January 6th, 2018

Have Trump’s critics lost their sense of humor?

David Frum certainly has:

This morning’s presidential Twitter outburst recalls those words of Fredo Corleone’s in one of the most famous scenes from The Godfather series. Trump tweeted that his “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” and in a subsequent tweet called himself a “very stable genius.”

Trump may imagine that he’s Michael Corleone, the tough and canny rightful heir—or even Sonny Corleone, the terrifyingly violent but at least powerful heir apparent—but after today he is Fredo forever.

There’s a key difference between film and reality, though: The Corleone family had the awareness and vigilance to exclude Fredo from power. The American political system did not do so well.

Michael Wolff’s scathing new book about the Trump White House has sent President Trump spiraling into the most publicly visible meltdown of his presidency. Until now, Trump’s worst moments have occurred behind closed doors, and have become known to the public only second-hand, leaked by worried officials, aides, and advisers. Yesterday and today, we have seen a Trump temper-tantrum in real time on Twitter, extended over hours, punctuated only by stretch of fitful presidential sleep.

To see an alternate point of view (and one I happen to share), read this from Althouse:

3 tweets. Read them in this order:

1. “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence…..”

2. “….Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…..”

3. “….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”

Well played, those cards.

I like the mix of joviality and lightweight cruelty.

But all Frum and so many others see in Trump is a serious, deluded, angry, dangerous, dunce—and not an amiable one, at that.

To treat every tweet of Trump’s (nice alliteration, eh?) as though it’s uttered in solemn seriousness is to miss the point entirely. Does Frum not understand the joke inherent in the Valley Girl construction of “being, like, really smart”?

Actually, to take the whole thing seriously for a moment, Trump is in fact a smart man—as was Reagan, as was Bush, as was Obama (all of whom were called dumb, although by different crowds). I can’t think of a dumb president in my lifetime—one thing about the interminable campaign season is that it tends to weed out stupidheads. Not all presidents are intellectuals, however, (probably a good thing) and Trump is the antithesis of an intellectual. I may be an intellectual of sorts, but I certainly am not so dumb that I think Trump is a dumb man.

As far as “stable” goes—Trump’s main instability seems to be in his past divorces, if you consider that a sign of instability (otherwise known as restlessness and lack of fidelity). To weather the campaign he weathered is to be very stable, like him or not. As for his insulting/funny/nasty tweets, that’s been going on for just about as long as Twitter has been in existence. Very very stable in the sense of “steady,” although not to Frum’s liking.

I am puzzled as to why anyone would see these tweets as a temper tantrum from an unstable guy. Can’t they see the sarcasm? Can’t they understand the deftness of the historical reference to Reagan? These tweets are crafted, and if Trump doesn’t exactly wield a stiletto, it’s still a pretty effective knife that usually finds its mark.

[NOTE: More from Scott Adams.]

[ADDENDUM: By the way, when I first read Trump’s statement about Steve Bannon, I originally failed to take much notice of what Trump wrote at the very end [emphasis mine]:

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

That little poison pen letter about Bannon is very well written (did Trump write it himself? I don’t know). It’s jam-packed with incredibly apt put-downs that contain more sophistication than Trump’s usual—not that it’s Churchillian, but it’s certainly clever and it hits Bannon where it hurts.

I see its last sentence as an alliance with the more mainstream wing of the GOP, as long as they work with him, and a rejection of the more extreme views of the so-called alt-right represented by Bannon and in particular of what I call the “burn it down” crowd. I believe some of this reflects Trump’s anger at what happened in Alabama, which he blames at least partly on Bannon. Recall that Trump originally backed the establishment candidate and was not a Roy Moore fan. Trump’s life will be made much easier if the GOP keeps control of the Senate in 2018, and much more difficult if they lose it, and he’s not eager to encourage those he thinks are likely to engineer the latter rather than the former.]

45 Responses to “Have Trump’s critics lost their sense of humor?”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    The Left is gearing up for the 2018 election in order to impeach Trump. Frum is with them.

    I’d like to see Bannon or Joe Scarborough challenge Trump in the primaries. Maybe 10% of the vote.

  2. F Says:

    I have to agree with everything you say, Neo.

