Rush Limbaugh Really Doesn’t Get Donald Trump

Chris Cillizza thinks "Rush Limbaugh totally gets Donald Trump." I disagree.

donald-trump-hat

Chris Cillizza thinks “Rush Limbaugh totally gets Donald Trump.” The king of Republican talk radio had this to say:

Everything he’s doing goes against the book. Everything that any analyst or consultant or professional would tell you not to do, Donald Trump is doing it, and he’s leading the pack. This creates its own set of emotions and feelings and thoughts that run from person to person. Now, the political business, if you want to look at it that way, is like any other business. It has its people who are considered the elites in it — and like any business, they hate outsiders. They don’t want outsiders just storming in trying to take over, and much less succeeding at it.

They want to keep people out.

They want to be in charge of who gets in the club. They want to be in charge of who’s allowed to rise or climb the ladder in the club. Politics is no different, and all of those determinations are made by who gets money and who doesn’t. But Trump is functioning totally outside this structure that has existed for decades. As such, the people who are only familiar with the structure and believe in it and cherish it and want to protect it, feel threatened in ways that you can’t even comprehend.

Says Cillizza:

That’s a very astute analysis of not only Trump but the broader Republican establishment and its reaction to Trump. What Limbaugh grasps is that there is simply no blueprint for what Trump has done and is doing. No one has ever — or at least in modern presidential politics — said the sorts of things that Trump has said and succeeded. (On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of politicians who said what were deemed to be impolitic things and were, in turn, destroyed by them.)

Trump is sui generis. He is rewriting how you run for president with each day he stays in this race (and leads it). And, someone who is not only committed to breaking every rule of how politics works but is also succeeding with the electorate while doing so, is a very dangerous thing indeed to entrenched interests.

Power protects power, as Limbaugh notes. The realization that Trump (or Ted Cruz) could be the Republican nominee has sent the GOP establishment into a tizzy over the last few days — a panic made worse by the creeping realization that the powers-that-be have very little control over Trump or his voters.

I actually don’t think Rush is right here. Sure, Republican political operatives hate someone playing the game by different rules. But at the end of the day they prosper when Republicans win and they see Trump as a disaster. He has indeed been doing and saying things that “any analyst or consultant or professional would tell you not to do.” The reason they’d tell you not to say or do these things is that, for anyone other than Trump and at any time other than this, they’d simply kill a campaign. Trump has been running as a caricature of a crazy Republican, seemingly trying to alienate women and minority groups, and seems to rise in the polls with every outrageous thing he says.

The party elites, like myself, have been wrong time after time in thinking that this will eventually blow up on him.  I still don’t think he’ll win the nomination even though I have no idea who will rise as the chief not-Trump and knock him off. Further, if he were to win the nomination, I don’t see how he can win in November given that a lot of loyal Republican voters, myself included, would sooner elect Bernie Sanders than vote for Trump.

I think the Vox gang, particularly Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias, have been cogent in their analysis of Trump as a populist who appeals to non-urban whites who feel like they’re being left behind by not only the GOP Establishment but the system as a whole and are ready to blow the thing up.

I’m seeing a lot of that sentiment on my Facebook feed. Some it is from those you’d expect, people I went to high school with in rural Alabama 30-odd years ago and still live in that environment. But I also see it from, brilliant, highly accomplished national security professionals whose work I’ve admired for years. These are people who graduated service academies or other elite institutions and have graduate degrees from good schools, have written influential books, and otherwise been quite successful. They’re not railing at minorities taking their jobs; they face no such threat. But they are genuinely fed up with America’s political leadership, who they see as corrupt and weak.

In addition to that frustration, there seems to be a rise in a sentiment that I first encountered in a Tom Clancy novel twenty years ago. Namely, that most politicians are morons (Clancy once noted in an interview that your family physician is almost certainly smarter than your Congressman and that, how competent could they be since few of them had ever made more than a quarter million dollars a year) and that we’d be better off led by ordinary citizens with no political experience. At the end of Clancy’s 1995 novel Debt of Honor, a suicide bomber crashes an airliner into the Capitol during the State of the Union address, killing almost the entire political leadership of the country. Our hero, Jack Ryan, who had just become vice president after his predecessor was forced out in a scandal, takes over. Near the beginning of the follow-up, 1996’s Executive Orders, President Ryan gives an impassioned speech to the country urging the people to send ordinary folks—local business leaders, doctors, and the like—to Washington rather than the usual lawyers and politicians. The rest of the novel, in addition to the standard Clancy national security thriller plot, is an homage to how great America would be if only it were run by such common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country.

Trump is capitalizing, among other things, on that sentiment. A lot of really bright, decent folks buy his shtick and honestly figure that a guy who’s made billions in business must be extremely competent and that those skills would directly translate to governing. They also buy Trump’s claim that, because he’s so rich, he can’t be bought by the special interests. And, like the late Mr. Clancy, they think that a non-politician is exactly what the country needs.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    The idea that hat what Trump is doing is unique in history is ridiculous. Populist candidates that are willing to say what no one else can say and yet drive an upwelling of support? Wallace and Buchanon to name two. And these examples are interesting, because they are both deeply racist people. What they say that others are unwilling to say is barely concealed racist agitprop. There are other politicians who are willing to speak truth to power (Bernie Sanders, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader) and they achieved a certain level of success. But racism is probably the surest path to take. After all to a regrettably large segment of the population there is nothing more satisfying than hearing their hero put the _______ down (fill in the blank with the he minority of your choice).

  2. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m not arguing that Trump’s message is “unique in history” but rather that his success as a shoot-from-the-hip populist is unprecedented in the modern era.

