I could not bring myself to watch any of the debate. I flipped over to see Trump for a minute or two, but I was not all that interested in him either. These debate shows are a good example of what’s wrong with American politics. They are talent shows for the managerial class where we get to see inside the conference room of the bipartisan fusion party headquarters.
One of the stranger things about the modern mass media age is how much of it is make believe. I can think of exactly one debate that truly mattered and that was Nixon – Kennedy in 1960. How much it mattered is debatable. Otherwise, debates are like football games. People tune in to root for their team. Few minds are changed. At this stage, no minds are changed as they have been doing these shows for six months.
That said, I enjoy reading the commentariat the day after. They put on their serious face and lecture the rubes about what really happened in the debate. Because their true motivation is to burnish their class status, they personalize their analysis in the hopes of elevating their status in the club. It’s silly parlor politics among men who have made a career of telling the women what they would do if they had the chance.
Finally, this debate was a fascinating glimpse into what might have been absent the disrupting force of Donald Trump. Bush was far more at ease without one of the candidates hurling middle school insults at him, and the debate itself was substantive — showcasing the GOP’s most effective communicators. This is why people said the GOP had a “deep bench” in 2016. Absent Trump, the three-man contest likely would have been between Bush, Rubio, and Cruz. But might-have-beens are irrelevant, and in this evening’s audition for the best alternative to Donald Trump, Marco Rubio won the night.
That’s their complaint in a nutshell. The big meanie, the bully, has wrecked their fun. It’s not fair. Without Trump, panda men of the managerial class could have had tea and calmly discussed the really important stuff, like how to best rearrange the commas in the regulatory code. Instead, that vulgar dirt monster and his populism ruined it!
Mark Steyn the other day made the very good point that these pusillanimous popinjays make excellent money scribbling for popular websites and chattering on TV. Being right or even being popular does not factor into their thinking because it has no impact on their lifestyle. The guys and gals who spent a year selling Mitt Romney still had jobs after Romney lost what was a very winnable election.
Once you decouple the paycheck from performance, the performance collapses. In the dreaded private sector, this is well known. Go into a UPS office and it is a model of efficiency. Go into a US Post Office and it is a sclerotic nightmare of bureaucratic asshattery. The reason is in the former, performance and pay are linked, while in the latter the pay remains the same no matter what you do.
It’s an interesting thing we are seeing with our media. The cable rackets and the donor system have conspired to populate the ranks of journalism with ball washers and yes men. In an attempt to turn the media into a megaphone for the ruling elite, they have emasculated it. Worse yet, their insularity has made them vulnerable to even a mild breeze of discontent.
I’m reminded of this from H. G. Wells:
‘It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the wane. The ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind. For the first time I began to realize an odd consequence of the social effort in which we are at present engaged. And yet, come to think, it is a logical consequence enough. Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions of life—the true civilizing process that makes life more and more secure— had gone steadily on to a climax. One triumph of a united humanity over Nature had followed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become projects deliberately put in hand and carried forward. And the harvest was what I saw!”
It was not so long ago that you could not afford to make enemies in the elite media, if you wanted to have a public life. The old saying was, “never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” People like Mark Steyn, Ann Coulter, Steve Sailer and many others are getting on fine as enemies of the state media. Now, Donald Trump is doing well as an enemy of the state parties. Those who are deeply invested in the state have good reason to fear the wreckers.