Brooks and Krugman

Bobo haz a concern.  Bobo is VERY concerned.  Bobo is fretting about “those” Republicans, you know, the ones WAAAY over there, certainly not anyone HE knows…  In “Trump’s Enablers Will Finally Have to Take a Stand” he firmly tells them that Trump’s behavior has left them no more middle ground to keep dancing between embracing him and disowning him.  I’ll believe any of this crap once Bobo bites the bullet and says that he’s not voting for the short-fingered vulgarian.  Even George Effing WILL has had that much courage.  “Gemli” from Boston will have something to say about this, following Bobo.  Prof. Krugman, in “No Right Turn,” says Hillary Clinton shouldn’t give disaffected Republicans a less progressive agenda.  Amen to that.  Here’s Bobo, wringing his hands over THOSE Republicans:

Up through the convention there were all sorts of Republican officeholders who weren’t really for Trump, but they weren’t really against him. They sort of endorsed him implicitly, while trying to change the subject.

Their bodies squirmed when they were asked about their nominee. They refused to look you straight in the eye. They made little apologetic comments so you would still like them even though they were doing this shameful thing.

They had all sorts of squirrelly formulations about why it was O.K. to ride the Trump train: He can be tamed or surrounded and improved. Sure, he’s got some real weaknesses, but he’s more or less a normal candidate who is at least better than Hillary.

Over the past few days, Trump has destroyed this middle ground. He’s exposed the wet noodle Republicans as suckers, or worse. Trump has shown that he is not a normal candidate. He is a political rampage charging ever more wildly out of control. And no, he cannot be changed.

He cannot be contained because he is psychologically off the chain. With each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in more disturbing forms: inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, impulsivity, aggression and a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about.

His speech patterns are like something straight out of a psychiatric textbook. Manics display something called “flight of ideas.” It’s a formal thought disorder in which ideas tumble forth through a disordered chain of associations. One word sparks another, which sparks another, and they’re off to the races. As one trained psychiatrist said to me, compare Donald Trump’s speaking patterns to a Robin Williams monologue, but with insults instead of jokes.

Trump insults Paul Ryan, undermines NATO and raises the specter of nuclear war. Advisers can’t control Trump’s brain because Trump can’t control it himself.

He also cannot be contained because he lacks the inner equipment that makes decent behavior possible. So many of our daily social interactions depend on a basic capacity for empathy. But Trump displays an absence of this quality.

He looks at the grieving mother of a war hero and is unable to recognize her pain. He hears a crying baby and is unable to recognize the infant’s emotion or the mother’s discomfort. He is told of women being sexually harassed at Fox News and is unable to recognize their trauma.

The same blindness that makes him impervious to global outrage makes it impossible for him to make empathetic connection. Fear is his only bond.

Some people compare Trump to the great authoritarians of history, but that’s wrong. They were generally disciplined men with grandiose plans. Trump is underdeveloped and unregulated.

He is a slave to his own pride, compelled by a childlike impulse to lash out at anything that threatens his fragile identity. He appears to have no ability to experience reverence, which is the foundation for any capacity to admire or serve anything bigger than self, to want to learn about anything beyond self, to want to know and deeply honor the people around you.

Republicans are not going to be able to help the 70-year-old man-child grow up over the next few months. Nor are they going to be able to get him to withdraw from the race. A guy who can raise $82 million mostly in small donations has a passionate niche following.

But they can at least get out of the enabling business. First, they can acknowledge that they are being sucked down a nihilistic whirlpool. Second, they can acknowledge the long-term damage being done to the country and to themselves.

Amid the chaos, all sorts of ugliness is surfacing. See the video of the horrific things shouted at Trump rallies compiled by Times reporters. Moreover, Trump is permanently tainting the names of conservatism and the Republican Party and the many good men and women who have built and served it. As Ben Shapiro writes in National Review, “Trump asks something more — your political soul.”

Events are going to force Republicans off the fence. For the past many months Republican leaders have been condemning Trump’s acts while sticking with Trump the man. Trump is making that position ridiculous and shameful. You either stand with a man whose very essence is an insult to basic decency, or you don’t.

Those who don’t will have to start building a Republican Party in Exile. They will have to tell the country what they honestly think of Donald Trump. They will have to build a parallel campaign structure that will survive if Trump implodes, a structure of congressional and local candidates. They will have to jointly propose a clear manifesto — five or 10 policies the party in exile ardently supports.

There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.

Cripes.  What a gutless wonder he is.  Here’s what “gemli” in Boston had to say to him:

“Brooks gives an excellent analysis of Trump’s damaged mentality, but can’t understand why so many ordinary Republicans are unable to reject him outright. Can’t they see that he lacks empathy? Aren’t they concerned that he appears impervious to a mother’s pain? Does blatant sexual harassment leave them unmoved?

