Last time on this station, we explored the fundamental decency of a great man, Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln had just named him to square off against Robert E. Lee. Seeking a room at Washington’s Willard Hotel, Grant accepted without complaint a small room at the top floor in an age before elevators — until the desk clerk spun around the registry book and read the name.
Part of Grant’s greatness was his humility, his generosity of spirit, the near-absence of spite. We’ve seen recent evidence of better angels in our current President, which gives us hope for the new year. But if JFK blazed a New Frontier of hope and renewal, Donald Trump’s record in the year now concluding is that of policy triumphs amid petty score settling.
A small but familiar example: A Facebook … acquaintance, a panjandrum in the Cult of All Things Trump, posts an unflattering photograph of Michelle Obama alongside a second picture, this of a much younger woman, a professional model shown in a “come hither” pose. Her name is Melania Trump.
Facebook acquaintance Lawrence poses this quiz: “Which First Lady do you prefer?”
Instead of answering “Laura Bush, you whack job,” your Humble Squire responds: “Feel better now, Lawrence?” Really, what is the point of such pettiness (never mind the sexism)?
He keeps doing it. That’s the problem with hate. It cannot be bled off any more than a good bleeding helped poor Prince Albert. At some point, perhaps another year from now, Lawrence will tire of his fixation on the Obamas. He may discover that Donald Trump cannot unseal Barack’s college transcript, as if the sealed envelope (marked TOP SECRET) lay in the top drawer of his desk in the Oval Office while Trump sharpened his letter opener on the White House grindstone. Lawrence of Trumpmania might even resign himself that Hillary will never be made to work a chain gang alongside Cool Hand Luke. Pigs may fly and Comrade Nichols will become a stockbroker at Goldman Sachs.
Yeah, we conservatives have our haters. Hate has a long tradition in political life. Old Joe Kennedy praised son Bobby by saying, “He hates like I do.”
Blaska’s 14th Rule of Politics:
If power corrupts, hate corrodes.
Bret Stephens of the New York Times captures the feelings here at Blaska Policy Werkes when he explains “Why I’m still a never-Trumper.”
Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, is no liberal (Although Lawrence and his ilk would call him a RINO for his Trump apostasy.) Like all Republicans, we love the tax cuts, the pipeline, the deregulation,Neil Gorsuch, Jerusalem the capital, the stock market, etc.
In exchange for such goodies, we conservatives are instructed to overlook “the lying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence and pettiness.” Forget Scaramucci, Bannon, the “demagogic mass rallies,” and the general toadyism this President demands. Stephens concludes:
Trump is normalizing all this; he is, to borrow another Moynihan phrase, “defining deviancy down.” A president who supposedly wants to put a wall between the U.S. and Latin America has imported a style of politics reminiscent of the cults of Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez. … “Character Doesn’t Count” has become a de facto G.O.P. motto.
A Bush — any Bush — a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio (hellz bellz, Scott Walker) would have denounced the Michelle/Melania photo comparison.
But but but, this is the President we have (a Rumsfeld rumble) and he is still better than that reckless lurch toward socialism and cop hate that Hillary represented. The venal Clintons are as crooked as a gas station credit-card skimmer but we don’t put our ex-presidents and losing candidates in prison. We are not Paraguay or Pakistan! (Get that, Nixon haters?)
“The content of our character’
Yeah, we know: Trump is draining the swamp. Again, what has this man done that Cruz, Rubio, or Walker would not? (O.K., I’ll give you the Bushes.) Or Mike Pence or Paul Ryan!
Stephens isolates a core conservative truth that informed Ronald Reagan by way of William F. Buckley. Daniel Patrick Moynihan expresses here why More Free Stuff is destructive:
“The central conservative truth is that culture, not politics, determines the success of a society.” Conservatives used to believe in their truth. Want to “solve” poverty? All the welfare dollars in the world won’t help if two-parent families aren’t intact. …
Want to preserve your own republican institutions? Then pay attention to the character of your leaders, the culture of governance and the political health of the public. It matters a lot more than lowering the top marginal income tax rate by a couple of percentage points.
The Policy Werkes prescription: What we want is one more Trump mass rally spank in the middle of a scarlet Red State, televised live on Fox. We want this man to praise the Obamas’ love of country, however misdirected. To promise to allow the Clintons to fade into the rear view mirror. To denounce Bannon and his know-nothing-ism. To call out falsehoods in the news media without creating your own. To vow malice toward none and charity for all. To build, uplift, and inspire. To show a little humility.
In the meantime, I’m placing my short-sell order with Comrade Nichols.