April 29th, 2016

Harris Wofford: the second time around

Democratic bigwig and former US senator Harris Wofford, 90, is engaged to be married for the second time.

To a man.

A man who is 50 years younger than Wofford.

It’s that last part that’s probably the shock to most people:

Wofford is well aware that it is the age difference, more than his fiance’s gender that has caused jaws to plop and unleashed a fusillade of social media blasts.

“Everyone has a certain kind of amusement when there’s a big age difference,” he says, seated in a rattan chair in the apartment that the couple, who have been together for 15 years, have shared for the past six. “But that’s a part of the magic of love. It really can bring people across a bridge, or build a bridge that you can cross.”

Wofford’s wife of nearly 50 years died in 1996, and he met spouse-to-be Matthew Charlton on a Fort Lauderdale beach five years later, when Wofford was 75 and Charlton 25. They’ve been together for fifteen years now, so this relationship has stood the test of time.

Wofford refuses to characterize it sexually:

He dismisses the assigning of labels, or “pinning,” as he calls it.

“Did I ever consider myself gay? No. It’s what I think should not be asked of people,” he says. An Old World-style romantic, he discusses the relationship in terms of love rather than sexuality.

“I think this is an example of the most private matter. Most of us are intrigued with the sexuality of friends or others. Perhaps with some close friends you want to talk about this,” he says. “When people want to talk abut their sexuality, either go to confession or be happy about it. I don’t measure myself or my friends by their sexuality.”

I’m with him on that one.

[ADDENDUM: I put this in the comments section, but I thought I’d add it here as well.

The story of Wofford and Charlton reminds me somewhat of Death in Venice, albeit with a far happier ending [emphasis mine]:

Death in Venice is a novella written by the German author Thomas Mann, first published in 1912 as Der Tod in Venedig. The work presents a great writer suffering writer’s block who visits Venice and is liberated, uplifted, and then increasingly obsessed, by the sight of a stunningly beautiful youth. Though he never speaks to the boy, much less touches him, the writer finds himself drawn deep into ruinous inward passion; meanwhile, Venice, and finally, the writer himself, succumb to a cholera plague. The novella is powerfully intertextual, with the chief sources being first the connection of erotic love to philosophical wisdom traced in Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus, and second the Nietzschean contrast between the god of restraint and shaping form, Apollo, and the god of excess and passion, Dionysus.

The boy in the story (Tadzio) is based on a boy (Władzio or Tadzio, nicknames for the Polish name Władysław or Tadeusz respectively) Mann had seen during a visit to Venice in 1911…

Aschenbach checks into his hotel, where at dinner he sees an aristocratic Polish family at a nearby table. Among them is an adolescent boy of about fourteen years in a sailor suit. Aschenbach, startled, realizes that the boy is supremely beautiful, like a Greek sculpture. His older sisters, by contrast, are so severely dressed that they look like nuns. Later, after spying the boy and his family at a beach, Aschenbach overhears the lad’s name, Tadzio, and conceives what he first interprets as an uplifting, artistic interest…

Over the next days and weeks, Aschenbach’s interest in the beautiful boy develops into an obsession. He watches him constantly and secretly follows him around Venice. One evening, the boy directs a charming smile at him, looking, Aschenbach thinks, like Narcissus smiling at his own reflection. Disconcerted, Aschenbach rushes outside, and in the empty garden whispers aloud, “I love you!”

Aschenbach ends up dying of cholera in Venice. The real “Tadzio” who inspired the character in the book was Władysław Moes, who did not realize he was the source until many years later.]

April 28th, 2016

Those baby ballerinas

Here’s a piece of ballet history that isn’t all that well-known anymore—the so-called “baby ballerinas” of the 1930s.

I love these old clips. They’re blurry and short, but you get an idea of how much ballet has changed since then. Not all the changes are good, as demonstrated by the passages from “Les Sylphides,” the ballet that begins around 1:44 in this video.

