if it came to that -- he'd probably sue. (And by the way, Peggy, Trump's followers have plenty of "animus for John McCain.")

One way or another, we can remain in denial that Trump's rise says something bad about the country. Either Trump will get himself under control because he's really not a bad guy or America is egging him out of the best possible motivations. But relax, folks: America is just fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.

****

UPDATE: I should note that Matt Bai of Yahoo Politics is an exception to this -- he thinks Trump's rise shows that we have a dangerous tendency to "amuse ourselves to death." Bai doesn't worry that Trump will win, but he does worry that someone more dangerous will learn the formula from Trump:
Somewhere out there right now is some business magnate or TV celebrity, someone whose resources and audacity may vastly exceed his intellect or compassion, whose ambition may be more of the Napoleonic variety than the P.T. Barnum kind, who’s better skilled than Trump at making demagoguery look like a half-palatable governing vision.

And that person is probably sitting by a pool ringed with limestone goddesses, watching all this unfold and asking the question any of us might reasonably ask in that situation.

“Hey, why not me?”
And then we're sunk.

What Bai ignores, however, is the specific content of Trump's demagoguery. I say in the headline to this post that America has a Trump problem. I should be more specific: Right-wing america has a Trump problem, in that vast numbers of right-wingers are primed to fall for an ignoramus like him. The rest of America has a problem with those right-wingers. Bai misses that.

13 comments:

nonynony said...

“It will be interesting to see if the Fox moderators, who are trusted validators among Republican primary voters, force him to provide more specifics on important policy issues.”

I wonder if he's saying that because he believes it, or because he's a political strategist and so his default move is to spin when the facts aren't on his side.

Because there's a thing about Fox News that almost nobody seems to understand. Fox News does not change its viewers opinions - Fox News is successful because it echoes its viewers thoughts back at them. When Fox stops telling them what they want to hear, they change the channel (I've watched this happen in my own family - when Fox was touting Romney hard four years ago my right-wing dad would actually change the damn channel to Wheel of Fortune and complain about how in the tank for Romney Fox News was). If the debate moderators are hostile to Trump, he'll be hostile right back. And Trump's supporters (all 27% of them) will go nuts about Fox's anti-Trump bias.

Also - while it would probably bring his overall unfavorables slightly up (again) to act like an ass on a national stage, it isn't like it would be something new for Trump - his brand is acting like an ass on a national stage. I can't think of anything Trump could actually do to lose support on stage if he acts like Donald Trump. OTOH - if he goes out there and acts like a standard politician, his support will drop.

(It is comforting that Bai recognizes that there's something dangerous here. I wish he'd recognize that what he's talking about is fascism. The idea of Donald Trump as a fascist leader is pretty damn ridiculous, and as I've said previously his unfavorables are so ridiculously bad that one it gets down to a two-three person primary even people really bad at stats will see his performance for what it is. So I'm not too worried. But as a pessimist I keeping hearing a voice say "history repeats - first as tragedy, then as farce" and I get a bit concerned.)

main street liberal said...



He wouldn't necessarily have to be a business magnate or TV celebrity. Disturbingly, the man or woman with ambition more of the Napoleonic variety than the P.T.Barnum kind and who's better skilled than Trump at making demagoguery look like a half-palatable governing vision" may be audacious, have extensive resources AND intellect, lacking only compassion.

Unfortunately, there already is such a man in the GOP field of extremists. His name is Chris Christie.

Professor Chaos said...

Peggy Noonan writes about politics like a teenager writing Twilight fan fiction. Looks like she finally found someone to replace her decades-long crush on Ronald Reagan.

Victor said...

@main street liberal,
I'm thinking more along the lines of Ted Cruz.

And yeah, it looks like Peggy has found someone else to put on a pedestal besides her beloved Ronnie.

flipyrwhig said...

There is absolutely no way that Peggy Noonan and her ilk, which as as patrician as it gets, actually has any affection for braggadoccio and self-adulation a la Trump. If he weren't a Republican presidential aspirant, La Noonan would faint dead away at the sight of him, like Margaret Dumont. If she were slobbering over him for real, it'd be bad enough. She's slobbering over him _for show_. Creepy.

main street liberal said...



