Friday, December 4, 2015

Natural Drunkenness

Macramé wall hanging by Sally England, Portland, Oregon.
Shorter David Brooks, "No, Donald Trump Won't Win", December 4 2015:
To many Republicans, Donald Trump is like a complex and sophisticated pink rug. No, not his hair, the man himself, and his policy proposals, dazzlingly beautiful, but then again, that electric vibrancy could in time become fatiguing, and it is far from clear that he will match our furniture and wall hangings. People often neglect the wall hangings when they are purchasing rugs, and this could lead them to make a regrettable choice, except after five minutes of looking at a wide enough sample of rugs, they will probably realize that in the long run that subtler, more prosaic blue rug will do the job better. Or perhaps the whole project of being a primary voter is like being the great 17th-century essayist Michel de Montaigne, whose mentality frequently flipped; as he remarked, "I cannot keep my subject still. It goes along befuddled and staggering, with a natural drunkenness." Watch your flipping mentality, jerk!*
Donald Trump is probably not like a prospective spouse. Obviously when you are planning to get married you begin with a list of potential spouses that you are totally in love with and then select the best, the one who can inspire you and be your messenger to your best future. "Hello, David's best future?" the spouse will say. "I'm calling on David's behalf. He'll be a few minutes late for lunch." This "maximizing" procedure will provide the requisite passion that will enable you and your partner to fuse, and survive the tough times. In politics, in contrast, passion must give way to satisficing, a fascinating portmanteau term created by biz-school intellectuals to refer to contenting oneself with whatever is sufficient, or perhaps it should be satisfiction, pretending to be happy with the candidate you get. This always happens. Cautious party loyalists make up a majority of those who show up at the polls, and go for the candidate who seems most orderly, as when Republicans in 1980 chose wiggy elderly B-list movie star Ronald Reagan after their brief flirtations with George H.W. Bush and John B. Anderson. All the traits of John McCain that seemed charming suddenly seemed risky in 2000, and voters' hopes for transformation gave way to a fear of chaos, so they went for George W. Bush, a blue rug if ever there was one, instead. Now many Republican voters think Trump is charming, as well as complex, sophisticated, and dazzling, but I think it's clear from my compelling and original metaphors that there's nothing to worry about.
Heriz pink Persian vintage rug, via Roller Blinds Direct, UK.
Analysis and quotations can be found at Steve M.'s and Tengrain's. And Drifty, on Saturday. In content terms today's column is hardly interesting or startling, but it is a good candidate for worst-written Brooks column of the year, with a mix of ill-chosen figures of speech, inapposite vocabulary, syntactic slippage, surrealist logic and historical amnesia, and general incoherence that are almost stunning in their cumulative effect. For nonsubscribers to the Times who can't believe I'm giving an accurate picture of Brooks on spouse selection, here's the original:
If you’re choosing a marriage partner, you probably want to maximize. You want to find the very best person you are totally in love with. You’ll need that passion to fuse you two together so you can survive the tough times. You want somebody who can inspire and be a messenger to your best future. But politics is not like that. Politics is a prosaic activity most of the time... 
* One more quote:
"But then my mentality flipped and I started asking some questions. "

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