[update below] [2nd update below] [3rd update below] [4th update below]
I have a post on the Iran nuclear deal in the works but, in the meantime, have to put up this piece by TNR senior editor Elspeth Reeve, which is the most succinct, on-target take on Donald Trump and the GOP I’ve seen: “Donald Trump is Fox News incarnate: Why Republicans can’t disown their presidential frontrunner.” Money quote
Donald Trump is not some twisted, deformed version of the Republican Party. He’s the purest version of the Fox News-Tea Party incarnation of the GOP. And one of the most amusing things about watching him on the campaign trail is that he obviously is a fan of Roger Ailes’s creation. He repeatedly paused during an interview with Washington Post reporter Robert Costa to gaze at Fox News, muttering about an “animal” undocumented immigrant accused of murder. “Look at that guy, look at what he did, killing that beautiful girl. [Expletive] animal,” Trump said. It is exactly what the audience is supposed to think after watching a Fox News segment on undocumented immigrants.
Donald Trump=Fox News=the Republican party base. That’s it. (Pour lecteurs français: Donald Trump est un mélange de Nicolas Sarkozy de très mauvaise humeur, Jean-Marie Le Pen et Bernard Tapie).
Conservative blogger Keith Koffler, writing in Politico Magazine (July 15th), has a commentary on “Donald Trump and the angry GOP,” in which he explains that “The appeal is real [and h]is anger connects with conservatives.” Hopping mad right-wingers. They’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. It’s like that on the French right as well these days. And what are they mad about? Or, rather, who are they mad at? It’s not just the incumbent government and its policies, but entire portions of their societies. They’re mad at a part of the population—and a sizable one—of their respective countries. Thankfully we’re not in the 1930s, that’s all I can say.
À propos of this, I came across an opinion piece (July 19th) by Joel Kotkin—the R.C. Hobbs Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University—on current Democratic party presidential candidate James Webb, whom Kotkin approvingly labels “an old-time Democrat.” Kotkin is dismayed, though not surprised, that Webb is receiving almost no media attention, and has zero chance of winning the Dem nomination. His commentary thus begins
Will Rogers famously stated, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” And he was not so far from the truth. The old Democratic Party was a motley collection of selected plutocrats, labor bosses, Southern segregationists, smaller farmers, urban liberals and, as early as the 1930s, racial minorities. It was no doubt a clunky coalition but delivered big time: winning World War II, pushing back the Soviet Union and making it to the moon while aiding tens of millions of Americans to ascend into the middle class.
Only one Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential race, James Webb, represents this old coalition. A decorated combat veteran, onetime Reagan Navy secretary and former U.S. senator from Virginia, Webb, 69, combines patriotism with a call for expansive economic policies to help the middle class. He speaks most directly to white working-class voters, particularly in places like Appalachia, the South and in rural hamlets and exurbs across the country, precisely where Democrats are now regularly thrashed in elections.
And a little further down there’s this
Today’s Democratic Party is heading where Barack Obama has pushed it – a full-throated program of statist gentry leftism. This position relies on a narrow geography that produces huge, almost Soviet-style majorities in the big cities on the two coasts and in the Midwestern basket case Chicago. Rather than a party of unity and diversity, it is dependent largely on lock-step support from minorities, rich liberals, single women and prefamily millennial voters.
Typical right-wing stigmatizing, if not denigrating, entire portions of society. And as if being a member of a “minority” (i.e. black) or a “rich liberal” (i.e. a person with a university degree who earns an income that one would expect for someone of his or her level of education) is somehow less legitimate than lesser educated white persons who don’t live in large cities. But in the right-wing Weltanschauung, the latter are “real Americans” (in France: “les vrais gens”), unlike those who vote for the Democrats (or Socialists in France), who are whatever (in France, they’re “bobos” and “assistés”). Pardon my French but Kotkin’s piece is le degré zéro, i.e. the rock bottom, of political analysis.
Monsieur Kotkin, a reminder: Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008 with the votes of 69.5 million American citizens, then re-elected in 2012 with the votes of 65.9 million Americans. Those citizens were every bit as equal—politically and otherwise—to those who voted for other candidates, and deserving of the same consideration. And, BTW, no Republican candidate in a high participation national election, i.e. with 60% of the eligible electorate turning out, could ever dream of attaining such numbers. As for Dems getting “thrashed” in the South, rural hamlets, and the exurbs, well, Republicans and conservative Dems (the few that are left) get thrashed in cities and inner suburbs; and more voters live in the latter than the former. C’est tout c’que j’ai à dire.
UPDATE: John Hudak, a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, has a post (July 22nd) on Brookings’ FixGov: Making Government Work blog, “Donald Trump, brought to you by 20 years of Republican politics.”
2nd UPDATE: TNR senior editor Brian Beutler has a spot on commentary (July 23rd) on “Why Donald Trump truly terrifies Republicans” (and it’s not just the threat of a third-party challenge).
3rd UPDATE: Timothy Egan nails it in an NYT op-ed (July 24th), “Trump is the poison his party concocted.”
4th UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett has a nice essay in Politico Magazine (July 27th), “The moderate Republican’s case for Trump.” The lede: “Only Trump can make the GOP sane again—by losing in a landslide to Hillary Clinton.”