Saturday, January 23, 2016

Look What 'Hysterics Have Wrought': The Half-Term Gov Endorses the Franken-Trump/Trumpenstein (©

UPDATE V:  "At first it seemed too weirdly awful to be true, but there she was: Sarah Palin standing next to Donald Trump on Tuesday and endorsing him for president.

Like previously conjoined twins who had shared a brain before Ben Carson separated them, these two anti-everything, post-lamestream media instigators presented themselves as political doppelgangers, a he/she, yin-yang, sis-boom-bah political marriage of the carnival barker and the bearded lady.

Step right up! Get your tickets! Bring the whole family! Bring your anger, bring your spleen, don’t let logic intervene!

The challenge for those of us in the observation business is to illuminate what’s plainly obvious without offending those who prefer not to see. But there’s no winning once passions are engaged, and hating the messenger is a time-honored tradition. Even though it was, in fact, obvious in 2008 that Palin was out of her league, as I pointed out in a column, her fans wouldn’t hear of it. About 20,000 of them took time out of their busy schedules to send me emails expressing their displeasure. (I’ve kept them all for nursing-home share time.) The whole episode was instructive in multiple ways, but most important, it foretold a dumbing down of the GOP that eight years later may prove irreversible.

Into a blizzard of irony gallops National Review with a “symposium” of opinions from noted conservative writers saying what must be said: Trump is terrible for conservatism (because he isn’t a conservative) and that populist demagoguery and vulgarity have no place in the party. You don’t say!

The irony, which is so delicious I may skip the chocolate sauce and forgo the cherry, is that this same publication dropped my syndicated column not long after it ran my Palin column. Hoopla and all that. And now suddenly, the editors, one of whom all but telepathically dated Palin, are blind to the former governor’s charms, opposing her choice for president in the strongest terms.

One wonders only what took them so long to say what has been plainly obvious for months.

It must be difficult for some of these writers to go out on a limb like this and recognize in Trump what they were unable to see in Palin in 2008. Trump, to his credit, has managed to clarify matters for them.

Although Palin is a latecomer to this particular circus and thus not a likely factor in the magazine’s symposium edition, she does add fresh flair to Trump’s “I’m so great” monologues."

I could quote more, but read the Washington Post, With Trump and Palin, Republicans get what they deserve.

UPDATE IV:  "The arrival of Sarah Palin brings a special something to the 2016 campaign, like a little LSD added to the punch bowl. Are we watching C-SPAN, or a reality TV show, or a “Saturday Night Live” skit? It is impossible to tell without consulting the channel guide.

Ted Cruz may have secured the coveted 'Duck Dynasty' blessing. But Palin is the original and best representative of Kardashian conservatism. Her endorsement of Donald Trump was entirely devoid of policy content — a speech that did not even aspire to shallowness. It is enough that Trump is 'going rogue' and 'ticking people off' and 'media heads are spinning.'

Palin has been entirely consumed and replaced by her own bitterness against a Republican establishment she feels betrayed her and against a media that mocked her. More than anything else, she clings to resentment and rage. And her revolution, over time, has become comprehensive; not just a revolt against elites, but a revolt against syntax and taste and preparation and reason.

The phenomenon of Palin raises the question: Does populism need to be anti-intellectual? . .

In this vacuity, Palin and Trump are a perfect match. They both embrace a politics of personality, a politics at war with reason. Who would go to either for advice on Medicare reform or Syria policy? In the two-dimensional politics of Palin and Trump, depth is not even a category. There is only establishment vs. anti-establishment, weakness vs. strength.

The danger of an anti-intellectual politics is that it quickly becomes unmoored from real problems and real answers. In U.S. history, anti-intellectual populism has often become conspiratorial, focusing anger against powerful and imaginary enemies: the Masons, the international bankers, the Jesuits, the munitions-makers. “How can we account for our present situation,” asked Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) in 1951, “unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man.”

Trump rose to political prominence through the power of birtherism — a movement in which every disproof was regarded as evidence of an even broader conspiracy. But Trump also made a mark connecting vaccinations to autism. The idea is 'completely discredited' by scientific studies (according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and dangerous to children. But Trump refuses to back down, asserting “the doctors lied” and the studies have been 'fudged up.'

The same is true on other issues. . .

Trump is not proposing obnoxious solutions to real challenges; he is promoting obnoxious solutions to fake or wildly exaggerated challenges. His anti-intellectualism is severing the ties between the GOP and reality. If Republicans choose to inhabit the Trump-Palin world, they will offer little of value to our own."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Palin join forces in the war against reason

UPDATE III:  "I love poetic justice. This wild and wacky Republican presidential campaign deserved Sarah Palin, and now it’s got her.

Palin’s endorsement of front-runner Donald Trump at an Iowa rally this week was a master class in surrealist poetry. Geniuses of the Dada movement would have been humbled by her deconstruction of the language and her obliteration of the bourgeois concept we call logic.

The GOP candidates have been competing to see who can spew the most nonsense, but they’ll never top Palin. Not when she offers gems such as this: 'Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own front-runner. .?.?. They are so busted, the way that this thing works.'

Or this further excoriation of the party leadership:  [see the article for the nonsensical quote] . .

Or this elaboration of the same theme: [ditto] . .

Actually, I think the wailing from Republican grandees is more of a wordless primal scream. Palin claimed that 'media heads are spinning' at her decision to campaign for Trump, but it would be more accurate to say that 'media feet are dancing' at having such a rich source of new material.