    I have two close friends who are confirmed never-Trumpers, and after listening to them tell me for a year that he is unstable, shallow, stupid, etc., I find myself just tuning them out when they talk politics. I still respect their judgement on most issues, but they just cannot see how myopic they are when it comes to Trump. I would have forwarded this post to them, as I have in the past, but I am just plain tired of their condescending replies. You see, when Trump is stupid, I, by association, am too. I have about reached my limit of ennui.

  3. FOAF Says:

    Excellent piece, neo, except I’m not aware of any evidence that Frum ever had a sense of humor to begin with.

  4. Jenk Says:

    I don’t think they ever HAD a sense of humor–how else do you fail to see the parody of “The Gorilla Channel”…?

  5. Griffin Says:

    It really is interesting how we are repeating the same old narrative that we have played out for decades. Reagan was either a dunce or an evil warmonger. GWB was somehow both as dumb as a chimp while at the same time in on 9/11 with his oil buddies while leaving no evidence. Now Trump is ‘literally’ Hitler while also being a ‘fucking stupid person’ as some ESPN person said the other day.

    Isn’t it kind of interesting how every Republican president at least back to Eisenhower has been characterized in some way as stupid and malevolent (with maybe the exception of GHWB, maybe) while every Democrat president since Kennedy are portrayed as deep thinking policy wonks and never as extreme political ideologues.

    Strange.

  6. Ann Says:

    Althouse: I like the mix of joviality and lightweight cruelty.

    Sounds like something one of the guys or gals lolling about on Mount Olympus might have said.

    Anyway, to read Althouse these days is to sink into a morass of deconstructionism.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin:

    Nixon was never considered stupid. Only evil.

  8. vanderleun Says:

    I’d say that Althouse is about morass and leave it at th at.

  9. Griffin Says:

    neo,

    Yeah I should have said stupid and/or malevolent.

    In a way Trump is really the zenith of this as he is getting a little of what all the past R presidents have got. He is old and senile like Ike and Reagan. He is bumbling and stupid like Ford, Reagan and GWB. He is an evil warmonger like Nixon, Reagan, GHWB, GWB. It’s Reagan multiplied exponentially I think. Then you throw in the fact that he doesn’t just take it like the others and you get hysteria.

    Interesting times.

  10. T Says:

    During the 2016 campaign Salena Zito, one of the few reporters worth following then and now, nailed the concept by writing that the press takes Trump literally but not seriously, while his supporters take Trump seriously but not literally.

    David Frum? Quod erat demonstrandum

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo asks, “Have Trump’s critics lost their sense of humor?”

    An inability to laugh at oneself, is a sure indication of a lack of humor. When was the last time we saw anyone on the left laughing at themselves?

    The recent ‘Gorilla Channel’ joke pulled in a lot of gullible Trump haters. Few, if any have laughed at their own gullibility at being ‘punked’.

    To laugh at oneself one must first appreciate the ludicrousness of the human condition.

    Laughter that relies upon ridicule is faux humor.

  12. Dave Says:

    Donald j trump to me is the john McEnroe of politics, other than the firing of comey which was more a beginners’ mistake made from not fully understanding the game of politics and the evilness of it, there wasn’t one instance that he lost his cool and commit some major mistake due to his seemingly explosive personality, in fact he performs better after each outburst like McEnroe was. He has never cursed once during any of the debates, he plays the game like the bad boy pistons were, he create a chaotic environment to throw his opponents off their game to create an advantage for himself because he is the one who has the better ability to maintain composure to preform well in a chaotic environment. You want to understand trump? How ironic that rodman and trump are good friends

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Dave:

    The person Trump reminds me of most is Mohammed Ali.

    A lot of people admired Ali, but I’m not a boxing fan and for many years I found him obnoxious and offputting. I didn’t like his “I’m the greatest,” and I didn’t like the way he taunted and mocked his foes. Of course, he was a great boxer, but I’m talking about his personality.

    Later he became ill and all of that braggadocio faded away. He became the kindly grand old man. But I’m talking about the young Cassius Clay and then the young Mohammed Ali.

  14. steve walsh Says:

    PDT is not a member of the professional politicians club, in fact he ran for POTUS with his non membership as an asset. He does not play by the established professional politician’s rules. He does not speak as they do. He does not grin and bear their admonitions and challenges. He does not do the “my esteemed colleague” nonsense when engaging an opponent.

    And they all hate him for it, to the point of delusion and irrationality.

