Tuesday, August 30, 2022


In his latest Washington Post piece Greg Sargent tries to make the case that while Republican insiders increasingly see Donald Trump as a liability, "Some GOP candidates ... genuinely appear to see Trump and Trumpism as key sources of political energy and inspiration." He mentions Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidates in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and he's right about them, but his main example is Arizona's Republican Senate candidate, Blake Masters. A couple of days ago, Masters wrote a sarcastic tweet attacking diversity in the federal government:

Sargent writes:
Masters is under fire for blaming racial diversity at the Federal Reserve for economic woes. Now, Masters has responded with a video that seems designed to capture a kind of unadulterated Trumpism:

Note that Masters says “fake news!” with a bombastic vehemence that appears to consciously imitate Trump. And Masters attacks Vice President Harris with the ugly claim that she is “so incompetent she can’t even get a sentence out.”

... he’s working overtime to capture the spirit and essence of Trump’s sheer abusiveness. It’s as though going all-in on such unapologetic derangement is itself a selling point that displays resolve and fight against, well, whoever gets triggered by it.

... As Sam Adler-Bell documents, Masters is crafting a brand of Trumpism that’s nerdy and hyper-intellectualized but retains its dark hatreds of all manner of leftist enemies.
But Masters was publicly obnoxious about politics, in a nerdy and hyper-intellectual (or pseudointellectual) way, years before Trump entered politics. As a college student, he was a self-impressed libertarian-leaning message-board poster and occasional essayist who quoted Goering while pontificating like Ron Paul and patting himself on the back for his brilliance:
In a 2006 post on the libertarian site LewRockwell.com, he rehashed an elaborate conspiracy theory about the United States’ entry into World War I, implying a connection between the banking “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild” and the failure to alert American steamship passengers to German threats that preceded the sinking of the Lusitania. His main source was C. Edward Griffin, an ardent libertarian who once said that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — a notorious antisemitic forgery — “accurately describe much of what is happening in our world today.”

The post ended with what Mr. Masters called a “poignant quotation” from Hermann Goering — Hitler’s right-hand man and one of the most powerful Nazis of the Third Reich....

He called the United States “an empire-driven (soft and hard) nation-state with security craving sheep” and dismissed the Federal Reserve Board as a “semi-private banking cartel.”

And, on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Masters ... asked, “what about the non-Americans in the twin towers? Personally I see no reason to lament the demise of ‘American’ innocents any more than those of other nationalities.”

Finally, on Sept. 25, 2007, Mr. Masters, then a Stanford junior, bid adieu to his ... interlocutors, signing off with one last expression of sophomoric-sounding self-assurance.

“I don’t mean any disrespect — but it takes years to understand where I’m coming from, let alone agree or disagree,” he wrote.
He's abandoned many of the ideas of his youth -- he's gone from believing in open borders to demonizing immigrants -- but he still leads with obnoxiousness.

He didn't learn this from Trump. Obnoxiousness has been central to amateur online political commentary since long before Trump entered politics. Fox News was obnoxious as far back as the late twentieth century, taking its cues from talk radio.

Masters and his sugar daddy, Peter Thiel, hang out with Curtis Yarvin, formerly known as Mencius Moldbug, a blowhard whose contemptuous online essays made him famous in certain circles. This is what right-wingers like. This is what they've liked since the days of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. Trump's only innovation was demonstrating that you could make it the basis of a winning national campaign.

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