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Trump Vs. Conservatives (and Conservatism)

Sometimes, in an effort to distinguish myself from the likes of Sean Hannity, I describe myself as "conservative but not right-wing." It's not a hard and fast distinction, of course, and it's not easy to articulate, but it's being pretty clearly illustrated by reactions to the Trump campaign. It's been a week or so now, so I'm late in commenting on this, but, as you may have heard, National Review published a cover story making the argument against Trump which includes contributions by a number of fairly well-known names on the right, both the religious (Russell Moore, R.R. Reno) and non-religious (libertarian David Boaz). There is an editorial summary of the case, "Against Trump", which is probably all you need to read unless you're extremely interested. But the whole story is online, too: "Conservatives Against Trump".

My favorite political blogger, Neo-neocon, has also had a lot to say about Trump; here's just one post. One reason she's my favorite is that she's very careful about researching everything she writes about, and, not surprisingly, the more she's learned about Trump, the more alarmed she is. (She was alarmed about Obama in 2008, too, and she was right about him.)

I think I'm like a lot of conservatives in that I just can't quite believe this is happening. I can't believe he's gotten this far. I can't believe he'll get the nomination. I can't believe he could win. Most of all, I can't believe that people who consider themselves conservative are supporting him. Whatever he may be, he is not a conservative in any remotely plausible sense of the word. We all know that "conservative" is in many ways inaccurate as a description of American conservatism. But I can't see that it has any application at all to Trump. 

Why, then, do so many people on the right support him? There is generally at least some connection between "right-wing" and "conservative". It's a species of populism, yes, but much more a rightist than a leftist sort. It's apparently driven by anger. The conventional, i.e. the liberal, response to this is to sneer at the angry people--they're just racists whose evil grip on society has been loosened, etc. etc. ad nauseam. Where non-white anger is concerned, liberals insist on looking for root causes. To do so in this case doesn't require a lot of digging. As someone put it a while back, in a quotation I haven't been able to find again, the American people are governed by an elite which despises them. The anger tends to focus on immigration, and with some reason, because it is here that the ruling class has shown again and again that it is indifferent to the effects of immigration on working-class and poor Americans. The best analysis I've seen of the syndrome is by William Voegeli at the Claremont Review of Books: "The Reason I'm Anti-Anti-Trump." 

Demagoguery flourishes when democracy falters. A disreputable, irresponsible figure like Donald Trump gets a hearing when the reputable, responsible people in charge of things turn out to be self-satisfied and self-deluded. The best way to fortify Trump’s presidential campaign is to insist his followers’ grievances are simply illegitimate, bigoted, and ignorant. The best way to defeat it is to argue that their justified demands for competent, serious governance deserve a statesman, not a showman.

On a deeper level, I think there's something more happening. The American republic is in decline in many ways, including in its character as a republic. I've often thought that monarchy is the most natural form of government, and there's certainly some warrant in history for believing that any form of self-government by the governed is a fragile business. Among other things Trump's candidacy is a personality cult. His supporters don't apparently care that much about what he actually believes; they just think he is a tough guy who will stand up to their enemies. There is certainly no sense that he cares about the constitutional order as such, and this doesn't seem to bother his supporters. He wants power, and they want him to have it, because they think he will exercise it in the way they want. It doesn't take much imagination to see how that could go wrong. You don't even have to be a pessimist.

This is easy for people on the left to see. What is not so easy for them is to see is that much the same could be said of them and President Obama, as with Clinton before him. The left in fact seems more susceptible to adulation of a president or a presidential candidate as a personality than the right--Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama (and arguably Carter), and currently Bernie Sanders, for the former, only Reagan for the latter, as far as I can recall. The difference in personality between Obama and Trump is great, but both they and their followers have in common an impatience with democratic processes: "We can't wait for Congress to do its job, so where they won't act, I will." The linked story is only one of a number of instances in which Obama has said something similar. Never mind that the Constitution prescribes a system in which the legislature makes laws and the executive implements them. That doesn't matter when the progressive cause is being thwarted. It will matter when an anti-progressive autocrat proceeds in similar fashion, but it may already be too late to stop the trend.

***

Actually I'm still not 100% convinced that Trump is not part of a scheme to elect a Democrat. 

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I just can't even let myself think about this too much. You know how when they are advertising the news, they always say, "Dadadadadadadad--you'll be amazed!" I always think, "No, I won't. Nothing could amaze me or surprise me anymore." Well, this amazes me and distress me for several different reasons. I'm just glad that neither you nor my husband plan to vote for Trump because that means I don't have to wall myself up in a small room on the side of the church until I die.

AMDG

I heard an interview on MS Public Radio this evening of an evangelical pastor who has a call-in radio show and who is appalled that so many of his listeners are so excited about Trump. Things would happen and he would think that this certainly would be the thing to change their minds, but nothing has.

