Friday, August 07, 2015


The first major GOP debate to help determine the Republican nominee for president has come and gone. I didn't see the debate, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to watch it, anyway. I have, however, been desultorily reading both lefty and righty commentary on the debate, noting the de rigueur gap in perception. It's that very gap that I'd like to point out now. On the left, the New York Times, in an editorial by Frank Bruni, gushed that the Fox News moderators of the debate did a splendid job of grilling the candidates, keeping them off-balance by bringing up their flaws and inconsistencies. Later on, Bruni wrote:

And the questions that the moderators asked weren’t just discomfiting, humiliating ones. They were the right ones, starting with a brilliant opener: Was there any candidate who was unwilling to pledge support to the eventual Republican nominee and swear off a third-party run?

Trump alone wouldn’t make those promises, even though the moderator who asked that question, Bret Baier, pointed out that such a third-party run would likely hand the presidency to the Democratic nominee.

And thus, in the first minute of the debate, Trump was undressed and unmasked, and he stood there as the unprincipled, naked egomaniac that he is. He never quite recovered. His admission of political infidelity was the prism through which all of his subsequent bluster had to be viewed.

So Bruni's view is that Trump "never quite recovered" after failing to promise not to go rogue as a third-party candidate. But according to the righty hoi polloi, who won the debate? Drudge ran a poll, and here are the results as of this writing:

Assuming the poll's voters are mostly conservatives (and, who knows? the voters might all be Democrat pranksters!), the righty perception was that Trump trumped them all. A majority of poll voters—52 percent—saw Trump as the winner.

I'm at a loss to explain this. Intermittently humorous conservative commenter Andrew Klavan is no fan of Trump. "When I see Republicans following after Donald Trump, I despair. I mean, it really makes me upset, you know," he opined on a recent video. "This guy—he has been pro-abortion; now he says he's anti-abortion. He's pro-amnesty—he's always been pro-amnesty; he's pro-government health care—he believes there should be universal health care; he's a big Hillary Cl—he's given over a hundred thousand dollars to the Clinton Foundation; he supported Democrat candidates all over the place; and Republicans are going, 'Yeah! He said something nasty about Mexicans! I'm gonna vote for him!' That's depressing."

Klavan may be touching on a topic near and dear to the dark, cynical heart of people like Canadian conservative MJ Sheppard: the topic of the stupidity of the American voter. It's not just Sheppard, either: other bloggers in my circuit, like Malcolm Pollack, have been known to quote HL Mencken's line that "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." We elect the leaders we deserve, and we deserve the leaders that we elect.

Donald Trump is our dildo in the ass, and some of us seem determined to shove that sucker as far up as possible.



Charles said...

I did watch some of the debate (the latter half) as well as highlight clips from the part I missed. It felt like a prostate examination: very uncomfortable and rather violating.

I agree that Trump's popularity is extremely depressing. He is some of the worst that humanity has to offer, but because he's anti-establishment certain people flock to him.

His answer to Megyn Kelly's question about his disparaging comments regarding women was classic Trump: "I don't have time for political correctness." No, you blathering idiot. It's not about political correctness, it's about being a decent human being. Hey, I'm as sick of PC as the next guy, but since when did not being a jerk to people automatically become "political correctness"?

Surprises Aplenty said...

I am happily a democrat regarding American politics but admit that it might be because I cannot vote there. It's easy to take a position when one has no stake.

Anyway, as I understand the left's position, the Tea Party has pushed the right so much farther right that Trump or various YE Creationists can get high marks in walled gardens like Republican debates but have no appeal to the wider population. This make sense of the debate but not necessarily of the Drudge Report report.

Kevin Kim said...


I think your understanding of the American left's position is flawless, but the position itself is based on a number of distortions and flat-out untruths about the Tea Party. I'm not a Tea Partier myself, but my understanding is that the Tea Party's fundamental reason for being is its stance on economic policy, and nothing else. Somehow, the party has become associated with racism and exaggerated, far-right-sounding positions, and for all I know, this perception may be the fault of the Tea Partiers themselves, if they don't have a handle on their own marketing. It's probably also the fault of a generally liberal media that's invested in not portraying the party accurately or charitably.