I know “Les Sylphides,” having performed in it at an arts camp when I was 14. The choreography is relatively easy. It’s no technical tour de force, but it requires the utmost in style in order to recreate the delicate and gossamer atmosphere of the romantic era. This is the sort of thing that young dancers are usually especially poor at, but in this clip the three “babies” acquit themselves admirably in that respect:

I wrote another post once that featured former “baby ballerina” Toumanva in the 1950s, in the full glory of her mature sultriness, dancing with the great Gene Kelly. Enjoy:

April 28th, 2016

Those establishment elites

The attack on the GOP from within (that is, the civil war as opposed to the separate attack from the left) relies on words such as “elites” and “establishment.” But those are classic leftist words—as pejoratives anyway, with “establishment” being a leftist word that I recall being popular in the 60s, along with “the system” (which I don’t hear that much about nowadays, along with “the man”).

It’s all another example of how leftist activist techniques are used by the alt-right (some of whom are actual leftists), as well as by talk show hosts and by other pundits, to stir up the “masses” (another leftist word) against the GOP. Now the GOP has its deep flaws, but it’s been nowhere near as bad as people say, and not even remotely as bad as the Democrats have been.

Even Newt Gingrich, who has been an “elite” for many decades, has gotten into the “elites” act (the first three quotes are Gingrich’s tweets; the rest of it is from Allahpundit at Hot Air):

“Washington elites mock Trump for mispronouncing Tanzania. They don’t get it. He said the most important word correctly: America. He gets it.”

“This was a serious foreign policy speech by Trump. It is worth reading and thinking about. It will be ridiculed by Washington elites.”

“Elites have to attack Trump’s foreign policy speech because he is challenging their core values and failures.”

Newt farking Gingrich, lecturing other people about their elitism. He’s an academic by trade. He’s been a Beltway fixture for nearly 40 years, half that time as a congressman and Speaker and half as a regular in the conservative media complex. He’s a rich man thanks to his businesses and the lecture circuit. There’s not a political cocktail party in America that he couldn’t get into. He might as well have a recurring part on “House of Cards.” If Newt’s not “elite,” who is? I don’t mean that rhetorically; I’m asking sincerely. If Newt Gingrich no longer qualifies as elite, is there anyone so elite that the stain of elitism can’t be expunged even by slobbering regularly over Trump? I’ll spot you Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but their elite status is partly a product of their positions…Similarly, is there such a thing as a populist in good standing who’s anti-Trump? Mike Lee, for instance, got elected to the Senate six years ago when grassroots tea partiers tossed out Bob Bennett on his ear at the state convention. He’s been a firm anti-establishment conservative ever since. He’s also a Cruz ally and a Trump opponent, as principled conservatives tend to be. Does Lee still qualify as populist or is he, if not an elitist himself, some sort of elite stooge? Like I say, we should all get straight on the rules.

If Gingrich had merely praised Trump’s speech, I’d have no problem with it. It’s that “elites” business that is so absurd, coming from Gingrich’s mouth.

Leaving Gingrich aside, I’ve often compared this rage at the “elites” and the “establishment” to getting angry at one parent when another has abused you—that is, getting even more angry at the parent you think has failed to protect you than against the abuser. To me it’s another indication of the triumph of emotion and demagoguery over reason. There’s an awful lot of that going around.

This campaign season has been sad but edifying. Fortunately for me, I never idealized the leaders of the right, nor the press, nor pundits, nor bloggers, nor the left. But still, they have all managed to exceed my negative expectations.

[NOTE: It’s not a new, post-Trump position of mine to feel that this war on the “establishment” is destructive to the right. I’ve felt this way for many years, and written about it many times, for example here, here, here, here, and here.]

[ADDENDUM: In wondering who Trump would choose as VP, I think it will be a political insider to counter the idea that Trump’s not serious and not experienced. It occurs to me it could be Newt, or perhaps Jeff Sessions. But there’s a fair amount of competition for that prize, including of course Chris Christie. But if Trump decided to go with a fellow outsider, Ben Carson would make sense, if Trump’s courting the black vote.]

April 28th, 2016

Cruz as Lucifer: not that it matters…

…but since everyone’s chattering about John Boehner’s description of Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump, I thought I’d opine.