  15. AesopFan Says:

    You guys beat me to the best one-liners.

    I would, however, submit that having no sense of humor in the first place is what makes the left take Trump literally but not seriously.

    (including, so it seems, much of the ostensibly right punditry)

  16. blert Says:

    The Gorilla Channel spoof travelled very, very, far.

    And…

    Yes… it reposted as if it were fact.

    Heh.

  17. Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    […] neo-neocon wonders if Trump’s critics have lost their sense of humor (yes) […]

  18. Manju Says:

    Does Frum not understand the joke inherent in the Valley Girl construction

    It’s unlikely he’s joking because:

    1. Trump often writes as if he’s speaking, as is common on the interwebs.
    2. Trump speaks like this normally…in a stereotypically feminine scatterbrained manner, not too far removed from Valley Speak. See him talking about how smart he is here, for instance: https://youtu.be/uH4Tefi–FE?t=23s

    If Reagan had said this, everyone would get the joke. But for Trump, this is simply how he talks. It was a Fredo moment.

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    Manju:

    Dream on.

  20. n.n Says:

    Lost their better sense and gay humor.

  21. FOAF Says:

    “If Reagan had said this, everyone would get the joke.”

    A classic from the lib troll playbook. Reagan was so wonderful, if only Trump were more like him! From the same people who sneered at him as an “amiable dunce” and “B-movie actor” when he was actually President.

    Same thing with W. Now he is so decent compared to that awful Trump, but when he was President he was Bushitler. You’re not fooling anyone with that sophistry, manju.

  22. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Trump is now in the leftists’ sights for the same reason that Reagan and the Bushes once were but now are not.

    Shakespeare tells us why in his: “Antony and Cleopatra”: “In time we hate that which we often fear.”

    So true.

    They can’t counter his policy agenda because they are mere ideologues devoid of policies that go beyond the politics of identity and grievance.

    In the face of some quite exciting progress over the last 12 months that bodes well for those who were for so long not only forgotten but openly derided by the left they fall back on childish attacks on Trump’s personal presentation and quirks.

    The intelligent will remain focused on Trump the message, not Trump the messenger. It is the song, afterall, not the singer that is important.

    If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to listen to my beloved “Ol’ Blue Eyes”. The voice was angelic… the man not so much.

  23. Matt_SE Says:

    Trump is in bed with the GOPe, and has been since he endorsed McCain. 2016 = McCain, 2017 = Luther Strange, 2018 = Mitt Romney, and a host of other squishes, no doubt.

    Trump is all about Trump. When his interests coincide with the country’s, we win. When Trump has to choose between himself and the voters, it’s no contest. He’ll sell your ass in a heartbeat for a pack of smokes.

    McConnell is obviously in a complex partnership with Trump. That’s not good news for the rest of us. The jab at “burn it down” was apt: I noticed that Trump’s love of revolution died as soon as he became the king. I would bet Bannon’s defenestration was part of the preparation for the midterms; Trump (and McConnell) don’t want voters to get any bright ideas.

  24. Manju Says:

    If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to listen to my beloved “Ol’ Blue Eyes”. The voice was angelic… the man not so much.

    Well, I guess that explains this…

  25. Ariel Says:

    @ Neo, the post,
    Except it isn’t from all that, unless a vacuum is your starting point, it’s from everything he has written or tweeted over the years long before his campaign. I saw who Trump was in the 90s. He’s not a Democrat that had the party leave him, or a Republican. He’s an opportunist promoting a brand. Segue to…

    The ‘Art of the Deal’ has passages that clearly show a man that is childishly vindictive over the least slight. His tweets show a man that believes whatever he knows is absolutely factual no matter any evidence to the contrary, and further shows a man that is vindictive over the least slight, a slight being any criticism of what he says. BTW, he didn’t write the book, Tony Schwartz did. So when you see language that doesn’t match either his spoken or tweeted words, you have someone else doing the work. So, no, Neo, that eloquence is not his.

    Step back and think about how quickly you all adopted “fake news” as a meaningful phrase, when it isn’t. Trump claims he coined it, and he did well to the memory of P.T. Barnum. I don’t use the phrase whatsoever.