Regarding this:

"...Trump or various YE Creationists can get high marks in walled gardens like Republican debates but have no appeal to the wider population. This make sense of the debate but not necessarily of the Drudge Report report."

What you're saying here may be true with or without the influence of the Tea Party.

You say you're "happily a Democrat" regarding US politics, which I suppose implies you lean left on many or most issues. For myself, I lean right (further and further right, as I get older) on economic policy and foreign policy, but I lean strongly left on certain matters of social policy. Finding a conservative candidate who has his or her head on straight regarding issues like gay marriage is very difficult: current US conservatives seem engaged in the hypocrisy of espousing minimal-government, libertarian values out of one side of their mouths while advocating a strong governmental role in sexual conduct and reproductive rights out of the other. Liberals are just as unappealing to me: their emphasis on diversity as a good in itself doesn't square with their insistence that we are all fundamentally the same, thus making it verboten to speak of differences—ironic, since difference ideally ought to be the meat and potatoes of the liberal left. Upshot: there's enough hypocrisy to go around on both sides—and not just the two hypocrisies I just mentioned.

Anyway, I think we can agree that US politics is a massive, dysfunctional, money-driven mess, and the system is too large and too far gone to be saved.

Surprises Aplenty said...

"Tea Party's fundamental reason for being is its stance on economic policy, and nothing else"

I think Occupy Wall Street started in a similar way -that is, it was (might have been) driven by a single issue or tightly grouped set of issues but it grew until it became pointless.

The Tea Party might have started as being only focused on economic policy and their website focuses well on the subject ( but all the faces on that page are either creationists or refuse to state that they accept evolution (Paul in the latter case).
I start out as a single issue kind of guy. If I could vote in the USA, I would start by eliminating creationists from my voting pool purely for their lack of understanding of science and logic.
Here is a small group of Tea Partiers who all disagree with the theory of evolution:
Paul Broun Evolution is "Lies from the pit of hell",
Louie Gohmert: also spoke out about Death panels,
Sarah Palin,
Michele Bachmann,
Rand Paul- pleads the fifth on evolution,
Dr Ben Carson

This is a small group, but 1) they are among the loudest of the Tea Partiers and 2) I didn't check the others. All before this point is neither a distortion nor a untruth. Below this point are my opinions and likely are distorted:
I strongly suspect there are more creationists among the Tea Party than among the regular US population. I further suspect there are more creationists among the Tea Party than in the rest of the Republican party.

To call Tea Partiers Theocrats seems not much of a stretch and to suggest theocracy is more important to them than economic reform is a defensible opinion.

Kevin Kim said...


Every group has its science nuts (see here for a lefty example of science nuttery; it's a long article, but worth reading in its entirety).

That point aside, I'd say that it's because of folks like the ones you mention that I can never totally get on board the rightie bandwagon. Does the tiny cluster of individuals you mention represent the entire, disparate Tea Party, though? I couldn't say. Haven't done a study, and that sample size is way too small. There may be surveys out there, though.

Another question: of the big politicians who either avowedly skew creationist or go silent on the issue, what percentage, would you guess, is doing this because they really believe what they're saying and aren't simply pandering to their target constituency? Again, I've done no studies, so I wouldn't know. In theory, it could be that the majority are openly science-illiterate. That's too bad, because among conservatives are plenty of scientific skeptics and atheists who don't want to have a theocratic agenda imposed on them. Prominent in the rightie blogosphere is Bill Whittle, who is a self-proclaimed fan of the very liberal-leaning Carl Sagan. Then again, it could be that the creationist/theocrats are a minority.

Surprises Aplenty said...

i understand what you are saying and also feel I went further in my argument than I might normally with a friend. Thanks for the clear, polite response.

The article was interesting and I have read a few books by a Ridley -I think there are two science writers with the same last name.

I agree that I offered a small sample but these are politicians; by definition, they represent a lot of voters - local majorities definitely.

I don't know if the politicians are pandering more than usual but neither answer is reassuring.