Thursday, May 5, 2016

Poor Jonah

Update: Hi MBRU fans, thanks Blogenfreude!

Pieter Aertsen, The Egg Dance, 1552. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, via Wikipedia.
Goldberg is so guileless, really, it's almost kind of sweet:
Donald Trump almost never uses the language of traditional American conservatism, with its emphasis on classically liberal notions of limited government, constitutionalism, individualism, and free trade. He prefers to talk about “strength” and “winning” while vowing to restore the “greatness” of yesteryear through his indomitable will.
The language of traditional American conservatism, dear boy, has never won an election and never will, because the voters don't give a shit about it, unless you mean when you're talking about their taxes, and they're the kind of voters (as we mostly are, unfortunately) who look at their paystubs and don't realize that the bulk of what's deducted from the gross pay is insurance for old-age health care, pension, and unemployment, and the amount dedicated to cash for welfare clients and foreigners vanishingly tiny.

The language of classically liberal notions of limited government isn't for voters, it's for the donors who pay for the party and its ancillary activities including Jonah's paychecks from the American Enterprise Institute and the National Review and whatever other sinecures he inhabits, like an 18th-century English clergyman collecting an assortment of no-work "livings". When traditional American conservatives are speaking to voters, they're all about strength and winning and greatness. It's morning in America! That's what Ronald Reagan used, and George W. Bush after him, with notable success until Bush's personal loserhood got to be too desperate to deny.

And the language of individualism, no doubt, but heard by conservative voters at the dogwhistle frequency where I'm an individual and they ("the blacks", "the Mexicans") are featureless mobs. Trump, as everybody knows, doesn't bother with dogwhistles. And he hasn't particularly bothered with limited government or "constitutionalism" because he knows the voters don't care about that stuff. They do care about their Social Security and Medicare, as Trump knows. So does the Republican Party.
The demographic base of the GOP — older white voters — agrees with Trump that entitlements should be left alone.
And so do all national GOP candidates agree that they should be left alone for older white voters. The kids don't have any responsibilities, they can pay for it. Trump's attitude toward Big Government in practical terms isn't any different from that of any of the rest of them; a set of promises about spending and taxes that don't match up and the suggestion that you can make them add up by punishing the other guy, who's not voting for you anyway. How he wants the federal government to project strength is the usual way, through beefing up the armed forces, not through providing health care (when he says he wants to "take care of everyone" the absence of any plan for doing it means it's virtually identical to the standard Republican view that we already do, with the emergency room). But his regressive tax program is designed to weaken the federal government as sure as Reagan's or Bush's.

Of course Trump hasn't especially needed to reassure the Republican donors, since he's been largely self-funding. Yet. And a good deal of what they don't like about him is the embarrassment factor, the hair and the wives and the WWE. Reagan and Bush turned out to be stylish and elegant enough for these guys, though, and I expect they'll warm to him. The tax ideas will be a potent aid. Poor Jonah! They'll all be on board before you know it.

Because the brutal fact, you know, is they don't care about classical liberalism either. They pay Jonah Goldberg to do that for them—to make it look as if the program has some fascinating philosophical foundation beyond simply enabling them to increase their already obscene share of the wealth. But's that's all it is, dressing up greed in a tuxedo. And Trump knows all about tuxedos.

There's lots more in this stupid piece, and Shakezula covers quite a bit of it. Driftglass makes a point related to mine riffing off a stupid Ross Douthat column.

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