Thursday, March 02, 2017

The pundit of the moment

I read widely, but in trying to understand our current moment, I continue to go back to Victor Davis Hanson. His latest piece sums up much of my current thinking. A taste:
Which should properly be more exasperating: Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric that accompanies a possibly revolutionary and realized conservative agenda, or McCain and Romney’s sober and judicious failures at pushing a mostly Bush-like agenda? By not fighting back in take-no-prisoner terms, both Republican candidates failed, ensuring eight years of Obama — years that in my view have done far more damage to the country than anything envisioned by Trump’s first administration.

Even conservatives sometimes seem more bothered by Trump’s raw uncouthness in service to a conservative agenda than they were by Obama’s sautéed orneriness in advancing progressive hope and change. Years of the Cairo Speech, the apology tours, the Iran deal, the Iraq pullout, Obamacare, record debt and low growth — editorialized by chronic attacks on Fox News, along with “you didn’t build that,” “punish our enemies,” and “I won” putdowns from Obama — never prompted calls for the 25th Amendment like those in some anti-Trump tweets. Is the difference predicated on class, accent, education, tone, appearance, tastes, comportment, or the idea that a shared Beltway culture trumps diverse politics? If a polished and now-president Marco Rubio had the same agendas as Trump, but avoided his rhetoric and bluster, would anti-Trump conservatives be pro-Rubio? And would Rubio’s personality and cunning have ensured his election and confidence in steamrolling such an agenda through the Congress?
Some questions are more rhetorical than others. And, more importantly, this:
In sum, it is far more difficult in 2017 to enact conservative change than it was 40 years ago — not necessarily because the message is less popular, but because government is far more deeply embedded in our lives, the Left is far more sophisticated in its political efforts to advance a message that otherwise has no real record of providing prosperity and security, and the Right had avoided the bare-knuckles brawling of the Left and instead grown accustomed to losing in a dignified fashion.
I'm a liberal arts guy and often find that "tone, appearance, tastes and comportment" weigh heavily, too heavily, in how I view the world. I also know this much -- fighting is unpleasant and it hurts. Losing in a dignified fashion is often the easier path. A fight is required, but a lot of people don't have the stomach for it. Perhaps I'm one of them. You can't really argue the counterfactual, but I believe had Marco Rubio been the GOP standard-bearer in 2016, Hillary Clinton would be president today. It's why I preferred Ted Cruz to Rubio, but I also suspect Clinton would have defeated Cruz as well.


R.A. Crankbait said...

I don't think any "Republican" could have beaten Clinton; the brand was too damaged, especially among "republicans" after years of running one way and voting another. There were some new candidates with potential, but Trump - and the media's fixation with him - sucked the air (and ultimately the donor money) out of their campaigns. Sure, Trump was colorful, and sold a lot of clicks for the media, but I think they also liked promoting him because they thought it damned the Republican side and helped Hillary. They definitely put their backs into hoisting that petard, and look what it got them.

Bike Bubba said...

I am reminded of what my host noted about Obama; he defeated Clinton because his machine was meaner than Clinton's. Trump defeated Clinton partially for the same reason, and I am hoping and praying that Trump will leave shards of the old machines behind so that, someday, honorable men will once again be able to achieve high office.