Remember Condi versus Hillary?
No? Did that battle of the Amazons somehow elude you? Perhaps you missed the briefly best-selling book from recovering Clintonista Dick Morris, who assumed, as did we all, that Hillary Clinton would be the Democrat nominee in 2008, and who wrote at length regarding the advisability of running Condoleezza Rice against her as the Republican candidate. We still have a copy here in the WOOF cave–and it still presents a compelling argument for drafting Condi as the ’08 Republican candidate for the presidency, describing precisely how Dr. Rice will discomfit the former Goldwater Girl, and strut into the Oval Office in her knee-high leather boots, a la Wiesbaden. Obviously, it didn’t work out the way. Lady Condoleezza made it plain she preferred playing concert piano and watching the NFL to re-entering politics, even as a dazed and disbelieving Hillary was trampled by the “journalists” stampeding to anoint Barack Obama, who–it seems almost quaint to recall at this remove–was going to lower the tides, save our economy, eliminate the race issue, and cause the entire population of earth to turn its adoring gaze toward a fundamentally transformed America. Oh well. And so Morris’s book became a sort of literary curiosity–an academic dabbling in kriegspiel locatable in the one-dollar clearance stack at good booksellers everywhere.
Our point being, that publishing an article such as this one, in which we treat Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as the probable, perhaps even the inevitable nominees of their parties in 2016 is likely to wind up on the same scrapheap of literary oddities to which Morris’s tome was consigned. We are, after all, the same bunch of giddy optimists who published our (former) official psychic’s prediction that Obama would be driven from office in 2013. Boy, was that embarrassing! [We manfully link to said embarrassment here, for the sadistically curious]. To paraphrase one of Karl Marx’s least solipsistic musings, the road to humiliation is paved with good deductions, and nowhere is that coinage truer than in presidential politics. Thus aware that we may be bothering the reader with nothing more than a comically meticulous analyses of a seemingly inevitable contest that for any of a thousand reasons may never reify– we nevertheless plunge with characteristic abandon into this screed’s thesis, namely that nominee Trump will probably confront nominee Sanders in an election that will almost certainly determine America’s direction in the 21st century, and thereby, frighteningly enough, the ultimate destiny of the republic.
Amid the charred debris left by Obama’s executive rampage, two completely distinct American futures may be descried. The nation may return to first principles and embrace the vision of the founders, or it may succumb to the fuming envy of the collectivist rabble and devour itself in a masochistic frenzy of purblind sloganeering and self-destructive redistribution after which only the elites will have bread, or a private jet out of here. We will presently discuss our concern that Bernie Sanders seems far better equipped experientially and ideologically to ensure the latter outcome than Trump does the former–but first, a word about the madness of crowds!
A word about the madness of crowds…
In 1940 Carl Jung wrote that the “”Masses are always breeding grounds of psychic epidemics.” Considered even for a moment, the observation seems almost superfluous in its patency, doesn’t it? And yet most psychic epidemics, though not exactly predictable, are usually comprehensible once in motion. Nobody anticipated the Beatles, for instance, but their music and pop-cultural impact have been parsed by countless social critics to the extent that we might consider them over-explained. Before Beatlemania, nobody could have anticipated Elvis Presley, but his appeal was no mystery to the carefully observant, including his manager who wearied finally of moronic reporters asking him how he’d succeeded in marketing the young singer so successfully, and drawled, “Gee, I don’t know–when I met the boy, all he had in this world was a million dollars worth of talent!”
We make this point simply by way of remarking that “psychic epidemics,” or what less Jungian observers might call popular crazes, are almost always traceable to somebody with “a million dollars worth of talent.” It may not be the finest or most salubrious of talents–it may be satanic, it may be uplifting and noble. But whether a talent for con-artistry, for emotional manipulation, for bestirring the faithful to rally and proselyte, or persuading 80 million Germans to make war on the Jewish race and the majority of the world– the architect of change is typically that individual or individuals whose talents trigger an epochal event And we make this point simply by way of saying that no such generative figurehead seems responsible for the sudden rejection by millions of Americans of the established political orthodoxy. Rather, vast populations of potential voters seem simply and simultaneously to have recoiled at the thought of enduring any further hypocrisy from the perfidious lickspittles of the GOP, or any more guff from the recreants of the establishment Left. It is difficult to think of another era in American history when so many were galvanized so tempestuously without an identifiable actuator at the eye of the storm.
Something about Bernie….
To begin with, Bernie Sanders is a relic in the starkest embodiment of the term—he could never be reasonably expected to capture “the youth vote,” but reasonable expectations be damned. Sanders single handedly performed emergency resuscitation on the Left’s most successful canard, namely the belief–clung to with an almost endearing sincerity by vast populations of liberals, especially of college age, that liberalism in America constitutes a revolutionary struggle against the establishment—a student-and-proletariat led rebellion against “the man.” (We should probably pause to mention here that “corporate rule is not democracy!” But you already knew that, right?) So why Bernie–why now? Only because he is the guy who happened by at the moment the tide shifted, the guy maundering on, spouting his adorably retro bombast at the exact moment that hundreds of thousands of American liberals, sickened by the endless gusts of double-speak from their president and numbed by the soulless, poll-driven rantings of Mrs. Clinton, looked for an option–almost any option–and there stood Bernie. Even liberals grow weary of incessant taradiddle, and after nearly two terms of shameless dissimulation from Clinton, Pelosi, Reid, and Barack,(the godlet who failed), Bernie Sanders shown brightly with that single, distinguishing quality so hungered after by frustrated progressives: He actually meant what he was saying. Okay, what he said was arguably bonkers, but as his supporters interminably remind us, “at least he means it,” and progressives have always been cool with bonkers, so long as it’s perceptually hip. If Clinton and Obama were liberalism’s tired synth pop, then Bernie Sanders is socialism’s punk rock reaction.
