Monday, March 28, 2016


The stupidest thing you're likely to read all day is "The Culture That Created Donald Trump Was Liberal, Not Conservative," from Jim Lewis at the Intercept. Lewis magnanimously acknowledges that the Repiublican Party and Trump's current supporters should not "get a pass" when we're assessing blame for Trump's rise, but the real culprits are evil liberals:
After all, it wasn’t some Klan newsletter that first brought Trump to our attention: It was Time and Esquire and Spy. The Westboro Baptist Church didn’t give him his own TV show: NBC did. And his boasts and lies weren’t posted on Breitbart, they were published by Random House. He was created by people who learned from Andy Warhol, not Jerry Falwell, who knew him from galas at the Met, not fundraisers at Karl Rove’s house, and his original audience was presented to him by Condé Nast, not Guns & Ammo. He owes his celebrity, his money, his arrogance, and his skill at drawing attention to those coastal cultural gatekeepers -- presumably mostly liberal -- who first elevated him out of general obscurity, making him famous and rewarding him (and, not at all incidentally, themselves) for his idiocies.
The first problem with this is that "those coastal cultural gatekeepers" turned Trump into a celebrity for doing something other than what he's doing now. If Ted Nugent had turned to electoral politics, as he's occasionally threatened to do, and were now the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination with a hate-filled platform similar to Trump's, would that be the fault of a million high school kids who bought Cat Scratch Fever in the 1970s? Should they have known at the time that they were helping a future demagogue rise to power?

But more important, Lewis is blaming liberalism for something that wasn't done out of liberal intent at all. Sure, many of "those coastal cultural gatekeepers" regard themselves as liberal, but celebrating plutocracy is elitist by definition, even when the plutocrats write checks to Planned Parenthood or (sometimes) back Democratic politicians. Also, Trump's rise coincided with the Reagan-era backlash against 1960s values: By the 1980s, it was cool to be rich and unashamed of it, a notion the media embraced because the public was clearly embracing it. And Trump was sometimes lionized specifically out of an impulse to bash liberalism: When he persuaded New York City to let him renovate Central Park's Wollmann Rink, his work was used to shame the city government, and anyone who claimed that government is capable of being run efficiently.

Lewis smugly writes:
Liberals were sure the devil would come slouching out of Alabama or Texas, beating a bible and shouting about sodomy and sin. They didn’t expect him to be a businessman who lives on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Rick Santorum was a threat, but your run-of-the-mill New York tycoon just couldn’t be, not in the same way -- because even if the latter was unlikable, he was known, he was covered, he fell within a spectrum that the morning shows and entertainment press are comfortable with, much more so, anyway, than they are with what the slow learners among liberals still blithely call “rednecks.”
Actually, no, that's not true. Eight years ago, many of us thought it was quite possible that Rudy Giuliani would be bestriding the same balconies Trump is bestriding now, in the same jackboots; it could have been Chris Christie after that if he hadn't tripped himself up. We know that a lot of the right's fattest checks are written in Manhattan, and we know that Fox News is not only based here but draws a lot of its most noxious talent (O'Reilly, Hannity, Jeannie Pirro) from the metropolitan area.
When, a few years ago, Trump started going on about Obama’s birth certificate, no one said, “Hey, maybe we don’t want to associate with this guy anymore.”
Actually, everyone I know said that, but we have no cultural power. Some people who do have cultural powere called for a Trump boycott, but it was advertisers, not liberals, who kept Trump afloat. (Oh, and Fox News, which gave Trump a regular segment on Fox & Friends precisely when he turned to birtherism.)
Instead, the Washington Post invited him to be its guest at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Its editors wouldn’t have extended the same backslapping generosity to David Duke or Alex Jones or any of the other rustic zealots with whom Trump is now, unquestionably, on all fours.
Alex Jones? Maybe not. Paula Jones? She was invited in 1998, when she was accusing Bill Clinton of bad sexual behavior. It's all about the frisson, don't you know?

Lewis -- who attended Brown and Columbia and lived in Cleveland, London, and New York before decamping to the hipster mecca of Austin -- wants to pin Trump on liberals. But the culture's embrace of Trump wasn't truly liberal, and no one who's remotely liberal wanted to have anything to do with him as a politician four years ago, much less in the years since. Conservatives made Trump a political force. They own his candidacy.


Never Ben Better said...

Deflection, deflection, toujours deflection. It becomes tedious, n'est–ce pas?

By the way, Steve, you have an extra "embrace" in the last paragraph.

Raymond Smith said...

Lewis is just practicing the Trump GOP thing of talking BS.

rclz said...

Trump is the republican party's id

Steve M. said...

Thanks for s[potting that extra "embrace." It's gone now.

Feud Turgidson said...

