Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Try a little tenderness!

Louise Brooks in G.W. Pabst's Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1929), via Gypsy Astronaut.
And it's look who's finally showing up for The Normalizing? David F. Brooks ("Fellow Trump Critics, Try a Little Listening") asking all his friends to take a hopeful and helpful attitude to the president-elect and his interesting plans:

Whether it’s reforming immigration or trade policy, his governing challenge is going to be astoundingly hard and complicated. Surely this is not the moment to get swept up in our own moral superiority, but rather to understand the specificity of the proposals he comes up with and to offer concrete amendments and alternatives to address the same problems.
It's just like November 2008, right, when he asked Obama's opponents to cut him some slack and assist him to govern responsibly, by engaging with the Democrats' proposals. Oh, wait, no he didn't, he told the president-elect to listen to his opponents and look for ways of engaging with them, because the election was a sure sign that America was moving to the right:
I’m dreaming of an administration led by Barack Obama, but which stretches beyond the normal Democratic base. It makes time for moderate voters, suburban voters, rural voters and even people who voted for the other guy.... there won’t just be a few token liberal Republicans in marginal jobs. There will be people like Robert Gates at Defense and Ray LaHood, Stuart Butler, Diane Ravitch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jim Talent at other important jobs. ("Change I Can Believe in", 11/7/08) 
Obama did hire Gates and LaHood, too, as if he'd read that stupid column, as he probably did. I wish he'd hired my girl Ravitch, now that she's ended up on the radical side, instead of that tool Arne Duncan. Trump's discussing Jerry Falwell, Jr., as a possible secretary of education. I see lots of ways of collaborating with that and finding a way to split the difference between our views. Maybe we can talk him into allowing evolution theory to be taught in high school biology alongside the approved theory from Genesis 1. Compromise! But it's always the left side that has to compromise with the right, because reasons.

Brooksy seems to have given up on those white working-class Trump voters he had such a boner for. Perhaps he met one of them. Now he's mostly concerned with imaginary Trump voters, and I mean that literally, because he says so himself:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the best imaginable Trump voter. This is the Trump supporter who wasn’t motivated by racism or bigotry. This is the one who cringed every time Donald Trump did something cruel, vulgar or misogynistic.
But this voter needed somebody to change the systems that are failing her. She needed somebody to change the public school system that serves the suburban children of professors, journalists and lawyers but has left her kids under-skilled and underpaid. She needed some way to protect herself from the tech executives who give exciting speeches about disruption but don’t know anything about the people actually being disrupted.
You remember all those Trump voters getting interviewed on NPR complaining about the inequities of the education system, and the attacks of tech executives? The what? The tech executives who were disrupting rural folk in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania? Was that covered in the Times? That's Brooks's advantage over the conventional WWC whisperer column, he doesn't need any connection with reality at all.

I will say one more time: this is not a game, people's lives are literally at stake, and the long-term habitability of our planet, and if there's any way to save lives in the current hideous situation, whether it's preserving people's health insurance or avoiding war, anybody ought to feel OK with doing that, even if it involves allowing Trump to not feel like a loser for a while. I am 100% accepting of whatever President Obama thinks he is doing in this regard, and fairly relaxed about Senators Sanders and Schumer (cute couple!), though maybe not of Representative Tulsi Gabbard—

—but I still think we should be careful, throughout this process, especially those of us outside the government and in the opinion-having trade, to not suggest that there is any part of Trump that is in a reasonable place halfway across the center from us.

I'll even accept that Trump is a very sad person if he wants me to (he definitely doesn't!), traumatized by a difficult childhood and nasty parents who froze him emotionally and made him value money above everything else, and I'll gladly feel sorry for those actually existing Trump voters who are bigots, after all, only because divide-and-rule late capitalism has made them that way, but I think we need to say no (as Sanders and Schumer both have very properly done) to plans to privatize the national infrastructure, and the like. And Brooks's desire to be kind to Trump—

It wouldn’t kill us Trump critics to take a break from our never-ending umbrage to engage in a little listening.
—is as mistaken as anything our pandit has ever done. "Us Trump critics" indeed—what do you mean "us", white man?

Lots more from Driftglass, as you'd expect, and well worth checking out.

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