Sanders didn’t need “a million dollars worth of talent”–he didn’t even need to be photogenic or particularly riveting–he just needed to be the closest thing the disenfranchised Left could find to that Old Time Religion–a man of the Left whose radical purity never yielded to the suasions of jet-set trendiness, power ties, glittery soirees or “bankster” confederates. No, Bernie’s paleo-radicalism is true and untarnished– the kind of socialism an anti-establishmentarian can get behind and believe in, and about whom one could say, in the words of one of the disgruntled Left’s most beloved composers, “believing works just fine for me.” And believing has sufficed, without much additional effort from Bernie, to shove him front and center this political season, the rumpled beneficiary of a national mood that found it’s leftmost mojo rekindled by the grizzled old dude from Vermont. His followers festoon their Volvos and Priuses with stickers extolling voters to “Feel the Bern!” (get it?) as though something about the man were sizzling, or dynamic. The juxtapositional irony is nothing short of hilarious. Bernie inveighs, to be sure–and testily recites the presumed sins of capitalism with an admirable resoluteness. But one cannot think of Sanders and the term pizazz simultaneously–the psyche rebels. Bernie Sanders brought nothing to the game except sincerity, and a brand of dust-bowl-era collectivism that seems freshly thawed from some long-buried cryogenic sarcophagus.
To fully understand Sanders’s brand of progressivism, one must first understand that in 1967 (the year hippy idealism began to transmogrify into “Yippee” bellicosity) there were more cows than human beings in Vermont. It is by no means picayune to say that this ratio is no longer maintained. Today, while Vermont still boasts the most cows per capita, human beings are by far the more numerous species. The reader may reasonably suppose this shift to reflect the attractions of Vermont’s natural beauty and legendary philosophic individualism stimulating an infusion of Yankees-manque; but this does not suffice to explain the uptick. No, in order to correctly grasp the bloat of homo sapiens in the Green Mountain State, one must consider that within its 9,616 square miles there exists a booming industry—arguably the state’s leading industry with the possible exception of maple syrup. We refer to what we might drolly call “higher education,” as represented by the state’s 23 colleges and universities currently grinding away in the ostensible service of a mere 630,000 human Vermonters, and a steady influx of pilgrims, ripe for indoctrination.
This explosion in the education biz overtook Vermonters unawares and produced the state’s leftward shift. In 1986 the New York Times remarked upon this veritable seachange, merrily declaring it “…particularly striking because Vermont has for many years been one of the most heavily Republican states in the country, one of only two to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.” (Gasp!) The Times went on to explain the shift in terms of “the influx of newcomers to Vermont in the late 1960’s and 1970’s,” and this is not entirely inaccurate, although it entirely misses the point…the point being that a massive enclave of academic propagandists spawned a particularly influential outpouring of Nuevo-Vermonters, one of which was, in fact, Bernie Sanders.
To understand Vermont’s plunge into radicalism, one must understand that three cultures (however conflated) emerged from the heuristic cauldrons of Goddard, Bennington, Champlain, Middlebury, Burlington, and Castleton (to name only a few offenders) in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and these are definable as follows: First, that large body of essentially placid, predominantly stoned graduates or ejectees from the state’s campuses, the majority of whom became potters or bakers or macrame artisans while others secured part time work at “head shops” or bookstores or tinkered with other suitably bohemian crafts. For obvious reasons of natural or chemically-induced indolence, they never left Vermont—and in a very few instances they became successful—Ben and Jerry are prime examples.
Next, we have the non-proletarian hippy remnant—the ones who will be shot as parasites if socialism actually makes the headway these naives consider desirable. They are that large body of essentially placid, predominantly stoned graduates or ejectees from the state’s campuses who went directly onto the doles, and who for obvious reasons of dependency, never mind natural or chemically-induced indolence, never left Vermont.
And finally, we have the activists—that dialectically besotted troupe of believing Marxists, Maoists and Trotskyites who abandoned their predilection for bombing post offices and municipal buildings once their side triumphed in Vietnam, whereupon the majority became either university professors, or…politicians.
In fact, Sanders so perfectly fits our description of the political subpopulation of radicalized academe, he could be its poster boy. Examine him, holding his waif, preparing to express what we imagine must have been a highly “relevant” viewpoint in 1971. He is the embodiment of student radicalism, conforming to every requisite….distinguishing himself from the vast throngs of unwashed hippy stoners with his regulation Abbie Hoffman hair, unruly but above the shoulders to signify philosophical sophistication. Really. (Did you ever notice the crowds at ‘60s protests always looked like Haight-Ashbury hippies but the guy with the megaphone always looked like Sanders?) The glasses are a class distinction too—no frivolous Jim McGuinn/Ben Franklin spectacles for the serious revolutionary—no John Lennon round lenses, either. They always grabbed the horn rims—although admittedly Bernie looks like he picked up a girl’s pair.
