“From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives? Unlikely.”
George F. Will, The Washington Post, Aug 12, 2015
The raging, erratic fire refuses to go out. The longer the Donald flame flickers and burns in its impetuous, cartoonish way, the more the GOP is agitated in recoiling horror. In itself, this assessment suggests that the GOP is the vestal virgin being assaulted by the barbarian who is not merely at the gates but in the bed chamber.
The conservative commentariat have gathered their pens in what is becoming a unified front against Donald Trump. Their anger is an indicator, a form of measurement that Trump may actually be proving far more than entertainment material. The mirror refuses to break – Trump, in so many ways, elucidates what they are struggling to find. Is Trump merely an inner GOP on steroids?
Veteran high priest of conservative commentary George F. Will feels that the nonsense should end now, the farce stomped upon with conviction and certainty. Reading Will on Trump is reading a purity tract on leadership and source of command. No variation from the central party line is tolerated – Trump is merely the interloping “counterfeit Republican”.
For Will, he is a type misguided, intoxicated, and buoyed by disconcerting megalomania. “In every town large enough to have two traffic lights there is a bar at the back which sits the local Donald Trump, nursing his fifth beer and innumerable delusions.” But this is America, the open society, the asylum set free. The Trump who takes that fifth beer is also the same Trump who eventually owns real estate and media coverage.
The language of defence in Will’s response is striking, resembling that of the amateurish, gun toting militia guarding Arizona’s borders against Mexican crossings. “A political party has a right to… secure its borders.” Will gets rather precious, suggesting that Trump is the great “affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of the National Review – making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable.”
This is the same respectability that tolerates a Star Wars crazed President on call to a resident astrologer, buttressed by a wife’s encouragement; the same palatability that leads to fictionalised weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for regime change in Iraq. Trump, when compared to such faux pas specialities of American governance, doesn’t so much look respectable as bearably absurd. The dark minded may well insist that he get a run. Between the noxious Clinton machine with its stifling machinations and the GOP suicide collective, is Trump more absurd than any other?
Trump critics such as Mike Gerson take a similar line that the GOP presidential candidates have to be school children worshipping the principal’s good code conduct. The winner must eventually be supported by all – disagreement is distinctly verboten. Trump, in refusing to do so, smears the code of consensus. The recourse of action? Marginalise him via the lunacy ticket, the mad fringe argument – that “he has moved beyond the boundaries of serious and civil discourse.”
Such indignant attitudes are exactly what fuels Trump. He has the GOP in a running mess. He takes shots against Megyn Kelly of Fox News in a fashion so brazen it might actually appeal to some voters. (The bully loving sort bathing in misogyny who says, “And you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her – wherever.”) The fallout did not disturb his standing – the Reuters/Ipsos poll still showed that he was commanding 24 percent among Republicans, with Jeb Bush limping behind at twelve.
His vulgarity, far from being an Achilles heel of mortal weakness, is a solid weapon. Across the US pond, there are similar, Trump like characters who are riling the forces of orthodox conservatism. These are regarded by US exceptionalists as incomparable to American politics. France’s National Front has no equivalent; the UK Independence Party cannot find a parallel. They are regarded as extremists by those who have certainly courted extremism.
Having defenders for Kelly from the GOP is much like having wolves defending a vegetarian’s meticulously planned organic diet. Conservative activists like Erick Erickson see women as limited in value, except when it comes to targeting Trump. In disinviting Trump to his RedState conference, the gloat factor for Trump will only rise. He knows women in the way that suggests not knowing at all. His Republican detractors have yet to come up with a reason why this should be so.
Such behaviour gives him an endless line of credit as an outsider. In truth, the strategists are far better for suggesting that Trump is very much the soul of GOP politics, a channelling of its core. Failing that, Trump will continue his merry way slicing through the GOP establishment. If, argues Patrick Buchanan, “the GOP has no room for Trump’s followers, it has no future.” Trump’s own touted whine factor (“I keep whining and whining till I win”) continues to terrify and hold court.