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Thread: Ulysses Trump

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    Ulysses Trump

    Bret Stephens penned the most irrational essay of his adult life at the end of 2017, published in the NY Times, of course:

    Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper

    It begins with acknowledging the familiar list of solid, conservative achievements of the new administration:
    Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

    And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

    That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above.
    But he then confesses his inoperable disease:
    But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.
    The body of his column argues that good conservatives "are better than that," meaning better than tolerating the boorish aspects of Trump's character and his annoying habits. Stephens begins by appealing to a familiar sage:
    Can I still call myself conservative?

    The answer depends on your definition. Here’s one I’ve always liked: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” said the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. To which he added: “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
    To cite Stephens' argument at length:
    And want to preserve your own republican institutions? Then pay attention to the character of your leaders, the culture of governance and the political health of the public. It matters a lot more than lowering the top marginal income tax rate by a couple of percentage points.

    This is the fatal mistake of conservatives who’ve decided the best way to deal with Trump’s personality — the lying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence and pettiness — is to pretend it doesn’t matter. “Character Doesn’t Count” has become a de facto G.O.P. motto. “Virtue Doesn’t Matter” might be another.

    But character does count, and virtue does matter, and Trump’s shortcomings prove it daily.

    Maybe you think the Russia investigation is much ado about nothing. Yet Trump brought it on himself every step of the way, from firing James Comey after the former F.B.I. director wouldn’t swear fealty, to (potentially) admitting to obstruction of justice with that tweet about Mike Flynn’s firing. Or maybe you regret the failure to repeal Obamacare. But that had something to do with the grotesque insults Trump lobbed at John McCain, the man whose “nay” vote sank repeal.

    Look at every other administration embarrassment (Scaramucci) or failure (the wall, and Mexico paying for it) or disgrace (the Charlottesville equivocation). Responsibility invariably lies with the president’s intemperance and dishonesty. That puts Republican control of Congress in play. It also risks permanently alienating a millennial generation for which the G.O.P. will forever be the party of the child-molesting sore loser and the president who endorsed him.

    Now look at the culture of governance. Trump demands testimonials from his cabinet, servility from Republican politicians and worship from conservative media. To serve in this White House isn’t to be elevated to public service. It’s to be debased into toadyism, which probably explains the record-setting staff turnover of 34 percent, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institution.

    In place of presidential addresses, stump speeches or town halls, we have Trump’s demagogic mass rallies. In place of the usual jousting between the administration and the press, we have a president who fantasizes on Twitter about physically assaulting CNN. In place of a president who defends the honor and integrity of his own officers and agencies, we have one who humiliates his attorney general, denigrates the F.B.I. and compares our intelligence agencies to the Gestapo.

    Trump is normalizing all this; he is, to borrow another Moynihan phrase, “defining deviancy down.” A president who supposedly wants to put a wall between the U.S. and Latin America has imported a style of politics reminiscent of the cults of Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez.

    Conservatives may suppose that they can pocket policy gains from a Trump administration while the stain of his person will eventually wash away. But as a (pro-Trump) friend wrote me the other day, “presidents empower cultures.” Trump is empowering a conservative political culture that celebrates everything that patriotic Americans should fear: the cult of strength, open disdain for truthfulness, violent contempt for the Fourth Estate, hostility toward high culture and other types of “elitism,” a penchant for conspiracy theories and, most dangerously, white-identity politics.
    It's telling that Stephens does NOT cite the clearest modern exemplar of his argument, the condoning of President Bill Clinton's sexual crimes and lewd habits by "compartmentalizing" the offenses and ignoring the consequences for women and the culture of sexual abuse.

    Of course Stephens can't cite that example because he explicitly endorses for president the principal enabler of Mr. Clinton's excesses. Donald J. Trump was not running against a generic saint, but against Hillary Clinton, whose ethical weaknesses are nothing short of legendary. Among other things that "Happened" was that most of the country judged her flaws to be more consequential than Donald's.

    Stephen's derangement is that he can't make that judgment. Trump's seeming lack of gentility can never be outweighed by the alternative. And in the bargain he would throw away the gains he lists at the outset, a bargain which would also, in my conservative view, endanger "our republican institutions."

    There's an observation from a contemporary of Moynihan he might consider. I paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish for."

    The same is true of your generals, and the example of Ulysses S. Grant comes to mind. He was criticized for his alleged drinking habits, as well as his brusque, anti-social affect, and Lincoln was urged to sack him entirely. Grant had been dismissed at one point. But Lincoln famously responded saying, "I cannot spare this man. He fights."

    And wins. Perhaps the quintessential "generals' general" was the polished George McClellan, who somehow never quite managed to be ready to fight, shades of the DC Republicans and their pledge to "Repeal & Replace."

    Trump is proving to be consistent, true to his word, and effective. (See Stephen's opening, again.) He fights, as Honest Abe might say. I'll settle for him over an imaginary candidate (this round, at least) who shares Stephens' fondness for hand sanitizer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    The body of his column argues that good conservatives "are better than that," meaning better than tolerating the boorish aspects of Trump's character and his annoying habits.
    I used to think that. I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. They are not better than that. They lied to me.

    As far as Trump and policy, he is nothing other than Norquist's Hand. It is clear he has no intention, let alone the ability, to fulfill his populist promises of taxing the wealthy, bringing universal healthcare to the citizens of this nation, leaving entitlements alone, and smashing the neoliberal world order. He will golf, grift, and mine the nation for liberal tears.