In further conformity with the mold, Bernie is the very model of the liberal neuvo-Vermonter, meaning he wasn’t born there. He came from Brooklyn. In this respect, he did not require the engines of Marxist re-education ensconced in Vermont to ensure his radicalization—it was achieved courtesy of Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago. Sanders relocated to Vermont in 1964 to write for the Vermont Freeman, publishing such timeless gems as “The Revolution Is (sic) Life Versus Death.” In his articles he complained bitterly about having to work mundane jobs, joining “the mass of hot dazed humanity heading uptown for the 9-5” all the while cognizant of deserving more—much more. Fortunately he discovered politics. As Sarah Lyall put it in a recent New York Times article, “he was part of a crowd of like-minded young people who converged on Burlington at a time when America seemed to be rewriting its history on the spot. Students, hippies, labor organizers, trust fund kids, urban escapees, impoverished anti-Vietnam War campaigners…” In other words, Vermont never had a chance.
“…to say the least not looking good….”
Sanders likes to remember himself as a “freelance journalist” in those days, but he wrote exclusively for the ultra-radical Freeman, without salary, and published (besides his apparently un-newsworthy assertions that all women secretly long to be raped) his critical views on American education (it “gave us Richard Nixon”), the horrors of gainful employment (“moron work”), and the suppressed facts about our national health. In one inspired column he cited studies claiming that cancer results from unresolved hostilities toward one’s mother, and having too few orgasms. Moreover, according to Bernie, “sexual adjustment seems to be very poor in those with cancer of the cervix” (presumably he meant pre-morbidly). In fact, Sanders’s crackpot obsession with the psychosexual origins of organic disease make Wilhelm Reich seem conventional. The aspiring revolutionary and healthologist also tended to link his medical afflatuses to his yawningly predictable enthusiasm for Cuba, he having discovered (without bothering to visit) that daily living and health standards on Castro’s island were unparalleled–and this, he wrote, owing to the psychosexual health of the island’s inhabitants (not counting, we guess, all the homosexuals slaughtered by Che’s firing squads). Bernie several times expressed chagrin that the facts about Cuba’s blissfully robust inhabitants were “distorteded by American mass media,” (a variety of distortion no longer encountered in Cuba).
Regarding his own country, Bernie took a markedly less approving view. From a literary and philosophical standpoint, Sanders’s quality of work is perhaps best exemplified by his opinion, published in one of his last editorials, that “The general social situation, to say the least does not look good.” Well, we can always agree on something!
Wives and Politics….
WOOF knows Bernie married his first wife, Deborah Messing, straight out of University, where they met. The couple relocated to Vermont but divorced after only 18 months, so short a time that Sanders apparently forgot it happened. His Senate biography lists Burlington University President (are you in the least surprised?) Jane O’Meara, as Bernie’s first wife. Indeed, Sanders married O’Meara in a civil ceremony in 1981 on the night he was elected mayor of Burlington, and his official biography describes her as the mother of his son Levi. But WOOF knows she isn’t, which is to say, she isn’t his first wife and she isn’t the mother of Levi. Sanders apparently forgot that Levi is the child of Susan Mott, whom he forgot even to marry. (We remembered to check.)
But enough about that—suffice it that Bernie, despite numerous political missteps and frustrations, managed to win election in 1990 to the United States House of Representatives where he spent sixteen years militating for the usual sinistral causes on behalf of the Green Mountain state. So heartily did the pot heads, professors, trust fund poets, fashioners of macrame, and makers of native-American dream catchers approve of his performance that he was elevated to the United States Senate in 2006. In 2012, Sanders was returned to the Senate boasting 70% of the popular vote making him the longest serving Independent in U.S. congressional history (actually a self-described socialist who caucuses–not to shock you, gentle readers–with the Democrats). But the wild outpourings of support his presidential bid is generating speak mouthfuls about the degree to which socialism, that failed European construct that bankrupted the economies of an entire continent, derailed the United Kingdom, imploded the mighty USSR, drove Beijing’s Maoists to reconsider capitalism, and left politicians across the European Union scrabbling for some means of effectuating its piecemeal revocation, is suddenly irresistible to vast numbers of American voters. How did this happen?
If you’re not in the audience, don’t bother watching!
Studies on the Internet purport to prove that if you watch FOX News, or listen to Rush Limbaugh, you’re an idiot. These studies offer additional evidence that listeners to NPR or viewers of the Daily Show (a comedy program formerly featuring Jon Stewart mimping, puckering, and face slapping while reporting the day’s events, thus allowing his audience to infer how to react themselves) are the very best informed. These studies come from places like Fairleigh Dickinson University, whose political science expert, Dan Cassino, demolished the credibility of right-wing news outlets by explaining that his study presents “…solid evidence that if you’re not in that audience, you’re not going to get anything out of watching them.” Well, there’s the problem!
In reality, our schools have spent decades churning out graduates who cannot guess whom we fought in World War II, distinguish the Bill of Rights from the Desiderata, or venture a guess as to why we celebrate the 4th of July. That the NEA and the liberal custodians of university-level misdirection should be denied credit for this intellectual implosion while FOX and Rush Limbaugh grab all the ink, seems the height of injustice…but our immediate point is simply that America’s younger generations are gobsmackingly ignorant. And the gobsmackingly ignorant, in case you haven’t noticed, are cannon fodder for the liberal establishment’s massive propaganda machine.