AMDG

It amazes me, for sure. I don't seem to be able to say anything about it without including something variant of "I can't believe this is happening." Neo-neocon has remarked several times about that phenomenon you mention--you keep thinking "ok, this will finish him" and it keeps not mattering. She has a good post today trying to classify his various supporters.

The idea that there are activists on the left who are pushing him is actually plausible. Not that that's the only thing or even the biggest thing, but it certainly seems to be in their interests. As Neo has pointed out over and over, and which actual Trump supporters seem oblivious to, Trump loses consistently when polls compare his support to Hillary's. In fact he does no better than a couple of other Republicans.

I'm happy that I can help save you from that horrible death, by the way.

The support from evangelicals is completely bizarre.

I wish I had time to read Neo's blog, because it is so good and really the only political blog I can stomach, but I just don't have time. I'm kind of halfway afraid that if I do start reading it again, I will never leave the computer.

AMDG

I realized the other day that without really having decided it consciously I've cut down my online time by cutting down on my participation in online socializing, i.e. blog comments and Facebook. Frequently on the latter I'll start to make a comment, then think "If I say that it might start a conversation and then I'll feel obliged to continue it," and refrain.

I just don't read blogs anymore except this one and Craig's, and nothing I say on Facebook is substantial enough to start a conversation.

AMDG

I think the world is getting more crazy by the day or hour. The support for Trump is mind-boggling, but so is almost everything else.

Half the time I laugh my head off and reach for the popcorn and my piña colada.


"Actually I'm still not 100% convinced that Trump is not part of a scheme to elect a Democrat."

Yep.

"The American republic is in decline in many ways, including in its character as a republic. I've often thought that monarchy is the most natural form of government, and there's certainly some warrant in history for believing that any form of self-government by the governed is a fragile business. Among other things Trump's candidacy is a personality cult. His supporters don't apparently care that much about what he actually believes; they just think he is a tough guy who will stand up to their enemies. There is certainly no sense that he cares about the constitutional order as such, and this doesn't seem to bother his supporters. He wants power, and they want him to have it, because they think he will exercise it in the way they want. It doesn't take much imagination to see how that could go wrong. You don't even have to be a pessimist."

I agree.

"popcorn and my piña colada" That sounds really good.

Janet, I read yours, Craig's, and Neo's regularly, plus NRO's The Corner, which technically is a blog, too. Can't think of any others I read regularly. There might be some at Patheos that I would read fairly often if the site was not so unpleasant--slow and cluttered. It used to crash or hang Chrome regularly, which I think was mostly related to Flash. I turned that off and that stopped the crashes. But it's still unpleasant.

Do you know how to make a piña colada?

Somehow, I clicked something and now I get a notice on Facebook of every post on Patheos. I need to fix that. Anyway, sometimes I click on one of those and I almost always end up irritated. Maybe I'm just irritable.

AMDG

I am, at least where Patheos is concerned. But then I had good reason. Over and over again I would see a link to something on Patheos that looked interesting, click on it, then spend the next 5 or 10 minutes trying to get control of my computer back. Granted, it was an old computer running Windows XP on 1gb of RAM, but, dang it, that should be adequate for web browsing. And mostly it is. I think Patheos has been improved--and I've turned off Flash on all my machines--but it's still just not pleasant reading.

I sort of think I may have made a pina colada once, but if I did it was a long time ago. I'm sure Google would give you numerous recipes in a few seconds.

I really like NeoCon's take on Trump. The only thing I disagree with is the idea that some Democrats are deliberately engineering a Trump victory. I just don't think people conspire in that way.

I do think that the Media adores Trump and has propelled him to his current fame. This is part of the absurdity of 'conservatives' saying that Trump is 'anti-media'. No he is not, he's a bloody media celebrity and nothing else!

There are people where I am working who support Trump. I cannot believe that people who call themselves conservatives could be supporting Trump. To me, they are not conservatives, they are what I would call 'reactionaries'. Maybe what I mean by reactionaries is what you mean by right wing.

I don't totally disagree with the idea that Trump's popularity is due to 'the establishment' Republicans and Democrats ignoring common people's fears about immigration.

But I do think there is a self-serving element to it, as there is in all media commentary on Trump. It seems to me that Trump is to extent serving as a blank canvas for journalists to talk about their own issues and ideas. And journalists want to say 'I'm against Trump ... BUT ... if only people had listened to me about X, Y, or Z there would be no Trumpism.' And one can fill in X, Y, or Z as one likes. Some are filling it in with immigration. It may not be totally false, ie some Trumpers may think its a great idea to put up a wall to stop the Mexicans coming, keep the Muslims out, or whatever. But I think part of this is the journalist's joy in being able to use Trump to write about their own issues.

To me, the 'I'm against Trump But, if only they had listened to me about X there would be no Trumpers' line is so self-serving that I'm inclined to say, in contradiction, that Trumpism is meaningless. To say that Trumpism is meaningless is to say that it does not tell us anything new about modern America at all. There have always been about 10 per cent of the population who do not take any kind of long term view when they give their support to projects. This 10 percent is currently supporting Trump.

I would not defend this idea that Trumpism is meaningless with my last dying breath. It's not my last ditch. Maybe there is some meaning in it. I would not get into a long debate about it. Its more like a hypothesis I could easily entertain than an idea to which I'm absolutely committed.

Its part of a journalist's job to explain current events. And a blogger's job. But some events may have no special explanation.

The only explanation I would find acceptable is that 'we've got to the stage where almost anyone with the money could run for president'. Peggy Noonan has like most journalists been wrong about all this for a long time - she predicted Trump would fade in August, September, October... But a few months back, she seemed to me to get it right when she said, 'you aint seen nothing yet. Next time it will be a celebrity rapper.'

I am also curious what you think about Ted Cruz, Mac. I'll be voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary. :)

On another note, as we approach the countdown to Mac's all time favorite hymn, "Ashes", I must put in a vote for silliest hymn ever written which has been in my head every since I left Mass yesterday morning, "Go Make a Difference"!

Although I then go home and say that to everyone, and even put it in someone's FB feed for fun. Let's all go make a difference today folks!

"Reactionary" is a pretty big part of what I mean in trying to separate right-wing, or merely right-wing, from conservative.

I'm not serious when I wonder whether Trump's candidacy is actually Democratic conspiracy. But the idea that Democrats are participating in pumping it up is not far-fetched at all. Political activists do that sort of thing all the time, like voting (where it's legal) in the primary of the other party for the candidate you think your candidate can beat.

There's a saying among astrologers, presumably from some ancient source, that "the stars incline but they do not compel." I think something like that is true of the media. They have a lot of influence but they can't create and sustain something like Trump's candidacy if there's not something real driving it. They've definitely pumped up the whole phenomenon, but that alone wouldn't keep it going and growing for this long. I guess you could say media pumping is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

So I disagree with the idea that Trumpism is meaningless. The first time I really paid attention to it was startling. I'm still startled, actually. Back in the fall sometime he gave a speech here. It was originally supposed to be in some smallish venue but the interest was so great that they moved it to a football stadium. That would never have been needed for any other political candidate at that point. In the event he didn't fill it, but it was still estimated to be anywhere from 20 to 30 thousand people. That kind of made me sit up and take notice. The speech was broadcast on local TV and I watched it. The speech itself was just a lot of disconnected bombast. But the audience was deliriously enthusiastic. That was when I knew something was going on.

Stu, I don't really have a clear opinion of Cruz at this point. I really haven't paid all that much attention to the candidates so far. I resent the fact that the campaigning really never stops anymore. I'm about to start paying attention, but the only thing I can say very definitely about Cruz now is that he looks sneaky. :-) Principled conservatives seem to think he is a principled conservative.

Agreed about "Go Make A Difference." Funny you mention that, because although I haven't heard it for a long time (praise God!) something made me think of it yesterday. That content-free "make a difference" business has always irked me. A bit like "change." Well there's good and bad change. George W. Bush made a difference, but I don't think it was the kind of difference people who say "go make a difference" had in mind.

Last night a character in DOWNTOWN ABBEY!! said she wanted to "make a difference."

It is easy to make fun of (and I am) but I think the general gist is helping people in need. Hard to argue against that.

http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2011/02/go-make-a-difference/#.Vq9zHrIrKUk

Heavy.

Another favorite of mine...is it City of God where our tears are turned into dancing? I'm always thinking of people crying and then they become deliriously happy and begin dancing. Silly hymns are fun.

Sorry to steer the discussion away from Trump, I don't want to bruise his ego.

You're still watching DOWNTON ABBEY! ;-)

I figure I will start making a serious effort to find out more about the candidates when it gets closer to my primary and I know who is left to chose from.

At this point I'm thinking there is a real chance that I may be unable to vote in November.

AMDG

If I had to guess I would say that Karen is watching Downton Abbey and Mac is sitting there with her wondering why they aren't watching something more compelling.

What a dreadful TV series, if you don't mind me saying so. I saw it once at Christmas 2011, and thought it was dire, and my stepfather and I saw the final episode on TV in England this Christmas and could not believe that people willingly look at such dreck. They seemed all to be cardboard characters dressed up in 1920s costumes like clothes horses. No offence meant - I have good friends in America who like this series! I do not know any English people who watch it, DG.

I really should not comment about American politics, because I simply do not understand the mechanisms. Some one explained to me last week about the difference between primaries and caucases, and also about the super delegates.

I didn't realize from that that one can actually enroll in the other lot's party and vote for the candidate one guesses to be least likely to win. In that case, then yes of course Democrats must be enrolling and voting for Trump.

There may be huge pro-Trump rallies. But that would fit in with Noonan's point that now anyone can run for president. The reactionaries, or haters, or right-wingers or whatever one wants to call them have never had a candidate they liked before. They've been stuck with voting for Reagan or Bush. The haters have not had their own candidate for decades. So yes, they are pumped up to be able to vote for Trump.

But this does not convince me that there are more reactionaries or right wingers than they were before, and thus that Trumpism tells us something new about American politics. All it says is that in this cycle the haters have finally got a candidate they can trust - to be hateful.

It depends on the state you live in, Grumpy. Here in Alabama for instance I can go out and vote either as a Republican or Democrat. But in Florida (where I am from) you must register as a party and vote in that primary only. So if you were registered as an Independent in Florida you could only vote in the general election as opposed to the primaries, unless of course there were several Independents vying for the presidency. The differences in the ways states do things is part of the problem here with elections...in my opinion.

Yes I was told every state does it differently. But I didn't realize it had that outcome

I think it's a big mistake to write off the Trump supporters as haters. That might describe some significant number of them. But a lot of them are angry with good reason, and that's the crucial thing. They loved Reagan, for instance (or would have--at this point we have to factor in a lot of people who were not adults in the Reagan period). I don't think Trump could have gotten nearly this far with only some basic core of reactionaries supporting him.

It's not only on the right. Bernie Sanders is also riding a lot of anger. Seems funny because liberals have been in power now for 7 years, but a lot of them feel that Obama and the Congressional Democrats have failed them. Or if they don't hold it against them, they nevertheless feel that The System is hopelessly corrupt and Sanders will somehow purify it. The rhetoric is different, obviously, and the goals are different, but the two have in common a deep sense that the system is not working in the interests of the people at large. The breadth and depth of this feeling is what is genuinely new.

I haven't read Noonan's piece, but in my experience she tends to go with a very impressionistic, almost touchy-feely approach, that's sometimes on target but sometimes not. If I remember correctly she was sort of mushy about Obama in 2008.

To me, you say, once a person says 'there's a reason for the anger,' they join the class of people who are saying 'I'm against Trump, BUT if only people had done X, there would be no Trumpers.

I don't accept the 'angry for a reason' line of argument. It strikes me as simply self-serving.

So we must agree to disagree.

Yes, it seems so.

I don't see why my view is self-serving, though. I mean, any observation is self-serving in that one thinks it's correct and advances reasons for thinking so. I'm not saying any one thing in particular is X. What's the alternative to "angry for a reason"? Angry for no reason? Not angry? Just plain mean?

But anyway, about Downton Abbey: the picture Stu paints of the Horton household is not totally off the mark. I probably wouldn't be watching it if she didn't want to. But I don't actively dislike it, either. I think a lot of people recognize that it's just fancy-dress soap opera. Taken as that, it's ok. The acting is pretty good, allowing for the limits of the writing. Anachronisms like "make a difference" are only part of the problem, but a striking part. There's a lot of entertaining visual spectacle.

Grumpy, I think it's actually pretty popular in the UK as well. Maybe not as much as here, where some people have that tendency to be gaga over upper-class British stuff.

...a deep sense that the system is not working in the interests of the people at large. The breadth and depth of this feeling is what is genuinely new.

Is that really the case? George Wallace got a lot of support in his presidential bid in the late 1960s. His message was at heart one against integration, but he also tapped into other frustrations among voters.

~~I don't accept the 'angry for a reason' line of argument. It strikes me as simply self-serving.~~

Rod Dreher had something up the other day about people having "an inchoate sense" that something's deeply wrong. People who support Trump, and to a lesser extent, Sanders, feel vaguely (but deeply) threatened by the way the country's going. So they are, in fact, "angry for a reason," even if they can't quite put their finger on what it is.

Some of my Dutch friends are wildly enthusiastic about Downton Abbey. I started watching series 1 on DVD to see what the fuss was about, and couldn't stop till the end. I don't feel any desire to find series 2 or 3 or whatever, but I thought the narrative hooks that keep you wanting to see how things turn out were quite effective. I wouldn't disagree with Mac's "fancy-dress soap opera".

Across the Western world, for a decade or more, large numbers of people of every shade of political sentiment have been expressing the feeling that existing institutions don't impact on their lives except in negative ways. The solutions they turn to vary (and the reasons they feel the way they do may too) but it has seemed pretty clear to me that there's a crisis of democracy comparable to that between the World Wars.

I don't think it's as bad as that--at least I hope it's not--but I think "comparable" is justified.

I actually haven't seen series 1 of Downton. My wife watched it, and planned to watch series 2, and that's where I came in. There have been some really eye-rolling plot twists.

Series 1 was the best. Series 2 was the worst. 2 was WW1, right? But Maggie Smith makes them all somewhat worthwhile.

It depends on what you reason for being angry is, doesn't it? If you are angry because government policies have made it impossible for you to have the bare necessities of life, or if people who don't understand your culture at all are belittling it and trying to destroy it, or because the government is using your tax dollars for things which you think are gravely immoral or ridiculously wasteful, I would think those are good reasons. I'm not, by the way, saying that any particular candidates are good answers to those particular reasons, I'm just suggesting reasons that might be good.

AMDG

I'm not angry, and according to Mac I'm voting for one of the candidates that angry people vote for. I just happen to think he's one of the few who is not deceitful, mean, or crazy.

He didn't say that it was the only reason that people vote for them.

AMDG

Right, Janet. Not that only angry people are voting for Sanders, but that a similar kind of anger can be seen in some of his supporters.

"Not deceitful" is also one of the major reasons Trump supporters would give for supporting him. They think he's a straight-up, tell-it-like-it-is guy who's cutting through all the b.s. They would probably also say "not crazy"--he's a hard-headed businessman, he doesn't live in a fantasy world, etc. I don't know about "not mean.:-)

"Crazy" is also one of the charges that many on the right would make against Sanders. My point being that each side sees the other in somewhat similar terms.

I thought I had posted this earlier. Fortunately (?) I had copied it:

Quite right about Wallace, Marianne. Actually I thought about that but decided not to go into it. So, this (Trump etc.) is not new in relation to that, but it is if you're just considering, say, the past 30 years or so.

"threatened by the way the country's going". Yes, and also in a fairly direct way by the other side, the belief that the other political side is truly an enemy and will destroy the country if not defeated.

That also was true when Wallace was running, although the left had much less power then and so on that side it was not so much "they're destroying the country" as just "they're evil." It has been more or less true since the '60s, really, but it ebbs and flows.

Re Downton again, I can't remember which series it was, but the most eye-rolling plot twist for me was the miracle recovery from paralysis. Sudden deaths were a bit overworked, too, but I gave the writers the benefit of the doubt and supposed it was the fault of the actors wanting out. Reportedly Lady Bellamy in Upstairs Downstairs, the DA of its day, was put on the Titanic because the actress wanted out, and she later regretted it, but it was too late because her character was at the bottom of the ocean. Though they could have concocted some kind of miracle, perhaps involving amnesia.

I just seem to remember talk about jumping the shark and other negativity a long, long time ago.

AMDG

You may have heard it from me on the occasion of the miracle recovery.

And Maggie Smith is definitely the most fun.

Its exactly the Rod Dreher is, Chicken Little, democracy is doomed take away from 'I'm against Trump but they did not do X like I tole them, so the end is nigh' which makes me hypothesize that the Trump phenomenon is fairly meaningless. Its meaningless in relation to the kinds of meaning people want to draw out of it.

I can just barely remember that there was a miracle recovery. Was it Lady Mary's husband that recovered? If so, it didn't do much good in the end.

Maggie Smith is the best.

AMDG

Yes, it was Mary's husband. Then he died (I guess there's no real need to avoid spoilers here).

Republicans turning out in force to turn Trump out

So I see. I'm hoping the bubble is bursting.

It may be that the people who are too smart to vote for Trump are too smart to waste their time on telephone polls.

AMDG

John Podhoretz at 10.45 last night, 'So let's face it, America has not yet gone batshit crazy.'

When People act like they are going batshit crazy it gives journalists something to write about. It makes everyone feel deep as they explain how this would not be happening if only folks had followed their own preferred prescription. Rod Dreher is typical of this, but their name is legion. They helped to create the Trump bubble and they enjoyed it immensely. Because a Rubio win or a Clinton win, while unfortunate in the minds of some, does not have that hint of insanity which allows speculation as to the causes to run riot.

I think that one can have a deep sense that something's seriously wrong without necessarily being either insane or paranoid.

(This of course does not mean that there are not some crazies and Chicken Littles among the "declinists.")

Right. Though Dreher is indeed a Chicken Little. It seems to be just his personality. I wouldn't be surprised if he recognizes it.

Just for the record, I didn't say the American people were going batshit crazy, or that this would not be happening if only folks had followed my preferred prescription (I don't have one, actually). There's no contradiction between saying that the level of support Trump has attracted is significant, and that the media helped to inflate it.

I did not say you said they were crazy.

I wasn't sure whether you were including me in your criticism of the punditry or not.

I do not think democracy can be in a state of compleat collapse when tens of thousands of people turned out to vote against Trump

http://thefederalist.com/2016/02/02/iowa-caucus-the-anybody-but-trump-vote/#.VrDScuJnB3g.facebook

I don't think it's in a state of complete collapse, or anywhere near that. I think it's in a state of decline. Big difference. But in any case it is encouraging that Trump didn't win, and if that guy you link to is right, that so many people were motivated to vote against Trump.

I don't have much of an opinion about American politics, but it does seem to me that psychopaths will be drawn to politics anyhow and at the moment I can't see any real statesmen/women.

There are people in my street I'd rather see in office.

