At the start of Obama’s administration, George Will was hosting the new president at his house. At the start of Trump’s administration, he finds himself adrift in Washington, cut loose from Fox News and reduced to hurling desperate insults at the new president. Trump “delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history,” he gasped, displaying the very intemperance he disdains in Trump.
A ninny and a snob to the end, Will trashed Trump for using words and lines too blunt for his delicate ears: “Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be ‘elegant.’ This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described ‘American carnage.’ That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration.”
But what really bothered Will is that Trump had the gall to address his speech to the American people rather than to the dignitaries behind him. Trump was “oblivious to the moment and setting” and didn’t honor a “civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence,” according to Will. Translation: Trump didn’t kiss the rings of Washington’s power brokers.
The faltering voice of official Washington, Will, who so often in the past criticized Republicans for their indifference to popular currents, now assumes the posture of the aristocrat terrified by the masses. But instead of attacking the people directly, he hides behind a quote from James Madison: “‘A dependence on the people,’ James Madison wrote, ‘is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.’ He meant the checks and balances of our constitutional architecture. They are necessary because, as Madison anticipated and as the nation was reminded on Friday, ‘Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.’”
Will isn’t alone in this snobbery, a snobbery which the chattering class maintains even as it claims that a majority of the people don’t support Trump. Pundits can’t decide if Trump is a populist pandering to the masses or a defiant individualist who refuses to heed the “consensus.”
By “enlightened statesmen,” Will means the D.C. ruling class, whose “enlightenment” was earned not by the wisdom of their arguments but by their hold on power. Now that they have lost power, what is the source of their enlightenment? They can’t explain. All they can do is fall back on snobbish sputterings and unconvincing claims of superiority. They claim to be “better” than Trump somehow, yet they far exceed him in superficiality and spite, producing a torrent of tweets in praise of this or that despicable cause.
The slightest misstep by Trump horrifies them, but they can take in stride a screaming Ashley Judd and a freakish women’s march, which resembled one of the rings of Dante’s hell. A parting Obama last week said that liberals have a “core decency.” But at the women’s march, they wallowed in their indecency. Ashley Judd expressed pride in “nasty women” who kill unborn children.
Liberals preside over a culture that propagandizes people into thinking that indecency is the new decency, then profess shock at the “vulgarity” of Trump. He is putting their parental virtues to the test, they claim: What do we say to our children about him? But given the corruption to which they have already exposed their children, the conversation can’t be that tough. In early December, George Stephanopoulos’s wife, Ali Wentworth, was regaling women on “The View” about her daughter’s reaction to Trump’s victory: “It just involves my 14-year-old getting upset about the election and screaming ‘No abortions!’ really loudly.” This is the picture of innocence that Trump is shattering? That familial scene is material for Andy Warhol, not Norman Rockwell.
What upsets the ruling class about Trump is not his “indecent” past but his infidelity to it. They liked him better when he was supporting abortion and appearing on the Howard Stern show. Now that he is undoing the Mexico City policy and appearing in the company of Christian pastors, he is intolerable. How dare his press secretary call on the Christian Broadcasting Network before CNN, pundits pouted on Monday. (They are now conducting a whispering campaign against Sean Spicer for such transgressions.)
“Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium?” barked a reporter at him on Monday. That is a question better posed to the ruling class, whose privileges have collapsed under the weight of their lies. In Trump’s Washington, the last shall be first and the first shall be last— a reversal that discombobulates the elite and delights the “forgotten” people.