Into these empty vessels the twin opiates of ‘who is cool” and “who is stupid” are ceaselessly decanted. Only in such a cultural miasma, to pick an example, could the idea of James Bond endorsing Bernie Sanders seem cogent. Yes, Ian Fleming’s commie-shooting cold warrior, at least as currently portrayed by actor Daniel Craig, donated $47,000 to a PAC supporting the Sanders campaign. The PAC organizer, Cary Lee Peterson, perfectly characterized the occasion, exclaiming, “James Bond for Bernie is pretty cool, you know what I mean?”
WOOF goes to see Bernie
When the Sanders campaign announced a Town Hall meeting in Portland, Maine–a Q&A sessionwith the candidate–WOOF promptly dispatched a Woofette to infiltrate the throngs and direct a query or two Bernie’s way. To our tremendous disappointment, the format was changed at the last moment. Because 7,500 supporters mobbed the event, Sanders’s advance team declared a stemwinder from the podium the necessary alternative to a dialogue. Whether this genuinely accounted for the switch, or the attendance of our Woofette was somehow discovered in advance, provoking tactical precautions, we cannot say with certainty. We can say that an hour watching 72-year-old Bernie blasting away to a crowd of utterly enthralled Mainers is about as stimulating as inviting your kookie frazzle-haired uncle to Thanksgiving and masochistically encouraging him to continue fuming about corporations, foreign policy, and global warming right through the dessert course. It would be difficult to imagine anything less inspiring at this historic moment than another socialist bellowing, “All over America, people are becoming involved in this campaign because they want change; Real change!” But seemingly the mass appeal of “change” never changes.
Like Obama in 2008, Sanders is effective at reeling off lists of problems that most Americans would prefer to see solved. The Gestalt Psychology is simple: Once he promises change, real change, and points out, for instance, that the middle class is vanishing, the philosophically clueless assume that “change” will fix the problem…as well as any other problems the candidate chooses to gripe about. Like test subjects shown black dots arranged on a page who exclaim, “It’s a Dalmatian!” the crowd in Portland fitted each target of their hero’s spleen to the mental schema of “Change; real change!” Thus armies of believers are assembling across the nation in praise of Bernie, their crazy uncle who just dropped in to share their grievances, teach them some new ones, and promise them free stuff. “Today,” he growls, “we stand here and say loudly and clearly that enough is enough!” A nation that has just suffered through nearly two terms of socialist restructuring at the expense of its ideals, treasure, and liberties might hasten to agree. But irony is invariably lost on the humorless.
“The great moral issue of our time…”
Bernie is also mad because “the top 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent!” He is also mad because women’s access to abortion is threatened (by somebody, we wish we knew who) and because taxes aren’t high enough. He is persuaded (erroneously) that “Republicans believe in abolishing social security and V.A. health care.” He fumes abstractly against such social constructs as “the gender gap,” and “income inequality” (which exists everywhere on earth, but annoys Bernie exclusively in America). He also promises to correct “grotesque inequality,” which is seemingly distinct from gender inequality and income inequality and which, whatever it precisely means, constitutes “the great moral issue of our time!”
Apparently a $15 minimum wage will resolve this, rather than do what increases in the minimum wage have always done previously, which is to say: cause nationwide inflation, increase unemployment, and further immiserate the poor. But wait, Sanders also wants to “fix” Obamacare– by bloating it into a monolithic government operation servicing every American, like it or not. He also plans to expand social security and pay for everyone’s tuition at public colleges (so everyone will naturally wish to attend–why not?) and rebuild the entire American infrastructure, give or take a railroad trestle or two, all of which adds up to about $20 trillion in aggregate expenditures. Not to worry. Sanders’s policy director assures the Wall Street Journal that tax increases under President Sanders will offset the expense by producing an additional $6.5 trillion over ten years. No wonder Bernie drives an Aveo! But there is probably no need to concern ourselves overmuch with Sanders’s budgetary psychosis. The candidate has simultaneously discovered that “America spends too much,” and plans to exercise frugality by slashing the defense budget so severely that we will probably be a heap of radioactive ash long before the invoice for Utopia arrives.
We would be stupid!
To Bernie’s credit, he seems utterly and honestly oblivious of the nonsensicality of his prescriptions—or their failures wherever instituted in the past, or their tendency to conduce toward police-state repression, or the arithmetical daftness of supposing they can be financed by squeezing the wealthy until they flee his clutches, reducing his tax base to his lingering supporters, the majority of whom expect refunds. So much for a middle class, by the way. But the nutty-professor with the fright-wig hair and the finger-wagging intensity seems as lost in delusion as the “Occupy” simpletons, the dotty old hippy chicks and the silver-pony-tailed emissaries of the Birkenstock bourgeoisie who flood his campaign events. Check out the comments on any Sanders website–the assertions and beliefs you encounter will make you laugh, make you cry—make you wonder where people have been for the last 7, no 40 years. Our runaway favorite remains the pithy contribution of a supporter with the ironic handle of “Orwell,” to the effect that, “If we don’t elect him, we would be stupid.”
The politics of apophenia?
The term apophenia was coined by Peter Brugger who defined it as the “seeing of connections accompanied by a specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness.” In a 1958 monograph, Klaus Conrad created the term “apophänie” to describe the onset of psychotic delusions in schizophrenics. Nowadays, however, we seem to be awash in an electorate that experiences routine apophanies, both Left and Right, which is scariest not because the Left is psycho, which has been obvious since the late ‘60s, but rather because the Right now evinces similar tendencies. Here we go:
The Donald on the Lathe of Conservatism
Americans, traditionally, love a brawler, a fact long lost on the carefully coifed and nattily attired solons who form our legislative branch as well as the media opinionists and consultants whose high-society constructivism supplants reality inside the beltway. From Sam Adams to Davy Crockett to Joe McCarthy, it should surprise no one that a bare-knuckled confrontationist can catch fire with the electorate where the oily purveyors of cant cannot. And yet the elites are astonished whenever a spokesman emerges who is willing to roll up his sleeves and speak plainly. It astonishes them doubly when the rowdy fellow is applauded despite efforts to bring him to heel, following which they typically expend great effusions of wind and ink explaining, mainly to one another, why it isn’t really happening.
Donald Trump has been a conservative approximately as long as Bernie Sanders has been a “populist,” (which is clearly the agreed upon euphemism for him in the Establishment Media), and Trump might well be appalled by a comparison to McCarthy, yet it seems superficially irresistible. It’s hard to watch Trump extemporizing on stage, each assertion more inflammatory than its predecessor, without recalling Churchill’s joke about “a bull who brings his own china shop.” But so far only Jules Witcover, writing in the doggedly left-wing Baltimore Sun, has called for Trump to be dispatched a la McCarthy. Concerned that “Mr. Trump, [is] arousing the anger of those that share his extreme anti-immigration and anti-government views [and] rallying the like-minded to hijack that process,” Witcover longs for a mensch like the late Senator Ralph Flanders (R-VT) (a venomous cockatrice whose resolution to censure McCarthy was applauded with equal alacrity by the Washington establishment and Daily Worker), someone who will confront the monstrous Trump and bring him low. Witcover concludes that, “Any GOP presidential hopeful who cannot find the courage to denounce Trump does not deserve consideration himself for occupying the Oval Office.” So there!
It’s the atmospherics, stupid!
No less amusingly, Democratic congressmen Gallego and Cardenas, (D-Ariz & D-Calif, respectively) are busy petitioning the Obama Administration to forbid Trump’s name from being displayed above his new Washington DC hotel, having concluded that Trump’s first amendment rights should be abridged because his name represents “exclusion” and “intolerance”—which traits, given the logic of the Left, mandate exclusion on the grounds of their intolerableness.
Not to be outdone, Kerry Eleveld at the Daily Kos writes that Trump is promoting “a freak show” because he uses “the nativist term ‘anchor babies,’”which besides being nativist is also a “wing-nut phrase.” Eleveld reports that some unidentified customer overheard some other unidentified customer speaking Spanish at a Los Angeles IHOP and shouted “go back to Spain,” for which gaucherie Eleveld blames Trump, notwithstanding his having no connection to the incident. Eleveld explains that Trump is nevertheless responsible because of his campaign’s “atmospherics.” In fact, reading Eleveld’s piece, one finds oneself worrying that if Trump truly represents the fascistic totalitarian threat the author claims, the Left will need much better accusations than “nativist” and “wing nut” to stop him.
Meanwhile, on the paleo-Right, Pat Buchanan believes that “Trump should tell the GOP…all options are on the table. And that includes the Samson Option.” In other words, “Trump should tell the GOP that if it disrespects him and his followers, he is prepared to do as did the biblical hero Samson when, blinded and mocked by the Philistines, he pushed the pillars apart and brought the temple down upon the heads of them all.” WOOF remains far too fond of Patrick J. (especially when he pauses to lionize an Israelite from the tribe of Dan) to shrug this off as extremism, besides which, of course, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice…but we digress.
A conspiracy so immense?
By exercising Buchanan’s “Sampson Option,” (in other words, by staging a third-party run at the presidency) Trump could very possibly deal the GOP a mortal blow, spawning a political re-alliance on the Right that might supercede the GOP as the nation’s “other”viable party. And that could be a good thing—as natural an instance of political evolution as the fall of the Whigs. But at what immediate cost? It should be recalled that in exercising the Sampson Option, Sampson died too. In 2016, organizing a third party of Trumpites (and Trumpets?) for a lemming-like stampede off the edge of reality (in the grand tradition of Ross Perot) will only vouchsafe disaster.
Probably our fears are unwarranted. They certainly seem easier to dismiss since Trump’s September 3rd meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus following which Trump announced, “I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party,” adding, “and the conservative principles for which it stands,” which addendum seemed slightly to perplex Chairman Priebus…like a plangent echo in the nocturne, familiar, yet distant and faint.
Already we hear wailings both left and right that Trump seems invincible—that no amount of rational deconstruction by any number of tut-tutting talking heads can derail him, yet the Donald has occupied center stage in this season’s political jousts for a meager four months. Setting aside the rantings of horrified RINOs who seem incapable of grasping the ire they’ve conjured in the homeland, sizable elements of the authentic Right find it worrisome that a man with no discernable conservative pedigree should assume such an authoritative lead. Surely, this is an argument that merits our attention.
