Friday, May 11, 2018


This may have been the week that Trump became the media's idea of a president, i.e., an old-fashioned Republican Daddy. An Axios story today exults in "Trump's shock and brawl strategy with foreign leaders," while the accompanying illustration depicts the president as an iPhone-updated combination of Don Draper and Robert Young in Father Knows Best, lording over his domain from his easy chair:

Similarly, on CNN's front page right now, Trump is the master of all he surveys:

If we're now all supposed to regard Trump's presidency as a rip-roaring success, what's his secret? According to the accompanying CNN story, it can be summed up in one word: balls.
It's Donald Trump's latest rebrand -- global man of action.

The President is taking his political chaos theory beyond America's borders and racking up wins for his faithful political base....

"We're fighting and we're finally putting America first," Trump roared at a rowdy campaign rally on Thursday night in Indiana, after a week in which his interventions rocked the world.

... his supporters approve.

"We finally got somebody with some balls," Ron Farster, a Trump voter from western Pennsylvania, told CNN's Martin Savidge....
Over at The New York Times, David Brooks tells us that he also likes a bit of rough from Trump:
We’re all educated by our peers, and, over the years, a good portion of Donald Trump’s peers have been thugs.

... yet I can’t help but wonder if that kind of background has provided a decent education for dealing with the sort of hopped-up mobsters running parts of the world today. There is growing reason to believe that Donald Trump understands the thug mind a whole lot better than the people who attended our prestigious Foreign Service academies.

The first piece of evidence is North Korea.

... Trump’s bellicosity seems to have worked. It’s impossible to know how things will pan out, but the situation with North Korea today is a lot better than it was six months ago....

Maybe Trump intuited something about the sorts of people who run the North Korean regime that others missed.
Brooks sees similar positive results in U.S. relations with China, where lily-livered establishmentarians used to believe that the regime would "naturally come to embrace liberal economic and cultural values and we could all eventually share a pinot at the University Club," as well as Iran, where the same striped-pants pantywaists missed the obvious lesson: "Thugs gotta thug. Religious fanatics gotta fanaticize." Brooks looks at the Trump approach and sighs dreamily: "there is some lizard wisdom here. The world is a lot more like the Atlantic City real estate market than the G.R.E.s."

So thuggishness works? Balls are good?

Not if you're liberal. Brooks's colleague Michelle Goldberg offers a slightly nuanced endorsement of Bari Weiss's argument that the angry left-bashers of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web gain strength when liberals are mean to them:
... progressives should think about how to counter dynamics that can make banal right wing beliefs seem like seductive secret knowledge. Attempts at simply repressing bad ideas don’t seem to be working.

... online life creates an illusion of left-wing excess and hegemony that barely exists in the real world, at least outside of a few collegiate enclaves. Consider, for example, how an online mob turned a Utah teenager who wore a Chinese-style dress to her prom into a national news story. The sanctimony and censoriousness of the social justice internet is like a machine for producing red pills. It makes people think it’s daring to, say, acknowledge that men and women are different, or pick on immigrants, or praise the president of the United States.

... It’s a natural response — and, in some cases, the right response — to try to hold the line against political reaction, to shame people who espouse shameful ideas. But shame is a politically volatile emotion, and easily turns into toxic resentment. It should not be overused.
So to sum up the wisdom of our pundit elders:

* Chesty, ballsy pugnaciousness from Trump? Awesome.
* Anything remotely similar from the left? None of that, please, we're liberals.

No comments: