Noah Rothman: Time to Panic – Commentary

CK MacLeod

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41 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    Some thoughts:

    1. Generally correct that the GOP has no way stopping Trump even if it really wants to.

    2. I don’t think elites know what to make of Trump’s vulgarity (and its popularity) Sanders also has outsider appeal but he is not making the same kind of ultra-macho statements that Trump is using. You don’t hear Sanders using vulgar rhetoric against HRC. The slob v. Snob thing is tough.

    3. HRC does have a problem among Democratic Voters between 18-44. The most obvious version of this is the meme that shows Bernie as being cool and with it while HRC is a hopeless and plastic panderer.

    4. The real test for Sanders and Trump will be in states that are less white. I suspect Trump will do better in South Carolina than Nevada and Sanders will do better in Nevada than South Carolina.Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    Heh. I just wrote a comment basically saying the same thing. So I agree with this excellent essay!

    It’s sorta ironic that Trump ran on the proposition that the GOP is dysfunctional and now the GOP’s dysfunction is playing a material role in getting him the nom.Report

  3. Damon says:

    “Let them all drown in lakes of blood.”

    “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.”

    THAT is good.Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    That article isn’t quite coming out right on my browser, so I wonder what the ‘worst case’ is actually defined as.

    The scenarios are
    1) Trump gets nominated
    2) Cruz gets nominated
    3) someone else gets nominated

    and then

    a) wins
    b) doesn’t win, Senate & House control stay the same
    c) doesn’t win, GOP loses Senate, keeps House
    d) doesn’t win, GOP loses both Senate and House (and presumably, a lot of state and local races)

    clearly, anything with (d) is worst case. But who makes (d) more likely, Trump or Cruz, and even with either of them, is it actually more likely than either (b) or (c)?Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Kolohe says:

      Hm – what browser? I’m curious. Commentary seems to be kinda hinkily coded.

      Worst case for the Commentary/ur-NeoCon gang is Trump as President, with or without GOP control of House and Senate. They really hate him, and, whatever else they may differ with George Will about (a lot), they think a Trump triumph would be catastrophic for the Republican coalition and possibly the world. Many figures in their general vicinity have made other statements about Trump that they would find very difficult to walk back from.

      I re-tweeted Paul Krugman last night predicting that the Republican commentariat would make peace with Trump a few months from now if they had to, and be found explaining why they were endorsing him over the D nominee. That might be true for many, but it would be interesting to see which ones refused, and whether and how it mattered. I have a hard time seeing Will, the Commentarians, the National Review, and the rest going along with that ride.Report

      • Will can be ornery and say a plague in both your houses. NR will endorse whoever the Republican nominee is, particularly with the alternative being either Hillary or Bernie. Commentary will be fine with Hillary so long as they believe her foreign policy will still be reliably interventionist.Report

        • As for NR, I don’t think you can proudly publish an AGAINST TRUMP special issue, and walk back over the burnt bridge. I think they’d go into party-less opposition if Trump were nominated or elected, and mainly commit to re-building the conservative movement from the ashes. Could destroy them. Could be the best thing that ever happened to them. (Or both?)Report

          • As for NR, I don’t think you can proudly publish an AGAINST TRUMP special issue, and walk back over the burnt bridge.

            NR was shocked, shocked when the Derb wrote something racist on another site, and a few weeks late published more or less the same piece, this time by VDH, without any fuss, Consistency is not their strong suit,Report

      • Kolohe in reply to CK MacLeod says:

        Browser was safari on an old mac (old enough to be new the last time Hillary Clinton was the front-running presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the These Here United States)

        my taxonomy may be faulty, but I didn’t think ur- Neocons cared about world opinion of the US – you’re either with us, or you’re a cheese eating surrender monkey.

        I do see how Trump being the only candidate on the Republican side in the last 3 cycles (except for RON PAUL!) to say that the Iraq War was a mistake would get on Commentary’s bad side.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    Pat Buchanan –> Tom Tancredo –> Sam Brownback –> Rick Santorum –> Sarah Palin –> Michelle Bachman –> Herman Cain –> Ben Carson –> Donald Trump.

    Oncologists of nearly every sub-specialty will tell you that it’s far easier to get healthy with early detection and active intervention. But once you’re at metastasis, chances are, it’s too late to do much good and the focus of care shifts to palliatives and hospice.

    This cancer was first detected a generation ago. The patient, however, elected to eschew treatment. Other things were more important, and denial was likely a powerful factor, oft manifesting in deflection (“BSDI” or “Democrats are the real racists”).

    At least now, the patient is finally paying attention, to the symptoms if nothing else.

    The analogy breaks down, in that when we get to words like “metastasis, palliative care, and hospice” what’s actually going on looks like a cocktail of schism and internal metamorphosis rather than Whig-like destruction. We’re culturally calcified to have a two-party system, after all.Report

  6. Chip Daniels says:

    It’s easier for pundits to fixate on Trump’s vulgarity than to face the sobering fact of the popularity of his message.

    Because even if his plane went down tomorrow, the GOP base would elevate a new version of him.

    Because aside from personality nothing separates Trump from any of the other conservatives.

    At bottom, the GOP base is revanchist, and believes that whatever is wrong with America can be solved by punishing the immigrants, minorities, the secular, and putting women in their place, and by making the world quake in fear of the American military.

    The belief comes with varying wrappers, but it has been a constant theme since Goldwater.Report

    • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      But Trump isn’t a conservative. He’s a populist blowhard running as a “republican” because there’s already a similar guy filling the “democratic” slot.

      Both sides agree:

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

        The GOP base isn’t conservative either, if the word means “intellectually consistent set of ideas”.

        What binds the base together is a way of seeing the world that nothing to do with economics or governance and everything to do with class and tribal ressentiment.Report

        • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          ““Intellectually consistent set of ideas”.” isn’t a common definition of “conservative” either, but I’ll grand you that a lot of Republican’s aren’t conservative by your definition or the actual definition either. I’ll go farther and say that applies to the “Dems” as well, but they are all over “class and tribal resentment” just like the Repubs”. So BSDI

          So where does that leave us?Report

          • notme in reply to Damon says:

            Thanks for writing this and saving me the trouble of pointing out chip’s logical fallacy.Report

            • Damon in reply to notme says:

              I wouldn’t call it a logical fallacy, but rather, incomplete. Or the inability to see that, regardless of position, most people (at least in the western world) are similar in behavior in this regard. The point is they don’t recognize when they do it.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

            Correct, Liberals aren’t “liberal” by the narrow definition either, if that means something argle bargle about John Locke.

            Where it leaves us is that no one really chooses their political affiliations on some abstract reasoning, its all tribal affiliation vision of what society should be.

            The visions are usually about who is included, whose identity is affirmed, whose moral norms are to be respected.

            Conservatives are angry and lamenting a lost supremacy (imagined or not) where their norms were in place, where their identity was affirmed as central, where Glenn Miller played the hit parade, Coke was still cola, and you never had to press 1 for English.

            So for them it is resentment and grievance all the time.Report

            • Kim in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              “no one really chooses their political affiliations on some abstract reasoning, its all tribal affiliation vision of what society should be.”

              Lol. No, that’s just for the plebes. I do know someone that chooses his political affiliations based on abstract reasoning and game theory.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Where it leaves us is that no one really chooses their political affiliations on some abstract reasoning, its all tribal affiliation vision of what society should be.

              So what do we do, since it appears that said tribalism is on the rise? Split things up and try again, with generous relocation benefits? Want to strap on your gun and carry it everywhere? Texas is calling. Pot? The western states are headed in that direction. Gay marriage? The NE urban corridor is your kind of place.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

                But what if people in other places choose incorrectly? Wouldn’t it be better to make them conform?Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s right. Those bums in SF ought to be required to put up nativity scenes in all the public places in December. And county clerks who won’t sign same-sex marriage certificates ought to lose their jobs and their pensions.

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Tribalism itself isn’t a negative, or an impediment to creating a civil society.
                As long as the different tribes can negotiate a peaceful arrangement of power sharing, where there is a consensus of shared norms, it can all work nicely.

                But the key word here is negotiation, with all sides feeling like they can be protected and given sufficient respect.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We want homogeneity in the important areas and we want abundant heterogeneity in the unimportant areas.

                And the people who think that the unimportant areas are the important areas (and vice-versa) are wrong and need to change.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          The GOP base isn’t conservative either, if the word means “intellectually consistent set of ideas”.

          One thing you have to say in their favor, tho, is that conservative intellectuals have expended more effort in trying to establish a consistent set of principles than liberals have. It usually starts with the small government premise and leads to low taxes and no regulation and limiting welfare programs etc etc and a Rising Tide and so on. It’s no coincidence, of course, that The Wealthy champion those same principles as well.

          The base probably never really championed those goals to satisfy their Ideological Hunger for Principled Government. No, they supported those principles on the expectation that enacting them would lead to a better quality of life for themselves and their families, and even as the reality of the Con became more apparent they continued to vote GOP according to a least-worst calculus. Trump sorta pulled back the curtain on that parlor trick.

          It’s indeterminate whether the intellectuals striving for ideological consistency were apologists for the con, or merely innocent victims of it…Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

            Liberals do that too, of trying to construct some logically consistent set of principles which can be applied universally to produce Justice.