Trump’s interview in The Hollywood Reporter (of all places, but then again, why not?) sports a cover reading,“REAGAN DID IT AND I CAN TOO,” but frankly, to paraphrase the Waylon Jennings lyric, ‘are you sure Dutch done it this way?’ Reagan came to the governor’s mansion in California with a well established reputation as an ardent and outspoken conservative—the man whose speech on election eve, 1964, pled the case for Barry Goldwater’s candidacy with such compelling eloquence and passion that…well…okay, Goldwater got slaughtered, but the speech was fantastic. Reagan fought the Reds in Hollywood, warned us about socialized medicine, the dangers of a bloated federal bureaucracy, and the malign intentions of the Soviet Union whenever he could make himself heard. He nearly wrested the 1976 Republican nomination from President Ford before “Jimmy” Carter (formerly the worst president in American history) defeated Ford and showed an astonished nation how much damage unfettered liberalism could inflict.
And when did Trump become our champion in the war against illegal immigration? This is repeatedly cited in polls as his strongest political positive, and yet as recently as 2012 he chastised candidate Romney for his “hard-line” views on the subject, recommending de facto amnesty as the preferable course. On Bill O’Reilly’s show Trump explained, “You have to give them a path. You have 20 million, 30 million; nobody knows what it is….I actually heard you probably have 30 million. You have to give them a path, and you have to make it possible for them to succeed. You have to do that!”
Trump now opposes abortion, but hasn’t said when his views on infanticide evolved. A decade ago he insisted (in a syntax worthy of Biden or Pelosi) “I’m totally pro-choice. I hate it and I hate saying it. And I’m almost ashamed to say that I’m pro-choice but I am pro-choice because I think we have no choice.” Perhaps more unsettlingly, during a recent interview with Sean Hannity candidate Trump said he didn’t think funding for Planned Parenthood “should necessarily be cut.”
Trump insists that “the 2nd Amendment will be totally protected” when he is president, and his September 18th position paper on the subject mocks “scary sounding phrases” like “assault weapons.” What does this mean coming from a man whose book The America We Deserve, (2000) emphasizes the author’s support for “an assault weapons ban” and recommends longer waiting periods for gun purchasers? Trump told Ammoland Magazine he is a “Life Member of the NRA and [is] proud of their service in protecting our right to keep and bear arms.” WOOF is willing to believe him, but by “Life Member” we assume Mr. Trump means “Lifetime Member” as distinct from lifelong member. This means he may have joined the NRA a month ago for all anybody knows, but purchased (for the standard asking price of one-thousand dollars) a lifetime membership. If so, it’s a laudable gesture–but no one should confuse it with a lifetime’s involvement.
Will the man who told Larry King that he was “very liberal when it comes to health care,” and advocated a “Canadian-style program” while applauding his “good friend” Hillary’s drive to institute Hillary Care—and who enthusiastically endorsed “universal healthcare” as recently as 2007, really drive a stake through the heart of Obamacare, as he now promises?
The Donald also demonstrates a lack of macroeconomic insight, despite his conspicuous business triumphs. Regarding taxes, for instance, he told “Fox & Friends” that “one problem I have with a flat tax is that rich people are paying the same as people that are making very little money. I think there should be a graduation of some kind.” But in advocating what amounts to progressive taxation Trump is in complete agreement with Bernie Sanders, not the supply-siders who drove the Reagan revolution, nor the Chicago-school monetarists like Milton Friedman who informed the postwar conservative movement.
Social conservatives who see Trump as the man to restore the sanctity of heterosexual marriage will be disappointed to learn of his view that “Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.” In fact,Trump has never claimed to be particularly religious and recently acknowledged that he can’t remember ever asking for God’s forgiveness. In church, he explained, “I have my little wine and my little cracker, and I feel cleansed.” Of course, WOOF doesn’t presume to second-guess anyone’s personal faith, we leave such inherently complex matters to experts like George Stephanopoulos (DNC operative and unbiased ABC newscaster) who famously converted Barack Obama from Islam to Christianity with a single on-air interjection.
Finally, how seriously should we take Trump’s attacks on Mrs. Clinton when he donated substantial sums to her in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007, gave $100,000 to the Clinton foundation and placed Hillary in the front row of his 2005 wedding? Today Trump correctly appraises Her Magnificence as “the worst secretary of state in the history of our nation” and warns that she would make “a terrible president.” But a few years ago he told Howard Stern that Hillary was a “good friend” and a “fantastic senator.” For that matter, he wrote in 2000 that Jeb Bush was “a good man…bright, tough and principled,” and “exactly the kind of political leader this country needs now and will very much need in the future.” Trump seems only recently to have realized that Jeb is “pathetic.”
Late to vocation?
So will Trump describe his Whittaker Chambers moment—or at least his Zell Miller moment? Did a blinding flash of epiphanic insight smite him so forcefully that he shed his liberalism, reborn a Man of the Right? Or was his a spiritual experience of the educational variety, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous? Absent any persuasive narrative, the suspicion remains that Trump simply stumbled upon his current arguments as the result of behavioral conditioning—by blustering long enough and loudly enough that certain themes noticeably evoked positive responses, promoting repetition. Was Trump, in other words, shaped by a simple process of positive reinforcement to issue hard-line foreign-policy avowals or express contempt for Obama’s abuses of the Constitution? What about his newfound passion for calling out left-wing reporters, which now seems to have taken precedence over savaging Megyn Kelly as though she were Hanoi Jane?