First, the quotes:

When it comes to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, even a few months’ time out of Congress has done little to lessen former House Speaker John Boehner’s contempt for his former Capitol Hill colleague.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner told an audience at Stanford on Wednesday night, according to the Stanford Daily. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In fact, Wednesday night was not the first occasion that Boehner has compared Cruz to “Lucifer,” using the epithet last month during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

As far as Donald Trump goes, Boehner remarked that he had golfed with Trump for years and that the two are “texting buddies”…

Now, in a logical world, that would be the kiss of death for Trump among his GOPe-establishment-hating supporters. John Boehner, RINO extraordinaire, the man they love to hate and are very happy to have seen driven from his position in the House, hates Ted Cruz (no doubt in part because Ted Cruz called his fellow GOPe leader McConnell a liar on the Senate floor). And Boehner’s buddy-buddy with Trump.

But it won’t be the kiss of death. It will be spun as more evidence of Cruz’s perfidy and Trump’s collegiality.

For what it’s worth, Boehner has called Cruz “Lucifer” before. And the reason he has been saying this—at least according to Rep. Peter King and this article—was because of Cruz’s attempt at a government shutdown.

A government shutdown. The very thing so many of Trump’s supporters profess to have wanted, and are mad at the GOP establishment for not supporting.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

By the way, Boehner’s choice of the term “Lucifer” is interesting. It’s a bit archaic and literary, and has some interesting connotations that are not altogether negative:

Lucifer is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word הֵילֵל in Isaiah 14:12. This word, transliterated hêlêl or heylel, occurs once in the Hebrew Bible and according to the KJV-based Strong’s Concordance means “shining one, light-bearer”. The Septuagint renders הֵילֵל in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn”, for the morning star. The word Lucifer is taken from the Latin Vulgate, which translates הֵילֵל as lucifer, meaning “the morning star, the planet Venus”, or, as an adjective, “light-bringing”.

Later Christian tradition came to use the Latin word for “morning star”, lucifer, as a proper name (“Lucifer”) for the devil; as he was before his fall. As a result, “‘Lucifer’ has become a by-word for Satan/the Devil in the church and in popular literature”, as in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, Joost van den Vondel’s Lucifer and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. However, the Latin word never came to be used almost exclusively, as in English, in this way, and was applied to others also, including Jesus. The image of a morning star fallen from the sky is generally believed among scholars to have a parallel in Canaanite mythology.

[ADDENDUM: Here’s a 2013 article about one of those games, complete with Trump quotes:

The golf outing took place at Trump’s course in Bedminster, N.J., according to several sources familiar with the pairing.

Trump, who funded what he dubbed an investigation into President Barack Obama’s citizenship, has had nice things to say about Boehner of late. He told the conservative National Review in June that he knows Boehner “very well” and said, “I like John Boehner a lot.”

“I think he’s got a very, very tough job, because he’s got factions within his own party that are pretty diametrically opposed to each other, but I think he’s got the right temperament, and I think he’s a terrific guy,” Trump told National Review. “He’s got to hold things together, and he’s been doing that.”

Trump has helped Boehner-aligned groups. He cut a $100,000 check to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Boehner.]

April 27th, 2016

Andrew C. McCarthy calls Trump’s foreign policy speech “incoherent and shallow”

Here’s the article.

McCarthy also points out tremendous inconsistencies in Trump’s present and past positions, inconsistencies Trump doesn’t even attempt to explain away. Trump must think the American public illogical and shallow, and he just might have a point there.

I also assume that Trump’s speech was written by speechwriters. Nothing wrong with that; politicians do it all the time. But the disconnect between Trump’s speeches and his own ability to describe the details of his positions represents a canyon-like gap.

[Hat tip: commenter “expat.”]

April 27th, 2016

Hastert sentenced

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has received a fifteen-month prison sentence for the bank withdrawal charges involving the payment of hush money to one of his sexual abuse victims (which I had discussed previously here).

They can’t get him on the child molestation charges because the statute of limitations has run out. But he has confessed to those acts of molestation and apologized to the victims.

What a mess.

I am always astounded at the narcissism and/or denial that allows a person with this sort of history to go into politics. It’s the last thing I would think a person would do if that person had a history of child molestation. It shows a disconnect from reality that is profound.

I wrote “narcissism” because someone like Hastert probably feels that his fabulousness makes him immune to consequences. I wrote “denial” because some criminals (any kind of criminal, but especially those guilty of sexual crimes) are able to repress or suppress their own acknowledgment from themselves. They put the memory in a little box and place it high up on a shelf, and as the years go by and their secret is safe, it recedes further and further in their mind and they feel safer and safer that the truth will never come out.

Until, in Hastert’s case, it did.

April 27th, 2016

Carly VP announcement? [UPDATE]

UPDATE 6:20:

It’s official:

Here’s the earlier post:

All signs indicate that the upcoming announcement from Ted Cruz will be that he’s chosen Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

Perhaps it will help him. Perhaps not.

I’ve always liked Fiorina. But she only got a little traction back when there were 200 candidates (or however many started out), and she faded. She’s from California, and although she used to be popular with the Republicans in that state, I don’t know whether that popularity will hold or will matter.

Note I’m not making predictions here—except for the “Carly as Cruz’s running mate” one. And that’s not my prediction; it’s just about everybody’s prediction who is supposedly in the know.

Does anyone else have a strong feeling of surrealism today? I’ve known for a long time—months—that Trump is the likeliest GOP nominee. I’ve known for a long time—and still know—that his nomination is not a foregone conclusion, so I’m not giving up on other possibilities. I’ve also known—-probably ever since the fall—that the likelihood is that the Trump candidacy may have dealt a mortal blow to the GOP’s chances this year whoever is their nominee, because the rift that already existed in the party has widened and deepened. There are an enormous number of people on both sides, Cruz and Trump, who will not vote for the other one if the other one happens to end up the nominee. And although there are rifts among the Democrats too, I just don’t see those rifts as having quite the same effect in terms of damaging numbers.

So I’m not sure why today feels so surreal. Maybe it’s how the entire MSM is treating Trump as the “presumptive” (his word) nominee, and seems quite happy about it for their own reasons (ratings, a probable Hillary victory in November, and sticking it to the hated Ted). That’s not really new, though. Nor am I watching TV, but I read about it. Maybe it’s just the magnitude of the numbers in last night’s primary that are so sobering—what it says about America, and about so many GOP voters.

But the surrealistic feeling is probably just cumulative, as the chances for anything other than Trump have slowly, slowly dimmed over time, although they’re not extinguished. What’s even more galling is that the chances of Hillary Clinton’s not being elected president seem ever more distant to me, too. This was a race the GOP was positioned to win. I don’t see much, if any, chance of that now.

Trump fans do. They think their guy will trounce her, and that’s a significant part of the reason many of them have been voting for him. I see that as a delusion unsupported by any evidence whatsoever ((see this and this, as well as the NOTE* below). . I would never say it’s impossible, but I see it as highly highly unlikely. And now that that GOP civil war has gotten so heated, I think Cruz’s chances of beating her if he’s the nominee are not too much better. I think Rubio could have done it easily, but that ship sailed quite some time ago.

Oops! I guess I made some predictions there, after all.

[NOTE * In addition from the evidence of those polls from a few months ago, I’m unaware of any newer information on the subject that changes a thing. I looked at a couple of recent polls, and virtually all of them show Trump losing to Hillary, sometimes by huge margins. When I looked at the details within those polls, I couldn’t find any information about how Trump does with Democrats (or how Cruz does with Democrats, for that matter). The only relevant information was in one recent poll which compared Hillary’s ratings on a number of issues with Trump’s ratings on those same issues, in the populace as a whole (Democrats and Republicans together), and she did much better than Trump on every single measure—sometimes much much better, and that includes honesty.

