Years ago I had a conversation with a young attorney about a business issue. The topic was about a company relying on vendors, marking up those vendor invoices and then billing their clients. The attorney was shocked by it and thought it was probably going to be a problem for his client in the case. I had to explain to him that it was normal practice because that’s how a business makes money.
In this case, the company used a combination of contractors, vendors and their own employees to deliver a service. All of it was billed under a standard rate contractually set between the company and the customers. The customer never saw who was doing the work and they probably did not care. The attorney could not understand why they would charge more to the customer than the vendor was charging them.
I did my best to explain it, but I suspect he was never fully convinced. Even when I carefully explained it using his billing hours as an example, he looked skeptical. He was not a dumb guy. He just did not know about business, but he was sure he did up to that point. Like most lawyers, he was sure he knew everything about everything. You can’t blame him for that. Up to that point, he was probably sure he was the smartest guy in the room most of the time.
I thought about that reading this excellent column by Roger Simon, regarding the National Review meltdown. I’m still chewing over this bit:
Ideology should function as a guide, not a faith, because in the real world you may have to violate it, when the rubber meets the road, as they say. For those of us in the punditocracy, the rubber rarely if ever meets the road. All we have is our theories. They are the road for us. If we’re lucky, we’re paid for them. In that case, we hardly ever vary them. It would be bad for business.
Trump’s perspective was the reverse. The rubber was constantly meeting the road. In fact, it rarely did anything else. He always had to change and adjust. Ideological principles were just background noise, barely audible sounds above the jack hammers.
When National Review takes up arms against Trump, it is men and women of theory against a man of action. The public, if we are to believe the polls, prefers the action. It’s not hard to see why. The theory has failed and become increasingly disconnected from the people. It doesn’t go anywhere and hasn’t for years. I’m guilty of it too. (Our current president is 150% a man of theory.) Too many people — left and right — are drunk on ideology.
There’s a lot to agree with there, but I come up short with the “man of action” line as it strikes me as a veiled reference to fascism, or at least what the commentariat has come to think of as fascism. The argument about Hitler was he did not offer a coherent vision, but he was seen as a man of action, willing to break a few heads to get things done.
Maybe I’m imagining things, maybe not, but I think he is correct in thinking his fellow chattering class members are seeing it that way. Bill Kristol has a hissy-fit posted over at NR today that sounds like the nerdy kid telling the jocks to stop picking on him. That’s where Simon has it right, I think. His people are offended by Trump coming into their safe place. Trump is micro-aggressing the bleep out of them right now.
That explains one part of this, but what about Trump supporters? I was in New England last summer when Trump was just starting to campaign. I was in a bar in a nice, generally liberal town and was struck by how captivated people were by Trump giving a speech somewhere that was being shown on the bar televisions. Something was going on.
Similarly, in the first debate, the snarling bimbo went after Trump about giving money to Democrats and he responded by pointing out that he had to do business in New York and that meant greasing the pols of both parties. I was struck by the look on the faces of the moderators. They were as baffled as that young lawyer I described at the start of this post. Trump may as well have been talking about attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
Here’s the thing, most everyone watching that answer from Trump understood what he was saying. Anyone who owns a business knows the drill. Those who are in decision making positions for a company know the drill. In the real world, you do what you need to do to push the rock up the hill. Trump’s honesty about that was refreshing, thus making the contrast between him and the rest even more stark.
Mark Steyn has it right, I think.
The movement conservatives at National Review make a pretty nice living out of “ideas, ideology, philosophy, policy, and so forth”. The voters can’t afford that luxury: They live in a world where, in large part due to the incompetence of the national Republican Party post-Reagan, Democrat ideas are in the ascendant. And they feel that this is maybe the last chance to change that.
Go back to that line “When Reagan first ran for governor of California…” Gosh, those were the days, weren’t they? But Reagan couldn’t get elected Governor of California now, could he? Because the Golden State has been demographically transformed.
The public is looking for the candidate that can fix the issues of greatest concern to them. They look around and feel like guests in their own country. The two parties want to spend all of their time debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, while millions of foreigners pour over the border. I suspect most Trump supporters would like a better candidate, but they will go with Trump if that means addressing their top concerns.
Reading the comments on Trump stories, I see two camps. In one camp are those having fun watching their guy give wedgies to the nerds. For the first time in a long time, they feel like the guy running for office knows something about their life. The other camp is in shock, believing that if they just huddle closer together, the storm will pass. They appear to be heading for a Dorothy Martin moment.