This is coming as a surprise to our conservative pundit, as if it’s just dawning on him that something is seriously wrong with kinder, gentler Republicans if you’ve got to explain to them why Trump is a bad idea.

Welcome to reality, Mr. Brooks. Trump is merely the Republican equivalent of Spinal Tap, with the volume turned up to eleven. While you hear Paul Ryan gently coo about privatizing Medicare and decimating Social Security, it sounds like a screech to us. When Mike Pence piously murmurs about banning marriage equality and supporting gay conversion therapy, it makes our ears bleed.

Perhaps the chorus of debating Republicans was music to your ears, but all we heard was a discordant howl of simple-minded hate speech aimed at a thumping Republican base who thought that gay bashing, defunding Planned Parenthood and jingoistic pseudo-patriotism had a nice beat.

Ever since Saint Reagan decreed that Ketchup was a vegetable we’ve known that something was amiss in the Republican worldview. There’s an underlying sickness to the conservative movement that has festered for decades. Trump is merely the rash it’s broken out in.”

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

All the experts tell us not to pay too much attention to polls for another week or two. Still, it does look as if Hillary Clinton got a big bouncefrom her convention, swamping her opponent’s bounce a week earlier. Better still, from the Democrats’ point of view, the swing in the polls appears to be doing what some of us thought it might: sending Donald Trump into a derp spiral, in which his ugly nonsense gets even uglier and more nonsensical as his electoral prospects sink.

As a result, we’re finally seeing some prominent Republicans not just refusing to endorse Mr. Trump, but actually declaring their support for Mrs. Clinton. So how should she respond?

The obvious answer, you might think, is that she should keep doing what she is doing — emphasizing how unfit her rival is for office, letting her allies point out her own qualifications and continuing to advocate a moderately center-left policy agenda that is largely a continuation of President Obama’s.

But at least some commentators are calling on her to do something very different — to make a right turn, moving the Democratic agenda toward the preferences of those fleeing the sinking Republican ship. The idea, I guess, is to offer to create an American version of a European-style grand coalition of the center-left and the center-right.

I don’t think there’s much prospect that Mrs. Clinton will actually do that. But if by any chance she and those around her are tempted to take this recommendation seriously: Don’t.

First of all, let’s be clear about what she’s running on. It’s an unabashedly progressive program, but hardly extreme. We’re talking about higher taxes on high incomes, but nowhere near as high as those taxes were for a generation after World War II; expanded social programs, but nothing close to those of European welfare states; stronger financial regulation and more action on climate change, but aren’t the cases for both overwhelming?

And no, the program doesn’t need to be more “pro-growth.”

There’s absolutely no evidence that tax cuts for the rich and radical deregulation, which is what right-wingers mean when they talk about pro-growth policies, actually work, or that strengthening the social safety net does any harm. Bill Clinton presided over a bigger boom than Ronald Reagan; the Obama years have seen much more private job creation than the Bush era, even before the crash, with job growth actually accelerating after taxes went up and Obamacare went into effect.

It’s true that there are things we could do to boost the U.S. economy. The most important of these things, however, would be to take advantage of very low government borrowing costs to greatly expand public investment — which is something progressives support but conservatives oppose. So enough already with the notion that being on the center-left somehow means being anti-growth.

Now let’s talk about the politics.

The Trumpification of the G.O.P. didn’t come out of nowhere. On the contrary, it was the natural outcome of a cynical strategy: long ago, conservatives decided to harness racial resentment to sell right-wing economic policies to working-class whites, especially in the South.

This strategy brought many electoral victories, but always at the risk that the racial resentment would run out of control, leaving the economic conservatives — whose ideas never had much popular support — stranded. And that is what has just happened.

So now the strategy that rightists had used to sell policies that were neither popular nor successful has blown up in their faces. And the Democratic response should be to adopt some of those policies? Say what?

Also, I can’t help but notice a curious pattern in the recommendations of some self-proclaimed centrists. When Republicans were in the ascendant, centrists urged Democrats to adapt by moving right. Now that Republicans are in trouble, with some feeling that they have no choice except to vote Democratic, these same centrists are urging Democrats to … adapt by moving right. Funny how that works.

Back to the main theme: Grand coalitions do sometimes have a place in politics, as a response to crises that are neither party’s fault — external threats to national security, economic disaster. But that’s not what is happening here. Trumpism is basically a creation of the modern conservative movement, which used coded appeals to prejudice to make political gains, then found itself unable to rein in a candidate who skipped the coding.

If some conservatives find this too much and bolt the party, good for them, and they should be welcomed into the coalition of the sane. But they can’t expect policy concessions in return. When Dr. Frankenstein finally realizes that he has created a monster, he doesn’t get a reward. Mrs. Clinton and her party should stay the course.

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