As for Downton Abbey, I call it "frock drama" and when I say "drama" I mean "soap opera." I haven't even started watching season 6 yet, but since I have the first four seasons on DVD I will probably buy seasons 5 and 6 eventually.

It does seem to me that the Rule of Law has taken a battering. Is that right?

"Do you know how to make a piña colada?"

No. I do know how to buy one! :)

I enjoyed Stu's discussion about "hymns" etc.

Aren't Trump supporters known as Trumpkins?

Trumpkins. It makes all the craziness almost worth it.

AMDG

Most of all, I can't believe that people who consider themselves conservative are supporting him. Whatever he may be, he is not a conservative in any remotely plausible sense of the word.

This is what makes the whole Trump clown show so weird and distressing. Several months ago I did some research and found that:
1) Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2008. That period includes the heyday of Pelosi, Reid and the rise of Obama, which is hardly conservative territory.

2) Trump gave about $314K in donations to progressive Democrats/causes during 1989 - 2010, including donations to: Ms Clinton, The Clinton Foundation, $50K to key Dems in 2006 (when Democrats took control of both houses), Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Charles Rangel, Rahm Emanuel's Chicago mayoral race and more.

Admittedly, the $314K to Dems was mostly offset by total donations of about $290K to Republicans during this period, but such is not the behavior of a principled conservative. This is the pattern one sees from large corporations that have no political principles whatsoever (other than the bottom line), and are just looking to buy favors and grease the wheels, whoever gets elected.
-------

From the above, I concluded Mr Trump has no solid principles at all--other than his belief in Donald Trump--and voting for him is at best a spin of the roulette wheel: you have no idea what he'll do if elected.

His behavior since then has only confirmed my conclusion (and worsened it, since he's shown a serious nasty streak). His pandering to Iowa by voicing support for ethanol subsidies (a huge waste) is just one example. He rarely explains his positions other than to assert that things will be great because Trump the Magnificent "gets things done." Since his vague positions jump all over the map, exactly what he'll "get done" is anybody's guess.

Trumpkins is very funny indeed.

I once read an article in the Spectator which said that the kind of person who goes into politics is the kid who wanted to be a prefect (or you would say, class officer, or class representative) at school. That made so much sense that I have never again got all that much worked up about politicians.

Admittedly, the $314K to Dems was mostly offset by total donations of about $290K to Republicans during this period, but such is not the behavior of a principled conservative.

No, he's a businessman, for whom politicians are fungible.

but it does seem to me that psychopaths will be drawn to politics anyhow and at the moment I can't see any real statesmen/women.

Psychopaths? No. Real psychopaths are in prison. Of sociopaths, there are some (the Hot Springs Lounge Lizard). What's distressing about the Clinton phenomenon is that there is not much resistance to it for the right reasons. The Sanders bots do resist, but their justifications do not call crucial aspects of their worldview into questions, which an acknowledgement of the Clintons' criminality would. The Sanders partisans in my family do not like to hear HRC described in blunt terms.

Now run down the list: the Clintons are atypical. John Edwards might be in their league in some respects, and Edward Kennedy. George Wallace did some things in his mundane life which were just stupefying. And, of course, you had Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy.

John Podhoretz is a capable book reviewer, a trade at which few people ever made a living and almost no one can today. So, he's long traded in topical commentary (and assisted in employment by family connections), a trade at which he's never been much good (and in which few people can make a living anymore). Rod Dreher attempted to get out of journalism by taking a job with the Templeton Foundation, and ended up at the end of it writing for an opinion magazine with a circulation less than one-tenth of that of the publication he'd resigned from in 2002. What do these people know? How to write in complete sentences and turn in copy on time. You're just about as well off consulting your pal Morty.

One progenitor of these problems is a train-wreck of institutional defects, about which almost no one seems concerned.

Though Dreher is indeed a Chicken Little. It seems to be just his personality. I wouldn't be surprised if he recognizes it.

I think more his character. The man has long seemed to be the sum of his issues.

But in any case it is encouraging that Trump didn't win,

You're alternatives are a pair of tyro members of Congress whose executive experience approaches nil. Both are lawyers as well. One of them is less intelligent and has less integrity than the other. The other hasn't the best people skills. If you run the distance between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, you'll encounter these two at milestones along the way. Lots to be not happy about.

The difference in personality between Obama and Trump is great, but both they and their followers have in common an impatience with democratic processes: "We can't wait for Congress to do its job, so where they won't act, I will."

IMHO, the key trait shared by both is their pathological narcissism. Obama cloaks his narcissism in leftist ideology. Lacking any fixed set of higher "principles," Trump has no pretense to cover his self-absorption and is therefore simply a pure narcissist.

That's very much the diagnosis of Neo-neocon regarding both. I'm never quite sure whether I agree because "narcissism" remains a somewhat vague term to me.

"Lots to be not happy about."

Don't worry, I'm in no danger of succumbing to optimism.

Yes, "Trumpkin" is brilliant.