    Wallace used a racist appeal to get elected governor of Alabama during the dying days of Jim Crow. He wasn’t able to get a major party nomination for president, although he did carry five Deep South states in 1972.

    Buchanan made some minor waves 1992 and again in 1996 in the Republican primaries but lost both bids by wide margins, ultimately fleeing to Ross Perot’s party.

    Trump is leading the polls by a wide margin a few days before voting takes place in Iowa and New Hampshire. I still think he’ll implode but he’s far ahead of where Wallace and Buchanan were.

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    A lot of really bright, decent folks buy his shtick and honestly figure that a guy who’s made billions in business must be extremely competent and that those skills would directly translate to governing. They also buy Trump’s claim that, because he’s so rich, he can’t be bought by the special interests. And, like the late Mr. Clancy, they think that a non-politician is exactly what the country needs.

    “As democracy is perfected, the office [of the Presidency] 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

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    A lot of really bright, decent folks buy his shtick and honestly figure that a guy who’s made billions in business must be extremely competent and that those skills would directly translate to governing.

    “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

  5. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    Trump is leading the polls by a wide margin a few days before voting takes place in Iowa and New Hampshire. I still think he’ll implode but he’s far ahead of where Wallace and Buchanan were.

    Curious about who you think will win it all. At RPC, nationally, Trump has 36% and Cruz has 19%, Rubio has 11%, and Bush 5%. Are both Trump and Cruz going to implode?

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Trump has a big advantage over his predecessors. Wallace and Buchanan came before the Conservative Entertainment Complex had so thoroughly prepared the ground.

  7. Liberal Capitalist says:

    To coin a meme: I, for one, welcome our new populist overlord.

    Why? It plays very well for a Democratic win for Sanders!

    Walk with me…

    If we accept the idea that Trump is playing the game that no Republican has previously played in modern times, then:

    1) The brouhaha with Fox positions him well with some conservatives. Especially the “Going Rogue” folks that enshrine Sarah Palin.

    2) Getting into it with Fox may also position his independent run, showing that he won’t kowtow to even Fox News.

    3) The Republican convention will be a mess… and Trump will not win, but the loss will be slim. The GOP machine will position whoever it feels will win against Clinton. There will be blood.

    4) Trumps ego tells him that he will win, and he’ll go for it. Running as an independent, of course.

    And, on the other side, the fun begins…

    a) Clinton / Sanders continues to heat up. The same populist fervor for change will position Sanders well.

    b) Since the GOP Nat’l convention will be the week before the DEM convention, the DEMs will have the benefit of watching the GOP fracture occur.

    c) Seeing that opportunity, Sanders will win the Democratic convention nomination as he will tie into the same frustration zeitgeist as did Trump… but the DEMS will actually have a better plan to address far more of the base and center.

    So it becomes a three way race, with the Dems unifying behind their candidate.

    And, if we split the center-right-conservatives and the wackadoo-far-right then it’s an easy electoral college win for Sanders.

    I wonder who he’ll choose as VP? Elizabeth Warren?

  8. edmondo says:

    But they are genuinely fed up with America’s political leadership, who they see as corrupt and weak.

    So to win these people over, the Democrats are going to run the most corrupt candidate since James Blaine? My choice in November will be between a kook and a crook. God Bless America. We’re going to need it.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @PJ: That’s why Trump has gained the traction he has. It’s not that he’s so fantastic, it’s that the rest of the pack are so….insipid. (There also may be a belated anti-neocon aspect to all this. After all, Trump is about the only candidate who sounds like he isn’t going to declare war on Iran the day after inauguration.)

    And it certainly is amusing watching the conniption fits over at NRO. Talk about a bunch of self-proclaimed intelligensia in a snit because their “authority” hasn’t been respected. Over and over again, “Trump isn’t a CONSERVATIVE!” To which all the Trump followers are saying: “Who cares?”

  10. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. I’ve always felt the fallacy of democracy is that it assumes 10 people off the street are better at taking out your appendix than one doctor. But lord is the crackup on the right fun to behold.

    P.P.S. I’m also quite cheerfully watching the “crack-up” on the left as well. Hillary says too much out of both sides of her mouth and is too closely linked to the whole Wall Street crowd for me to be applauding her. My vote for her (if she ends up being the candidate) will be a “lesser of two evils” shrug (mainly for the SCOTUS nomination thing.) And let’s not have Elizabeth Warren shoved into general political positions yet. She’s doing a damn better job making financial representatives squirm.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: I sometimes see it stated that democracy assumes some wisdom of the people. I don’t recall reading anyone expressing what I think is a realistic view. One, “the people” have no particular wisdom, they’re a box of rocks, but they are the only player who might vote against their own interest for the good of the country. Two, without democracy 99.9% of the country have no seat at the table and will get screwed, to the detriment of the country as a whole. Therefore three, they play a vital role in keeping our supposed elites from screwing things up a lot worse than they already have.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: And yes, I wrote that line about “supposed elites” screwing up the country remembering James had identified himself above as a Republican elite.

  13. CSK says:

    The people who see Trump as the last best hope may well be “bright and decent” (I have to say I haven’t met any yet) but they’re lousy judges of character. How astute do you have to be to figure out what a con artist this man is?

  14. Scott says:

    These are people who graduated service academies or other elite institutions and have graduate degrees from good schools, have written influential books, and otherwise been quite successful. They’re not railing at minorities taking their jobs; they face no such threat. But they are genuinely fed up with America’s political leadership, who they see as corrupt and weak.

    Aren’t these people part of the political leadership? I guess I’m frustrated over all the whining and complaining from people, if not political leaders, are leaders nonetheless. Aren’t they part of the problem? And refuse to accept their responsibility? I’m just not sure what they are complaining about? At least poor working class people, no matter what race or ethnic group, have something to be resentful about. And those are the ones supporting Trump.