Trump, more than any other Republican, embodies the incendiary fury sweeping the heartland. Fury at a Republican leadership that preaches counterrevolution on the stump and reverts to smarmy accommodationism once entrusted with or returned to power; fury at the president’s blatantly un-American foreign, economic, and social policies; fury at a Department of Justice dedicated to racism and rabble rousing, at an EPA that pollutes our streams, intimidates our ranchers and strangles our energy producers, a Department of Homeland Security that floods our cities with released murderers and rapists whom ICE refuses to deport, a National Security Agency refocused on intercepting every American’s emails except Hillary’s and Lois Lerner’s, an IRS bent on intimidating conservative non-profits, a Department of Education that strives to infiltrate our schools with dreck like “Common Core,” and legions of openly progressive newscasters who thump the drum for this circus of the macabre– and call it the new normal.
Old rules/New rules
Standard wisdom suggests Trump’s numbers may shrivel in the wake of some fatally impolitic utterance. He came close to committing such a blunder when he was informed of the Hispanic homeless man in Boston who was beaten and urinated on by men who claimed Trump influenced their actions. He began well, saying “It would be a shame …” but his mind lurched predictably to the subject of Trump, and he blurted, “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate.” Yipes. In the days of unchallenged liberal domination of our news media, this would have ended his candidacy just as surely as George Allen, a front-running conservative in pursuit of the 2007 nomination was consigned to oblivion for nicknaming a reporter “Macaca,” which phrase was headlined by the Washington Post as an unforgivable racial slur even though nobody ever heard it before. But Trump cruised through the homeless-man gaffe unscathed. Similarly, several clumsy interactions during the last (CNN) debate did nothing to diminish his standing in the polls.
As a filthy rich entrepreneur with no real political experience, Trump seems immune to the propagandists who hound him. Whenever the media plays “gotcha,” Trump sneers and doubles down. In similar circumstances it is impossible to imagine any of his GOP competitors hanging tough–their advisers would have them issuing clarifications, apologizing for misspeaking, or taking pains to be photographed kissing the apposite babies, rings, or posteriors. If nothing else, Donald Trump has changed the rules. Confronted by, say, Anderson Cooper, who surprised him with some cherry-picked poll results, Trump roared “…let me tell you. The people don’t trust you and the people don’t trust the media. And I understand why.” He responded to a criticism from Matt Lauer by insisting, “the media just has done such a false number as usual,” and reminded NBC’s Katy Tur that “NBC is so angry at me because they renewed The Apprentice and I wouldn’t do it!” Ouch!
Prevailed upon by the nauseously sanctimonious Tom Llamas of ABC News to stop saying “anchor babies” (because Llamas considered the term “offensive” and “hurtful”) Trump scoffed “You mean it isn’t politically correct and yet everybody uses it.” Asked what term he would prefer, Llamas bleated “the American born child of undocumented immigrants,” and Trump replied “I’ll use the word anchor baby!” The media rushed to emphasize the exchange as evidence of Trump’s insouciance to social justice, but Americans across a wide spectrum greeted it as a fresh breeze in an atmosphere long acrid with progressive double-speak.
Okay, Trump is not a master of the ultimate squelch. That’s apparent. But when one is the only candidate squelching, it hardly matters. As Samuel Johnson said of the dog walking on its hind legs, “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” And millions of Americans are delighted to see somebody on the political right stand up to the network poltroons. This fact alone will reshuffle the deck for future elections. But to Trump’s distinct advantage at the moment, other Republican candidates who rush to adopt the new rules will look like copycats. Can you imagine Jeb Bush scolding a media babe? The Pillsbury Doughboy might as well audition to play Sonic the Hedgehog.
To date, Trump has weathered all the barrages without blinking, including the friendly fire he received during the recent CNN debate where, word had it, Jeb was preparing to subject him to a game-ending fusilade of shattering reproofs. In the event, Bush did little to slow Trump’s momentum. His most assertive efforts to pepper one of Trump’s harangues with a smattering of half-audible counterpoints was met by Trump’s sardonic aside, “More energy tonight, that’s good!“
Obviously, Bernie and Donald are surprises nobody saw coming, least of all their bewildered competitors. Even Trump betrays occasional hints of astonishment, pausing now and then to rub it in. “Leading the polls is more fun than if you’re in 12th place,” he recently acknowledged, “or like Lindsey Graham in 17th place with zero percent and he’s a senator. He’s actually got zero. How do you do that?” And while Lindsey pouts and Jeb switches to English, their party’s nominative discourse is reshaped by the man Graham called “a complete idiot,” and whom Bush wrote off as “out of the mainstream of what Republicans think.” Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders obliges his Democrat counterparts to increasingly expose their closet radicalism. But there is an asymmetry in this feature of the phenomenon.
Therein lies Sanders’s greatest strength. He can speak to his comrades and exhort them to the barricades openly, without all the mawkish pseudo-patriotism and flag flaunting distractions commonly staged by the nattily repackaged Alinskyites who have populated the Democrat party since it swarmed into congress in the wake of Nixon’s discomfiture. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that the word most often associated by respondents with Hillary Clinton’s name was “liar.” Bernie doesn’t have this problem—he clearly strategizes that a forthright espousal of socialism can win the day in our post-Obamanation, and he may be right. With every source of news, entertainment and education recalibrated to persuade Americans that Bernie is even cooler than Hillary, he might succeed. After all, Barack Obama won re-election despite the most destructive first term in presidential history, mainly because nearly every source of influence and information relied upon by the average American served as an engine of propaganda advocating that result.