Lacking any fixed set of higher "principles," Trump has no pretense to cover his self-absorption and is therefore simply a pure narcissist.

Trump is a highly accomplished individual. Obama is the most weirdly vapid character to occupy an obtrusive executive position in my lifetime. He has been like that at least since his late 20s. I doubt they're all that similar.

1) Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2008.

He was a registered Republican from 1969 until at least 1985.

"narcissism" remains a somewhat vague term to me.

The problem is that it's both a clinical term of art and a literary allusion. It's hard to differentiate the two in everyday speech. Using the modifier 'pathological' makes it sound like a clinical judgment rather than an observer's opinion. The term I'd use for Trump would be 'exhibitionistic'. Obama seems more a stew of social bigotry, petty resentments and general superficiality.

I disagree that Trump is "highly accomplished" in any way that would be good for the country if he were president.

I didn't notice that Art Deco gave any evidence at all that John Podhoretz is not a good political analyst. As for the fact that his father was a journalist, very many people go into the same profession or an analogous profession to their parents - the children of doctors become doctors or vets, the children of musicians become musicians, professor's children become professors or teachers. It does not make the second generation any worse at their trade to have parents who practiced it. Rather the reverse - they are taught it in many implicit ways throughout their childhood.

As for the quotation from John Podhoretz that I gave, it simply sums up what happened in Iowa last night better than anything that Art Deco, for example, has said. It is also very amusing which is often a virtue, though not a virtue which often attaches to Art Deco's posts.

As for the word 'narcissist' like Maclin I tend to zone out when I hear it because I don't know what it means precisely. I am not sure precisely what narcissism is, or how it is different from extreme egotism or extreme selfishness.

On the other hand, the author of this piece describes Trump as a narcissist after telling a story in which Trump seats his wife and his mistress at the same dinner table together. Here I can see what narcissism means, because of the illustration

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/donald-trump/12132320/Donald-Trump-is-the-Mussolini-of-America-with-double-the-vulgarity.html

I just noticed that I had missed a couple of comments from around 2:50. Re Gary's long one about Trump's giving history etc.: Yes, that's a pretty good summary of the kind of thing anti-Trump conservatives have pointed out over and over. Neo-neocon has gone into a whole lot of detail about it and has said things very much like this: "Mr Trump has no solid principles at all--other than his belief in Donald Trump--and voting for him is at best a spin of the roulette wheel: you have no idea what he'll do if elected."

Re Grumpy on the kind people who want to be politicians: it's true, and they bring with them an even worse type, the sort of people who thrive on organizational manipulation and ever more complex rules and regulations.

I guess narcissism is distinguished from egotism alone in that it emphasizes one's admiration of oneself and concern for one's image. An egotist might be content just to get his own way; a narcissist wants to get his own way and also to be admired and respected and maybe feared.

For what it's worth, here's a Wikipedia article on narcissistic personality disorder. It still sounds like a species of egotism.

Is that why we dislike Politicians and their followers?

Somebody has referred to them as "the people who never want the meeting to end." Which sounds not so much like the politicians themselves as the ones who just generally want to attach themselves to government and make rules that only they can navigate.

Dolores Umbridges?

Ha! Not necessarily malicious, but similarly adept.

"the people who never want the meeting to end."

That paragraph and your remark about to Grumpy about the same are just so right on. Thankfully, we never have meetings here--even when we need them. ;-)

AMDG

I disagree that Trump is "highly accomplished" in any way that would be good for the country if he were president.

I'm not sure why developing commercial property, running hotels and casinos, and producing entertainment programs is 'bad for the country' in and of itself. Trump isn't producing pornography; The Apprentice is fairly harmless eye candy, even when Melissa Rivers has to be bleeped. Casinos can be troublesome for about the same reason taverns are: some of their clientele lack the requisite self-control. His architecture isn't to my taste, but very little built since 1930 is.

I didn't notice that Art Deco gave any evidence at all that John Podhoretz is not a good political analyst.

No, I did not offer you a text wall with samples drawn from Mr. Podhoretz 29 years as an opinion writer and accompanying annotations. He's a lapsed student of literature who has worked in journalism all his adult life. You can rummage through his columns for The New York Post and National Review if you care to; he's second rate as a columnist and has no particular expertise on which he can draw.

As for the fact that his father was a journalist, very many people go into the same profession or an analogous profession to their parents - the children of doctors become doctors or vets, the children of musicians become musicians, professor's children become professors or teachers. It does not make the second generation any worse at their trade to have parents who practiced it. Rather the reverse - they are taught it in many implicit ways throughout their childhood.

