Friday, March 31, 2017


Peggy Noonan, you may be surprised to learn, is generally skeptical of Donald Trump -- not skeptical enough, but I'll give her credit for never being completely won over. However, I don't think she quite understands Trump's voter base:
It amazes me that in his dealings with the health-care bill Mr. Trump revealed that he has no deep knowledge of who his base is, who his people are. I’ve never seen that in politics. But Mr. Trump’s supporters didn’t like the bill. If they had wanted a Republican president who deals only with the right, to produce a rightist bill, they would have chosen Ted Cruz. Instead they chose someone outside conservatism who backed big-ticket spending on infrastructure and opposed cutting entitlements, which suggested he’d be working with Democrats, too.
They didn't want a president who'd deal with Democrats. They hate Democrats. A lot of them hate Republicans, too, or think they do, although most of them never vote for any other party. Yes, a certain percentage of them voted for Barack Obama, and those voters might have been enough to put Trump over the top in key states, but they were a tiny minority of his voter base.

Ultimately, what they wanted was for Trump alone to dictate the terms of the bill, using his magical, superhuman deal-making arts. He told them, "I alone can fix it." That's what they believed.

They wanted entitlements saved and they wanted infrastructure, which to an old Washington hand like Noonan sounds like liberalism, but to them it was conservatism, because Trump talked about it all in the same speeches in which he attacked Hillary Clinton and denounced CNN and insulted Mexicans and promised to bomb the shit out of ISIS. It's the mirror image of the trick libertarians like Gary Johnson use: Say you're anti-war and pro-weed, and certain dumb lefty kids will think that you're left-wing even as you talk about abolishing the Social Security and eliminating federal student loans.

More from Noonan:
Whenever I used to have disagreements with passionate pro-Trump people, I’d hear their arguments, weigh their logic and grievances. I realized after a while that in every conversation we always brought different experiences to the table. I had worked in a White House. I had personally observed its deeper realities and requirements. Their sense of how a White House works came from news shows and reading, and also from TV shows such as “House of Cards” and “Scandal.” Those are dark, cynical shows that more or less suggest anyone can be president. I don’t mean that in the nice way. Those programs don’t convey how a White House is an organism demanding of true depth, of serious people, real professionals. A president has to be a serious person too, and not only an amusing or stimulating talker, or the object of a dream.
I don't think Noonan is completely off base here, and I'm pleased that she wants a president who's a grown-up. (I don't have nearly as much respect for the emotional maturity of the president she worked for as she does, but I'll grant that Ronald Reagan was a Gibraltar of emotional stability compared to Trump. I'll also grant that most of the people Reagan appointed to run the country had relevant experience and were grown-ups.)

But when Trump supporters imagine what a president ought to be, I don't think they're imagining dark satires like House of Cards and Scandal. I think they imagine something from completely outside the world of politics. I think they imagine Trump as a biker ...

... or as Rambo ...

... or as whatever the hell he's supposed to be in this image:

Trump fans don't want him to be a president -- they want him to be an action-movie hero. They want him to transcend politics. No, that's not quite accurate -- they want him to kick politics' ass. They want him to leave politics bleeding to death in an alley. And many of them, although probably fewer and fewer every day, still think that's possible.

They're delusional. They're children. That's why they voted for him.

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