    The reference to Reagan isn’t deft, it’s daft. The mental instability, the petulant childishness, the inability to adhere to facts, came during the campaign (hell, even before if you guys had paid attention) not “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study…” Further, I voted for Reagan and this guy’s character, all of it, makes any reference to Reagan an insult.

    Trump is neither self-deprecating nor self-depreciating, his need to immediately attack any criticism is indicative. He doesn’t joke about himself in public. And he has used ‘Valley Girl’ speech in other tweets where in no way could it be construed as humor.

    Ceteris paribus, if Trump had won as a Democrat, how could you not support him?

  26. Ariel Says:

    FOAF Says: January 7th, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    “If Reagan had said this, everyone would get the joke.” because Reagan didn’t speak like Trump. Trump isn’t Reagan. It’s not “A classic from the lib troll playbook.” but it is you doing the classic ignore by comparing the incomparable. IOW, Trump isn’t Reagan. The libtards, like the Republicans before the nomination, might just be right this time.

    Ever wonder why the Republican establishment was so opposed to this guy? Me, I think any guy that uses “America First” as a campaign slogan is either ignorant of American history, which is frightening, or is, which is worse.

    manju is right and neo with her comment to manju of ‘Dream on’ is so wrong. As are you.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    Ariel:

    If you’ve followed this blog from the time Trump declared his candidacy till now (don’t know if you have, but I doubt it since you seem to be new here), you would see that I’m aware of most of what Trump is and was and has been since he came into public view. I’ve read or watched many or even most of the interviews he’s given over the last forty or so years, and biographies and in-depth articles and studied much of his Twitter feed.

    Trump actually has joked about himself in public at times. He is also a braggart and a narcissist. Both things are true, although they seem contradictory. And most of the time he does NOT use “Valley girl” speech in a serious way. A great many of his tweets are tongue-in-cheek trolling to get a reaction, and this one about being a stable genius most definitely was, in my opinion (although he also thinks he IS basically stable, and that he really IS very smart). And I’m not the least bit naive about Trump.

    If Trump had run on any party and was accomplishing most of what he’s accomplishing (SCOTUS appointments and other judges, most of his foreign policy, many of his executive orders, etc.) I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what party he was from, and I don’t understand why you think I would.

    The reference to Reagan is in fact deft and not daft. Reagan was called many of the same things by the press and the opposition, and that’s the context in which Trump brought it up. He didn’t say “I’m just like Reagan in every respect!”

    You write:

    Step back and think about how quickly you all adopted “fake news” as a meaningful phrase, when it isn’t. Trump claims he coined it, and he did well to the memory of P.T. Barnum.

    “Fake news” is a very meaningful phrase, but it refers to one thing traditionally and another thing as Trump uses it. Traditionally, it meant a story made up totally out of the whole cloth. Trump uses it to mean a story with major errors that are not in his favor. Long before Trump ever was running for president, I’ve been writing on this blog about the errors and/or lies told by the MSM (thirteen years so far for the blog). Some of this is from MSM error but it is so consistent, and so consistently against the right, that one can only conclude some is either deliberate or the result of lack of due diligence. Fake news indeed.

    And by the way, you say that Trump claimed he coined the phrase, but that’s not entirely an accurate statement about the totality of what he said. This is what he actually said, if you’re interested in accuracy:

    “The media is — really, the word, I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is ‘fake,'” Trump said. “I guess other people have used it, perhaps, over the years, but I’ve never noticed it.”

    So he’s not actually claiming to be the first to ever have used the term. He’s saying that although others used it he hadn’t been familiar with it and came up with it independently. That’s certainly possible, although I have no idea whether it’s true or not.

  28. Ariel Says:

    @ Griffin Says: January 6th, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Oh, G*d, you make my head hurt. Whatever was said about Republican presidents isn’t an argument to dismiss what is said about this President. For g*dsakes, it was said by Republicans during the campaign and is still being said by some Republicans today. He is a Republican in name only. He’s a populist pandering to conservative fears with no conservative ideals.

    Yeah, that wall, lets put billions into that when those dollars would be better spent in making Mexico a first world nation. Oh god, how can we have universal healthcare because it will bankrupt us when all other first world nations have had it for 50 to 100 years, and are still going strong. Pandering to your fears while passing a tax bill which will still ignore wealth for income.

  29. Manju Says:

    And most of the time he does NOT use “Valley girl” speech in a serious way.