His father was a literary critic who took up political writing reluctantly. His father has composed a number of monographs on current affairs, none of them of much interest. Podhoretz, Sr. was also a capable editor. Commentary, once upon a time, was an engaging and provactive publication. I look at it at the library nowadays, but it's generally meh when it's not being stupid (e.g. the inane article about how Bob Hope was a loser as a comedian because he was a goy). It's not surprising, given the economics of opinion journalism nowadays, that Commentary is out of gas. The Public Interest is defunct, The New Leader is defunct, Policy Review is defunct, The New Republic is a sad wreck, &c. The contributors to Commentary's blog number about a dozen. One (1) is in age younger than the median of the work force. The median age of the whole is about 55 and several contributors are past retirement age. Commentary is also fairly in-bred. The editor from 1960 to 1995 worked there for some years previous; the editor from 1995 to 2009 was a staff assistant to his predecessor who was hired in 1966 and spent his entire adult work life there' and the editor since 2009 is the son of his predecessor once removed.

It's very unusual for a membership organization to spin off its house publication and turn it over to an eleemosynary controlled by the family of one of its quondam employees. Unless you take him into partnership, you cannot get your son a job as a physician. The characteristics of medical practice in many areas hardly allows that, as small group practices are disappearing. The father-son pair of doctors in my family are in different cities and in different specialties. The one prominent example I can think of of a father-son pair in academe consisted of Erich Goldhagen and his repellent son. Didn't matter. Harvard did hire Goldhagen Jr. and then spit him out again several years later, as they generally do to their assistant professors; he has been without an academic post for a dozen years now.

There's a reason he was called 'John P. Normanson' at The New York Post.

As for the quotation from John Podhoretz that I gave, it simply sums up what happened in Iowa last night better than anything that Art Deco,

Commentary is edited by advocates of open borders (so long as the borders in question are not those of Israel). That they're hostile to Trump is not surprising. That they call Trump's supporters 'batshit crazy' is graceless and stupid (and rather provides some of the evidence you asked for that Podhoretz is a lousy student of current affairs and a wretched stylist to boot).

That's the second time in as many days I've seen Trump described (stupidly) as an analogue to an inter-war fascist dictator. The other progenitor was a business professor who should stop pretending the liberal education he received was worth jack.

I was well acquainted with a man whose wife and mistress had known each other socially (bowling league). No, that man was not a narcissist; he just had a talent for putting himself in awkward situations. We have a lot of divorces in this country. You think the first wife never meets the second wife?

The Podhoretz remark doesn't strike me as important enough to warrant a lot of commentary, either on the remark or the man himself. I think I know what he meant.

Maybe I missed something, but I don't think anyone in this discussion described Trump as a fascist dictator. Paul said this (2/1, 2:12pm):

"The solutions they turn to vary (and the reasons they feel the way they do may too) but it has seemed pretty clear to me that there's a crisis of democracy comparable to that between the World Wars."

I think that's true. "comparable", not "identical."

I don't know about y'all but I'm ready for a movie. ;-)

AMDG

Maybe I missed something, but I don't think anyone in this discussion described Trump as a fascist dictator. Paul said this (2/1, 2:12pm):

The link he posted was to an article in the Daily Telegraph. See 02/02/2016 at 07:43 PM.

Oh yeah. But that was talking about his personality, wasn't it? No time to re-read it now. I don't think that's off the mark.

In a couple of hours, Janet.

I wasn't nagging; I was just saying I'm ready to move on. ;-)

AMDG

Commentary is edited by advocates of open borders (so long as the borders in question are not those of Israel).

I read my allotment of free Commentary articles every month and I don't recall any of the writers there espousing open borders. They do, though, oppose Trump's, or any politician's, appeal to nativism.

"nativism"--that's one of the words I was looking for in my right-wing-vs.-conservative notion.

I didn't take it as nagging, Janet.

I read my allotment of free Commentary articles every month and I don't recall any of the writers there espousing open borders. They do, though, oppose Trump's, or any politician's, appeal to nativism.

You need to read more carefully, particularly the online remarks of Jonathan Tobin and Jennifer Rubin (a Commentary veteran, now at the post). And 'nativist' is a nonsense term, made use of by open borders advocates to avoid discussion and impugn the motives of others (though condescension is more in keeping with Tobin and Rubin's usual shtick).

It's a perfectly good word, whether or not its use by those writers is appropriate.

It's a perfectly good word,

Oh? No looking. Come up with a definition; then ask why it's useful in this context.

You really should change your tone. It's very off-putting and causes people just to stop responding.

I subscribe to Commentary and have never seen an article in it advocating open borders.

On a point of information, I have to correct Art Deco's impression that I have ever linked to a story in the Daily Telegraph on this blog. Nor would I be inclined to bring Fascism in except, at a pinch, as a contrast rather than a parallel. The widespread disillusionment with democracy is certainly comparable to that between the Wars, but the symptoms or solutions being offered as alternatives bear very little resemblance.

It's ironic that you admonish others that they "need to read more carefully", Art Deco, as you've several times given evidence of ascribing views to people who do not hold them, comments to people who did not make them, and links to people who did not post them.

Stop responding. Yes, that's wise council.Any response, especially an acrimonious one is fuel for his fire.

AMDG

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