Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, July 22nd, 2016.


A Goblin of Nihilism

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

Daniel O’Hehir explains the dark heart of Trump support:

Being impregnable and invulnerable and indeed indecipherable — possessing no inner life, no discernible ideology and no personality — are not bugs in the Trump avatar’s program. They are essential features of its success. If he could fly or read minds or see the future he would be even better suited for the job of American dictator, and given the slipped gears in the reality matrix those possibilities can’t be ruled out. Trump is dangerous precisely because he does not seem like a real person, and the people voting for him do not think they’re voting in a real election with real consequences. He is an empty symbol with no point of reference, a goblin of nihilism wearing a mask of hope.

As an example of “no point of reference,” Matthew Yglesias points out that Trump’s “law and order” speech last night contained no actual crime policies. He spoke of “law and order” over and over, but his only policy statement was —

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

But to his followers, this doesn’t matter. “The Government” is to them something unreal and alien, like Mordor, and they need an avatar to go in and straighten it out. Exactly what needs straightening and how it’s done doesn’t concern them.

Remember, these are the same people who perpetually complain that The Government, or Political Correctness, or Liberals, or some amorphous thing out there is oppressing them, but they can never provide a concrete example of actual oppression. Nevertheless, they live in a simmering pot of resentment because someone out there disrespects them. And time after time they follow whatever demagogue du jour gives voice to that resentment.

But back to actual Trump — lots of people are pointing to this bit from a New York Times article

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

Of course. Because Trump has never done anything himself. He’s just the guy who puts up the money to make the deals. The actual building and managing and running of the businesses are done by other people. He seems to think he can be President of the United States and delegate the entire job to others, except for the taking credit part. It’s what he’s always done.

But may I also say that Mike Pence is one of the last people on the planet I’d want in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Meanwhile, word is that Hillary Clinton is going to pick Tim Kaine for her veep. This is not official yet, mind you. But if so, this tells me she’s still not getting the national mood. Kaine is a very “safe” pick — from an establishment perspective — who will excite no one who isn’t already in the tank for her.

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