Friday, March 3, 2017

Trumpism with a Chaser

Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926), via Twisted Sifter.
Analogical David Brooks, "Trumpism at Its Best, Straight Up", March 3 2017:
Now that we've seen the authentic Trumpian ideological stance at his address to the joint session of Congress, in the form of a speech prepared for him by flunkeys which he read without his usual interpolations so that we're not distracted by evidence of what the man himself actually thinks, we can say with confidence that he is not an odd single-digit number. Because for centuries, the odd single-digit numbers have been a coalition of tendencies, 3, 5, 7, or 9, and Donald Trump is none of these. What do you mean I left something out?
Yes, it's part 7,142 of How We Know Donald Trump is No True Republican. Really:
For the last 40 years, the Republican Party has been a coalition of three tendencies. On Tuesday, Trump rejected or ignored all of them.
Because True Republicanism is when you choose from a menu of three items and identify as a foreign policy hawk, a social conservative, or a fiscal conservative, and he did none of the above. Instead, he insisted that he would put America First, like Pat Buchanan, though with huge spikes in military spending; said nothing about abortion or gay wedding cakes or teen unmarried motherhood, like John McCain; and seemed to believe deficits don't matter, like Ronald Reagan. The man is obviously a liberal.

This is the utility of Brooks in a nutshell. He's able to be so fully unaware of what he's doing that he unwittingly gives away the whole show, which is the fact that for the last 40 years the Republican Party has been a scam, offering this contradictory menu (the foreign policy hawks are incompatible with the fiscal hawks) as a front for its true aim, which is the tendency he doesn't mention: libertarianism when you're being polite, or government of, by, and for the wealthy when you're not (because the evil secret of libertarianism is that it offers liberation only to those who have money), focused on regressive taxation and the deregulation of upper-class economic activity. The single-digit odd number 1.

With which Donald Trump is, of course, perfectly on board. All those other bloody-minded preoccupations, the entrées of the conservative menu, are just loss leaders to bring in the voters—it's the alcohol, the rum and Koch, that really keeps them in business.

I know, I say this all the time, but Brooks today does such a great job of hiding his purloined letter on the mantelpiece! Because he doesn't use the word "regulation" anywhere, or the word "tax" except once, where he criticizes what he calls "Trump's health care plan", though it's actually the Ryan/"reformicon" approach to paying for health care, without apparently knowing that it's an approach he himself is on record as favoring, and classically Republican—
Trump’s health care plan — tax credits and health saving accounts — would increase choice, instability and risk for individual health care consumers.
That is, he never uses that word other than the one time until the very end, when he comes up for once with an alternative ideological stance of his own:
If government can create a framework in which people grow up amid healthy families, nurturing schools, thick communities and a secure safety net, then they will have the resources and audacity to thrive in a free global economy and a diversifying skills economy.
This is a response that is open to welfare state policies from the left and trade and macroeconomic policies from the free-market right — a single-payer health care system married to the flat tax.
That's right—he'll even put socialism itself on that menu, if you like (not for real, because the math can't work, but the other stuff isn't necessarily for real either), alongside the warmongering, Christianist repression, deficit terrorism, and libertarianism, and Making America Great Again, to borrow a beloved old slogan from Ronald Reagan: one happy family of incommensurables, just as long as you give him that tax inequity in his favor. Proving once more, you know, that it's the only thing he and his party care about.

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