    Trump often talks about how intelligent he is. That alone makes it unlikely that he’s joking.

    But the icing on the cake is that he often does this using the Valley-Girl “like”. I posted one example above, which I found on my first try googling, as us very stable geniuses are wont to do.

    Now I see that someone has found more examples, and every one of them deploys the “like”.

    1. “I’m, like, a really smart person, like a lot of you people,”

    2. “But I’m, like, a really smart person. You know, I went to Ivy League schools.”

    3. “you know, I’m, like, a smart person.”

    4. “Trust me, I’m, like, a smart person.”

    If you follow the link above you can listen for yourself. He ain’t joking. If Fredo Corleone and Paris Hilton had a baby…

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    Manju:

    And every one of those example is about being smart.

    Every one of them is like, trolling you.

    Of course Trump is smart. There’s no doubt he’s smart. I never thought otherwise. He’s smart in a way that’s not bookish, however, and which most academics or people worshipful of that type of intellectual smartness can’t credit or understand.

    I’m very intellectually inclined and my academic credentials are impeccable. But I long ago learned that it has nothing to do with being smart in the real world. Trump seems to me to be smart in the real world, and I think he’s being funny there, and mocking people like you who don’t think so.

    In other words, he is, like, smart.

    These in particular have trolling elements [emphasis mine]:

    “I’m, like, a really smart person, like a lot of you people

    “But I’m, like, a really smart person. You know, I went to Ivy League schools.”

  31. Manju Says:

    And most of the time he does NOT use “Valley girl” speech in a serious way.

    And every one of those example is about being smart.

    I gather you’re arguing that he’s always joking when he brags about being smart or having a high-IQ, so the inclusion of a valley-girl “like” makes sense. When he’ s being earnest he does not speak like that, so your argument goes.

    So I just googled up a random Trump transcript and searched for “likes”. It took me 3 likes until I found a valley-girl formulation:

    If you’re reading a story about somebody, you don’t know. You assume it’s honest, because it’s like the failing New York Times, which is like so bad. It’s so bad.

    I highlighted the one that counts. The very next “like” turned out to be a valley-girl one too:

    So, he talked about it for like that much, then he goes, “Let’s get back to Charlottesville.”

    I stopped there. Point is, Trump routinely talks in a folksy, scatterbrained, stream-of-consciousness manner…and indeed invokes the valley-girl “like” quite a bit. You can’t effectively signal facetiousness by using words you routinely speak when being serious.

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    Manju:

    You’re ignoring my point about those tweets. Look at them and see what he’s saying in the parts I highlighted. It’s dripping with sarcasm.

    By the way, when I talk I often use “like” in many different ways, but when I write and use it in that Valley Girl way I’m only using it as a joke. In addition, I perceive that use of “like” by Trump in terms of the NY Times as humorous-mocking as well, although he means what he says—that the paper is bad.

    Talking is actually different than writing, even for Donald Trump. His tweets are very strategic. There is no question in my mind about that.

    In some, I think a lot of what you and many others take seriously with Trump—written or spoken—is uttered with more mockery, levity, troll-like exaggeration, etc., than you think.

    Trump DOES think he’s smart and DOES think he’s stable; he’s not joking in that respect. But the “like,” and the “stable genius,” is a joke in that it’s an exaggerated reversal of the criticism that he’s both crazy and stupid.

    What we’re arguing about in those tweets is tone. Tone is often in the eye of the beholder.

  33. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Paying attention to Frum and other self proclaimed human experts is about as beneficial as watching human profit making sports leagues.

  34. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Hussein was the traitor as President. Trum the Troll as President. Makes sense for America.

  35. Ymar Sakar Says:

    If Reagan had said this, everyone would get the joke.

    If Jesus had said this, everyone would get the joke.

    Leftists love to make fun of you and rile ya all up. They see you all as Jesus freak obedient followers that like to lick the hand as a dog, or as Reagan dog lickers.

    If someone is afraid of Cheney, make fun of them by continually mentioning Cheney. If someone is obeys a leader now dead, make that leader into a socket puppet and get them to do your will. If Leftists obey Hussein as their Messiah, tell them that they didn’t get authorization from Hussein.

    This ploy is classic, if a bit overplayed and boring now. The very idea of a human leader is flawed before it was ever baked.