            Which is what I have become suspicious of, this notion that we can rely on the mechanism of logical ideas, rather than an acknowledgement of interests and irrational moral norms.

            Take welfare, for example. Like all good liberals I know that the wealthy get more free stuff than the poor do.

            But I also know why for conservatives this is irrelevant.

            Their moral norms tell them that ambitious defense contractors working the system are a minor moral transgression, compared to the moral outrage of a woman having children out of wedlock and being paid to stay home. Where she cooks T Bone steaks for her strapping boyfriend.

            Its not intellectually consistent unless you grasp that its the personal moral rectitude of the players that defines the judgment, not the dollar value of the welfare.

            Note that my criticism here isn’t of the hypocrisy of the conservative- its of the liberal thinking that economics and policy can be the sole lens by which to assess the morally correct path.

            Shouldn’t work itself be a moral norm?
            Shouldn’t we shame people who are lazy?
            What if our criticism of Goldman Sachs wasn’t that they are heartless mercenaries, but that they are lazy parasites, scorning the Judeo-Christian virtues of modesty and righteousness in favor of gambling and moneylust?

            Like Jonathan Haidt, I see value in adopting some of the conservative lenses in political criticism.

            The liberal project relies after all, on an essentially moralistic vision, a particular norm to be imposed upon society. It shares this with conservatism, but it is difficult to see underneath the façade of Enlightenment objectivity.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              “Their moral norms tell them that ambitious defense contractors working the system are a minor moral transgression, compared to the moral outrage of a woman having children out of wedlock and being paid to stay home. Where she cooks T Bone steaks for her strapping boyfriend.”

              Interesting. Tell me more about how your moral outrage is totally valid, versus those icky Republicans who won’t shut up about Welfare Queens.Report

              • As an aside, you know who else has called out defense contractors? Donald J Trump…Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

                That’s my point.

                My moral norms are not any more valid than yours.

                There aren’t any universal moral norms, period. We just find ways to work with each other to find a satisfactory outcome.

                The reason Trump doesn’t sound conservative is that he isn’t trying to drape his demands in high minded econ rhetoric- he is just straight up baldly declaring his negotiating demands-
                1. More protection for the working class in the form of trade restriction and immigration restriction;
                2. More national pride in the form of bellicose foreign policy (with caution about actual intervention)
                3. More respect for the white Christian identity

                Again- I’m not saying this is a bad thing necessarily. He isn’t trying to make this sound like it is the sole objective Truth of The Universe, some self-evident logical principle to which no one can object- this is just advancing the goals and interests of his tribe, about making them winners again.

                My moral norms are different, the interests of my tribe are different, and my demands would be different-
                1. More protection for the working class in the form of labor unions and restriction on offshoring;
                2. More cooperative foreign policy based on mutual respect and softer rhetoric (with caution about actual involvement);
                3. More respect for long-suppressed voices and ethnic groups;

                There isn’t any need to explain or justify our moral norms, except as a method of exploring possible common ground- several of these points are actually stemming from a common root, and dialogue can find those points.
                Some things can be compromised, others aligned in a win-win, and some just have to be resolved in a win-lose outcome.Report

    • If you wanted, you could extend my chain of symptomatic candidates in my comment above, back from Buchanan to Goldwater, via Richard Nixon. I didn’t see the need to go back further than what for most of us here would be early adulthood at the latest: I was in college during Buchanan’s first Presidential bid. Maybe plot out a point for the Pat Robertson ’88 campaign on that curve too, although that taps in to the religious right phenomenon, which only occasionally juxtaposes on the xenophobe-anti intellectual-populist thing Trump currently personifies.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “Because even if [Trump’s] plane went down tomorrow, the GOP base would elevate a new version of him.”

      So 2008 McCain, that was exactly like Trump?

      2012 Romney?

      2000 Bush?

      All just like Trump?Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    Not like Trump the person- but pushing the same message as Trump.

    Stand athwart History yelling STOP!
    Wm. F. Buckley
    In your heart, you know he’s right.
    The Silent Majority
    Richard Nixon
    Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion; The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.
    Spiro Agnew
    Strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks, welfare queens etc
    Ronald Reagan stump speech
    “Its Morning in America.”
    Ronald Reagan
    “They call you the elite- I call you The Base”
    GW Bush
    “47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes”
    Mitt Romney
    “Make America Great Again”,
    Donald Trump

    Endlessly varied, but containing those same messages of revanchism, restoration of lost glory, ethnic tribalism, Barbarians-at-the-gate fear i.e., The Three Legs of the conservative stool.

    So yes, Trump is just giving the same message, just unvarnished and spoken in a vulgar tone.Report