— Jim Stinson (@jimstinson) October 20, 2017
As Bob Dole, I believe, joked in a different context: Hey, it's See no evil, Hear no evil, and…Evil. https://t.co/LeorDNzUFy
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) October 20, 2017
More like Speechwriter for Evil, Speaker for Evil, and Chaotic Evil, to be honest.
Don't be stupid, be a smarty
Come and join the Nazi Party pic.twitter.com/sPvdLm5rzv
— Schooley (@Rschooley) October 21, 2017
(Quip from Springtime for Hitler, in The Producers)
Speaking of ancient eldritch horrors, Kevin Williamson has a tantrum for WFBuckley’s National Review — “White Working Class Populism & Conservatism Are Incompatible”:
… We rarely used to put it in racial terms, unless we were talking about Eminem or the Cash-Me-Ousside Girl or some other white person who has embraced (or affected) some part of black popular culture. With the Trump-era emergence of a more self-conscious form of white-identity politics — especially white working-class identity politics — the racial language comes to the surface more often than it used to. But we still rarely hear complaints about “acting un-white.” Instead, we hear complaints about “elitism.”
The parallels to the “acting white” phenomenon in black culture are fairly obvious: When aspiration takes the form of explicit or implicit cultural identification, however partial, with some hated or resented outside group that occupies a notionally superior social position, then “authenticity” is to be found in socially regressive manners, mores, and habits. It is purely reactionary.
The results are quite strange. Republicans, once the party of the upwardly mobile with a remarkable reflex for comforting the comfortable, have written off entire sections of the country — including the bits where most of the people live — as “un-American.” Silicon Valley and California at large, New York City and the hated Acela corridor, and, to some extent, large American cities categorically are sneered at and detested. There is some ordinary partisanship in that, inasmuch as the Democrats tend to dominate the big cities and the coastal metropolitan aggregations, but it isn’t just that. Conservatives are cheering for the failure of California and slightly nonplussed that New York City still refuses to regress into being an unlivable hellhole in spite of the best efforts of its batty Sandinista mayor. Not long ago, to be a conservative on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was the most ordinary thing in the world. Now that address would be a source of suspicion. God help you if you should ever attend a cocktail party in Georgetown, the favorite dumb trope of conservative talk-radio hosts.
We’ve gone from William F. Buckley Jr. to the gentlemen from Duck Dynasty. Why?
American authenticity, from the acting-even-whiter point of view, is not to be found in any of the great contemporary American business success stories, or in intellectual life, or in the great cultural institutions, but in the suburban-to-rural environs in which the white underclass largely makes its home — the world John Mellencamp sang about but understandably declined to live in. Shake your head at rap music all you like: When’s the last time you heard a popular country song about finishing up your master’s in engineering at MIT?
White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect.
Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse. This involves, inevitably, a good deal of fakery…
The populist Right’s abandonment of principle has been accompanied by a repudiation of good taste, achievement, education, refinement, and manners — all of which are abominated as signs of effete “elitism.” During the Clinton years, Virtue Inc. was the top-performing share in the Republican political stock exchange. Fortunes were made, books were sold by the ton, and homilies were delivered. The same people today are celebrating Donald Trump — not in spite of his being a dishonest, crude serial adulterer but because of it. His dishonesty, the quondam cardinals of Virtue Inc. assure us, is simply the mark of a savvy businessman, his vulgarity the badge of his genuineness and lack of “political correctness,” and his pitiless abuse of his several wives and children the mark of a genuine “alpha male.” No less a virtue entrepreneur than Bill Bennett dismissed those who pointed out Trump’s endless lies and habitual betrayals as suffering from “moral superiority,” from people on “high horses,” and said that Trump simply is “a guy who says some things awkwardly, indecorously, infelicitously.”…
The problem, in Bennett’s telling (and that of many other conservatives), isn’t that Trump is a morally defective reprobate but that he is aesthetically displeasing to overly refined “elitists.” That is a pretty common line of argument — and an intellectual cop-out — but set that aside for the moment. Let’s pretend that Bennett et al. are correct and this is simply a matter of manners. Are we now to celebrate vulgarity as a virtue? Are we to embrace crassness? Are we supposed to pretend that a casino-cum-strip-joint is a civilizational contribution up there with Notre-Dame, that the Trump Taj Mahal trumps the Taj Mahal? Are we supposed to snigger at people who ask that question? Are we supposed to abandon our traditional defense of standards to mimic Trump’s bucket-of-KFC-and-gold-plated-toilet routine?…
The “alpha male” posturing, the valorizing of underclass dysfunction, the rejection of “elite” tastes and manners — right-wing populism in the age of Trump is a lot like Bruce Springsteen’s act, once acidly (and perfectly) described as a “white minstrel show.” I wonder if Bill Bennett can tap-dance.
Race is part of this, as it is part of many things in America, but it is easy to make too much of it, too. The white underclass may suffer from “acting white,” but what poor people in general suffer from is acting poor, i.e., repeating the mistakes and habits that left them (or their parents and grandparents, in many cases) in poverty or near-poverty to begin with…
Kevin Williamson is Right-eously pissed that capital-C Conservatism went downmarket just as he’d scratched and clawed his way out of his dysfunctional upbringing in East Buttscratch, TX. Despite my own liberal upbringing, I cannot find it in my cold, cold heart to sympathize. He’s suffering from a Mad Men version of ‘the South shall rise again’ revanchism.
William Eff Buckley’s mid-century “Conservatism” was never welcoming to more than a tiny fraction of the American population… the (almost universally) white, straight-or-willing-to-stay-closeted, Protestant-or-ready-to-defer-to-Episcopalian men. It was always a cheap facade for a cruel minority to abuse the rest of us, and regardless of how hard the GOP tries it is never coming back. But as long as there are nostalgic billionaires who can’t quite stomach the braying Trumplodytes, at least Williamson and his fellows will have their safe space!