  15. SenyorDave says:

    Ultimately, Trump is running as his true self. A bullying racist pig. Its not like he suddenly changed his personality. Look at his history.
    Racist – check out his behavior during the Central Park 5 case. Trump took out full page ads calling for the death penalty for 5 black kids ages 14 – 17 who confessed to raping a white woman. He couldn’t wait to gin up the racist appeal. Twenty years later someone else confessed to the crime, the kids’ confessions were coerced by the police.
    Pig – a history of disgusting behavior and comments about women
    Bully – that’s his whole shtick, it works in his business dealings reasonably well

    The difference between Trump and most politicians is that Trump is perfectly content to go back to his former life if he loses.

  16. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    “Trump has been running as a caricature of a crazy Republican, seemingly trying to alienate women and minority groups…”

    The open question is whether that is a caricature or an accurate portrayal of a large segment of your party. In other words, does Trump accurately reflect 30-40% of the GOP in expressing these opinions?

    I am coming to the conclusion that Trump is primarily a salesman, and realizes that there is a very large market for a candidate who says these things, even if he does not necessarily believe them. Therefore, he says them, in order to get support.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    and honestly figure that a guy who’s made billions in business must be extremely competent and that those skills would directly translate to governing.

    IOWs, they are delusional beyond the point of sanity?

  18. MBunge says:

    Trump, Cruz and Limbaugh have all prospered because of the same thing, a collapse of standards among our elite. Each has committed multiple acts that, by themselves, should have been enough to destroy them but our elites have either lost the ability or the willingness to do anything about it.

    The attack on standards, traditions and established institutions has often been cheered because it has meant opening up society to disadvantaged and oppressed groups, which has certainly been a good thing. But the destruction of cultural controls and the confidence to use them also has a downside and we’re seeing it right now.

    Mike

  19. James Pearce says:

    how great America would be if only it were run by such common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country.

    While I can’t quibble with this phenomenon, and even agree with some of it, how the hell does this apply to Trump, a billionaire celebrity?

    The mental gymnastics on that one gives me motion sickness.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @edmondo:

    the Democrats are going to run the most corrupt candidate since James Blaine?

    Based on what do you say this? The deranged ravings coming out of the fever swamps?

  21. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    The New Hampshire forklift operator with a high school education or less can point to Trump and say: “He’s just like me” without a trace of irony. He sees a man who speaks in vulgar terms of women and minorities and offer simple-minded bumper-sticker solutions to complex problems: “I’ll bomb the sh!t out of ISIS.” He identifies with that. In that sense, he IS like Trump, But his big mistake is in thinking that Trump returns the favor.

    What he doesn’t know is that a socially insecure arriviste like Trump wouldn’t be caught dead fraternizing with a forklift operator.

  22. I concur with James’ basic thesis: the rebellion in some quarters against Trump is because they fear he will be crushed in the general election.

    And, without a doubt, some of the movement types don’t think he is ideologically correct (so to speak).

    Trump does appear to be tapping into specific fears and emotions of a certain segment of mostly non-urban whites.

  23. Tillman says:

    @MBunge:

    The attack on standards, traditions and established institutions has often been cheered because it has meant opening up society to disadvantaged and oppressed groups, which has certainly been a good thing. But the destruction of cultural controls and the confidence to use them also has a downside and we’re seeing it right now.

    To be fair to the Boomers, a lot of the cultural hegemony exercised back in the day came through ownership of the means of communication. Only so many wavelengths of radio, sure, but television used to be very limited in choice. The Internet was unheard of. Even without the self-inflicted wounds, society was going to be reshaped by the inevitable multitude of challenges to authority. To be fairer to them, some of the rot was apparent before they took power; Watergate occurred under Nixon after all.

  24. edmondo says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    the Democrats are going to run the most corrupt candidate since James Blaine?

    Based on what do you say this?

    The previous Clinton Administration and their actions since they left the White House. Deeds don’t lie. Clintons, on the other hand, are really, really good at it.

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    A lot of really bright, decent folks buy his shtick and honestly figure that a guy who’s made billions in business must be extremely competent and that those skills would directly translate to governing.

    Had Trump merely taken the money he’d inherited from his father and invested it in a passive S&P 500 index fund, without doing anything else, he’d have made more money than he has now. All of his business activity has, therefore, been entirely worthless from a personal wealth-generation standpoint (though it’s done wonders for him on the fame and publicity front).

  26. CSK says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Yes, that’s the great irony about Trump’s so-called success. Something that’s rarely noted is that he managed to put the Eastern Airlines shuttle out of business, which took some doing, since it had been operating quite successfully since 1961 on the Boston-New York-Washington corridor. Trump bought it in 1989 for $20 million, and it was dead three years later at a loss to him of $100 million.

    No one taking that flight on a regular–or even irregular–basis needed or wanted gold-plated fixtures in the toilets for a 45-50 minute run.

  27. humanoid.panda says:

    I’m seeing a lot of that sentiment on my Facebook feed. Some it is from those you’d expect, people I went to high school with in rural Alabama 30-odd years ago and still live in that environment. But I also see it from, brilliant, highly accomplished national security professionals whose work I’ve admired for years. These are people who graduated service academies or other elite institutions and have graduate degrees from good schools, have written influential books, and otherwise been quite successful. They’re not railing at minorities taking their jobs; they face no such threat. But they are genuinely fed up with America’s political leadership, who they see as corrupt and weak.

    Here is a serious question for you, James: I presume that nearly all the people you are talking about here are from a military background. How much of this dislike of American political leadership is then a product of the fact that we are governed by a guy who is culturally very remote from the values associated with the military?