Trump’s narrative problem, in stark contrast, is that he imperfectly comprehends the ethos of the American Right. He “speaks conservatism as a second language,” as Jonah Goldberg once said of Mitt Romney—but unlike Romney, Trump speaks it with passion and righteous fury…the enthusiasm of the convert, as the Catholics say. Bernie Sanders is voicing the stale tommyrot of 1960s-era “New Left” radicalism, but he means it, knows it, lives it and breathes it. Trump on the other hand zigs off course intermittently and must hastily zag to starboard to remain afloat. Sanders repulses criticism by replaying whichever bumper-sticker accusation suits the moment: It’s the corporations, the pentagon, the NRA, the one-per-centers, the homophobes, whatever works. Distinctly, Trump’s belatedly acquired conservatism denies him a ready-to-hand supply of rhetorical chestnuts, obliging him to resort more often than not to the ad hominem attack–a markedly inferior eristic device. Criticize Trump and presto, you’re suddenly stupid, hopeless, fat, ugly, slutty, or out of your league. Over time, this inelegant reliance on prep-school obloquy may become so repellent to voters that Trump will either do some homework or yield the lead to Cruz, Carson, or Fiorina—and while this might be a good thing for conservatism, it could fatally de-energize the Republican bid in 2016.
Both men have weird physical traits–Trump’s hair hardly requires mention, while Bernie’s is reminiscent of Ed Wynn in his hay day. Trump is known to have a rotten temper and those in the know agree that Bernie often exudes a somewhat rotten tang, he being too bohemian–or simply too distracted– to bath frequently. Both men blame the established order for the nation’s downhill plunge. Here Trump has the advantage of blaming real villains and promoting real solutions, while Bernie must blame a consortium of bankers, CEOs and jet-set billionaires almost all of whom are actually liberal Democrats who partnered enthusiastically with Obama’s posse–often in exchange for lucrative government connections. But after all, Bernie’s devotees like to hear “Enough is enough!” not, “We need the same thing, only lots more of it!”
“An actor shot this man!”
Obviously, the Democrat establishment is no happier with Bernie than the Republican establishment ever was with Reagan (or, for that matter,McCarthy or Buchanan) and their mounting panic is obvious. Turning to Joe Biden in hopes of salvaging a presidential election is perhaps the most manifestly desperate political maneuver since Governor Pat Brown strove to retain the governorship of California in the face of Ronald Reagan’s mounting lead by filming a last-minute commercial in which he showed school children a picture of Abraham Lincoln and bade them to remember that “an actor shot this man!” But even as Biden ponders, polls in New Hampshire show Sanders at 49 percent and gaining, with Hillary at 38 percent and fading like an old tattoo.
Should Sanders manage to wrestle the nomination from Hillary’s clutches (or should Hillary wind up approximately where her friend Martha Stewart wound up on far more diaphanous evidence), the manifest left will wrestle control of the Democrat party away from the long-established peek-a-boo wing and Sanders will be center stage. The issue, however, will not be decided by how many Americans regard Sanders as likable, but by how many, finally, come to agree that “If we don’t elect him, we would be stupid.”
The secret statistic:
In a hypothetical 2016 match-up, Trump now beats Clinton in Iowa by 5 points. But here’s the most shocking statistic of all—and therefore the one you won’t hear reported much, except to be denounced as bogus: Trump may be polling as much as 25 percent of the Black vote according to a SurveyUSA analysis. If true, this is cause enough (perhaps) to back Trump for the GOP nomination. Consider, gentle readers, that Blacks (for reasons nobody has ever coherently explained) vote solidly Democrat, making up 22 percent of the Democrat base. So if Trump were to cut away a quarter of that vote, the Democrats would lose Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, bringing many other states into play, and returning sizeable numbers of Black Americans to their party of political origin. Surely this merits a resounding wowsers, irrespective of Trump’s negatives. Latinos also seem far more receptive to Trump’s message than the pundits and consultants predicted. A recent Nevada poll shows Trump at a 28 percent lead in that state, with his Hispanic support at 31 percent. If this keeps up, the Democrats in congress will be shouting in unison: “Build the fence, build it now!”
So who wins?
So does Trump beat Sanders in a 2016 showdown? At the end of July, CNN waxed nearly orgasmic with statistical assessments showing “the socialist from Vermont would defeat the New York real estate mogul and Republican frontrunner…in a presidential general election.” But over at ABC, Trump beats Bernie in a national election. You probably haven’t heard about this, but some clueless wretch at KABC in Los Angeles let slip an “exclusive Eyewitness News nationwide poll” which might otherwise have been conveniently misplaced. The poll, commissioned by ABC, shows Trump beating all Democratic presidential candidates “if the election were held today.” According to ABC’s poll, Trump narrowly defeats Hillary Clinton 45 percent to 40 as of this moment in time, edging out Bernie 44 percent to 40 percent. However, he only beats Biden by a slender 44 percent to 42 percent. Obviously, then, Trump is in front, and a blithering idiot is the DNC’s best hope! (Enjoy the moment!)