I could quote Palin all day, but there are two substantive points about her dazzling intervention that I feel duty-bound to make. The first is political: Someday we might look back and say she was the one who pushed Trump over the top to win the nomination.

That’s not a promise, just a possibility. But Trump’s campaign draws strength from its own momentum. If he can somehow manage to sweep the early primary states, “outsider” support may coalesce behind him — and the establishment candidates may be too shellshocked to effectively respond. . .

The other substantive point I have to make about Palin has to do with a campaign speech she gave in Oklahoma for Trump the day after her endorsement. She was talking about the arrest of her son, Track, on domestic abuse charges after he allegedly fought with his girlfriend and threatened suicide by holding an assault rifle to his head.

'My son, a combat veteran .?.?. was fighting for you all, America, in the war zone,' Palin said. 'My son, like so many others, came back a bit different, they come back hardened.'

Palin said not enough was done to treat the 'woundedness' of returning veterans and charged that this failing 'comes from our own President [Obama].'

Never mind that Track Palin served in Iraq and came home while George W. Bush was president. His mother was speaking for the large segment of the GOP base that brays against high taxes and big government, yet demands more services and opposes cuts in entitlements — which doesn’t add up.

I’ve said it before: With years of foolish rhetoric, the Republican establishment got itself into this mess. There may be no way out."

Read the Washington Post, Sarah Palin takes the GOP campaign to a new low.

UPDATE II:  H/T to the Washington Post, Stephen Colbert delivers his own speech in Palin-ese. And it’s spot-on:

Colbert once again proves he's the king of satire.

And thank our lucky stars -- The Half-Term Gov and the Franken-Trump/Trumpenstein (© together in 2016, could it get any better?

UPDATE:  A must read, the Washington Post, The monumental fall of the Republican Party, which state in part:

Today’s Republican crisis was . . . engineered by the party leadership’s step-by-step capitulation to a politics of unreason, a policy of silence toward the most extreme and wild charges against Obama, and a lifting up of resentment and anger over policy and ideas as the party’s lodestars.

Many Republicans are now alarmed that their choice may come down to Trump, the candidate of a reality-show populism that tries to look like the real thing, and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), an ideologue whom they fear would lead their cause to a devastating defeat. There is an honorable pushback against this outcome from champions of a genuinely more moderate and tolerant brand of conservatism — the columnists Michael Gerson and David Brooks among them.

But this is a battle that needed to be joined long ago (which, I should say, is a central theme of my new book, 'Why the Right Went Wrong'). A showdown was required before the steady, large-scale defection of moderate voters from the party. Now that opponents of Trump and Cruz need the moderates, they are no longer there — except, perhaps, in states where independents might cross into the party’s primaries to save it from itself.

And instead of battling the impulses now engulfing the party, GOP honchos exploited them. They fanned nativist feeling by claiming that illegal immigrants were flooding across our borders, even when net immigration from Mexico had fallen below zero.

They promised radical reductions in the size of government, knowing no Republican president, including Ronald Reagan, could pull this off. They pledged to “take the country back,” leaving vague the identity of the people (other than Obama) from whom it was to be reclaimed. Their audiences filled in the blank. They denounced Obamacare as socialist, something, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pointing out, it decidedly is not. Indeed, it’s rooted in proposals Republicans once made themselves.

Politicians whose rhetoric brought the right’s loyalists to a boiling point now complain that they don’t much like the result. But it’s a little late for that. Why shouldn’t the party’s ultra-conservatives and its economically distressed working-class supporters feel betrayed? At least with Trump, Cruz and Palin, they have reason to think they know what they’re getting. 'We are mad, and we’ve been had,' Palin declared on Tuesday. 'They need to get used to it.'"

"Sarah Palin, in a zany, rambling endorsement announcement filled with garbled syntax and malapropisms, endorsed presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Tuesday in Iowa. . .

In some ways the Donald Trump-Sarah Palin team is the perfect comeuppance to the far-right — including the loudest talk show hosts, the anti-immigrant propagandists, the inside-the-Beltway groups that make money from political chaos and the pols who take advantage of all of those voices, politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). The far-right did all in their power to undermine compromise, to promote know-nothingism on immigration and to root for government failure (as in the 2013 shutdown). Beltway groups, armed with score cards and vitriol, demeaned anyone but those like the Freedom Caucus, those who had no responsibility for governance and no risk of electoral defeat. . .

Palin, long after she revealed herself to be an unserious populist and the 2008 election was in the rear-view mirror, was still heralded by the far-right as the warrior against the MSM and liberal elites more generally. She was the queen bee at gatherings like CPAC. Her admirers insisted she, not Republican lawmakers trying to govern, had the pulse of the public.. .

It seems the far-right noise machine, which lacks a conservative temperament and adherence to thoughtful positions, has met its enemies — its own creations in the persons of Trump and Palin and in voters and listeners so unmoored to reality and inured to reason that Cruz’s attempt to dissect Trump’s proposals falls on deaf ears. So which is it — is Palin a know-nothing nut with no grasp of conservative principles or the Joan of Arc of the right wing? How can Cruz be preferable to Trump if so many of these voices had argued for months that Trump was right on China, the Iraq War and so much more? Oh my, what talk radio hysterics have wrought!

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Palin: Just deserts for the right-wing racket.

Read also the Washington Post, In Oklahoma, the Trump and Palin tornadoes collide.