Circus Maximus MMXVI: Hold me closer, tiny dancer

11 05 2016

So, a coupla’ months ago I wondered why those who saw the Republican party as dysfunctional didn’t think to connect this dysfunction to an inability for the party to ‘decide’ on an acceptable nominee.

Which is a long way of saying: why didn’t any of us see Trump coming?

Apparently, one guy did: Norm Ornstein.

I had focused for so long on the growing dysfunction inside the Republican Party, and I believed that its leaders had generated an awful lot of the anger out there. And eventually, I combined that with the set of polls that we began to see that showed 60 to 70 percent support for outsiders and insurgents.

He lays Tiny Hands Trump’s triumph squarely at the feet of Republican leaders, where it belongs:

[I]f you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

And add to that, they’ve delegitimized President Obama, but they’ve failed to succeed with any of the promises they’ve made to their rank and file voters, or Tea Party adherents. So when I looked at that, my view was, “what makes you think, after all of these failures, that you’re going to have a group of compliant people who are just going to fall in line behind an establishment figure?”

He traces the problem back to Newt Gingrich and his efforts to tear down Congress; I’d guess the problem goes back at least to Reagan—“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”—if not further, but clearly the Republican establishment’s willingness to rip apart the establishment goes back a ways.

What’s the appropriate cliché, here? Came back to bite ’em in the ass? Fanned the flames of a fire that consumed them? Something something boomerang something?

Whatever.

When you basically move dramatically away from what we call the regular order, when you almost debase your own institutions — you’re gonna find an opening for somebody who’s never been a part of it and who can offer you very, very simplistic answers.

It’s not that I blame the GOPper bosses wholly for Trump’s popularity—I think he did hit on some kind of whacked-out beat that got a lot of people clapping—but that they couldn’t be bothered to take him out when the taking was good.

And now they—and we—are stuck with him. Sad!

Ornstein also kicks at our profession:

Political scientists in some ways, just like journalists, pursue false equivalence. They do not want to suggest anything flatly or that one party is to blame. There’s a kinda cynicism whenever you suggest something might be different than it was in the past. “Oh, no, it’s always the same.”

[…]

And there’s a herd mentality too, I think. People glom onto The Party Decides and you look like a fool if you say, “Well, no, that’s not right” — because everybody believes it! I don’t know if I would call this a black swan moment, but people’s unwillingness to take a risk of breaking from consensus or believing that it will come out differently than it has before is pervasive.

Yeah, I followed that pretty much down the line. In my defense, I’m a political theorist, not an Americanist—but that line could also be turned against me: why so willing to follow along?

And I (still) do follow Jonathan Bernstein‘s admonition that any major party candidate, by virtue of being a major party candidate, has a shot at winning the presidency. As Ornstein notes

We do know that straight-ticket voting has increased dramatically. This to me suggests we’re not gonna have a 45-state blowout like Goldwater faced, or a 49-state one like Mondale or McGovern had. You’re gonna start with some states and you’re gonna start with 45 percent of the votes. Most Republicans are gonna come back into the fold.

Yep. And, Oh god.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Talk talk

10 11 2015

Reading Gawker’s live blog makes it tempting, but. . .

. . . once again, I am neither listening to nor watching Republicans debate one another on who can heighten walls highest, lower taxest lowest, and shrink government down to the shrinkiest dink possible.

It’s magic!

Those kids could go far.

Of course, I also think this guy would fit it quite well: just substitute “government” or “immigrants” or, really, anybody, and there’s your campaign slogan!

 





Rolling in the deep

28 10 2015

There was a Republican debate tonight and plenty o’ grading for my Friday class. So what did I do?

Watched interviews with Adele on YouTube.

I’m not necessarily a huge fan of her music—I mean, I like her husky voice and retro-soul sound and all, but she doesn’t set my hair on fire—but I am quite a fan of her.

This video is part of the reason why. Start watching about the 9:10 mark:

She starts a bit low-key, but once she gets rollin’, well, who wouldn’t want to hang out with her?

Still got to get that grading done, tho’.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Sincerely

7 10 2015

Hillary Clinton has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and I say ‘Great!’

I also say: don’t believe it for a minute.

If she becomes president and the deal has been ratified by Congress, she’ll do nothing to overturn it; if it were shot down, she’ll find a way to resurrect it.

So, too, would a Republican president.

Even money on whether President Bernie Sanders would throw in with the TPP.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: The hero takes a fall

21 09 2015

WHOO-HOOOOOO!

scott walker huffpo

So Donald Trump can be said to have one good thing in his life.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Sh’ dooby

15 09 2015

Yes, yes, yes!

I was yelling at someone a week or so ago that the way to take Trump out is by mocking him.

I mean, Jesus, is there anyone more mockable than The Donald? Mr. Winning?

I mean, someone else must have thought to put a picture of Charlie Sheen next to him, with WINNING! the caption, right?

(I would do this if I had any ability to, uh, splice separate photos into one image. And caption it. But I don’t. I am not a WINNER.)

If asked about him, condescend. If in a debate with him, laugh at him. Be amused, not angry, and if Trump gets angry, laugh some more.

He wants to be taken seriously, so do not under any circumstances take him seriously.

This is not elevated political discourse, I know, but if you’re dealing with someone who so gleefully breaks the rules of electoral decorum, then you have to follow him through that breach and break him. Poking at someone until he explodes may not be edifying, but with someone as gassed up on ego as Trump, it can be effective.

Now, I think Trump’s gonna deflate before the first primary anyway, but if I’m a competing candidate, why take that chance?  More to the point, why not get the lift from sending that particular hot air balloon careening off into the treetops?

But, whatever, Republican candidates. If you’re afraid to take on a mouthy real estate developer with zero political experience, then, again, you’re the losers Trump says you are.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Send in the clowns

18 08 2015

Note: I really don’t think this will end up being the case, but. . .

If the other Republican candidates can’t figure out how to beat as manifestly unfit a candidate as Donald Trump, then they really are a bunch of losers.