Brooks and Krugman

Bobo says “The Democrats Win the Summer,” but that it may not matter which party had the better convention.  Bobo wrings his hands over the dystopian hellscape that the Republicans are trying to convince us we live in, but he can’t bring himself to call out Trump for the lying, misogynist, malignant narcissist that he is.  Even George Effing Will did…  Prof. Krugman has a question:  “Who Loves America?”  He says the Republicans’ flag-waving has nothing to do with patriotism.  Here’s Bobo:

Donald Trump has found an ingenious way to save the Democratic Party. Basically, he’s abandoned the great patriotic themes that used to fire up the G.O.P. and he’s allowed the Democrats to seize that ground. If you visited the two conventions this year you would have come away thinking that the Democrats are the more patriotic of the two parties — and the more culturally conservative.

Trump has abandoned the Judeo-Christian aspirations that have always represented America’s highest moral ideals: toward love, charity, humility, goodness, faith, temperance and gentleness.

He left the ground open for Joe Biden to remind us that decent people don’t enjoy firing other human beings.

Trump has abandoned the basic modesty code that has always ennobled the American middle class: Don’t brag, don’t let your life be defined by gilded luxuries.

He left the ground open for the Democrats to seize middle-class values with one quick passage in a Tim Kaine video — about a guy who goes to the same church where he was married, who taught carpentry as a Christian missionary in Honduras, who has lived in the same house for the last 24 years.

Trump has also abandoned the American ideal of popular self-rule.

He left the ground open for Barack Obama to remind us that our founders wanted active engaged citizens, not a government run by a solipsistic and self-appointed savior who wants everything his way.

Trump has abandoned the deep and pervasive optimism that has always energized the American nation.

He left the ground open for Michelle Obama to embrace the underlying chorus of hope that runs through the American story: that our national history is an arc toward justice; that evil rises for a day but contains the seeds of its own destruction; that beneath the vicissitudes that darken our days, we live in an orderly cosmos governed by love.

For decades the Republican Party has embraced America’s open, future-oriented nationalism. But when you nominate a Silvio Berlusconi you give up a piece of that. When you nominate a blood-and-soil nationalist you’re no longer speaking in the voice of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and every Republican nominee from Reagan to McCain to Romney.

Democrats have often been ambivalent about that ardent nationalistic voice, but this week they were happy to accept Trump’s unintentional gift. There were an unusually high number of great speeches at the Democratic convention this year: the Obamas, Biden, Booker, Clinton, the Mothers of the Movement and so on.

These speakers found their eloquence in staving off this demagogue. They effectively separated Trump from America. They separated him from conservatism. They made full use of the deep nationalist chords that touch American hearts.

Trump has allowed the Democrats to mask their deep problems. A Democratic administration has presided over a time of growing world chaos, growing violence and growing anger. But the Democrats seem positively organized and orderly compared to Candidate Chaos on the other side.

The Sanders people have 90 percent of the Democratic Party’s passion and 95 percent of the ideas. Most Sanders people are kind- and open-hearted, but there is a core that is corrupted by moral preening, an uncompromising absolutism and a paranoid unwillingness to play by the rules of civic life.

But the extremist fringe that threatens to take over the Democratic Party seems less menacing than the lunatic fringe that has already taken over the Republican one.

This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the “sane” and “reasonable” Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.

The Democrats had by far the better of the conventions. But the final and shocking possibility is this: In immediate political terms it may not make a difference.

The Democratic speakers hit doubles, triples and home runs. But the normal rules may no longer apply. The Democrats may have just dominated a game we are no longer playing.

Both conventions featured one grieving parent after another. The fear of violent death is on everybody’s mind — from ISIS, cops, lone sociopaths. The essential contract of society — that if you behave responsibly things will work out — has been severed for many people.

It could be that in this moment of fear, cynicism, anxiety and extreme pessimism, many voters may have decided that civility is a surrender to a rigged system, that optimism is the opiate of the idiots and that humility and gentleness are simply surrendering to the butchers of ISIS. If that’s the case then the throes of a completely new birth are upon us and Trump is a man from the future.

If that’s true it’s not just politics that has changed, but the country.

