Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Al-Dente Party

Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with wet pasta. Tortellini in brodo via TangoItalia.
Funniest sentence in Friday's David Brooks column ("Trump's Enablers Will Finally Have to Take a Stand" or in the dead-tree version "The Wet Noodle Republicans", wonder why they changed that huh?):

With each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in more disturbing forms: inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, impulsivity, aggression and a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about.
No, I don't know what "medium-grade mania" is. Neither too coarse nor too fine? But my impression is Trump really doesn't offer a lot of advice, and when he does it's usually on subjects he knows a lot about. Which is not to say it's good advice. It can be pretty dire:
When Donald Trump has offered investment advice, though, his recommendations have been so far out of the mainstream that investors and markets generally have ignored them. The Republican presidential nominee has been predicting economic calamity for months. (Washington Post)
Or morally questionable:
In a 2008 interview with CBS News' Susan Spencer, Donald Trump said women who turn on the charm have a "huge advantage." CBS News)

Whereas on subjects he knows nothing about he's actually pretty solid, if unimaginative:
He’s also offering a warning to young people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, saying they can hamper future success. (WKBK Radio, Keene, NH)
But you know who really has a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about?

Exactly. From how to fix up the college curriculum in English literature to how to end the scourge of teenage pregnancy to how to become a "deep, virtuous person", David Brooks has always been there for us, passing out the real poop on situations that he himself can't even imagine. It's just a bizarre skill he has, and he has to share.

And here he is doing it again. Today he's advising the Republicans on how to cope with their medium-grade maniac. A little late, or so it seems to me, but what do I know.

He still hasn't got any kind of analysis of how the situation arose, of course, now that the poor white dudes hypothesis seems to have collapsed, but he does know who to blame, which is those "wet noodle Republicans" who kept pretending until last week that the Trump was a "normal" candidate, for whom he offers some pretty competent ill-tempered invective:

Their bodies squirmed when they were asked about their nominee. They refused to look you straight in the eye. They made little apologetic comments so you would still like them even though they were doing this shameful thing.
Funny, I don't recall hearing you reporting that when you were holding forth on PBS during the convention. Selfies or it didn't happen...

Anyhow, the advice he has for those non-wet noodle Republicans—the al-dente party, I guess—isn't that they should stop enabling Trump, or contribute to preventing his election. Rather, he suggests that they beat a Rod-Dreher Benedictine retreat and

start building a Republican Party in Exile. They will have to tell the country what they honestly think of Donald Trump. They will have to build a parallel campaign structure that will survive if Trump implodes, a structure of congressional and local candidates. They will have to jointly propose a clear manifesto — five or 10 policies the party in exile ardently supports.
I imagine there already is a structure of congressional and local candidates—I'm sure if there wasn't we would have been hearing about it—and that it's a little late to put together a different one, if this one isn't survivable.

I'd think he'd want to ask himself why they failed to propose a clear manifesto last fall. (Maybe it's because they aren't Canadian, because south of the border we don't generally do manifestos, or should it be manifesti, as far as I know.) It's likely Brooks's imaginary resistance fighters can't make it add up to five policies they unanimously support at all, let alone "ardently". What's really happened here is that the the crude stitching on the Republican mantle that's held the party's authoritarian and libertarian strains together since the 1980s has finally given way and can't be fixed. That's how Trump blundered his way in in the first place without even knowing what he was doing.

It can't be fixed—least of all by the kind of conservative alternative Brooks himself represents, a private-enterprise liberalism that adopts the traditional liberal goals of tolerance, generosity, and community, but abjures all the governmental tools for achieving them. All that can do is what all those Republican state governments are already doing, which is presiding over local corporate takeovers.

In the meantime there's one thing distressed Republicans could definitely be doing to save the republic—to disempower the would-be dictator Donald Trump—and that's voting in November for Democrats, and especially for Hillary Clinton, and urging their friends to do the same. But that's the one thing Brooks won't even consider saying out loud. Because he's, as ever, the wettest noodle in the colander.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Victor said...

Yes, Bobo is free with his (bad, stupid, ignorant, sociopathic, bigoted) advice.

But that advice comes with a great deal of "humility..."

Ed Crotty said...

Sure - the Republican party should go back to it's "dog-whistle" racism. The open racism of Trump is "embarrassing". All racism needs to be couched in "small government" rhetoric - a small government can't protect minorities from discrimination. A small government that doesn't educate - which will lock in economic strata ( "pull the ladder up"). A small government that doesn't regulate when corporations dump toxic waste on minority areas. "Small government" serves ALL of their racist goals, but is not explicitly racist. It screws over poor whites too, but that's "collateral damage".

