On Sidestepping the Mega-Bleh

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One of the things that policy wonks need to realize is that politics isn’t always about what they call politics. There are the policy aspects, to be sure. What is the plan on paper? And there are the character issues, that’s another thing. How many closets, how many skeletons? Then there is the matter of simple craft competence. Can he execute?

A man who would apologize for his hair would apologize for anything . . .
A man who would apologize for his hair would apologize for anything . . .

When you look at an individual candidate, you have to gauge how these things are combined in him. Is the policy great, but his competence is underwhelming? Is the policy mediocre, but the competence high? Or is the policy grand and the competence is high, but you are pretty sure that it will all disintegrate in a flurry of news stories involving more than the right number of floozies, which would be zero?

But there is another thing to factor into politics, a thing which I believe help explains Trump’s popularity. Please note that I am not offering any moral commendations here. I am just trying to understand why Trump is riding high in the polls, despite what ought to be happening. I say this still convinced that he is going to crash and burn at some point, but that is another discussion for another time. If he doesn’t crash and burn, that will require explanation. And if he does crash and burn, how he got airborne in the first place would still require explanation.

This “thing” is what I would call a cultural moment reaction. People are sick unto death of politicians who are as dull as dishwater, who are relentlessly supine, and who allow themselves to be steered by the apology police. That combo is standard operating procedure for our rulers, our celebrities, our athletes, or anybody else who shows up on television — and it is all just simply mega-bleh.

Along comes Trump. He is entertaining, if nothing else. Yes, there is a deep fremdschämen aspect to it, and it is kind of gruesome. But nevertheless, it can be filed under “entertaining.”

The other two elements are important as well. Trump always punches back immediately, and he simply will not apologize for stuff. Because of his stiff refusal, period, to do anything like that, the media and his opponents don’t have any countermeasures. They don’t know what to do. Nothing works.

Now Trump is fatally flawed as a candidate. But there are nevertheless lessons here for those who aren’t.

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Malachi
Malachi
7 years ago

Conservatives and Republicans–not necessarily the same group, you understand–have LONG been accused of being spineless wimps incapable of standing up to the Liberals and Democrats–usually redundant terms. I agree that many are fascinated by someone displaying what might be described as chutzpah, but if it’s fremdschämen chutzpah, I’m not certain what you have, but it certainly isn’t English. Anyway, it IS an admirable trait, being able to stand solidly in the winds of opposition and have not one hair of your massive “do” misplaced. We used to call folks like that “men.” Now we are surprised, amazed, and sometimes embarrassed… Read more »

Evan
Evan
7 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

“but if it’s fremdschämen chutzpah, I’m not certain what you have, but it certainly isn’t English.”

This was very Wilsonian. Well said! :)

Tim Harris
Tim Harris
7 years ago
Reply to  Evan

Ich denke daß weder Du noch Du noch Herr Wilson spricht ein Wort Deutsch. Nur eine Vermutung.

jillybean
jillybean
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Harris

Ich bin froh, dass es ist Babelfish. Ansonsten, ich hätte nicht Sie verstanden

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
7 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Eine weise Frau weißt, wenn sie ein Werkzeug benutzen muß.

(Thanks to 30 year old rusty German, Google translate, character map, and a conjugation tool to double check.)

jillybean
jillybean
7 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

It is a sad commentary on human nature that the only phrases I remember from three years of college German would only be useful in egging on a street fight somewhere in Hamburg.

JohnM
JohnM
7 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

“You also need to be right, and competent”. Well exactly, which is why the manly art of standing up for a load of poo isn’t so admirable after all.