Funny how he never mentions that the Republicans have worked with all their might for the last 40 years to create Trump and now they’re horrified…  Here’s Prof. Krugman:

It has been quite a week in politics.

On one side, the Democratic National Convention was very much a celebration of America. On the other side, the Republican nominee for president, pressed on the obvious support he is getting from Vladimir Putin, once again praised Mr. Putin’s leadership, suggested that he is O.K. with Russian aggression in Crimea, and urged the Russians to engage in espionage on his behalf. And no, it wasn’t a joke.

I know that some Republicans feel as if they’ve fallen through the looking glass. After all, usually they’re the ones chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” And haven’t they spent years suggesting that Barack and Michelle Obama hate America, and may even support the nation’s enemies? How did Democrats end up looking like the patriots here?

But the parties aren’t really experiencing a role reversal. President Obama’s speech on Wednesday was wonderful and inspiring, but when he declared that “what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican,” he was fibbing a bit. It was actually very Republican in substance; the only difference was that the substance was less disguised than usual. For the “fanning of resentment” that Mr. Obama decried didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and most of the flag-waving never did have much to do with true patriotism.

Think about it: What does it mean to love America? Surely it means loving the country we actually have. I don’t know about you, but whenever I return from a trip abroad, my heart swells to see the sheer variety of my fellow citizens, so different in their appearance, their cultural heritage, their personal lives, yet all of them — all of us — Americans.

That love of country doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, uncritical. But the faults you find, the critiques you offer, should be about the ways in which we don’t yet live up to our own ideals. If what bothers you about America is, instead, the fact that it doesn’t look exactly the way it did in the past (or the way you imagine it looked in the past), then you don’t love your country — you care only about your tribe.

And all too many influential figures on the right are tribalists, not patriots.

We got a graphic demonstration of that reality after Michelle Obama’s speech, when she spoke of the wonder of watching her daughters play on the lawn of “a house that was built by slaves.” It was an uplifting and, yes, patriotic image, a celebration of a nation that is always seeking to become better, to transcend its flaws.

But all many people on the right — especially the media figures who set the Republican agenda — heard was a knock on white people. “They can’t stop talking about slavery,” complained Rush Limbaugh. The slaves had it good, insisted Bill O’Reilly: “They were well fed and had decent lodgings.” Both men were, in effect, saying that whites are their tribe and must never be criticized.

This same tribal urge surely underlies a lot of the right’s rhetoric about national security. Why are Republicans so fixated on the notion that the president must use the phrase “Islamic terrorism,” when actual experts on terrorism agree that this would actually hurt national security, by helping to alienate peaceful Muslims?

The answer, I’d argue, is that the alienation isn’t a side effect they’re disregarding; it’s actually the point — it’s all about drawing a line between us (white Christians) and them (everyone else), and national security has nothing to do with it.

Which brings us back to the Vlad-Donald bromance. Mr. Trump’s willingness to cast aside our nation’s hard-earned reputation as a reliable ally is remarkable. So is the odd specificity of his support for Mr. Putin’s priorities, which is in stark contrast with the vagueness of everything else he has said about policy. And he has offered only evasive non-answers to questions about his business ties to Putin-linked oligarchs.

But what strikes me most is the silence of so many leading Republicans in the face of behavior they would have denounced as treason coming from a Democrat — not to mention the active support for Mr. Trump’s stance among many in the base.

What this tells you, I think, is that all the flag-waving and hawkish posturing had nothing to do with patriotism. It was, instead, about using alleged Democratic weakness on national security as a club with which to beat down domestic opponents, and serve the interests of the tribe.

Now comes Mr. Trump, doing the bidding of a foreign power and inviting it to intervene in our politics — and that’s O.K., because it also serves the tribe.

So if it seems strange to you that these days Democrats are sounding patriotic while Republicans aren’t, you just weren’t paying attention. The people who now seem to love America always did; the people who suddenly no longer sound like patriots never were.

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One Response to “Brooks and Krugman”

  1. Russian Sage Says:

    Trump:
    weak, loathsome, cheater, bigot, vulgar, liar, filthy, braggart

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