Friday, June 26, 2020


Peggy Noonan, who's been negative about Trump for a while, criticizes him again today in a column titled "The Week It Went South for Trump." She believes Trump is mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and racial justice protests -- no, really? ya think? -- and is also bad at politics.
His long-term political malpractice has been his failure—with a rising economy, no unemployment and no hot wars—to build his support beyond roughly 40% of the country. He failed because he obsesses on his base and thinks it has to be fed and greased with the entertainments that alienate everyone else. But his base, which always understood he was a showman, wanted steadiness and seriousness in these crises, because they have a sense of the implications of things.

He doesn’t understand his own base. I’ve never seen that in national politics.

Some of them, maybe half, are amused by his nonsense decisions and statements—let’s ban all Muslims; let’s end this deadbeat alliance; we have the biggest, best tests. But they are half of 40%, and they would stick with him no matter what. He doesn’t have to entertain them! He had to impress and create a bond with others.
Does she really believe that Trump says and does all these things strictly to entertain? Does she believe he doesn't take them seriously?

As he said when asked about whether his assertion that we'd have fewer COVID-19 cases if we didn't test so much was a joke, "I don't kid." Trump understands that all his provocations are theater, but that doesn't mean they're not serious. Trump believes provocations are policy. The best reason to support any policy is to triumph in the war against the libs. That's Trump's understanding of policy -- decide which people you hate, beat them, and bingo -- good policy.

Trump's biggest fans feel the same way. At the other extreme, there are 2016 Trump voters who are now so disillusioned that they won't vote for him again, though they're only a small portion of his base.

Noonan thinks he's alienated a larger chunk of his electorate than I do -- or maybe we don't see alienation the same way:
The other half of his base is mortified by his antics and shallowness. I hear from them often. They used to say yes, he’s rough and uncouth and unpolished, but only a rough man can defeat the swamp. Now they say I hate him and what he represents but I’ll vote for him because of the courts, etc.
Yup, they'll vote for him. That means, on some level, they fall for Trump's act as well. What's the line separating "nonsense decisions and statements" from acts demonstrating that Trump is a "rough man" taking on "the swamp"? From my perspective, it's all the same performative politics of resentment.

(And by the way, Peggy: You write for The Wall Street Journal. You are the swamp, and so are most of you're Masters of the Universe readers.)

Trying to overturn Obamacare, sinking the country deeper in debt to give more tax cuts to the rich, filling the federal bench with inexperienced ideologues -- I guess that was the serious stuff, because Noonan and her base won't get hurt by the consequences of these acts, and Trump might have been reelected. But everything the GOP does is the politics of resentment -- Trump just raised the volume beyond the pain threshold, and wouldn't stop even when serious crises hit.

And now it's all threatening Republican voters in an election year. Now it's serious. Before, when it was just Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin claiming there were terrorists and immigrants under every bed, it was just fine.

Your side is reaping what it sowed, Peggy. This is not an act. It's your politics, and even a few of your longtime voters have a sense that it's killing America.

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