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    Trump has been running as a caricature of a crazy Republican, seemingly trying to alienate women and minority groups…”

    That’s not a caricature, that’s an accurate representation. Republicans have been actively alienating and working against women and minority groups for decades – the only difference with Trump is that he’s abandoned the dog whistles and code words, he says out loud what other GOP politicians try to only signal covertly. You’ll notice that at heart the GOP elite and pundits aren’t really denouncing WHAT Trump says, they’re just denouncing how he says it.

  29. Rafer Janders says:

    how great America would be if only it were run by such common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country.

    Person A is a common sense guy without political ambition who’s just doing what he thinks is right for the country, and what he thinks is right is a flat tax of 10%.

    Person B is a common sense gal without political ambition who’s just doing what she thinks is right for the country, and what she thinks is right is a graduated progressive income tax with a top tax rate of 90% on income over $10mm a year.

    Now how do the people who think how great America would be if only it were run by common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country think is going to happen in the situation above?

  30. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m not surprised that Trump is a candidate for people who are desperate to note their accomplishments and their overall elite status. He’s always been the person for the climber and the deep inferiority complexes.What has made him stick as a candidate is that he’s been able to sell this sad message to small-town southerners and midwesterners and suburban drones who fear their status on the elite depth chart isn’t as high as it should be.

    Before Trump, most Republicans really believed that Ma and Pa Kettle of South Critters, Al were at heart decent people. Trump is a bit more sophisticated, so he thinks that all of the prejudice and provincial nastiness comes from the same awkward ambition to win that an outer-borough bond trader or slumlord has in NYC.

  31. Sue says:

    @MarkedMan: You lost me with your list of those that get it. If it takes a Ph.d then we’ve already lost our country….Ph.d’s are responsible for the mess we’re in because they “think” they know what we, the people, must do, eat, like and breath…it is an ancient method of controlling the people…..get 1984? Then you get it!

  32. Sue says:

    @Modulo Myself: Gee a ph.d?

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’m not surprised that Trump is a candidate for people who are desperate to note their accomplishments and their overall elite status. He’s always been the person for the climber and the deep inferiority complexes.

    Hey, hey, hey! I resent that! I strongly, strongly resent that! I’m desperate to note my accomplishments and my overall elite status, despite (or because of) my deep inferiority complex, and yet Trump isn’t the candidate for me…..!

  34. Stan says:

    There’s no doubt that Trump appeals to a neglected segment of the electorate. These are people who work hard but aren’t doing as well as they should, who feel that the country is in decline, who would like to make their country great again, who feel that the political leadership of both parties is corrupt, and who want a really, really strong leader. They’re also the kind of people Robert Paxton described in The Anatomy of Fascism (http://tinyurl.com/htdfq3e).

    I’d like to sympathize with them, but it’s difficult to feel empathy with a group that favors deporting 11 million people, men, women, and children. Yes, I know they haven’t thought through the consequences, but if they’re unable to they belong in the same category as the Germans who never thought Hitler would go so far. And since I’ve just validated Godwin’s law, I might as well go further and express my absolute contempt for the conservatives who feel they can control Trump the same way big business in Germany thought they could control Hitler.

    It’s going to be a long time before people look back on this election and think about the good old days.

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    At the end of Clancy’s 1995 novel Debt of Honor, a suicide bomber crashes an airliner into the Capitol during the State of the Union address, killing almost the entire political leadership of the country.

    And yet, as we were told repeatedly by Condi Rice and others, no one could possibly have foreseen the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. (Though, to be fair, the GOP national-security apparatus probably wasn’t filled with a lot of people who were Tom Clancy fans and thus would have read that book…..)

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    but our elites have either lost the ability or the willingness to do anything about it.

    If Dick Cheney was not made a pariah, how can you make anyone else a pariah?

  37. Modulo Myself says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I’m not trying to be offensive but it’s true. This country is rife with enormous social anxiety in all quarters, and not only the Republican. Trump is just there connecting the various strands of a certain brand of it.

  38. Modulo Myself says:

    Note that what Tom Clancy is saying basically no different than what the average Ivy League meritocrat is supposed to believe about who belongs where. But we are schooled to believe that there’s humility in Clancy’s BS and unearned arrogance in a world led by Harvard and Yale grads.

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Oh, no, I agree with you.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @edmondo: I note a continuing lack of specifics.

    The thing is, you think the Clinton’s numerous “crimes” are common knowledge, but you don’t realize most of us don’t have our heads up the conservative echo chamber. I get my news from NYT, James excellent blog, TV, some moderate lefty blogs, magazines (remember them), etc. Except for the NYT, they’re not obsessed with Hillary’s evil ways. So you need to list, and expose to examination, WTF you’re talking about.

  41. al-Ameda says:

    The Trump phenomenon, to me, is a ‘Black Swan’ event.

    That is, once in a generation or so an outlying event, like Ross Perot in 1992 and Trump now, occurs and it rattles the political establishment. The difference is, Perot wasn’t going to win, however he had a big effect on the final election count., while Trump actually win the GOOP nomination and the election.

    We, culturally, have short attention-spans, are immersed in a sound bite digital media news and information culture, and are infatuated with attention seeking wealthy people. It was and is inevitable that the national political system would offer up a guy like Donald Trump.

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Republicans have been actively alienating and working against women and minority groups for decades

    And yet there are large numbers of conservative/Republican women who seem to be OK with this, even supportive.

  43. humanoid.panda says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Person A is a common sense guy without political ambition who’s just doing what he thinks is right for the country, and what he thinks is right is a flat tax of 10%.