Malachi
Malachi
7 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Precisely. Standing up for one’s load of poo is the one-faceted art of manliness that was expected as the rote baseline. Now not even that is expected of “men”; in fact, it’s vilified in many circles, which is why you have guys like Bush, Cristie, Kasich, Paul, Santorum, Graham, Rubio, and Pataki running for President. Trump has the baseline manly quality of standing up for what he believes, even though most of it is a load of poo. But that’s it so far as I can tell. This leaves a very small group who have added to this foundation of… Read more »

John Trocke
John Trocke
7 years ago

What is his fatal flaw as a candidate? 1. It’s impossible for him to make a political gaffe and 2. he’s poised to win the republican nomination with a plurality, and then the Presidency with the anti-immigration vote and anything-but-Hillary vote on the right and the blue collar and labor vote from the left.

bethyada
7 years ago
Reply to  John Trocke

I don’t believe he is trustworthy. Were he to backtrack on any number of promises would people be surprised?

holmegm
holmegm
7 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Compared to who, exactly, of viable candidates?

“Immigration hawk” Cruz thought we needed *lots* more H1Bs, just earlier this year. Bush thinks that illegal immigration is an act of love; oh, and he also thinks that he is a Hispanic. Nothing scary there (he’s cuckoo).

Sometimes you gotta mold with the clay you are given.

Samson had his issues too, but I don’t want to be the guy tying him up and calling the Philistines …

Will G
Will G
7 years ago
Reply to  holmegm

Bingo.

Stephen Larson
Stephen Larson
7 years ago

Pastor Wilson, for you and those interested, here is the link the interview you graciously did on my own blog. I also e-mailed you the link. Thanks for taking the time.
https://stephenarthurlarson.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/an-interview-with-pastor-douglas-wilson/

David
David
7 years ago

Doug, I would vote for Trump if he were the nominee. He wants to lower my taxes, and curb illegal immigration (he claims). In this cultural cesspool, that is the best I can hope for in a national candidate.

Plus, he enrages the establishment, which I consider a plus.

I would also vote for his horse for senate :)

Kelly M. Haggar
Kelly M. Haggar
7 years ago
Reply to  David

“horse for senate”
That there’s funny!

holmegm
holmegm
7 years ago

It highlights the absurdity of all the guys with rubber noses calling Trump a clown :)

The Republic has been done for awhile, probably since back when the Supreme Court banned democracy because of “privacy” (you know, the same federal government with the giant data center that is reading all our emails now).

A horse could hardly do worse than Harry Reid.

Kelly M. Haggar
Kelly M. Haggar
7 years ago
Reply to  holmegm

I realize I’m swimming upstream here, especially with Millennials, but I can’t agree on “reading all our e-mails.” First, that’s not what the NSA is doing. Second, the external features of an e-mail are just like the external features of a land line call. The same Supreme Court which gave us Griswold in 1965 also held in Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979), that there is no expectation of privacy in the externals of a call. IMHO, they pouched the first one but got the second one correct. This morning the NYT has a story of a senior Mormon… Read more »

andrewlohr
andrewlohr
7 years ago

Yeah. And bluntness may come across as honest. Read my lips, depends what “is” is, no nation-building, you can keep your plan–the Bureaucratic Party has been showing fundamental dishonesty (not just inflammatory election rhetoric).

1st Gulf War’s bumbling ‘peace,’ Somalia, Waco, 2nd Gulf War, Katrina levees, jobless ‘recovery,’ Obamacare rollout, Libya–the Bureaucratic Party has been showing fundamental incompetence, inability to deliver the goods. Trump is rich, he must know something–again a contrast to the Establishment, that Dog that needs its muzzle smacked, that Pride that needs taken down a peg.

Well?

Malachi
Malachi
7 years ago
Reply to  andrewlohr

I don’t know if Trump is any different, based on the criteria you just laid out. Dishonest? Trump absolute will say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. He was a loud proponent of everything Liberal not two years ago…now he’s a Conservative?

Incompetent? Well, he did bankrupt several companies, and is rivaling King Henry and Elizabeth Taylor for spousal exchanges. If he can’t manage his marriages or companies, how then the country?

Will G
Will G
7 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

I don’t believe he would be an enemy to Christians – whatever he is personally.

Hans
Hans
7 years ago

“A man who would apologize for his hair would apologize for anything…”

Perhaps not, maybe his popularity stems from the notion that that’s all that he is going to apologize for…..

