Trumpology

by Brad Nelson5/20/18

Jonah Goldberg (a firm never-Trumper) had an article the other day that further clarified for me the Trump dynamic.

For the Booksellers who surround the Establishment Republicans, the central aspect is ideas. And ideas are notorious for being simple, pure, and easy, although it does require some skill to articulate them clearly.

And then there is the realm of putting ideas into action. For all his warts, Trump is putting his ideas into action And if Ted Cruz were doing the same, he’d meet similar resistance based on some rationale that always comes down to “He’s not one of us.” That Trump is uncouth goes without saying. But anyone looking to overturn the Leftist or Establishment-Republican tables in the temple will similarly be seen as uncouth.

This is not a blanket apology for some of the useless dumb things Trump has said. But I tire of the nattering nabobs of negativity who have brilliant and pure ideas which they never have to sully by actually trying to implement them.

I think one of the clearer heads at National Review (neither sycophantic nor too harsh) is Victor Davis Hanson who has written an informative and amusing piece: Truman May Have Been the Proto-Trump. And Lloyd Marcus, the Unhyphenated America, penned a reasonable tribute to some of Trump’s successes in: Despite the Media, Trump Pulling Down Wins for We the People.

It’s difficult to imagine any Bush (or other Republican, perhaps with the exception of Cruz) not filling the swamp with more water. Certainly no “gentlemanly” Republican would do anything that would cause such disgust amongst the intelligentsia (including the mainstream media). Whatever Trump’s core is made of, it is something that can at least bare up against criticism, something lacking from most gelded Republicans.

Although Trump is cementing in place some awful things (such as acceptance of gender-bending, politics-as-entertainment, and gut “feelings” over any kind of coherent agenda), he is the people’s Tribune at this point. I neither think that Trump is anointed by God nor is anything but a one-off ideology (whatever is in Trump’s gut at the moment) that can last beyond him. But for now, some needed reform is actually happening. And writing articles and books about Trump’s inexact fealty to book-bound conservative principles is of no help other than cementing one’s own delusions that one has all the answers lacking in others.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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27 Responses to Trumpology

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Trump’s not one of us, but he’s accomplishing about as much of our agenda as anyone was likely to accomplish. Except, as always, maybe Ted Cruz.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Point taken, although populists (especially those adept at marketing) are always “one of us.” And to a large extent, the average Joe relates more to Trump than, say, Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney. Saturday Night Live (way back when they were actually funny) did a “Democrats Do It” skit regarding Jimmy Carter’s interview with Playboy. That could have described Trump as well.

      Trump is pro-sexual-libertinism which is consistent with attitudes amongst 70% of the population (even if many put on airs otherwise). Trump is pro-business and pro-making-money. Again, despite the Little Monsters even now being indoctrinated to hate our country, most people still believe in this (with enough caveats to ring up trillions in debt in socialist policies, but they still do believe in the basic concept).

      Trump is also pro-America, an increasingly marginalized idea, but still with many adherents. And the icing on the cake is that he is a celebrity. This is what allows him, amongst much of the populace, to have a useful double-standard. If Ted Cruz tweeted some of the stuff that Trump does, we’d be shocked. But we’ve become used to vulgar, foul-mouthed, and loud-mouthed celebrities. It’s his “brand” and many quite devout Christians, for example, have implicitly compartmentalized that factor (for better and for worse).

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have come to the conclusion that many Never-Trumpers are so strongly anti-Trump exactly because he is so pro-America and is uniting a large group of people around the idea of Make America Great Again. Should he succeed, Trump will go a long way to concentrating power around simple American culture and values. While not the same as the old WASP culture/power, it is somewhat similar.

    This frightens people who do not wish to see cultural similarity and agreement across a large portion of the country. These people have tried to Balkanize the USA and wish to create a cultural and linguistic Tower of Babel so as to cause discord among traditional Americans.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m not sure I’d put the never-Trumpers in the same boat as media types and other Progressives. I had always assumed a “never-Trumper” was a Republican or conservative who is so disturbed by the package that its swamps every other consideration (including any actual swamp-draining that is going on).

      If Mr. Rogers himself was a Republican president and implemented the same agenda that Trump has, he’d be just as reviled by all the usual Progressive suspects. And because he had garnered the wrath of the usual Progressive suspects, the noodle-bending backbones of Establishment Republicans (and their book-selling lackeys) would likely think that Rogers was altogether too impolite and uncouth to be president. They thought the same about Reagan.