Coolidge was from Taxachusetts. Nixon was born and raised in SoCal. Reagan was a God-less Hollywood liberal. Dubya's entire family line is New England blue-blood. Frank Luntz was born and raised in Connecticut and has a PhD from Oxford.

Lewis doesn't even rise to the status of mole people: he's in the herd of domesticated worms they raise as a food source.

Never Ben Better said...

Ha! Thanks, Feud, for that last sentence; I needed a good guffaw on this rainy bleak day. said...

Liberalism did indeed create Trump, but not through any mechanism Lewis is capable of understanding. The "Washington Consensus" destroyed the jobs of millions of the working class. Don't even pretend this was anything other than a deliberate policy. Trump is the endgame of half a century of corporatism, of which the Clintons are now the primary expression.

Gerald Parks said...

It's alive!!!

The Monsters have given birth to a!

My oh my's got your eyes (world view) ...your mouth (talking points) ... geeze its even sounding like you (Obama is the worst president ever).

Yep ...GOP/Republicans ...he's a chip of the old block!

He's what's left of your delusional ewrrraahh deep bench!

Feud Turgidson said...

Richard Mc, I think singling out the Clintons is absurdist and fantastical nonsense.

Peak USA (pre-YouEssEh) was 5% of the world's human population scarfing down 25% of planet's energy & crapping out 20% of the global human production.
But Peak Rule Britannia was island mercantile from piracy, & Peak USA's been effectively island munitions factory Bretton Woods out of slavery and land theft.

Peak Energy was around 1972. Since then it's been crony capitalism and globalization. The Clintons didn't make that: they've simply lived out their peak power years while those things have been happening.

Even without looking at in Large Human Movement terms, the Bill Clinton WH was under constant siege, effectively no different from the what the Obama has gone thru; the difference was Obama played his weaker hand a lot better. Before they ever had their chance, the tool Reagan the first Bush started the Great Disabling, and in between, Dubya & Dick trashed the joint and messed up ... well, everything.

Being unfamiliar with your reader-comment history, I'm going to restrain myself from tossing out epithets like "troll" and "ass-hat". I'll just assume your perspective is a little off right now.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately this isn't the first time we've seen this and it won't be the last. If Trump threatens to be a stain on the GOP, they'll talk endlessly about how he was liberal and was a liberal creation whose voters were secret liberals. And people will believe it. Including some of the rubes who currently support him.

retiredeng said...

@Stephen Mason
Trying to brand Trump as a liberal creation is not a formula for GOP success. Trump is repulsive to all but the current base of primary voters plus the rest of the GOP lemmings. That's not enough to win the general.

jsrtheta said...

Only someone who know nothing factual about Trump could write such drivel. Only someone who can't see that Trump has been considered a thug and a joke by just about everyone since Day One would perpetrate such pablum.

Unknown said...

I should have clarified. I didn't mean between now and November--I meant in the (hopefully inevitable) post-Trump era, towards the next election when the GOP tries to ward off any possible repeat by insisting Trump was liberal in every way, including his misogyny, sexism, xenophobia, etc. Same way they insist 9/11 is really Bill Clinton's fault and the failure of the Iraq War is Obama's.

jsrtheta said...

@Stephen Mason

Kind of like how the Ku Klux Klan are the Democrats' Brownshirts!

Hamilton said...

Graydon Carter and Andy Warhol are now the Drs. Frankenstein who created the monster? Aaaaallllrighty, then.

I think it's time for Mommy to limit young Master Jim's "online time."

(Also, too, how the hell didn't the Deep Thoughts-havers over at The Federalist publish this hot take yet? They're slipping...)

StringOnAStick said...

"-- presumably mostly liberal --" is doing a hell of a lot of heavy lifting for Mr. Lewis, so much so that I think he suffered a mental hernia, and the place from which he extracts these comments is starting to protrude.

swkellogg said...

Dear Mr. Lewis,

As you suspected, liberalism is in fact the fifth column of conservatism.

Indeed, through our Svengali-like wiles, we have degraded the electorate to such degree that they now openly embrace the scourge that so ruthlessly stripes your formerly flawless backside.

Indeed it is our ultimate goal: the fulfillment of the philistine prophecy!

But wait -- it's far worse than even you may imagine (and imagine you do).

For we are behind the rise of EVERY conservative politician and parent to all conservative policy since time immemorial.

You can pose no agenda or counter-agenda to our agenda for in fact it is ALL OUR AGENDA!

We are the Control Voice, the hackers of your hack, the Cartesian demons that rule your world.

Try as you may, you can muster no armies, nor rally your troops to great and lasting victories.

For your triumphs are merely ours and ours alone!

We are that good.

Alas, it seems your solace may only be found in the sweet release that awaits you in death*.

Have a nice day,


* We control that too. Welcome to hell.