Thursday, January 25, 2018

Davos, Man!

Some of Davos from the Snow Train. Check that out, it's a video!

Mr. Bret Stephens ("Davos Man Meets America First", a grammatically peculiar headline) trots out the old Bill Safire device of speaking for the leader in what he hopes sounds like an impression of the leader's voice, with what's introduced as a leaked text of the keynote address Trumpy's going to give to the World Economic Forum in Davos, only with a complex Trumpian wrinkle, not in the strangled cadence in which Stephen Miller has (I presume) written it, but at he imagines Trump might have written a speech himself, with all the "like"s and "believe me"s written in in advance, and the cheery tone of one of his rally speeches instead of Miller's characteristic paranoid gloom. But Stephens makes a ponderous clown, and he mucks up the parody something terrible, with polysyllables and elaborately if not elegantly structured sentences studded with parentheses:

Fellow plutocrats!
I know you’re as glad to see me as I am to see you. No, really. Like, I know you voted for Trump. Or maybe you didn’t vote for me, because your wives, if you had voted for me, they’d withhold sex. But, when I won, in your hearts, you were very happy. And now you’re all so much richer, and your wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, whatever — I’m a very tolerant person — they aren’t withholding, probably.
Am I right? I’m right.
And the idea of Trump publicly acknowledging that women hate him so much they'd go on a sex strike to stop him being elected! That will never happen, though Stephens's hypothesis that a sex strike took place could be true, for all I know. Though it's certainly realistic to picture him assuming everybody in the audience is a man and a US citizen/voter (there won't be anybody from the shithole countries, because they've all decided to walk out, and good for them), and that everybody's getting lots of sex out of the ongoing equities bubble, but then maybe that's Stephens as well.

The normal use of this particular op-ed form, in the hands of a Safire or Tom Friedman, is to urge the Leader to think something the writer thinks, to push a point of view or line of action he'd like the Leader to adopt, but Stephens does something very different with it. After that Lysistrata reference, namely all the words he puts in Trump's mouth are for things we've witnessed Trump thinking:

As I said, you’re all doing very, very well. The markets are up, up, up, like never before. Seven, eight trillion dollars in market cap since Trump was elected. Biggest tax cut in history, believe me. Apple, Google, Microsoft, all these companies bringing home trillions in overseas cash. How’s your share price doing? If you have a problem with it, let’s have a show of hands. No hands. Thought so.
I couldn’t help but notice on my way in how much snow you’ve got here in Davos, five, six feet. Global warming, uh-huh. When it’s hot, it’s global warming, and when it’s cold, it’s climate change. It’s like, heads I win, tails you lose. But people aren’t stupid.
He's not exhorting Trump, he's portraying him, as the kind of George Will/Charles Krauthammer conservative we've all suspected Trump really is at bottom, to the extent he's anything at all.

Anyway, I know you all have your climate plans and corporate social responsibility B.S., but none of you believes a word of it. The difference between us is that you keep quiet so that you’ll look good at Davos, but I don’t. I say all the stuff you’re too afraid to say. I say the truth, and people love me.
I also say that Haiti is a, well, not such a nice place. Let’s have another show of hands if you plan to move your wife and kids to Haiti anytime soon. I didn’t think so. Wonderful, hard-working people, by the way, the Haitians. Many of them work at my properties in Florida as groundskeepers, maids, that kind of stuff. Ask them, they love me too.
And you gradually start to realize that Stephens his using his idea of Trump's voice to convey that what Trump thinks is what he thinks too, without the usual hedging and on-the-one-handing and other-handing required by Stephens's normal pose as a respectable intellectual sort of conservative, doctrinal but clubbable, a man of wealth and taste. But in Trump's mouth he's putting "all the stuff you're too afraid to say" meaning what Stephens is too afraid to say because that's not what he was hired for; taking the opportunity to be as backward and stupid as a National Review writer without any of the responsibility. It's appalling.

China is getting bigger, stronger, while Europe just gets smaller and weaker. Angela Merkel, sorry, but she’s a total joke. Lets in a million Muslims, illegals, terrorists probably, in one year, and the German people don’t like it at all. Remember, a year ago, how it was like, “Merkel is the real leader of the free world”? Now she barely leads her own government.
She should have built a wall. Not smart!
I bet the Haitians working at Mar-a-Lago, by the way, who really do exist, are mostly in positions where the guests don't see them all that much; the visible foreigners, as I've been saying for some time, are from Romania instead, for some reason. German public opinion on immigrants has been ticking upward since the low point in 2015,
Of those polled, 36.7 percent said they are very or mostly sure that Germany can overcome the challenges posed by migration flows. The more doubtful totaled 31.6 percent, a reversal from the first polling in 2015, when the skeptics were in the majority.
and there's no reason to think it's an important factor in Merkel's poor election results, which seem to be more about exhaustion than anything else. The government she "barely leads" is once again going to be a fragile coalition with the immigration-loving Social Democrats, as I almost but not quite told you six months ago.

We aren’t going to pay your bills while you take our jobs. We aren’t going to fight your battles if you aren’t going to buy our products. We aren’t going to let you get rich off of us, if we can’t get richer off of you. We’re stronger than you and we’re going to stay that way. We can leave the surrender stuff to our European friends. Got it?
And Trump's fantasies of world domination are increasingly shared by Mr. Bret Stephens, if not, I think, by many in other countries. (Australia and Japan are fighting against the increasing oppression of the US and China both, with a revived TPP, which is now kind of roaring back without the US, which is one reason by Mexico and Canada are being so uncooperative with regard to NAFTA—they have an alternative.) Oh, and have I mentioned recently that I really don't like Mr. Bret Stephens?

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