I hate Republicans.

Ten Bears said...

Not necessarily a tangent, but a funny thing happened on the way to The First Woman President of the USofA the other day: I've been carrying one of those pocket Constitutions in the jockey-box of the truck since the Cheney Administration declared folks that carry pocket Constitutions in the jockey-box of the truck "Domestic Terrorists." It's right there now, along side a pocket copy of Sun Tzu's Art of War.

I wonder how much money Donald T Rump will make getting her elected.

Feud Turgidson said...

First, I damn with praise: Yas, this is as direct a hit on the Our Miss Brooks Phenomenon as I've seen in months at least. I suppose part of that may owe to the fact Brooks was put right off his Applebees by realizing early on that was no mere stray douchebag in the salad bar, it was the exciting new feature of which regular patrons just could not get enough.

Next, the quibble: "That's how Trump blundered his way in in the first place without even knowing what he was doing." Huh? Without even knowing whaaaaaaa?
Trump indentified as well or better than anyone the toleraance Teabaggers have for douchbaggery; 2) Trump knew from the outset that he would be tapping into a vein of seriously perverse wild nihilism in the armed & neck-tattoo'd violent white male nativism lurking out from hollowed out logs and under slimy rocks ever since W.F. Buckley rituaally cast the Birchers from the Republican base, and 3) Trump knew precisely how to carpe the wild carp and take it viral.

Finally, the Bold Dissent: I admit it could be way wrong in attributing this depth to Brooks, but ... I've said here for months, going back at least into January when I was stilll a mere lazy lurking unk, that, whether or not he ended up the nominee, Trump was headed towards taking over the same sort of color of neon-sign ownership interest in the RNC that he asserted for years in Atlantic City in learning (from Roy Cohn, perhaps? surely that couldn't have hurt) where the real money was in Da Casino Bidniz, as he found time and again he could just sneak into the sofas of the Motel 6 where NJ state pols met the Mob in assignation during surges in enthusiasm for statriotic urban renewal (i.e. as regular as Kossack raids into pre-Imperial Russia), and emerge from the pillows to drink deep from their shared milkshakes.

So, I'm projecting here, but I think it's possible Brooks sees this too, that even after Trump gets qualifiedly cremed in November, not just despite the devastation but due to his pervasiveness, Trump will, once again, have his tiny little organge mitts into the sort of dying body corporate he's specialized in vacuuming out the organs frm for decades.

10Bears - it starts at over a billion. Brooks, IMO, knowing what such a ransom would do to the infrastructure, is advising heading to the hills a la Brothers Castro.

Bob Risse said...

COCK-sure confidence mixed with sublime indifference produces AMERICA. We are at the apex of empire and we want more.

Bob Risse said...


How do you do it?

KenRight said...

Maybe Brooks has heard about Assange holding fire until October.

trnc said...

I'm going out on a limb and saying that [offering terrible advice] = [not knowing anything about the subject]. It would be one thing if the terrible advice was some sort of business jiu jitsu intended to throw off the listener, but in Trump's case, there's no reason to believe he knows what he's talking about EVER.

Brooks is usually an idiot and there is obviously plenty to mock over the years, but articles where he is somewhat more right than wrong should be considered minor treasure.

trnc said...

Maybe Brooks has heard about Assange holding fire until October."

That makes no sense. Assange would love to blow up the world to satisfy an ego that rivals Deadbeat Donald's, whereas Brooks' biggest crime is overestimating his power of analysis. But, of course, your statement is really just another cheap knock rather than any actual thought about the article.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Feud, I've definitely been predicting for a while now that Trump would end up completely detached from the party but it would somehow be named after him.

But no, I really don't think he knew what he was doing. And I'll tell you exactly why, at a more or less personal level. You may think it's impossible for someone to be as solipsistic and ignorant of other people as Trump and still come out "winning", and I'm here to say it's completely possible, on the basis of experience in family, school, work. There are parents, professors, bosses who win absolute victories by not understanding others, by insistently focusing an organization's attention on themselves and their desires and hurt feelings and so on. They win, in part, by ignoring the organizational goal in favor of their personal goal of beating someody else out, and in this sense they achieve victory by being stupid.

That works only in a dysfunctional kind of context in which the people who understand and care about the goals have no personal power with which to prevent it, and that's what has been wrong with the Republican party.