    Ha! This is funny, because one of the key scenes in the Clancy book James cites is Ryan’s Treasury Secretary (a Wall Street billionaire who is nonetheless intensely ethical and patriotic of course), just comes to the Senate hearing room, tells the people gathered by telling them that a flat tax is fair (after all, what’s fairer than everyone paying the same rate!), and then makes them vote aye, by having aides bring up the entire US tax code, and showing them how heavy it is- and thus the tax code is reformed!

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Rafer Janders: I remember reading Hunt for Red October and being so annoyed with the book that I threw it across the room. Clancy had a Thing about the military, Das ist klar. He couldn’t mention a communications officer without saying that said officer had “been offered a full scholarship to MIT, but had turned in down to enter the military instead.” As if. Grr.

    (Note to authors who aspire to show how smart their characters are by mentioning MIT: MIT is one of the very few schools that has a needs-blind admissions policy. You need money, they’ll find it. 50% of the students receive some form of scholarship. So trying to impress us with “offered a full scholarship” simply means that your hero was admitted on the same basis as every single other student at MIT. Oh, and don’t say your hero “graduated summa cum laude from MIT.” MIT doesn’t have honors. Period.)

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Stan:

    I might as well go further and express my absolute contempt for the conservatives who feel they can control Trump the same way big business in Germany thought they could control Hitler.

    One of the life lessons I learned long ago in my personal life is that there is no such thing as “our azzhole”. All azzholes are only azzholes for their own benefit.

  46. Modulo Myself says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I don’t think it’s a black swan. Every Republican president from Nixon has had dreams of ‘cleaning up’ America. After a high moment, each has failed. Nixon was impeached; Reagan fell apart into dementia and arms dealing. Bush I’s triumph of the first Gulf War hit the wall of recession. The insane cheering that came after Mission Accomplished just turned insane. Trump is more comedic and nuts than Bush, and his crowd is more desperate but it’s just the same.

    The real black swan was Obama’s reelection. Since Kennedy there have been four Presidents who were/are not completely nuts. Ford, Carter, George HW Bush, and Obama. One was never elected, and two could not be reelected. Only Obama survived, and I think if anything has undermined confidence in America’s place in the world, it’s this fact. A really crazy Clinton-like Obama would be perfectly foiled by a Jeb Bush-style Values Man, and all would be well.

  47. MBunge says:

    @CSK: The New Hampshire forklift operator with a high school education or less can point to Trump and say: “He’s just like me” without a trace of irony. He sees a man who speaks in vulgar terms of women and minorities and offer simple-minded bumper-sticker solutions to complex problems

    Yes, because such people couldn’t POSSIBLY have legitimate concerns or anxieties that cause them to turn to Trump because they’re either ignored or directly insulted by the rest of our political process.

    Nope. They’re just evil jerks.

    Mike

  48. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    A side note about Clancy: He wrote a great deal about fiber optics without knowing anything whatsoever about fiber optics. He also didn’t actually write most of his books, but farmed his name out to others.

  49. Guarneri says:

    “They don’t want outsiders just storming in trying to take over, and much less succeeding at it.”

    “Trump is capitalizing, among other things, on that (ed. establishment is corrupt) sentiment. ”

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, they may be complementary.

  50. grumpy realist says:

    @humanoid.panda: A flat tax sounds fair, until you realize it isn’t. A 50% increase in one’s salary is a heckova lot more beneficial to the lifestyle of some poor slob toiling along at $8/hr than someone making $80/hr. But that would require going into marginal utility theory and all that.

    (Sometimes I think the entire Republican party is as math-phobic as “math is hard” Barbie is, given how much they avoid using it.)

  51. Rafer Janders says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Clancy had a Thing about the military, Das ist klar. He couldn’t mention a communications officer without saying that said officer had “been offered a full scholarship to MIT, but had turned in down to enter the military instead.” As if. Grr.

    Except this thing about the military was never so strong that Clancy himself served….

  52. Modulo Myself says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Except this thing about the military was never so strong that Clancy himself served….

    Feature not a bug.

  53. CSK says:

    @MBunge:

    See, this is what I don’t get. Why do Trump supporters feel they’re insulted and ignored any more than the rest of us are? Do I expect any politician to pay attention to what I think? Of course I don’t. Do I expect any politician to “care” about me? Jayzus, no. I’ve never agreed with anyone’s platform 100%, and I probably never will. I also don’t expect to be courted. Never have; never will. I vote for the person with the ideological stance that seems most reasonable and the best apparent approach to the solution–to the extent there are solutions–of various vexing problems.

    And why are Trump supporters turning to a carny barker who’s riddled with contempt for them to solves their problems?

  54. Scott F. says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Now how do the people who think how great America would be if only it were run by common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country think is going to happen in the situation above?

    The situation above will play out the same way it does now. The oligarchs will buy both Person A and Person B and get them both to compromise their ideals in a way that works out perfectly for the oligarchs.

    It would just probably be a lot cheaper to buy common sense folk than the venal people who are currently being bought. Who knows – it could work out to benefit the 99%. Some of that savings on the purchase of Congress could go back into the economy to create jobs. Oh, who am I kidding? The oligarchs will keep it ALL.

  55. Scott says:

    I’ve been trying to grok this whole country the last few years and, I admit, I just don’t understand. Sometimes I think we are on the edge of a collective nervous breakdown. Made me think back to Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock where he tried to examine the fact that not only was change increasing but the rate of change was increasing and that this would have a cumulative effect on society. I think with the rise of media, social interconnectedness, a cacophony of societal stimuli, that we are overloaded. Perhaps the possibility of an authoritarian like Trump in this milieu is attractive because they think he can out shout and shut down the noise.

    I don’t know. Maybe we are Edvard Munch “The Scream” come to life. Or maybe that is where I’m at.

  56. Guarneri says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Alternatively they may understand what even the most unsophisticated among us should, but apparently don’t: that the more complex the system the more likely it is to be manipulated for the benefit of the well off and to the detriment of the less well off.