Cruz is not a bad analogy but Christie is smoother and more skilled. Consider that until Bridgegate, the mainstream media- including the next door Philadelphia Inquirer, which should have known better- longed for him. (MSNBC generally also was partial to him.)

I doubt Noonan cares for Trump and when he does plunge, she'll drop him like a bad habit, though to give her her due, she writes too well than to use that cliche.

Yastreblyansky said...

Sounds to me as if Noonan is reassuring her fellow pearl-clutchers--"Don't worry, darlings, under that rough exterior he's one of us". And she finds it sexy, as she did Reagan's cowboy act.

The analysis of the rest of the village--
Because that would quell their anxieties about Trump's rise and what it says regarding American politics
--seems really perfect. They want to be protected from knowing what they've done.

Paul Canning said...

Watching from over the pond and getting more and more worried. Here was the post I did on Trump + fascism http://paulocanning.blogspot.com/2015/07/is-donald-trump-fascist.html -- needs to be asked!

Aunt Snow said...

Mr. Trump could come away a winner if he makes cogent points without sounding too hostile, presenting himself as more of a serious-minded, anti-establishment voice in a primary crowded with career Republican politicians.

Mr Trump could come away a winner if he had a personality transplant and farted unicorns out of his ass, too.

Aunt Snow said...

He treats reporters with courtesy until he feels they’re out of line, at which point he calls them stupid. They think he’ll do that with Putin.

And what could possibly go wrong with that?

Never Ben Better said...

For those of you not yet familiar with the book to which Bai pays tribute with his headline, and in the body of his story, hie thee to a bookseller and get Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death", published in 1985. It was troubling in its implications then; it's downright terrifying and depressing how prescient it's proven to be.

Wikipedia has a good summary of it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amusing_Ourselves_to_Death

But you ought to read the whole thing.

ce8d632a-647c-11e3-94d3-000bcdcb2996 said...

ATTENTION: Spread this message far and wide, copy and paste it and send it to EVERY MALE you know!

We men must boycott marriage, and never marry. Why? Because there are ZERO benefits for men in marriage. If you get married, there is at least a 50 percent chance that your wife will divorce you, kidnap your children from you, and steal all your money in divorce.

So, what are the alternatives to marriage?
1. Learn how to game and seduce women
2. Fuck prostitutes
3. Masturbate to porn
etc

Did you know that it's cheaper to fuck a prostitute once a week than to maintain a wife? You will get bored of fucking your wife after the first six months of marriage but with a prostitute you can fuck a new one every time.

There is already a MASSIVE anti-marriage campaign worldwide, with men basically giving up on marriage and refusing to get married. Here are two recent articles on it:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3046350/Why-men-refuse-marry-Women-complain-chaps-today-won-t-settle-Sorry-ladies-s-fault-argues-wickedly-provocative-new-book-Denigration-Men-PETER-LLOYD.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/05/01/why-men-wont-marry.html

Now, there are THREE main ways we can destroy feminism forever and take women off the massive pedestal they are on. We must fund and promote the following three technologies:
1. Virtual reality sex programs
2. Artificial wombs
3. Sex Robots

Once these three technologies are in place, women will no longer have any power in society. After all, why would you waste time chasing after fat women in real life when you can fuck hot supermodels in virtual reality or fuck a female sex robot? And since women's main power comes from their reproduction capacity, if we REMOVE that capacity from women through the technology of artificial wombs, then women will have ZERO power left in society and thus feminism is finished forever.

THIS is the solution, gentlemen! Now we must do our part and spread the above message to as many men as possible so that we can raise the consciousness of men worldwide. I am the guy who created the famous Boycott American Women blog, which reached around 40 million people worldwide through the internet campaign I created. Therefore I know what I am talking about.

In summary:

Do not ever get married. Simply seduce and bang women, or fuck prostitutes, and help promote the above three technologies, and we will DESTROY FEMINISM FOREVER! Thank you!

If you still have doubts about WHY you should not get married, I strongly recommend you to read the following article:
https://dontmarry.wordpress.com/

Steve M. said...

You're an idiot.