Yes, yes, that could change in Trump’s favor. But in about ten months of Trump’s campaigning and building his support among GOP primary voters (a different kettle of fish than voters in the general, and his support even among GOP primary voters isn’t very high compared to most primary frontrunners at this point in a campaign), it hasn’t done so, and I don’t see it happening. Most people are very very familiar with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and I don’t see much wiggle room there.]

April 27th, 2016

Who are those “evangelicals” and how are they voting?

This is an instructive article about people who self-describe as “evangelicals”:

Thanks to data compiled by the Association of Religious Data Archives, we have a very good sense of how many people in a given locale regularly attend church. By this attendance metric, the geographic heart of American religiosity isn’t the Southeast, but the middle part of the country — from Texas and Oklahoma through Iowa and the Dakotas. When it comes to church participation, many parts of the South fare no better than liberal enclaves in in the Northeast…

The South Carolina election results suggest that practicing Christians in the state voted differently than their peers who attend church less regularly. Take, for instance, one of Trump’s strongholds, the area in and around Barnwell County, near the central part of the state. Trump won nearly 43 percent of Barnwell County, while Cruz collected less than 20 percent. Unsurprisingly, church-attendance rates in Barnwell lag behind those in the rest of the state. Compare that to Greenville County, which has one of the highest rates of church attendance in the state: It was one of Trump’s worst counties. The pattern generally holds across South Carolina: Cruz does well where people regularly go to church; Trump does better where they don’t…

The problem is that Cruz may depend on a group of religious voters who increasingly spurn church services and, consequently, traditional social conservatives like him.

That was written back in late February, and that’s the way things have played out, I believe. Yesterday’s primaries in southern New England and mid-Atlantic states were not in evangelical strongholds, and it’s difficult to know the characteristics of those identifying as “evangelical” there, but this is what exit polls indicated:

Barely more than four in 10 voters in the three states with exit polls were evangelical, 14 points off the average in primaries to date. And, remarkably, Trump beat Cruz by more than 25 points in this group, among his best performances among evangelicals. They split their votes between Trump and Cruz, on average, in previous contests.

My guess is that evangelicals in these states are not especially typical of evangelicals as a whole, but that’s just a guess.

At any rate, a political divide along the lines of “churchgoing vs. non-chuchgoing” makes sense to me. It would be something analogous to the political divide between observant (more conservative) Jews and secular (more liberal) Jews.

[NOTE: Here’s a previous post I wrote about Trump and his habit of questioning the sincerity of the religious beliefs of others, particularly whether Ted Cruz can really be an evangelical. I have no idea whether this accusation of Trump’s got traction, but it’s possible.]

April 27th, 2016

Majority of young people say they don’t “support” capitalism

Millenials aren’t keen on capitalism:

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

…Just 33 percent said they supported socialism.

It depends on what the meaning of “support” is, because I would guess—and I would place a rather large bet on this—that they “support” capitalism to the tune of buying plenty of goods and services at market prices, and having jobs with salaries that are determined by the markets and the employer (except, of course, for minimum wage). In other words, they put their money where their mouth isn’t.

But “capitalism”? That must be the province of old guys like this:


I would have loved to have seen the pollsters ask the respondents what capitalism is (could be a multiple-choice question) and see what the answers might be, because I have a feeling that a lot of them wouldn’t know. Then again, I don’t think the pollsters themselves know, if this is any indication:

John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work.

“They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”

Della Volpe himself seems to have no idea what capitalism is, if he thinks it includes the idea of “fairness” to people “left out despite their hard work.” Left out? Does that mean they’re not receiving wages? Does that mean they’re not receiving wages that are keyed to some abstract concept of “fairness” imposed by someone-or-other (who, if not the government)? The amount of muddled thinking there is discouraging.

Here’s more:

“The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” said Zach Lustbader, a senior at Harvard involved in conducting the poll, which was published Monday. For those who grew up during the Cold War, capitalism meant freedom from the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes. For those who grew up more recently, capitalism has meant a financial crisis from which the global economy still hasn’t completely recovered.