Bro. Steve
Bro. Steve
7 years ago

Bro. Steve’s private opinion: Trump gained popularity fast because he’s about the only one who talks sense about illegal immigration. If you’re here illegally, go home.

Luke
Luke
7 years ago

The real question in the “Why is Trump doing so well in the polls” is often missed, and is perhaps more curious than it is useful. See, polls are mess right now. Pollsters have not been able to adapt their methodology to cultural and technological changes, and so their results have been quite off for some time. Just ask President Giuliani. Many Pollsters have admitted the problem, and Gallup has even pulled out of their usual Primary pulling to preserve their credibility (good for them!). So the polls don’t tell us anything one way or the other on how Trump… Read more »

katecho
katecho
7 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Well said about the outdated nature of polling methods and demographics. One common feature of Trump and Carson is that neither of them have followed the normal political path. It suggests that people may just want something (anything?) other than what we’ve been subjected to from both parties lately.

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago
Reply to  katecho

There may be a connection with what we see north of the 49th parallel, where in reaction against their own version of soft despotism, the people have now elected a celebrity instead of someone actually qualified for the complexities of national leadership.

Malachi
Malachi
7 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

Perhaps so, but it’s happened before…Reagan to the California governorship and then to President, Schwarzenegger to the California governorship, Ventura to the Minnesota governorship…
Sometimes good things happen when people vote for celebrities; other times not so much.

Luke
Luke
7 years ago
Reply to  katecho

But again, it only perhaps suggests that about the people who respond to traditional polling methods, it tells us nothing about the general public. That MIGHT be true for everyone else. Carson’s massive book sales and solid donor haul seem to point to the idea that he has a real following. But mostly, all the Trump and Carson talk is based on polls that we can’t trust, so such may or may not be true about the general public. At this point, who’s to say?

Will G
Will G
7 years ago
Reply to  katecho

I don’t believe so. Trump came out swinging on immigration and that is a winning issue across the political spectrum. Brash alone would not cut it. Carson began to rise in the polls when he started talking frankly about Muslims.

Ben
Ben
7 years ago

The explanation for his popularity is simple: He’s not part of the established political order. This is why he will eventually crash and burn, whether as a candidate or as the president. The Powers That Be will simply not allow him to do them any kind of permanent damage. I predict that if he does get elected, a major calamity will befall the nation while he’s in office. The Powers That Be have an almost infinite number of ways they could bring this about, either through direct action (false flags, economic contractions, military provocations), or by merely “helping it along”… Read more »

ashv
ashv
7 years ago

Trump is the only candidate worth showing up for because immigration is the only issue that matters this season. All the other things one might want in one’s society like “respect for the Constitution”, “free enterprise”, “rule of law”, “freedom of speech”, etc. are things that are only really valued by descendants of American settlers and (to a lesser extent) early European immigrants. Unless the borders are closed and the invaders of the past few decades are expelled, there won’t be any future for those concepts in electoral politics.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
7 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I don’t see Trump having much if any success with immigration if elected.

ashv
ashv
7 years ago

Quite possibly not. But anyone else would have less success.

Will G
Will G
7 years ago

Yes. Nothing can ever be done. No use trying…Game over.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
7 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Well if the only thing you’re going to try is Donald Trump…

Will G
Will G
7 years ago

Who else is offering?

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
7 years ago
Reply to  Will G

The thing about Trump is that even if he fixes one one issue he will likely cause srveral more in the process.

Will G
Will G
7 years ago

Why?

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
7 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Because he is a clown. Doing well as president requires more than theatricaly throwing pies.

Luke
Luke
7 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I really thought I valued all those things, but I guess I don’t because my family came here from Wales in the early 20th century and I’m only 4th generation American, so I don’t fit into your categories of those who are allowed to value those things. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go back to Wales and have them arbitrarily tell me what my values have to be based on my blood line connection instead of doing something crazy like valuing the things I actually find valuable, because I’m apparently not allowed to value freedoms due to my… Read more »

ashv
ashv
7 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Don’t confuse cause and effect. The problem is indiscriminate addition of people to society (and to the voting pool) who don’t share the same societal values. Welsh, English, and Americans have much more in common with each other than with the current Mexican (and African, and Asian) influx.