  36. Ariel Says:

    @neo-neocon January 8th, 2018 at 9:14 pm:
    I’m not new to your blog, I’m simply coming back after a long time, and, frankly, little has changed. If you remember the Australian troll that constantly made fun of your name back ought five or six, I was the guy that calmed him down for a time. If you remember the Gates-Crowley affair, I was the guy that offered the alternative view that Gates was within his rights but obnoxious, Crowley should have withdrew, and that Crowley, not having the patience of Job, drew Gates to the porch in order to arrest him. Or you could just ask Yamar Sakar (I think it was Yamarsakar back then). He left a comment years back where he said he even missed me…

    I believe you’re reading into Trump what you want to believe across all his tweets. You know anyone, including you, is capable of doing that. Yes he is smart, so was Jimmy Carter (who had one of or the highest IQ of any president), but he is mercurial, thin-skinned, petty, vindictive, embraces a dichotomy of winners and losers (the driving force behind ‘I’m a billionaire when most estimates say he isn’t), lies like Hillary, and a braggart and a raging narcissist (I added an adjective). View the tweets from that vantage and they aren’t that smart.

    I’m not entering into my view of Trump from 2015 or 2005. I’ve known who this guy was from the 90s or earlier. I read “The Art of the Deal” and tossed it because the personality flaws were rampant. Yes, of course, if people don’t help you going up, then do everything to destroy them once you have the power to do so. That’s so adult.

    What amuses me to no end is that he is the Republican Clinton over sex. And like the feminists, you all just excuse him cuz he’s your guy. I’m not directing that at you, I’m directing that at the hypocrisy of partisanship. It just makes me chuckle that Republicans that clucked over Clinton now embrace a guy that believes he can ‘grab pussy’ because he’s rich. Yes, they did give lip-service to how bad that it is.

    As for deft and daft, “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence…” You ignored that it wasn’t after, as Trump claims, it has always been there. Likely because of that string I gave in my second paragraph. The statement was a lie or willfully ignorant. And, really, like, do you really like the overheated rhetoric based on either? Mira, I try not to make excuses for over-the-top-rhetoric. Lapdogs? Is he fighting the Cold War from the Communist side? (Read me like you do Trump.)

    ““Fake news” is a very meaningful phrase, but it refers to one thing traditionally and another thing as Trump uses it. Traditionally, it meant a story made up totally out of the whole cloth. Trump uses it to mean a story with major errors that are not in his favor.” I left out the rest which sounded too much like confirmation bias (that “consistently against the Right”, when it’s more consistent in going where the story to sell, “I’ve been writing about errors”, none of which addresses how he uses the phrase other than as a erroneous apologetic). How Trump uses it is not “major errors” but whenever it criticizes him (that’s his coinage). Right on, minor error, major error, no difference. Again, you parsed it to favor what you need it do be. He declares ‘fake news’ more often than I change underwear, and 1/3 of men my age have an enlarged prostate. Yes, newspapers make errors, they run with stories not well vetted, but that is not how he is using it. It’s a rhetorical device to dismiss any and everything that is a criticism. Traditionally, ‘fake news’ wasn’t a phrase any of us used except once in a great, great while. it just wasn’t a common phrase. Now, in one campaign cycle, it is overused. Right now I’m hearing Midnight Oil’s song “Short Memories” (the lead singer became a Member of Parliament, then a Minister, but then ‘Blue Sky Mine” is about one of the most egregious violations of worker safety combined with ecological disaster in the Pilbara, so I guess it fits.)

    Does “Trump had run on any party” mean that you considered Trump an outstanding candidate prior to the election? Not just the lesser of two evils, but an outstanding candidate? The SCOTUS, federal judges, foreign policy (which I have to raise an eyebrow to because his foreign policy is catering to autocrats like, really, Putin while infuriating our allies, not to mention embracing a neo-fascist video that put even the British on edge), is all after the fact. My point was would you have voted for him if he were a Democrat? Sorry to say, I don’t think so because of your apologetics. Me. he’s Clinton, Carter, with Nixon. Wrong-headed to the extreme, without any of the knowledge of history that Nixon had.

    Finally, business acumen and it’s ‘smarts’ isn’t directly transferable to statesmanship. It’s a different category. I think we’re watching that unfold.