Ah, so capitalism, with everything it has given people around the world, should be immune from financial crises? I really don’t understand this insistence on some sort of ideal world where there could be a system that doesn’t involve unfairness, periodic crises, and the like. It may just be that capitalism has worked too well to cushion us against the realities of life, so well that people expect the moon of it or they fail to “support” it.

There’s no reason to limit the discussion to millennials, either, because only people in the US over 50 these days seem to “support” capitalism, according to other surveys.

But back to this most recent survey and young people’s ideas about what might be a better system, as well as what people have a “right” to and the role of government in all that:

On specific questions about how best to organize the economy, for example, young people’s views seem conflicted. Just 27 percent believe government should play a large role in regulating the economy, the Harvard poll found, and just 30 percent think the government should play a large role in reducing income inequality. Only 26 percent said government spending is an effective way to increase economic growth

Yet 48 percent agreed that “basic health insurance is a right for all people.” And 47 percent agreed with the statement that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them.”

So, to summarize: they don’t like capitalism, but they’re not keen on the alternative of more government regulation, except when they are.

[Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.]

April 26th, 2016

It’s another big primary day

[UPDATE below.]

I have my usual feeling of dread about it.

This will almost certainly be a very big day for Trump because of the states involved: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—that is, Southern New England and some mid-Atlantic states (see, I remember my grade-school geography). Trump is very popular among the Republicans in these states, which have been reliably blue in presidential elections for many cycles.

I realize that decisive Trump victories today are unlikely to change the projection regarding the delegate total at the convention, because decisive Trump victories are expected and have been factored in already. Trump has a good chance of getting to the magic number on the first ballot, but also a pretty good chance of missing it. I refuse to make predictions; I just don’t know.

Here’s a thread to discuss the primaries, or really anything else you’d like.


Trump’s victory was huge. He may lose a few delegates, but just a few. It’s demoralizing for all Cruz supporters (at this point, that includes me), and I believe for anyone who wants Hillary Clinton to lose the election.

For me, if the GOP nominee is Trump, I’m reduced to the following hope: that if he wins the general election he shows the type of character, judgment, principles, and respect for the Constitution that he has never, never ever, even come close to displaying in his entire life.

April 26th, 2016

Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations

Let’s go to something timeless: classical music.

Although “timing” has a lot to do with it. To wit, pianist Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach.

For a while during the mid-80s Gould was a fascination of mine. I happened upon a biography in my local library, and thought it might be of interest even though I had only a vague notion of who Gould was. So I read about Gould before I ever heard him play.

That may seem a rather odd introduction to a performing musician of great renown, but it made me extremely curious, particularly the description of Gould as irresistibly humming along to the music, a singing habit that he tried to get rid of but could not, so it had to be somewhat blocked in the final product.

The first thing I listened to was his signature piece The Goldberg Variations, in the 1955 recording which had made his name as a very young man. It is impressively fast and fluid, and quite lovely (it’s long, so if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing right now just listen to a bit):

I grew fond of it. And then I heard the 1981 version, recorded not long before Gould died at the age of 50. It’s much slower, and I immediately liked it better, although there’s a lot of difference of opinion among Gould aficionados on that issue:

To me, the first version goes by in a whirring blur. It’s impressive in terms of showing off Gould’s technique, but it’s more shallow, skitting along the surface in a mad rush, impetuously youthful. The later version has focus and depth, and you can hear each line with extraordinary clarity. No matter how slow the tempo gets, Gould manages to draw it out beautifully and meaningfully, giving it its full due.

It turns out that Gould much preferred version two, as well. I suppose that makes perfect sense; why else re-record it? Here’s an interview with Gould about the two versions:

Gould was an eccentric who was not to everyone’s taste. But he was a deeply intelligent, one-of-a-kind musician, who could explain everything he did and knew exactly what he was doing.

April 26th, 2016

It bears repeating: Trump is neither Dole, nor McCain, nor Romney

Commenter “K-E” wrote this today:

I know many of you on here cannot stand Trump, but I’ve felt that way about Dole, McCain, and Romney, yet I was willing to let go of my dislike and get behind these guys anyway.

