When Donald Trump started making noises about running for president, I remember thinking, well, nothing. I have never been a Trump fan. I’ve had no reason to not like him, but I’m not a consumer of popular culture. Therefore, I never had need to come down one way or the other on Trump.
My sense was that he was like every other successful pitchman I’ve known. A harmless phony that is good at making people feel good about giving them money. In the case of Trump, he is a pitchman for himself and his brand, which helps sell real estate. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing for me to care much about one way or the other.
When Trump started talking about immigration, I cringed a little. Trump has never struck me as a deep thinker so having him lead the charge on an issue of this magnitude struck me as a bad idea. I know a lot about it so I have a certain bias toward people who share my level of knowledge on the subject.
The reaction from elites, however, changed my mind. The pearl-clutching and fainting on all sides of the ruling elite has been stunning and enlightening. I’m not alone in this. My sense is much of Trump’s support is the result of this, a result of the Trump Effect.
The most obvious example of this, one I have written about a few times, is Kevin Williamson at National Review On-Line. He has been driven to madness over Trump, writing a dozen columns calling Trump everything from an ape to a Nazi. National Review finally put an end to it, apparently, as he is back to writing about unicorns and flying carpets.
I used to enjoy his articles, but his bizarre Trump columns, and to a lesser extent the strange Sanders columns, had me wondering about his sanity. Williamson was not alone; he was just the guy leading the parade. All of the allegedly conservative cognoscenti were making unhinged ad hominem attacks on Trump in what looked like a coordinated assault.
People notice things and a lot of people noticed that the Professional Right was treating Trump like a black guy at a Newport yacht club. Trump was Rodney Dangerfield and the members of the Professional Right were taking turns being Judge Smails. It was country club snobbery, not thoughtful and respectful criticism.
The other thing people noticed was that the hooting and bellowing sounded just like what they heard last decade from the Left with regards to George Bush. Kevin Williamson called Trump a “witless ape” and that sounded a lot like when the fever swamp types called Bush a chimp.
Seeing the blonde harpy from Fox prattle on about the “war on women” did more for Trump’s candidacy than anything else, I suspect, because of the images it conjured of bygone battles with the Left. She sounded like a cast member from MSNBC, ranting about Dick Cheney and the Haliburton Hurricane Machine destroying New Orleans.
The galling aspect of the Cult’s dismissal of Bush was the condescension. It was the beautiful people versus the normals. It was not George Bush they were dismissing, but his voters and their issues.The Left regularly made sport of the rubes and hicks they blamed for George Bush.
We’re seeing the same thing here with the Professional Right and Trump. The sneering dismissals don’t even bother to discuss immigration, the plight of the middle-class or the war on traditional culture. Our betters will not stoop to that level. It’s just sneering condescension.
There’s an aspect of the Trump Effect that makes it different from the reactionary support of George Bush by many middle Americans last decade. It is who is doing the hooting and to whom they are hooting it.
Normal middle Americans who watch Fox News, for example, are horrified to learn that the genteel types on their television think they are stupid prols that better know their place – or else. Jonah Goldberg thinks the listeners of Rush Limbaugh are not worth his time as they are insignificant bugs.
The biggest criticism — in terms of quantity, not quality — is that I am a RINO squish faker fraud no-goodnik lib sucking at the teat of the establishment blah blah and blah. These usually take the form of angry tweets and e-mails. So I’ll fold my response to this silliness into my responses to the longer-form stuff. One of the most popular rejoinders comes from the Conservative Treehouse, a site I’ve liked in the past. But if it weren’t for the fact that Rush Limbaugh enthusiastically plugged it on air, I’m not sure it would merit much of a response.
A 2,000-word “Open Letter to Jonah Goldberg,” written by someone named “Sundance,” it devotes barely a sentence to responding to anything I actually wrote. Nor does the author really defend Donald Trump — or his supporters — from my criticisms. Instead it is a long and somewhat splenetic indictment of the “establishment.” Sundance writes: “The challenging aspect to your expressed opinion, and perhaps why there is a chasm between us, is you appear to stand in defense of a Washington DC conservatism that no longer exists.” He then proceeds to conflate the GOP’s record with “Washington conservatism” as if they are synonymous.
This strikes me as projection and deflection and nothing more. The whole thing is a non sequitur masquerading as a rejoinder. He lays down a tediously long list of questions
The sneering is impossible to miss. Jonah’s view of himself is as a man of the sophisticated class. His critic is a man of the servant class. The snotty reply is not intended to correct or even educate the critic. It is a dismissal.
Goldberg’s audience in that piece is not the critic or the critic’s readers. The audience is his coevals in the chattering classes, who have locked arms in defense of their class against the Trumpian onslaught.
That’s the Trump Effect.
What offends the tender sensibilities of Jonah Goldberg is not the issues Trump has championed. To Jonah, those are not to be taken seriously. What offends Jonah is that Trump is a low-class prol rallying the field hands in a revolt against the master and his house boys. If you look carefully at Fox, you can see George Will and Charles Krauthammer clutching at their pearls, muttering “how dare he!” whenever Trump is the topic.
I don’t think the people supporting Trump think of him as their champion. My guess is most would rather vote for someone less caustic and improvisational.But, it’s not really about Trump and I think they know it. Trump is a means to an end, they hope.
Middle Americans are looking through the windows of the farmhouse and seeing Progressives and Conservatives sitting together eating and drinking together as one. They cannot tell the Conservatives from the Liberals because their faces seem to be the same and they are saying the same things.
There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover’s old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.