Monday, October 05, 2015

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP.... least until advertisers get it pulled. This one's sort of a recap, since the column was down for a year, and assesses the behavior of the conservative movement and the GOP's Unholy Three in light of the Umpqua shooting.

UPDATE. Thanks, all, for your generous comments.

As to the mainstreaming of Trump to which I allude in the column, National Review has just provided an excellent example. NR is in the main anti-Trump and the feature article by Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry is, too, sort of  -- but what large concessions they make to him:
But while Trump is not a conservative and does not deserve conservatives’ support, Republicans can nonetheless learn from him. Most politicians cannot hope to match Trump’s flair for the dramatic and should not try to compete with him in displays of narcissism or contempt. But politicians have been known to cultivate excitement and glamour — think of Reagan, or Bill Clinton, or Obama. These qualities have been missing from Republican politics for a long time. Republicans could, without going the full Trump, stand to be a little less apologetic and defensive under media criticism.
But didn't the Republicans already have someone "less apologetic and defensive under media criticism" -- i.e. a practiced asshole -- in Chris Christie? There's a reason Trump displaced Christie, and the authors' confusion about this is evident in the paragraphs just before and just after this one. First:
Trump responds to this kind of criticism by casting himself as a brave dissenter from political correctness. Here, too, he discredits a worthy cause. Conservatives and some honorable liberals have stood up against the oversensitivity and censorship of legitimate political viewpoints that has spread from college campuses over the last three decades. Trump appears to confuse simple decency with PC. Republicans should not embrace this confusion by cheering him on.
But they are cheering him on, possibly because they too "confuse simple decency with PC" and don't appreciate either, but certainly because they appreciate Trump's panache -- which is where he blows Christie away: Christie at least makes a feint at being interested in the non-vendetta aspects of governance -- Trump clearly doesn't give a shit, and that's much of his charm, as it were, for the Republican voters who endorse him. This is a point that Lowry and Ponnuru sail right past in a later paragraph:
For weeks, Trump simultaneously stayed on top of the polls and promised to raise taxes on rich people. His eventual proposal on taxes bore no resemblance to that promise, which is a good thing: The federal government needs to slim down, not be given more sustenance. But the fact that Trump’s polling did not suffer even a modest drop after his soak-the-rich comments should tell other Republicans that the priorities of the donors they meet at fundraisers are not the same as those of the voters whose support they need. Cutting taxes is generally desirable, but Republicans need not base all their economic and budget policies on slashing tax rates on the highest earners.
They're pretty much admitting that it's all about bullshitting the electorate and making them like it. But Lowry and Ponnuru are so bought into the conservative program that there's no trace of the nod and wink that would have humanized their own bullshit. Clearly Trump still has much to teach him!

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