    I was also wrong about him being so easily controlled. The Republican leadership has him completely under control. It turns out, he has no backbone at all as long as he has his two scoops of ice cream (that is a metaphor).
    Last edited by Billy Jingo; Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at 8:31 AM.
    "That Fox News panel––the breathtaking dishonesty of it is beyond my ability to articulate. That is no longer a news organization. That is what American state media looks like. That is what White House-controlled in-the-service-of-the-president misinformation looks like. That is indistinct from propaganda in authoritarian countries. It is aimed directly at weakening essential institutions and misinforming the American people. It is appalling.”

    ~ Steve Schmidt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Bret Stephens penned the most irrational essay of his adult life at the end of 2017, published in the NY Times, of course:

    Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper

    It begins with acknowledging the familiar list of solid, conservative achievements of the new administration:
    But he then confesses his inoperable disease:

    The body of his column argues that good conservatives "are better than that," meaning better than tolerating the boorish aspects of Trump's character and his annoying habits. Stephens begins by appealing to a familiar sage:
    To cite Stephens' argument at length:

    It's telling that Stephens does NOT cite the clearest modern exemplar of his argument, the condoning of President Bill Clinton's sexual crimes and lewd habits by "compartmentalizing" the offenses and ignoring the consequences for women and the culture of sexual abuse.

    Of course Stephens can't cite that example because he explicitly endorses for president the principal enabler of Mr. Clinton's excesses. Donald J. Trump was not running against a generic saint, but against Hillary Clinton, whose ethical weaknesses are nothing short of legendary. Among other things that "Happened" was that most of the country judged her flaws to be more consequential than Donald's.

    Stephen's derangement is that he can't make that judgment. Trump's seeming lack of gentility can never be outweighed by the alternative. And in the bargain he would throw away the gains he lists at the outset, a bargain which would also, in my conservative view, endanger "our republican institutions."

    There's an observation from a contemporary of Moynihan he might consider. I paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish for."

    The same is true of your generals, and the example of Ulysses S. Grant comes to mind. He was criticized for his alleged drinking habits, as well as his brusque, anti-social affect, and Lincoln was urged to sack him entirely. Grant had been dismissed at one point. But Lincoln famously responded saying, "I cannot spare this man. He fights."

    And wins. Perhaps the quintessential "generals' general" was the polished George McClellan, who somehow never quite managed to be ready to fight, shades of the DC Republicans and their pledge to "Repeal & Replace."

    Trump is proving to be consistent, true to his word, and effective. (See Stephen's opening, again.) He fights, as Honest Abe might say. I'll settle for him over an imaginary candidate (this round, at least) who shares Stephens' fondness for hand sanitizer.
    Are you saying that this "conservative" that the NYT hired voted for Clinton?
    “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
    - Martin Luther

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Trump is proving to be consistent, true to his word, and effective. (See Stephen's opening, again.) He fights, as Honest Abe might say. I'll settle for him over an imaginary candidate (this round, at least) who shares Stephens' fondness for hand sanitizer.
    So, you still think Mexico is gonna pay for that wall?

    “The thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents, but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters."
    -David Frum

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    So, you still think Mexico is gonna pay for that wall?
    That's the easy part, Norm. "Extraordinary accounting techniques" and all that.

    The hard part is getting open-border Dems and covert cheap-labor Republicans to let the damn thing get built.

    It WAS a "shovel-ready project" if ever there was one, you know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    So, you still think Mexico is gonna pay for that wall?
    If the Dems are bloodied in 2018, I believe the wall will be built.

    Mark
    Race Card: A tool of the intellectually weak and lazy when they cannot counter a logical argument or factual data.

    "Liberals have to stop insisting that the world is what they want it to be instead of the way it is." - Bill Maher

    Political correctness is ideological fascism. It’s the antithesis of freedom. Dr. Piper

    Gender is not a "Social Construct", it is an outgrowth of biological reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    That's the easy part, Norm. "Extraordinary accounting techniques" and all that.

    The hard part is getting open-border Dems and covert cheap-labor Republicans to let the damn thing get built.

    It WAS a "shovel-ready project" if ever there was one, you know.
    So when you say he's consistent and true to his word, you mean he's consistently misleading and true to some not-quite-believable interpretation of his plain words.

    “The thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents, but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters."
    -David Frum

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    Quote Originally Posted by 80zephyr View Post
    If the Dems are bloodied in 2018, I believe the wall will be built.

    Mark
    Not what I asked, is it?

    “The thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents, but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters."
    -David Frum

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    Not what I asked, is it?


    Yes, it was the a direct answer to your question. If you insist on short words, Yes.

    If Democrats can claim Obama reduced the deficit, The GOP can claim Mexico paid for the wall.

    Now, do you, Norm de Plume, believe "the wall" will get constructed substantially during this administration?

    And no, I don't mean thousands of miles of wall. That's NOT what's being considered. Nor do I mean a wall on the Canadian border, which some progressives "insist" on, in the name of fairness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    So when you say he's consistent and true to his word, you mean he's consistently misleading and true to some not-quite-believable interpretation of his plain words.
    Hmm. Sorta like "I'm going to close Gitmo", and "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"?

    Mark
    Race Card: A tool of the intellectually weak and lazy when they cannot counter a logical argument or factual data.

    "Liberals have to stop insisting that the world is what they want it to be instead of the way it is." - Bill Maher

    Political correctness is ideological fascism. It’s the antithesis of freedom. Dr. Piper

    Gender is not a "Social Construct", it is an outgrowth of biological reality.

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