The other day Trump gave a speech outlining his foreign policy at the National Interest. Short on details, it was strong on instinct. Predictably, the hawks and moralists have gotten into a tizzy. Their monopoly is being challenged by the Republican front-runner and they are panicking that the blustery child that is Trump will convince the mob that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Trillions of dollars, tens of thousands of lives, millions of refugees, and a multitude of wrecked countries: after three decades the war party’s record of liberal internationalism and regime change has not only left the world more unstable and innocents dead, but wasted American blood and treasure. Good intentions indeed. Continue reading
There are few things more marvelously entertaining than watching a Party implode. And this year we might just get a twofer! The Democrats aside, Trump is unprecedented, so I frankly don’t blame members of the Establishment for losing their collective mind. I do suspect, though, they are already coming to terms with their grief and anger and ready to accept the inevitable. Continue reading
“How could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him.” —Pauline Kael
The quote is tongue-in-cheek and somewhat apocryphal (Kael, a highbrow film critic for The New Yorker, was aware of her own elitist bubble) but it is apropos to the Trump phenomenon.
Over Christmas break I had a conversation with our traveling correspondent, Argos (see his reports from Belgium, Jordan, and Sweden). A white collar, pragmatic conservative not given to flights of fancy over winning the culture war through legislation, he expressed some discomfort with the Trump’s boorishness and doubts over his electability. I caught up with him the other day to discuss the subject again.
The mood has changed and it’s telling, though anecdotal. Simply put: if the election was tomorrow, he’d vote for Trump in a heartbeat.
The only thing more ignorant than a Trump supporter who thinks that the man will single-handedly make America great again, is the Trump hater who thinks he is the new incarnation of Adolf Hitler. Hitler, he is not. Weimar Germany, America is not. And not by a long shot. Similarities certainly exist. For instance, both Hitler and Trump have two arms, two legs, a head, and hair (albeit Hitler had a better idea of how to part his locks). A cursory (not superficial) glance at history and the present highlights the simple-minded mentality that propagates such sophomoric comparisons.
There are two things that should be considered. First, a comparison of Hitler and Trump’s ideas. Second, a comparison of their respective political contexts. Upon reflection, the Hitler-Trump memes are absurd. The main culprit I think is how much people have forgotten about Hitler. He has become a caricature, a trope that has been used and abused and laden with nicknacks from all the strawman hobbyhorses he has been nailed to. He is simply the monster without form or essence. The problem here is not merely an academic one. If you misdiagnose the problem, you will never get around to orchestrating a thoughtful response to the Trump phenomenon.