      In short, despite the supposed conservative intelligentsia that guides those in power, the intelligentsia rarely seems actively pleased with any reform that isn’t just some populist toned-down reflection of where the Left has already been. They believe not in reform but a sort of gentlemanly, reasonable method of basically taking credit for what amounts to Leftist half-measures.

      In short, Trump’s crudity, although in my mind needlessly gratuitous, is not the deciding factor for me.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think the so-called Never-Trumpers on the “Republican” side are more of the Globalist ilk. They disdain patriotism and hate nationalism. They have also been able to prosper mightily under the rise in Globalism.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I don’t think Goldberg’s objections to Trump stem from globalism or nationalism, although I’m sure this is true for many in the Republican intelligentsia.

          Let us remember (as you always do): In order for anyone not producing a tangible product (iPhones, lawn mowers) to maintain their status and sense of superiority requires them to at least some degree to pooh-pooh populists and such primitive things as love for one’s nation. For an upper class to exist, the lower classes must be outed as being different and inferior.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Being just across the river from Indiana, I’ve always seen their Richard Lugar as a perfect example a transnational globalist. I was really hopeful about Mourdok in 2012, but that didn’t work out because of a question about rape and abortion.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    For a large percentage of the RINOs and the NTs, I believe its acceptance at the table as equal players. They will do anything to just be invited to serve the water to the mandarins and lotus eaters who they perceive as the holders of power.

    The reality is that they will never be accepted. Oh, they may be tolerated but never welcomed. No matter how much education, liberal votes, and progressive nonsense they espouse there is no room at the table.

    Think of it as a typical university. There is wealth, power, respect and recognition for the tenured faculty. But, the hard-working grad student, post-doc, and lecturers are excluded from the important jobs to a great extent they always have been. However, its much worse today than it ever has been.

    What DJT is doing is churning the base who quietly go about raising their families, paying the bills and exerting their power by voting the RINOs and progressives out of office. Will this continue? I don’t know, but I perceive the trend to be positive in the short term.

    The difference between DJT and every president since Reagan is that Trump is a leader. Clinton, Bush 1 & 2 and Obama were more qualified to administer a university dept and not run a government.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And Barry Zero probably thought in those terms. Clinton and the Bushes probably didn’t. Some will question whether government should be run as a business (it does have certain aspects of a business), but it definitely shouldn’t be run as an academy.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        The major difference between a successful businessman and a successful general is the tools they use to accomplish their goals. It is one of the reasons that business books are used in staff colleges and why books on war are used in business schools. However, the basic skills of leadership are very similar. It is significant that DJT is schooled in both military and business skills.

        Three important works on warfare that I know are taught in business schools, Clausewitz on war, Musashi, The Book of five rings or Go Rin no Sho, and Sun Tzu Art of War. Staff colleges teach a lot of Milton Friedman and Robert Townsend, Up the organization 1 & 2.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Steve, I do agree the separation has more to do with status/clique issues than ideas. However, several writers at NRO (including Lowry) have given a lot of praise to Trump lately. Possibly this is due to the fact that Trump is the guy with power. Partly this is due to intellectual honesty as well. (It’s now nearly impossible to deny his many significant accomplishments.) And partly because you can’t get too far behind your readers.

      Certainly I’ve never been shy about calling Trump a bum and vulgarian for the way he typically conducts himself. And we’ve lost some contributors and readers no doubt because of this. And although it’s a nice song, who wants to live their lives in “Home on the Range” where never is heard a discouraging word? I won’t eat excrement sandwiches just to create a Trumpian “safe space” for kool-aid drinkers.

      What DJT is also doing is playing the leader who is taking the arrows. Few of these other pussies (with the possible exception of Ted Cruz) are willing to do that. Most fold like a cheap Howard Schultzian tent at the first sign of controversy or criticism. As I was discussing with Mr. Kung the other day, this has allowed others (including Rush Limbaugh, as Mr. Kung noted) to start speaking some of the hard truths that we were discussing here four years ago.

      I do believe most people here are of the same mind: If you keep apologizing to the Left for your every action, this will put you into in increasingly shrinking box. But if you confront them, defy them, and even mock them, you suddenly open the way to actually oppose them politically by making it safe to do so.