K-E is not alone. I’ve read this sentiment over and over and over, on many blogs and in many comments. It makes a certain tit-for-tat sense—or at least it seems to.

But it doesn’t actually make sense to me. I pointed out why in this previous post, but it occurs to me that it might be time to reiterate the points I made there:

Many Trump supporters also write things like, “You forced me to vote for Dole, Bush, McCain, and Romney, because they were the nominees. So now you’d better vote for Trump if he’s the nominee unless you want to be called out for the hypocrite you are.” Leaving aside the fact that it’s not possible to force someone to vote for a particular candidate (short of holding a gun to the person’s head and going into the voting both with him), are there parallels here?

I don’t think so. Trump is not just a candidate with whom people differ on policy items, or think is too conservative or not conservative enough or whatever it was that people didn’t like about the aforementioned Gang of Four, he represents a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. This is no ordinary disagreement between the more moderate and more conservative wings of the party; this a difference more profound.

Here are a few reasons why Trump’s candidacy isn’t business as usual:

(1) Never having held any public office at any level, Trump has no record to look to and no experience in office-holding or governing.
(2) Trump has a history of supporting Democrats and has called himself a liberal on most issues, and if he’s a bona fide political changer he’s certainly never explained his change (unlike, for example, Reagan, who worked for conservative causes for decades after his political change, and then held office for many years at the governor level).
(3) There are multiple character issues with Trump that are well-known and dramatic and go to the heart of whether he has anything like the temperament required to be president.
(4) Trump often shows little grasp of policy issues when speaking, and is inconsistent on a host of subjects, putting out proposals and almost immediately walking them back or modifying them considerably.
(5) Trump has leveled an extremely serious charge against the previous Republican president (Bush lied!!), one that heretofore was only offered by the far left.
(6) Trump has shown a marked tendency towards strongman rule, with him as the strongman.
(7) Trump is not supported by the majority of Republican voters; he has a plurality only, and a lot of his votes seem to come in the primaries from Democrats (who may or may not actually support him in the general).

These are qualitatively different objections than the objections to previous candidates and nominees. In fact, a good argument can be made that someone as far outside a particular party as Trump is would ordinarily run Independent or third-party, and that his Republican candidacy can be likened to a hostile takeover. Whether people who think that way are alarmists is unknown, but what is certainly true is that Trump is a very, very different candidate.

I will add that Trump is the first candidate in memory who is pretty open about his disdain and dislike for the party within which he’s running, and for whom he wishes to become leader and standard bearer.

Or maybe I missed the part where Dole, Romney, and McCain were trying to destroy the GOP. That stated goal is the main motivation for many of Trump’s supporters, who are often quite open about it. So some sort of equation with the candidacies of Dole, Romney, or McCain seems absurd.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if Trump is nominated, no one on the right should vote for him. I haven’t made my mind up yet what I would do, because it depends on weighing one possible/probable evil (Clinton) against another possible/probable evil (Trump), and to determine which would be worse, as well as figuring out how far you’re willing to go to compromise your own principles in the deal.

There’s nothing easy about it, at least not for me. Many days I’m at least partly with Matt Walsh on this:

We should also note the staggering hypocrisy of Trump fans insisting we vote for Trump, should he win the primary, “because you have to support the nominee.” These are the same people who’ve spent months telling us the GOP needs to be “burned down.” So the Republican Party ought to be demolished, but if Trump is its nominee, we should cancel the demolition plans and obsequiously bow to the party again? No, you can’t have it both ways, friend. You want the Republican Party reduced to rubble? Well, if Trump gets the nod, you’ll get your wish. And the rest of us will remember that it was your wish, not ours, and the next decade of Democrat rule will be on your shoulders.

I say “at least partly” because I don’t think all Trump supporters are of the “burn it down” variety. But a lot are, an awful lot. And I repeat that there’s no analogy with Dole or McCain or Romney, who may have been too moderate and “establishment” for your tastes but who were not trying to destroy their own party. The GOP is not a suicide pact, when I last checked, even though it sometimes acts like one.

About Me

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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