  57. Scott says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    after all, what’s fairer than everyone paying the same rate!

    A head tax!

  58. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    (Sometimes I think the entire Republican party is as math-phobic as “math is hard” Barbie is, given how much they avoid using it.)

    Math has a well known liberal bias.

    I sometimes wonder how much of a factor innumeracy is in conservative beliefs.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    @Guarneri: J. K. Galbraith had a law that I believe is a more comprehensive version of your thought. IIRC, “All systems tend to evolve to the benefit of those who control the system.”

  60. Silver Back says:

    I do think Rush I’d right. I also think if Rush were running he’d be doing very similar to Trump. Their words would be different because Rush is a professional commentator, but their actions would mirrors.

  61. Grewgills says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Now how do the people who think how great America would be if only it were run by common sense folk without political ambition who were just doing what they thought was right for the country think is going to happen in the situation above?

    The people who champion that idea never think too deeply about it and always seem to assume that these decent common sense folk will share what they see as their own simple common sense ideas.

  62. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes, because such people couldn’t POSSIBLY have legitimate concerns or anxieties that cause them to turn to Trump because they’re either ignored or directly insulted by the rest of our political process.

    No, no, no. Many of their concerns are legitimate. As are the mainstream conservative concerns that the government is too big and intrusive, that in some ways we’re overtaxed, that the debt is a problem, that regulation goes too far, etc.. The delusion is thinking that Trump, or Cruz, or Bush, or Whichever Republican will do anything that won’t make it worse, or that they feel anything but contempt for that forklift operator. And the Ds are the same, just less so.

  63. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: I tend to think it’s mostly modern media. It’s tempting, and common, to blame this on an angry electorate. But I’ve seen a few pundits look back at history, and we’re not really angrier than we’ve usually been.

  64. WR says:

    @edmondo: “Based on what do you say this?

    The previous Clinton Administration and their actions since they left the White House. Deeds don’t lie. Clintons, on the other hand, are really, really good at it.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the laziest troll on the internet… one so bored with the crap he spews that he can’t even be bothered to haul it out again. I was expecting at the very least the cattle futures investment from forty years ago… or a series of nouns that are magically supposed to carry reams of meaning with them, as with Benghazi!!!!

    But no — when our tired little troll is challenged for the basis of his claim that Hillary would be the most corrupt president ever, all he can come up with is “um, the previous Clinton administration.”

    Maybe that convinces the knee-slappers down at the Home for Unwanted Wingnuts, but in the real world you’re just polluting the conversation.

  65. WR says:

    @Sue: “Ph.d’s are responsible for the mess we’re in because they “think” they know what we, the people, must do, eat, like and breath…it is an ancient method of controlling the people…..get 1984? Then you get it!”

    Sorry, but I have to ask: Do you actually know what a Ph.D is? Because growing up in an academic family I’ve spent much of my life with people who hold doctorates. And not one of them would give a damn about what you eat, think, or breath. (Well, maybe breath, since it’s hard to have separate air supplies for different people…) And given the state of the academic market, many of them were mostly concerned with how they were going to eat, not what you were stuffing in your mouth.

    It’s always fun to find a class of people you can blame your failure on. But you’re a little out of step with the rest of your party — today is Messicans who have kept you from the life you know you deserve.

  66. @WR: And here I thought my Illuminati invite was just lost in the mail.

  67. Pch101 says:

    Trump is running a terrible campaign for the presidency. He can obviously appeal to a right-wing populist base — after all, those folks take real pleasure in feeling like victims and trashing minorities. But Trump would probably alienate enough moderates and energize enough progressives to be defeated in a general election. (As an added bonus, he might encourage some establishment Republicans to sit out this election because they would prefer to lose to the Democrats rather than completely lose control over the party.) If I was a GOP consultant, then I would be worried about the next election.

    Trump is running an outstanding campaign for Trump. He has reworked his brand so that he can be an angry white guys’ Pied Piper (i.e. what Palin wanted to be but allowed to slip out of her hands), which will give him the ego boost that he seeks and the platform for more books and TV shows. If I was a publicist for Trump, then I would be doing high fives around the office and looking forward to my bonus.

  68. MBunge says:

    @CSK: Why do Trump supporters feel they’re insulted and ignored any more than the rest of us are?

    Because white working class folks, which is primarily what we’re talking about here, don’t really feel like they’ve benefited much from white privilege but do notice that they can be slandered and libeled in mainstream discourse like no other group can.

    They also have noticed that the people who have been loudly appealing to them for years, Republicans and conservatives, don’t actually care about their concerns or even like them.

    They’ve got social and cultural views that draw disdain from the left and patronization from the right, economic concerns that are barely acknowledged by either party and a growing sense that the American Dream they were promised as kids has been stolen from them and their children won’t even have the Dream.

    Many times in democracy, the problem is that leaders can’t take people somewhere they don’t want to go. The problem we face right now is that a democracy also can’t go anywhere unless someone is willing to lead it there.

    Mike

  69. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    The problem we face right now is that a democracy also can’t go anywhere unless someone is willing to lead it there.

    And a democracy desirous of being led can be led down a dark path indeed.

  70. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    They also have noticed that the people who have been loudly appealing to them for years, Republicans and conservatives, don’t actually care about their concerns or even like them.

    True.

    They’ve got social and cultural views that draw disdain from the left and patronization from the right (true enough), economic concerns that are barely acknowledged by either party and a growing sense that the American Dream they were promised as kids has been stolen from them and their children won’t even have the Dream.

