Monday, October 14, 2019


In the #NeverTrump online journal The Bulwark, Jonathan V. Last looks at the video shown at a right-wing conference this past week in which a stylized President Trump slaughters his domestic enemies in a church, and describes it as something new for American conservatism. He writes:
Last week I wrote a column asking if this—the underwater poll numbers, loss of the House, impeachment, awful reelection prospects, abandonment of America’s allies—is what Trump supporters had signed up for....

The video is the answer to my question: This—the video—is what Trump voters signed up for.

They don’t care about Syria, or tariffs, or the Russians, or the Wall, or anything else that we traditionally think of as policy goals. They don’t even care about judges or abortion or free trade.

They care about hurting their domestic enemies.

... for a percentage of them that is greater than zero, a video about Trump killing politicians and celebrities and journalists they don’t like isn’t a regrettable side-effect of Trump’s presidency.

It’s the entire point of Trump’s presidency.

Take anyone you can think of as a mainstream Republican or conservative over the last two generations of American life—Ronald Reagan, the Bushes, Bob Dole, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Mitt Romney, Jesse Helms, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Richard Shelby, Barry Goldwater—and a video like this is unthinkable.
I read that and thought: What about the 1985 poster depicting Ronald Reagan as Rambo?

Last acknowledges it:
The closest you could get is “Ronbo.” But the point of Ronbo was that Reagan was butched up to fight America’s foreign enemies.

You will note that in the Trump video, he’s not killing Assad, or ISIS fighters, or Putin, or Kim, or Xi, or avatars of any of America’s foreign foes. That would be kind of ridiculous. But also, beside the point

Because for many of this president’s supporters, the glorious promise of Trump is the feeling they get imagining him hurting the Americans they despise.
Apparently, Last has never seen Rambo: First Blood, Part II, or at least he's never watched it all the way to the end. He seems unaware of the scene that takes place when -- spoiler alert -- Rambo returns from successfully completing his mission, after being abandoned by rear-echelon "bureaucrats," who've decided not to offer any further support:

As everyone who saw the movie in the mid-1980s knew, Rambo's targets in that scene were stand-ins for all the people stateside -- anti-war liberals and others -- who allegedly forced soldiers in Vietnam to "fight with one hand tied behind their backs" and, as Rambo says at the end of the first movie in the series, "wouldn't let us win."

Back then, the domestic enemies were in addition to the foreign foes, but after the Cold War ended and the post-9/11 Middle East order became a muddle, domestic opponents took over first place as the right's true targets.

But we've been the right's enemies for a long time. We were Ronbo's enemies, too.

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