Williamson Still Hammering Trump

Kevin Williamson at the National Review really, really doesn’t like Donald Trump. Every day it seems he puts out a new column just hammering the guy, usually with the perfect amount of snark. In one titled The Art of the Con (after Trump’s book The Art of the Deal), he comes out swinging again.

Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication.

Whatever Trump’s appeal is to the Right’s populist elements, it isn’t policy. He is a tax-happy crony capitalist who is hostile to free trade but very enthusiastic about using state violence to homejack private citizens — he backed the Kelo decision “100 percent” and has tried to use eminent domain in the service of his own empire of vulgarity — and generally has about as much command of the issues as the average sophomore at a not especially good college, which is what he was (sorry, Fordham) until his family connections got him into Penn.

If it’s not the issues, it’s certainly not the record of the man himself. Never mind that he’s a crony capitalist, he’s not even an especially good crony capitalist: The casino racket is protected from competition by a strict cartel-oriented licensing regime, but Trump, being the type of businessman who could bankrupt a mint, managed to be the biggest loser in Atlantic City, which is no small feat.

He certainly has a point there.

“But he speaks his mind!” shout the Trumpkins. Indeed, he does, in a practically stream-of-consciousness fashion: His announcement speech was like Finnegans Wake as reimagined by an unlettered person with a short attention span. The value of speaking one’s mind depends heavily on the mind in question, and Trump’s is second-rate. “He’s the candidate who will take the fight to Hillary!” protest the Trumpkins. Maybe, maybe not: He is on record as a supporter of Herself, and he’s not on record as a presidential candidate, having not bothered to file the FEC paperwork making his candidacy official. “He’ll build a wall on the border and make the Mexicans pay for it!” Unlikely, but even if he did, half of illegal immigrants arrive not on the banks of the Rio Grande but in the airports. Trumpkins: “He’ll show the political elites who’s boss!” They already know, because they already own him: You don’t get into Trump’s game without being a creature of the ruling class. Neither casino licenses nor Manhattan building permits find their way into the hands of the unconnected, in this case the heir to — not the creator of — a New York City real-estate empire.

Trump is a sort of action star for the sedentary, a boardroom gladiator, and that is what makes him so successful as a reality-television freak…

Trump may be made out of cookie dough — he has a lot more in common with Paris Hilton than with Henry Ford — but he plays an iron man on television, and a certain sort of man — forgive me for pointing this out — finds the theatrical preening of Trump’s alpha-male act erotically compelling. (Properly understood, The Apprentice and its ilk constitute a subgenre of pornography.) That is not entirely surprising: We live in an age of economic insecurity, and it is attractive to imagine having Trump’s wealth and confidence, even if neither of those rests on as sure a foundation as Trump would have us believe. It’s better to be the boss — to be the man who says, “You’re fired!” — than the man who has to go home emasculated and face his wife’s disappointment.

I think he nails it there. Those are exactly the kind of arguments made by Trump supporters. It’s all just nonsense, generic “he’ll show ’em!” bullshit. The only thing Trump knows how to do is bluster and that has great appeal to insecure people who want to imagine themselves as rich and powerful. Trump is like a character in professional wrestling, playing out his — and the audience’s — desire to fantasize that they’re brave and daring and powerful when they’re really just braindead automatons responding to a script that pushes the most basic buttons in their psyche.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The only thing Trump knows how to do is bluster and that has great appeal to insecure people who want to imagine themselves as rich and powerful.

    Exactly. The other contenders don’t even have the bluster!

  • John Pieret

    “Trumpkins” … I like that!

    The Donald will get some scant attention in the primaries (probably mostly by blowing up the Republican debates, assuming he gets that far) but otherwise he is mostly going to be stimulating popcorn and beer sales.

  • moarscienceplz

    The value of speaking one’s mind depends heavily on the mind in question, and Trump’s is second-rate.

    This is a vile insult to second-rate minds throughout the world!

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    I subscribed for six months to that magazine on Kindle, in an attempt to get some perspective on Republican thinking (an apparent oxymoron), and never in all of that time did I run across anything that was humorous. … At least not intentionally so.

    “… Finnegans Wake as reimagined by an unlettered person with a short attention span.”

    That’s hilarious. Both as imagery and a description of his Donaldship.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication.

    Those are nowhere near the right’s worst tendencies. This guy can’t even see the right’s worst tendencies from Sarah Palin’s house. His credibility is instantly shot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001345954729 Gwynnyd

    I was at a social event on Saturday and some women there were waxing enthused about Trump’s candidacy, cooing, “He’s a businessman. He understands how things work and will get things done.”

    “Like his multiple bankruptcies? That seems to be his main economic strategy.”

    – deer in the headlights stares –

  • Loqi

    His announcement speech was like Finnegans Wake as reimagined by an unlettered person with a short attention span.

    The ballad from which it draws its title and inspiration seems fairly fitting for the far right base as well – drunkenly brawling over perceived slights while attending what is supposed to be a respectful setting.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    His announcement speech was like Finnegans Wake as reimagined by an unlettered person with a short attention span.

    This is brilliant. You could use the same expression to describe anything from Sarah Palin. It’s particularly true in her case since she is an unlettered person with a very short attention span.

    @Loqi

    Yes, it is. But if someone starts chucking bottles of whiskey around, there’s going to be a reckoning with me. Wasting good whiskey is an unpardonable sin.

  • thephilosophicalprimate

    Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication.

    Flaws best exemplified by the Right’s favorite mythological figure, Saint Ronald Reagan — although I doubt Williamson would continue working for National Review for long if he said or even hinted at such a thing.

  • tomh

    In the latest New Hampshire GOP poll, Trump is running a close second to Jeb Bush, as the only two contenders with double digit support.

  • lofgren

    Those are nowhere near the right’s worst tendencies.

    OK, so they’re not as bad as the xenophobia, misogyny, and eliminationism, but you still gotta admit they’re pretty fucking bad, as tendencies go.

  • xuuths
  • xuuths

    Well, that HTML tagging didn’t go as planned. Could be the end of the day…

    Trumpkin was an …

  • caseloweraz

    Indeed, xuuths. Per Wikipedia: Trumpkin is an intensely practical and skeptical dwarf…

    That doesn’t fit The Donald’s followers at all, IMO. I think the term drives from “Munchkins” as in The Wizard of Oz.

  • llewelly

    Kevin Williamson:

    Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication.

    Wait a minute. Wasn’t Kevin Williamson defending Ted Cruz by comparing Cruz to Reagan not too long ago?