    Actually, Democrats do care about wage stagnation, inequality, slow growth, and getting kids educated. It’s Republicans who have lied to them for decades, it’s Republicans they’re pissed at. So why can’t they bring themselves to vote for a serious Dem instead of a carnival barker GOP?

  71. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    So why can’t they bring themselves to vote for a serious Dem instead of a carnival barker GOP?

    Left-wing populists blame free trade and corporate interests.

    Right-wing populists blame free trade, Mexicans and Negroes.

  72. the Q says:

    I think many baby boom libs are elitists. That rabble you schitt on were the ones who were the backbone of the Roosevelt coalition, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society….

    Now, this same cohort are called white male blue collar high school educated racist trailer trash redneck rubes.

    Who elected the Dems for 60 years? Hint, not college educated latte drinkers in the North.

    I’m in my 80s, a child of FDR and the New Deal when economic issues, destroying Wall Street, increasing union membership, carving out a good life for the middle class was THE primary goal.

    Look at the red/blue map from 1932-1968….the blue states then were in the solid south. They voted for Social Security, raping the rich by taxing the margins at 90%, enforced Glass Steagall, the Sherman anti trust acts and saw worker income double in 25 years from 1948 to 1973 while the rich’s take dwindled.

    The modern baby boom lib is a joke. Paying lip service to those goals but electing RINOS like Carter (who started the de-reg mania), Clinton ( a joke) and Obama (a huge disappointment).

    The embarrassing fact is that the wealth gap under Reagan and Bush was smaller than under Clinton and Obama, but as long as lesbians can kiss in Disneyland, the modern lib is happy, even though we slide into the new economic feudalism.

    Illegals get more attention and aid from libs than a laid off blue collar textile worker in North Carolina.

    The trade pacts and corporate inversions, offshoring etc came under the Dem watch. They are now what Republicans were in my day – corporate sellouts.

    If someone in the Dem party said, “who cares if we lose the black/Latino/lesbian/gay/native Indian/Asian/green vote” you would be crucified by the party elite. If you say “who cares about the white trash male high school vote” you would be applauded.

    Now, fire away and try and defend yourself. The boomers big achievement? gay marriage which affects 2% of the population, and and and….wait give me a few more hours to think of more.

    The hard part was carried by your grandparents…how many of you had your head caved in by strikebreakers? How many have even walked a picket line? Marched for civil rights? Ok, some braved social opprobrium by lighting up a blunt in public protesting pot laws…I’ll give you that.

    Now we have the queen of the lib boomers, HRC…who just went to another investment bank in Philly to raise funds….but, but, she has fought the good fight ALL HER Life…hahaha….thats rich.

    Bernie is really every Dem from the 40s to the 70s, McGovern and even the evil Dick Nixon in 72 were for some form of a stipend for all….talk about socialism. The boomers? Lets have Aetna run our healthcare with their 20% markup.

    Look in the mirror libs. You haven’t a clue about the Trump supporters and how much alienation they feel. I saw this as a kid during the Depression. FDR broke the Republican rule by reaching out to those unemployed white illiterates and in return he destroyed finance capital and turned over a bright shiny nation to the boomers to destroy. The rich are obscene and the middle is now the poor middle….all on your watch, so stop being in denial and wake up.

  73. al-Ameda says:

    @the Q:

    Look in the mirror libs. You haven’t a clue about the Trump supporters and how much alienation they feel. I saw this as a kid during the Depression. FDR broke the Republican rule by reaching out to those unemployed white illiterates and in return he destroyed finance capital and turned over a bright shiny nation to the boomers to destroy. The rich are obscene and the middle is now the poor middle….all on your watch, so stop being in denial and wake up.

    All on the liberal watch? Excuse me but the “watch” was the Republican presidency of George W Bush, who ushered in the worst economic crash since 1929.

    You seem oblivious to trends that have been unfolding over the past two-plus decades: income inequality has widened, wages have been stagnant, our working middle class employment base has been, and is, transforming away from manufacturing and toward service employment. This happens during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

    I’m not sure why conservatives wallow in whining, and are the largest group of self-proclaimed victims in America today? Do you? All you do is blame liberals for your inability to acknowledge the changes that have been upon us for about 30 years.

  74. Scott F. says:

    @the Q:

    You’ve got some stupid demographic blinders on, Q, and it’s skewing your analysis.

    Dumping the entirety of blue collar high-school-educated whites into one cohort distorts the reality beyond recognition, so perhaps it’s understandable that you’re confused about who’s schitting on who.

    You haven’t a clue about the Trump supporters and how much alienation they feel.

    I have mountains of sympathy for white blue collars who feel alienated because they’ve come to realize the system’s rigged against them. And as the two commenters above yours aptly note, there are political forces who want to fight that system as powerful as it’s come to be. Even you seem to acknowledge that Bernie Sanders knows who the true enemy is.

    But, sorry, I’m not moved in the slightest by the alienation of Trump supporters who are pissed off mostly because they can’t use the N word in polite company anymore and see moral decay everywhere because two men kissed on some TV show. (Despite my belief they are mostly victims of 40 years of GOP flim-flam.) They may be finally coming to see that their American Dream has been stolen from them, but they are ass-backwards on who the thieves are.

  75. Barry says:

    @Scott: “Aren’t these people part of the political leadership? I guess I’m frustrated over all the whining and complaining from people, if not political leaders, are leaders nonetheless. Aren’t they part of the problem? And refuse to accept their responsibility? I’m just not sure what they are complaining about? At least poor working class people, no matter what race or ethnic group, have something to be resentful about. And those are the ones supporting Trump.”

    I will bet that they started openly complaining about ‘weak’, ‘corrupt’ leadership after the first week of November, 2008.

  76. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “Trump, Cruz and Limbaugh have all prospered because of the same thing, a collapse of standards among our elite. Each has committed multiple acts that, by themselves, should have been enough to destroy them but our elites have either lost the ability or the willingness to do anything about it.”

