by James Ray Deaton 12/15/15
What is the driving psychology behind so many Republican politicians and conservative pundits hurling such extreme invective at Donald Trump? It’s understandable when Democrats, the more-liberal and the less-liberal, become blue faced and apoplectic about some of the less than fully thought out things Trump says, but why have so many Republicans succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome?
Kevin D. Williamson, a great conservative thinker and writer at National Review has called Trump a “ridiculous buffoon,” a “witless ape,” a “reptilian cretin,” a “clown” and a “civically illiterate reality-television grotesque,” among other things. I just wish Kevin would tell us what he really thinks of The Donald. Williamson calls Trump supporters “Trumpkins” and describes them as “the intellectually and morally stunted Oompa Loompas who have rallied to the candidacy of this grotesque charlatan.” Has any well-respected, right-thinking, national publication columnist ever described naive “Hope and Change” Obama supporters with such distain?
When government authorities, presidents past and present and big-city mayors abuse their power and privilege, Williamson is there with pen and logic to set them straight — but not with that special invective he saves for Donald Trump. I don’t recall Williamson calling president, or prior to that, candidate Barack Obama an “ape, a “buffoon” a clown, or a “reptilian” anything even as the president has lied to the public, presided over multiple scandals and used his pen and phone to subvert the constitution.
After Trump said he would temporarily halt all Muslim immigration into the United States, Charles Krauthammer, now a conservative national treasure, became more hot, bothered and indignant than he has since he was editing (the old) The New Republic, opining on the policy sins of Ronald Reagan and considering the possibility of “educating Republicans on the virtues of social justice.”
“I decline to join the chorus denouncing the Trump proposal as offensive and un-American. That’s too obvious,” Krauthammer wrote in a recent column. “What I can’t get over is its sheer absurdity.” On Fox News he said Trump issues “barstool eruptions” and has called Trump a “rodeo clown” on at least one occasion. Krauthammer, a trained psychiatrist, coined the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to describe the effect President George W. Bush has on many liberals, so he knows something about this whole phenomenon.
Trump’s immodest immigration proposal was roundly denounced by the ruling class as beyond the pale, patently unconstitutional and quite despicable. It was generally treated as a topic that ethical, moral and proper Americans don’t even think about, much less openly debate. (It’s just not who we are.)
Cable news pundits (on the left of course, but also on the right), talked of Nazis, fascists, demagoguery, un-American proposals and Japanese-American internment camps. “We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism, but not at the expense of our American values,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told the Washington Examiner. Former Vice President Dick Cheney told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt: “I think this whole notion that somehow we need to say no more Muslims and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” Republican presidential candidates (except Ted Cruz) lined up to forcefully and with stern visage condemn Trump’s proposal. Marco Rubio said Trump has a habit of making “offensive and outlandish statements.” Jeb Bush labeled Trump “unhinged.” Lindsey Graham told CNN Trump is a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
Speaker Paul Ryan spoke resolutely against Trump’s proposal in an unusual press conference. “Normally I do not comment on what’s going on in the presidential election,” Ryan said, but added he would make an exception that day. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
We all recall the numerous and powerful special press conferences in which representative, vice-presidential candidate and speaker Ryan so forcefully denounced President Obama’s decidedly un-American ideas and actions about spreading the wealth, selectively enforcing immigration, putting coal companies out of business, lying about the facts of Obamacare and using government agencies to punish political enemies.
When Hillary Clinton recently pledged to (if elected president) continue Obama’s longstanding American tradition of using pen and phone to effect policy when congress so stubbornly “refuses to act,” Ryan’s special press conference and forceful full-throated denunciation still rings in my ears. When Bernie Sanders essentially proposes to socialize as much of America’s economy as administratively possible, Ryan’s galvanizing press conferences and speeches against such mishmash thinking are, quite frankly, Lincolnesque.
It’s not that I think Trump would make a good president or that I think he fully considers some of his proposals before stating them publicly. It’s more along the lines of I wish Republicans and conservative pundits would get as outraged and worked up when Democrats spout some of their outrageous and offensive statements. When Hillary includes health insurance companies, drug companies and Republicans as her enemies: when Obama attempts more leadership on climate change than terrorism and when John Kerry sees a possible rationale behind the Charlie Hebdo killings — there are pundits aplenty denouncing such idiocy — but never with the same gut-level, pull no punches invective they save for Donald Trump.
Have Beltway Republicans and pundits come to rely on conservative talk shows hosts (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, et al.) to voice outrage at Democrats so they don’t have to? Are the Beltway folks really not as outraged at Democrats as they are at Donald Trump? Are they too worried about being seen as unreasonable, crass or plebeian to get down and dirty against Democrats? Is there a new consensus inside the Beltway that, yes indeed, the Constitution is a suicide pact? Whatever the reason, Trump Derangement Syndrome has definitely become part of this season’s political landscape.
James Ray Deaton, one of six known conservatives living in Berkeley, Calif., is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
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