      But I have friends so put off by Trump’s demeanor (the veneer) that they give him no points on substance. Some are so entrenched in the respectability-by-proxy mindset (identifying, I guess, with an upper class of soft-talkers) that demeanor is apparently everything to them. And as much as I eye-roll over the idea that “God uses flawed people for his ends” (which I find a weak rationalization), indeed, great leaders such as Patton were noted to be quite foul-mouthed. It’s not disqualifying that someone is a little crude.

      But neither will I get on the Trump bandwagon and plant my nose up his ass as so many others have done. He’s just too fundamentally flawed and unpredictable to deserve that kind of loyalty. Instead of “trust, but verify” I think the best attitude is “Cheer on the victories and sometimes look the other way, for the Chief Executive obviously likes his hookers.”

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Brad,
        I agree DJT is often vulgar, gross, and even obscene. But, (the big but) so am I, just ask my wife. The other side of that coin is compassionate, idealistic, and loyal. Yes, there are contradictions, occasional hypocrisy with I believe the overall on the positive side.

        No one I know, even the most admiring Trumpers, has any belief that Trump is a paragon of virtue. He is more the typical American than any of our past presidents since Reagan. I find it ironic that two of our most populous presidents both come from democrat backgrounds, but who else would understand how they think? I like the simple fact that DJT is an unapologetic American. On this, there is no equivocation. Obama, Romney, McCain, G W Bush, Clinton, G Bush and the majority of congress and the courts are willing to be something other than American to just have a seat at the table.

        What they all have failed to realize is that right now Trump owns the table and that makes the pointy little heads explode.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          It’s obvious, Steve, that your wife has not outlawed masculinity in your house. Inherent to it is (compared to nicey-nice prissiness) is a bit of vulgarity, brashness, bravado, and even obscenity. (Chicks can dig that.) And I agree with you that there is that other side of the coin.

          A gentlemen is not a wimp. The very definition of the gentleman is having both sides of that coin. We’ll give up a seat on the bus to an elderly person and yet be ready and willing to smack someone in the mouth to protect the innocent.

          What we don’t do is what so many yutes (those not thoroughly pussified) are doing today: Making an idol of their slovenliness, ill manners, and moral obtuseness.

          and the majority of congress and the courts are willing to be something other than American to just have a seat at the table.

          Oh, hell yeah. I agree with that. The “international” set cares more what Europeans think about them than normal Americans.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, it’s always possible that “he likes his hookers” was in the past, since there seem to be no recent claims against him. Perhaps he no longer has the capability (cf. Tom Lehrer’s “When You Are Old And Gray”), and certainly wouldn’t want to admit it. And why do you need hookers if you have Melania?

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Then again, the percentage of hookers who return quality for the pay they receive is much higher than that among lawyers, reporters and college professors. On a one-to-one basis, the conversation is also more stimulating.

          you can meet a more interesting number of people in a stripper bar than a university seminar room.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I’ve never been in either (unless one or two of my history courses was considered a seminar), but I’m quite ready to believe your estimate. If nothing else, I recall reading that a call girl was expected to be able, as an escort, to supply good and informed conversation.

    • pst4usa says:

      Steve brings up a perfect contrast here. Take candidate DJT and candidate John (the wimp) McCain. The later would “do anything to just be invited to serve the water to the mandarins and lotus eaters who they perceive as the holders of power”, in other words the media. See what that did for him in his race. Trump, however, did not bow to the Lotus Eaters, he rather flipped them off, and that gave him a great advantage over Hitlary. We love to hate the media in this country, or at least what the media has become. We all have an agenda, and since the left completely controls the media, we get a leftist slant in everything they put out. Well I say it is not the media we should hate as much as the leftist we should hate and oppose at every turn. I do not think we survive long as a nation without a free press and the only place we can get anything resembling truth comes from talk radio and the internet, although in both of those you are subject to just as much crap as truth. But Trump plays the media like a fiddle and he will have them spinning in circles for a long, long time I predict.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        A few years after Bush invaded Iraq, the synoptic media raised a stink about the Army killing off journalists, or at least not protecting them from those who did. This didn’t last long, and I always suspected that the reason was that it turned out only the newsliars themselves cared about it.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Some will question whether government should be run as a business (it does have certain aspects of a business), but it definitely shouldn’t be run as an academy.

    If running government departments efficiently means running the government as a business then fine.