    About 90% of this collapse was on the Republican side, and 90% of that collapse was quite deliberate.

  77. dazedandconfused says:

    James,

    Yes. Exactly.

    Clancy falls for the notion that the politicians are somehow not like everybody else and never were. A delusional, a “happy” fantasy which strokes his readers’ egos. Everybody is thereby “more intelligent and honorable” than any elected office holder. It’s only by such wishful thinking that the average doctor or whatever has a working knowledge of how our government functions and the history of its institution’s reason for coming into their existence.

    Trump’s appeal? Government by committee is always a very fragile construct. The People tolerate the gross inefficiency, bi-polarity, and the ability to shed accountability (which even a duck would envy) of “committees” only when times are good. When times are bad they tend to dismiss it for the vastly more accountable and coherent narrative of a single man. The most efficient form of government is an intelligent benevolent dictatorship. Only the last part is sure, but cognitive bias provides enough of the first two to get it in place.

    This has occurred in the US in times of war and other stress. Sometimes a President is so dangerous to a Congressman’s re-election chances no matter which party they might be in due to his popularity that he can get most anything he wants done. Ike had that for a time. LBJ had something like it in a Machiavellian kinda way. We’ve restored the powers of Congress when times are good enough again.

    What separates Trump from an FDR, Lincoln, Ike, or an LBJ is they never openly called Congress itself, the institution, “dumb”. They remained respectful. Trump represents a growing desire in The People to have a different form of government, one that might actually be able to do something about their condition.

    We’ve already elected a bunch of yokels who don’t understand the thing they are trying to run already. The result is this Congress, demonstrably less popular than dog poo. Clancy of course wouldn’t have elections he would have “them send”.

    Clever!

  78. Grewgills says:

    @the Q:
    Why do you always flatten the political spectrum into one set of economic issues?
    I can agree with you on most of those issues and the economic good done from FDR to Johnson. I can sympathize with your frustration about how those issues were mostly killed by Reagan and how Democrats caved and went for a ‘middle way’ that screwed the poor and the middle classes in favor or corporations and the rich.
    What I can’t get behind is your deliberate minimizing of every other social issue on the pyre of economic prosperity for poorly educated white men. The Democrats you are pining for here are the Democrats of Jim Crowe, the Democrats that didn’t believe it was legally possible to rape your spouse, the Democrats that thought it was ok to beat homosexuals and the transgendered to death for being different, the Democrats that thought equal pay for equal work was a joke, I could go on.
    The short of it is, your priorities are not the only priorities. As messed up as our fall back from the economic focus of earlier Democrats is, I wouldn’t want my daughter born into those times. Today is a much better day for any woman or any minority to be born into. By all signs tomorrow will be better. Rather than castigating modern liberals for failing to have your priorities and putting epic sized blinders on to pretend people of your bygone era were morally superior, why not acknowledge the successes and failings of both. Work to build on the successes of each and remedy the failures.

    @al-Ameda: @Scott F.:
    Q isn’t a modern conservative by any stretch. He is an almost extinct brand of liberal. By his posts here he seems to have flattened out politics into only broad economic issues and seems to find every other political issue to be trivial distractions.

  79. Pch101 says:

    @the Q:

    Social programs were just awesome when they were reserved for white people.

    No matter how you slice it, GOP populism is all about race.

  80. Pch101 says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I’m not sure why conservatives wallow in whining, and are the largest group of self-proclaimed victims in America today?

    They resent the passing of Jim Crow and the institutions that supported their belief that white people are more deserving than others.

    It’s a work of fiction, of course, but this scene from Mississippi Burning distills it quite nicely:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlzaBi_QxPw

  81. KM says:

    @sue:

    Ph.d’s are responsible for the mess we’re in because they “think” they know what we, the people, must do, eat, like and breath…it is an ancient method of controlling the people…..

    Actually, it’s an ancient method for showing someone went through a process where they were taught specific concepts as well as generalized knowledge to a level far above what “We, The People” normal achieve. There’s a term for it – education. Your doctor has a MD (the medical equivalent); do you regularly ignore what the doctor tells you because it’s an ancient method to control your health by telling you bad diets cause health issues and sitting on your ass all day isn’t great for your heart?

    If you stopped to think about it, “We, The People” has always included PhDs as well as drop-outs. Since you clearly didn’t, it sounds like you’re someone who doesn’t like being told Doritos and McDonald’s are not a food group and that’s why Sue Jr is obese at age 6 because “Mother knows best” or somesuch. While a PhD or MD certainly doesn’t know everything, I’d wager plenty of people would be more willing to listen to one in person then you when it comes to needing answers or advice. Bet that’s gotta sting……

  82. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: Yeah, but you’re (probably–I’m surmising) making an assumption about politicians that others aren’t making. I’m guessing that you assume that nearly all politicians are venal and self-serving. Most people may say that, but I’m not convinced that theyreally believe it.

    James spent 3 or 4 paragraphs explaining how Cilliza was wrong about Rush and Trump by using almost the identical argument, only contextualized by his belief that Trump can’t win. Rush (and maybe Cilliza, who knows) is so deluded (or pretends to be for the sake of his audience) that he may believe Trump not only can win, but may be the only candidate that can beat the monster that is Hillary. I don’t know why these yokels believe this stuff. Maybe it is part of the brain damage that comes from believing crap like objectivism and that Atlas Shrugged is the most important book that was ever written. That Joiner’s co-elites believe this crap while he doesn’t merely adds to his disillusionment about them.

    You, on the other hand, are no true believer in the virtues of any particular party or philosophy, so you don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole with the others. Bravo!