Luke
Luke
7 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I am not speaking to the totality of your point. I am speaking to your specific claim that: “All the other things one might want in one’s society like “respect for the Constitution”, “free enterprise”, “rule of law”, “freedom of speech”, etc. are things that are only really valued by descendants of American settlers and (to a lesser extent) early European immigrants.” Since I am the descendant of neither the American settlers nor the early European immigrants, your statement absolutely says that I do not really value the things in the above list, because ONLY those two groups value those… Read more »

ashv
ashv
7 years ago
Reply to  Luke

The immigration statistics for Wales indicate that the USA has had less than 700,000 immigrants from Wales since independence — about the same number of Mexicans that immigrated to the USA in three weeks of 2013. I don’t believe my generalization was inappropriate.

Daithi_Dubh
Daithi_Dubh
7 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Indeed. Others have said it in other forums, but a mere propositional “nation” is not sustainable, and will, as it has in the US of A’s case, deteriorate into mere empire. No, our ancestral bloodlines don’t imply superiority, certainly before the throne of God, nor does our history, our culture, or our traditions, going back to Britain, but it does completely overturn that particular abstraction (an abstraction, by the way, another writer, has in part described as the “magic dirt” theory of immigration that confers “American-ness” on folk – without regard to their origins – once they set foot on… Read more »

ashv
ashv
7 years ago
Reply to  Daithi_Dubh

Indeed, one might even argue that the evidence of a nation’s superiority is the eagerness people have to emigrate to its country.

ME
ME
7 years ago

Good post. To simply not cave in and backtrack is a very appealing characteristic that most men and women deeply admire. Unfortunately that also makes us vulnerable to admire and follow complete bullies and totalitarians.

Gary
Gary
7 years ago
Reply to  ME

…and egotists

holmegm
holmegm
7 years ago
Reply to  Gary

As opposed to the selfless monks who run our political system now.

holmegm
holmegm
7 years ago

“But there are nevertheless lessons here for those who aren’t.”

Yet they refuse to learn them. They just stamp their feet, and say “it’s not fair!”, instead of getting some clue as to why this is happening.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
7 years ago

Off topic: is it just me or Firefox, or is everybody seeing a big blank space between the header and the top post since the beginning of this week?

St. Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Since you mention it, that blank space would be where an advertising banner that covers 3/4 of the top blog post shows up in Internet Explorer. The only way to see the title of the post is to click on “read more” which is still visible below the banner. Annoying, but…

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
7 years ago
Reply to  St. Lee

I see a reasonably sized and placed advertising banner for NSA right below the header, but then there’s about another screen and half of blank space below that. Then the first post looks normal, below that. For a while, I thought the blog just wasn’t loading for me, and then I tried scrolling.

Ian Miller
7 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

I am also seeing it in Chrome. When I click on the space, it takes me to Canon Press (which is fine), but it’s a seriously huge space. And the ad isn’t even visible.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
7 years ago
Reply to  Ian Miller

I see now. And even with AdBlock disabled, it’s invisible. Oops.

Will G
Will G
7 years ago

Why is Trump “fatally” flawed as a candidate? I don’t see it.

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
7 years ago

Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator, has an interesting take. Adams is an amatuer hypnotist and recognizes in Trump a master, a wizard, of persuasion.

(re)Edit: Yer a wizard Doug.

Daithi_Dubh
Daithi_Dubh
7 years ago

Again, as much as I enjoy Trump’s effect on the what too many regard as the fundamentally conservative GOP (It never was from its inception, and the core has only succeeded in fooling the grassroots into this false view in order to maintain their power, profit, and us as cannon fodder for their hobby wars), I will never vote for him due to his record with eminent domain. He is a thief – albeit a well-dressed, “respectable” one. Until we revise the old triad back to “life, liberty, and property,” among other things, it doesn’t matter who’s elected, at least… Read more »