“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron” (H.L. Mencken).
And as our thoughts have now turned to Mencken, he once said that democracy was the art of running the zoo from the monkey house. He also said that he loved his country the way a small boy loved the circus. As this political season continues to unfold, one begins to understand those sentiments, although it must be confessed that there is a touch of melancholy in it. It is not the demise we really expected for a once great republic. It is as though Gandalf had been trapped by Saruman in the tower, and then two shadowy figures came out of a hidden room to stand on either side of Saruman — let us call them Larry and Moe — and then Saruman said nyuck nyuck nyuck.
For — let us be frank — Donald Trump is a flimflam artist of the highest order, and he really ought to be an inspiration that establishes a host of Menckenesque careers. But alas — when Mencken’s dire prophecy finally comes true, there will be no one there with the requisite gifts to get across the gaudiness of the actual accomplishment. We are talking about a bunko game run by what Nostradamus called the Hustler at the End of Days. And as in all truly successful sting operations, the patsy cannot know that he has been taken, and thus it will be that any aspiring Menckens will simply be throwing their pithy adjectives into the stiff headwinds coming out of the void. Shall we end with an adjectival whimper and not with an adjectival bang?
But in the meantime, while some people might still be listening, let me strew a few bits of punditry out my hat. First, the endorsement of Trump yesterday by Chris Christie was truly revelatory — the “establishment lane” is the first one getting bought up.
Second, between now and the convention, the designated opposition to Trump should be established by the voters, and not by the druthers of the “should have been a contender” pundits. Rubio is somehow still in it without having won anything, and Cruz, in a far stronger position, keeps getting told to step aside for Rubio on the basis of . . . what exactly? There is a very simple test. Within just a few weeks, we will have had primaries in both Texas and Florida. How will Cruz do against Trump in Texas, and how will Rubio do against Trump in Florida? Not just a victory, although that is mandatory, but the point spread also matters. If Cruz beats Trump by double digits and Rubio beats him by one percent, Rubio needs to suspend his campaign, and endorse Cruz.
Third, keep in mind that Trump is erratic enough to do unpredictable things in any direction. He is the kind of guy who could nominate Cruz for the Supreme Court with a tweet that said, “Cruz for SCOTUS. Ted’s great, always thought so. Real fighter.” In a Trump administration (what am I saying?!), the occasional good thing might happen, but let it be known that I would still want the White House physician on constant stand-by with a pillow case full of meds.
Fourth, in case anybody was wondering, it will not be sufficient to defeat Trump. Given the nature and extent of the support he has already garnered, if he is simply defeated in the Republican primary, he clearly will go third party. And that is why Trump has to be destroyed, and not barely defeated. Now when I say destroyed — I do need to say this because some readers of my blog are metaphorically-challenged — I am not talking about character assassination or actual assassination or dirty tricks or anything untoward. I am not talking about making anything up. I am simply talking about total and complete exposure.
At the remaining Republican debates, every candidate needs to show up in a suit from Trump’s clothing line, manufactured in Mexico. One of them needs to take off the jacket and show us all the label. Trump’s followers like what they think is his “tell it like it is” bluntness, political correctness be damned, and they like the wall that Mexico will supposedly pay for. Now to be clear, I have no problem with manufacturing suits in Mexico. The problem is the con, not the clothes.
The last debate was one in which Rubio and Cruz drew blood. But that is not sufficient. What is necessary is to pursue a line of attack that reveals to Trump’s supporters that they have been the patsies in an ongoing con. If that successfully happens, Trump’s candidacy will go from the Hindenburg to the former-Hindenburg. If that does not happen, then Katie, the door is over there. You may bar it any time now.
But alas, it is possible that no one will listen to me. This has happened before. I saw on Twitter the other day that someone had called for the retirement of the “emperor has no clothes” metaphor, saying that everything that could be done with it has already been done with it, and so give it a rest already. But as I think about our culture spiraling downward into open farce, along with the prospect of this not ending any time soon, one thought did occur to me. The emperor has no close.