  37. Ariel Says:

    @ Manju Says: January 9th, 2018 at 11:54 pm
    Me I think you’re right because I see exactly what you see, Valley Girl mannerisms, over and over. Like, like, like followed by ego over ‘smarts’ again and again.

    What Neo is failing to give is that what she sees as ‘dripping in sarcasm’ is subjective. Further, even after acknowledging he’s a narcissist (big time, something she downplays) she interprets a ‘joke about himself’ as an honest act. Does a narcissist honestly joke about himself or does he just pander?

    And notice wither she goes ” He’s smart in a way that’s not bookish, however, and which most academics or people worshipful of that type of intellectual smartness can’t credit or understand.” Except many people can understand that way of smart and still realize it’s severe shortcomings, like, you know, really. a real, profound ignorance of history with all that means, without being worshipful of bookish. Books expand our knowledge beyond what we can directly experience, and what we create as knowledge through only our experience, the Trump problem…I’m damn happy that George W. actually did read books and drew from them, however inarticulate he was in expressing what he knew.

  38. Ariel Says:

    @neo-neocon January 10th, 2018 at 12:14 am
    “By the way, when I talk I often use “like” in many different ways, but when I write and use it in that Valley Girl way I’m only using it as a joke.” Which of course means that because you do then Trump must be doing the exact same thing.

    What Manju and I am saying is that he isn’t you. He is Trump, and he isn’t using it like you do.

  39. Ariel Says:

    And, Neo, for my blurb: “Previously a 44 year long Republican, born in California and living in Arizona, surrounded on all sides by authoritarian conservatives that think only they are Republicans, I made a swift break in November 2016 to Independence so that I could maintain my beliefs in the founding principals of this Republic, none of which does any authoritarian conservative embrace except in caricature, really bad caricature.” I’d add authoritarian liberals, but I haven’t been surrounded by them.

    I think highly of Jeff Flake. I hope he never once used RINO, because that was the beginning of the end for the Republican party, not in power but in substance. Funny thing, then they elected a RINO, confusing a pandering populist with a Republican because he said the right things.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    Ariel:

    He isn’t you, either, nor do you have a clue how he’s using the phrase. No one has a clue except Trump, and maybe even he doesn’t know.

    My opinion of his tone is based on a lot of study and observation of the man and of his tweets, and of his talk—both scripted and unscripted—over a period of decades.

    Of course I could be wrong, as could you.

  41. neo-neocon Says:

    Ariel:

    I knew that there was a commenter here long ago with the moniker “Ariel,” but you have different identifiers than he (or she, I suppose) did.

    All you have to do to find out what I’ve thought of Trump over time is to read the blog and old posts. I’ve certainly written plenty of them. It’s not a mystery. But the summary version is that I have long thought him to be an enormous narcissist, a nasty and vulgar guy, a dirty fighter, untrustworthy, angry, not a conservative, and a habitual liar who was also smart and strategically clever. During the campaign I did not want him to be nominated, and after he was nominated I thought he would lose although I wasn’t 100% certain. After he won I hoped for the best; I had always said that if somehow he got elected I hoped I was wrong about his untrustworthiness and lack of conservatism (I was pretty sure I wasn’t wrong about his narcissism!). As president, he has been a pleasant surprise to me in those ways, but he’s still narcissistic and can be a very nasty guy when he decides to be.

    And what makes you so sure I voted for Trump, even with his running as a Republican? It’s something I announced ahead of time that I would not reveal (even when I was undecided either way), and I never have revealed whether I did or didn’t.

  42. Ariel Says:

    @neo-neocon January 11th, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Exactly. Your take is no better than mine or manju’s because it is all about how we perceive his words. And there’s the problem with his words, which goes back to mercurial, petty, vindictive, thin-skinned, and so on. As well as, in his tweets, words poorly formed. Just thank g*d that Bush didn’t tweet. That poor man is so inarticulate.

  43. Ariel Says:

    @ neo-neocon January 11th, 2018 at 12:59 am

    I’m that same Ariel, period, no matter your identifiers. I may have changed in voice, but 10 years can do that. Funny thing, you had the same problem back then with whether I was male or female because ‘Ariel’. It’s the name of the only British motorcycle marque that produced a four-cylinder for decades, the Gentleman’s Ride, the Ariel Square-Four. That should jog your memory.

