The rise of Donald Trump, which at the same time is a repudiation of a well-thinking and comfortable Republican establishment, represents a critical point of inflection in our understanding of the wellsprings of human action. Oddly enough, it’s best illuminated by Friedrich Nietzsche in this little allegory from Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
“Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?” So answered William F. Buckley, Jr. when he was asked why the most popular Democrat of 1967 — New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy — refused to come on Buckley’s television show Firing Line to discuss the issues of the day.
The Buckley remark comes to mind as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush — the GOP Establishment favorite in the presidential race — is silent as a church mouse in response to an on-air challenge from Mark Levin to appear on Mark’s radio show for a discussion of birthright citizenship.
Bush has been out there defending “birthright citizenship.” As reported in Politico:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush split from many of his fellow GOP presidential contenders on Tuesday and staunchly defended birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants — saying it is a constitutional right that should be protected.
Baffled by Donald Trump’s persistent lead in the polls, establishment Republicans are scrambling to find arguments with which to stop him. So far they have hit him not from the right but from the left, calling him a heartless nativist, a sexist boor, and a reckless hawk. This has only served to drive him deeper into the arms of conservatives.
Meanwhile, to confuse matters even more, Trump attacks establishment favorites such as Jeb Bush not from the right but from the left, accusing him, for example, of insufficient support for big-government funding of “women’s health issues.” Interpreting that phrase as a euphemism for funding Planned Parenthood-like activities, Bush had said in an interview that he didn’t favor it. Ever since then, Trump has cast it as a campaign-ending gaffe, a criticism one would expect from an MSNBC liberal, not from a conservative Republican. “What he said was unbelievable,” said Trump. “Essentially he said he was not going to fund it. I think that will go down as Jeb Bush’s 47% — the 47% to Romney that probably cost him the election.”
Glenn Beck doesn’t get it.
Specifically, Beck turned to a lengthy post on his Facebook page and asked (in part here) this about conservatives and Donald Trump:
This is not an attack, this is an honest question….
I really want to understand.
I get that Trump is reflective of what people are feeling; secure the border; fight to win; don't give in to china etc. I really do understand that he is saying things that people are feeling. Justifiably.
I get the fact that he is saying that America is a great place and that we can be great again. That is rare and refreshing.
I understand that he is seen and has the proof in New York City, as a guy who can get things done.
I understand and like the fact that he just says what he is thinking. No politically correct bs; no focus groups and he does it with out apologizing.
But here is what I don't understand.
Thursday morning I prepared a lovely prune-based compote. My husband adores this dessert, but I wondered if I shouldn’t send it over to George Will’s house, as an act of mercy. For Will has never before seemed as constipated as he did in his Thursday morning column on Donald Trump, whom he describes as “an unprecedentedly and incorrigibly vulgar presidential candidate.”
What exactly does Will mean by “vulgar”? Is it an epithet that Washington arbiters of taste use to describe the regular vernacular and humor of everyday Americans? If you eschew complex ambiguity in favor of language that everyone can understand, does that make you vulgar?
If you’re not spending your Thursdays surfing YouTube in search of the latest tutorial in conservatism from PJTV’s Bill Whittle, you are doing yourself a disservice by omission. Whittle, a Hollywood writer, amateur pilot, blogger and impresario of American liberty — he’s one of the best public speakers you’ll ever hear — does a weekly segment called Afterburner that makes its way onto the PJ Media YouTube channel, and this week’s is well worth a watch.
In it, Whittle bemoans what he calls The Great Unlearning — a rapid and pronounced dumbing-down of American society that manifests itself in conspiracy theories (often the 21st century’s version of the silly superstitions of medieval villagers), video voyeurism and other passively depraved practices emblematic of a culture of spectators rather than doers and dunces rather than experts.
The Gallup poll. December, 1979.
President Jimmy Carter — 60%. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan — 36%. So confident was Carter White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan of the coming year’s presidential election that he boasted: “The American people are not going to elect a seventy-year-old, right-wing, ex-movie actor to be president.” Hamilton Jordan was a smart guy — and he was also wildly wrong. A little less than a year later the American people — ignoring that Gallup poll — elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency in a landslide — in a three-way race. Reagan won 50.8% of the vote to Carter’s 41%. Third party candidate John Anderson, a liberal Republican who had been defeated by Reagan in the GOP primaries, won a mere 6.6% of the vote. Reagan carried 44 states to Carter’s six plus the District of Columbia.
According to pundits like Charles Krauthammer, the GOP presidential candidates represent the “strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years,” saddled only by the “rodeo clown,” Donald Trump. But how could that possibly be true if the rodeo clown is leading the race?
Were it a field full of heavyweights, Trump’s candidacy would never have gotten off the ground. The establishment’s favored candidates are too shaky and insipid to excite rank-and-file Republicans, leaving a large hole that Trump’s decisive and unapologetic personality has filled.
It would appear that the party is moving towards yet another weak nominee in the mold of Dole, McCain, and Romney. The candidates who made the biggest impression at last week’s debate are the ones most likely to be blocked by the GOP establishment, while the candidates it is most likely to settle on, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, made little to no impression at all.
What ever happened to Ronald Reagan’s “Thou shall speak no ill of a fellow Republican”? And what about W. F. Buckley’s admonition to always work for the Republican with the best chance to get in? He meant the most conservative candidate in a position to get in. I do not think he meant you should vote for the strongest conservative even when the strongest conservative was likely to get creamed by the weakest liberal. He meant you should vote for a weakly conservative or imperfectly conservative candidate if he is in a position to beat the left. No enemies on the right, is what Reagan and Buckley meant, in sum: two great men who thought alike in many ways and whom we miss, boy, do we miss them.
If Mr. Donald Trump declares himself a conservative and a Republican, and if he looks good, then what is the problem? This is, however, an academic question because as of now he has not declared himself either. As far as anyone knows he is a Democrat and a liberal. As Joe Queenan points out, there are strong reasons to believe he may be hand in glove with her.
Conservatives pick Donald Trump for president because the media picks on him.
Even the Fox News referees went Matthew Dellavedova hard on the billionaire at the basketball arena last night. Megyn Kelly lambasted the Donald for calling certain women “fat pigs” and “slobs.” Bret Baier raised his history of supporting “liberal”—fighting words in that crowd—policies. Chris Wallace, pointing to Trump companies declaring bankruptcy four times, asked: “Why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?”
But the slings and arrows, which didn’t kill the candidate, likely make him stronger.
From Richard Nixon through George W. Bush, the intensity of the Right’s support for a politician correlates most closely not to his commitment to conservatism but to the degree of displeasure the politician causes journalists. You can impose price controls or attempt to foist illegal-immigration amnesty on the American people. Just don’t turn Chris Matthews’ sneer into a smile, receive a party invitation from Maureen Dowd, or allow something halfway nice about you to appear at the Huffington Post.