    But governance is about much more than efficiency and business. A corporation is not a democracy and its main goal is (generally) to provide some good or service in the most profitable way possible.

    The main job of our government should be balancing security with liberty. That can be anything but efficient.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Agreed, the government is a broadsword, not a scalpel and those who use it always take the chance it will cut the innocent with the guilty. The wisdom of our founders was putting and, for the most part, keeping a balance of power to protect the people. Truly efficient government comes with a horrendous price in blood.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Just so long as “running government like a business” does not mean “running government like a Starbucks,” I’m good with that.

      Of course, you’re are correct that the analogy is imperfect. Government has a broader mandate than simply efficiency and making a profit. But at least efficiency should be a guiding force as government pursues its legitimate functions.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        efficiency should be a guiding force as government pursues its legitimate functions.

        I agree 100%.

        The most efficiently run government I have ever seen is that of Singapore. The place is run like a corporation with a small number of people serving as the board of directors for just about every major department.

        While the PAP (People’s Action Party, which is the ruling party) is somewhat authoritarian, I would point out that it has always had the support of the majority of the people. It maintains this by keeping everything running well and keeping corruption to a minimum.

        Importantly, it is able to react very quickly to shifts in public opinion and correct obvious mistakes in policy. Both abilities are rare in history.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Right now I’m reading City of Light, City of Poison. Basically this is a chronicle of the period in Louis XIV’s (I think) reign. At the beginning of his reign, Paris was a shit-hole….quite literally. Crime, excrement, darkness, crime, excrement. It was a horrible place at times or in many places of the city.

          The king appoints various officials to clean things up and implement reforms and infrastructure. Funny thing is, when dumping dead carcasses and such outside was outlawed, people simply kept them inside. Parisian houses and apartments thereby began to stink to high-hell.

          This book very early on shows you two things:

          1) People, by their nature, are despoilers and slobs, especially in the relatively anonymous confines of a city where there isn’t much individual responsibility (as there might be in, say, a small family group or tribe).

          2) Only a strong central authority can overcome this nature and institute the needed order and infrastructure.

          “Democracy” or capitalism will never keep excrement out of the streets. The mob doesn’t care, on the one hand, and there’s no profit in it on the other. It’s a very interesting history so far. I’ll report back on it later as I get further into it.

          But if you have a somewhat responsive and enlightened despotism such as in Singapore, there’s no reason this wouldn’t be far preferable to, say, one of the increasingly dirty and dangerous drug-addled and crime-ridden “sanctuary cities” of the Peoples Republic of Californian.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            But if you have a somewhat responsive and enlightened despotism such as in Singapore, there’s no reason this wouldn’t be far preferable to, say, one of the increasingly dirty and dangerous drug-addled and crime-ridden “sanctuary cities” of the Peoples Republic of Californian.

            Perhaps the main problem of an enlightened despotism is the question of succession. For every Louis XIV you get a Louis XVI. For every Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore, there is the possibility of a Joseph Stalin waiting in the wings.

            In fact, Singapore has done a fairly good job, to date. The “founder” generation passed on a fair amount of power to the next generation, but kept an eye on them. The “founder” generation is now either up a chimney or six-feet under and the second and third generation of leaders are doing a pretty good job.

            The question is “how will things develop” in the future? Singapore was founded as a separate State in about 1965. Because it was run like a corporation and the leaders were not a bunch of greedy murderers, the place developed rapidly. How will a semi-autocratic state do over time now that the populace is getting fat and sassy? As I recall, their birth-rate/replacement rate is something like 1.2. That is a sure remedy for extinction.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Knowing what I do about Louis XIV, I can guess why it refers to a city of poison. You should soon know more than I do about Marie de Brinvilliers and her fellow poisoners. Incidentally, John Dickson Carr wrote a novel dealing with the case, tangentially. A chap finds a picture of her, and of a later murderer who looked just like her — and just like his wife. I think it’s The Burning Court.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Yes. In the introduction it makes plain that there were some heavy-duty poisoners at large in Paris and that there was also a big cover-up concerning this.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              FYI, the book “City of Light, City of Poison” was not the sort of The Devil in the White City book I was expecting. (And the latter really is a brilliant book.)

              The start was interesting enough. But then the pages were filled with detailed accounts of the King’s affairs. It lost me completely. What a piece of trash as a book. This is like a string of Twitter postings or something. Salacious gossip, not an organized narrative of the dirty underside of early Paris.

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