    Now, thank you for filling in the past history of your take on Trump. Pretty much my exact take on him going back to “The Art of the Deal”. Pretty much what I thought all the way to the election. After the election, I realized the Republican Party had left me so I went Independent. It’s because…

    You gave all the reasons why. The Party just because of the Charlie Sheen “winning” embraced a guy that makes Clinton an altar boy of impeccable character and unfaltering integrity. How can a party claiming the better of ideals embrace an habitual liar? That’s the problem with his ‘fake news’, he’s a liar and whatever he claims true is too often a lie. The corollary is that what he often claims as false is likely true. That’s not a good choice for president. Habitual liars lie to everyone about anything.

    He has not been a pleasant surprise for me. He has simply been ‘he can’t get everything wrong’. He’s wrong-headed about illegal immigration and its solution; his approach to foreign affairs is a guy with a hammer and every ally a nail; his moves on deregulation invokes Chesterton’s fence.

    Appointments to either SCOTUS or lower federal courts just make me chuckle because both Republicans and Democrats think they got the power cuz they got their boys in, then those boys vote just the opposite. Remember, the Judiciary is independent.

    What I do put stock in is backing Roy Moore, a miscreant that was kicked out of the Judiciary, was it twice?, because he just can’t follow the law, and the pardon of Arpaio (I live in Maricopa County), done too early and done for another miscreant that just couldn’t follow the law. Don’t misunderstand, I know and embrace that the President has absolute power to grant a pardon and that protocol does not constrain that power. But a lot of us in this county are pissed that he did it before sentencing because it gives Arpaio the claim that he was never guilty. So he’s now running for the Senate.

    I’m sorry, but you doing the coy shtick about who you voted for leaves me cold. So I’ll call, I’m sure you voted for Trump. Prove me wrong. Oh, wait, you can’t reveal that…

    I without hesitation voted as a Republican for Hillary by weighing everything you wrote about Trump in your reply, and everything about Hillary, and she came out the lesser of two evils, and that sucked. Big time because the Republican party nominated the greater of the two evils.

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    Ariel:

    By the way, Trump did not back Moore originally. He backed establishment candidate Strange:

    President Donald Trump supported Moore’s opponent Strange during the primary runoff, and almost the whole national Republican establishment wanted Strange to win. Trump’s efforts on behalf of Strange included a rally in Alabama, plus tweeting…

    Strange maintained his endorsement from Trump, who campaigned for him in Huntsville during the closing days of the campaign.Trump’s endorsement of Strange sparked criticism among his own base, many of whom preferred Moore and detested Strange for his seemingly establishment feel. Several notable people close to Trump broke from the President to endorse Moore, including HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon. Despite the endorsement of Trump, Strange was handily defeated by Roy Moore in the runoff.

    Trump backed Strange even though he was criticized for it by his “base.” After the revelations about Moore, Trump said he should drop out if guilty. It seemed to me that Trump was angry at the way things had gone in Alabama; he had sensed Moore was trouble for many reasons and wanted Strange to win. Finally, when it was clear that Moore would not drop out, Trump endorsed him about a week before the election, and never went to the state to campaign for him.

    I don’t see any problem with any of that. I can’t stand Moore; couldn’t stand him even before the allegations. I found the allegations to be weak factually—perhaps 50/50 that they’re true (I’m speaking of the more serious allegations, not the ones that he dated young women of legal age when he was a man in his early thirties, which I don’t dispute nor do I especially care about that aspect). But of course Trump—or any other Republican, or any Democrat if placed in the same position—ended up endorsing Moore, in an attempt to keep the same narrow majority in the Senate rather than narrow it down further.

  45. Ariel Says:

    neo,

    Sorry, but I don’t think it important that he backed Strange first nor that he said if Moore was guilty of hitting on underage girls (16 is the age of consent, unless they have a Romeo law) he should drop out. He should never have endorsed him for any reason because of Moore’s past judicial history. That alone should have been enough to for him to remain silent.

    I do understand the need for maintaining numbers in the two Houses, but sometimes a savvy man will just let it go. One of the things I see about Trump is that he’s savvy in business politics, but not in national or international politics. Pandering to the base is neither after election. Thus the brouhaha over shithole nations. People from those shithole nations may really respect this nation they come to while Norwegians may not.

    Finally, I was a bit hard on you about being ‘coy’. I apologize.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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