Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Yuge Endorsement

As we get perilously close to actual voting in Iowa (it's been a long, cold 'summer-of-Trump,' hasn't it?) all kinds of "things" happen--but The Omnivore has been reluctant to try to write about them--why? Because most of what happens between now and then (Iowa, New Hampshire, etc.) pales in comparison to what actually happens Then. That is to say:

  • Either Trump is ahead in Iowa--or he isn't.
  • Either Trump is way ahead in New Hampshire--or else someone is close. 
  • Maybe Kasich, Jeb, or Christie is having a comeback-moment--or maybe they aren't?
  • When does it look like Rubio will win a state, eh?
And so on--all of this is about to be answered in around 10 days--so speculation feels like a lot of effort for no pay-off.

The Sarah Palin Endorsement

Today's Sarah Palin endorsement of Donald Trump doesn't feel that way, though. That feels like it might actually mean something. Why?

  • Palin has TruCon credentials--her endorsement means something to self-described conservatives
  • Palin endorsed Cruz in 2012
  • Palin counters Cruz's New-York-Values attack
  • Palin aligns with the part of the establishment that hates Cruz on a personal level--which is more of them than you'd probably think
  • Palin--the Red Queen of fly-over country--carries a lot of weight in Iowa.
This is all true--but The Omnivore wants to look at something slightly different: the origins of Palin vs. Trump. 

McCain chose Palin for a number of reasons (according to sources). She was a woman--and his campaign was tanking with women. She would mix things up--seriously--bring a counter to Obama's first-black-president, bring youth to the ticket, first Republican woman VP, and so on. Finally, she seemed to be a similar philosophical traveler with McCain--she ran as a fiscal reformer. She ran as anti-corruption--and anti-status quo.

She was attractive, she knew how to hit, and she had charisma.

If she hadn't been incredibly unqualified to be president she would have been a great choice. She energized conservatives--and she gave them a voice--she said things that most politicians--and especially McCain--would not say (for example, that Obama palled around with terrorists). It was this voice--this speaking out directly against political correctness--that made her a star in a way McCain was not.

The Real War: Us vs. Them

On The Omnivore's Twitter feed there are a variety of conservative pundits--big names--who are by turns horrified and (in some cases) disappointed by Sarah re-emerging onto the public scene to help Trump get elected. To them this must look like another paving brick in the road-to-ruin that guys like Limbaugh have been treading.

Is it just ratings? The promise of TV time? Of Fox contracts? Of wealth--that is bringing the "entertainment wing" to Trump? After all, if you want the person who has actually come the closest to sticking a thumb in Mitch McConnell's eye, you want Ted Cruz. Cruz is the complete package--a rock-ribbed conservative who is as far right as you can get with the (slim) change of being elected in the general.

He's been (pretty) consistent. His heresies on, for example, immigration, are all in the margins. In fact, one of his problems is that people who matter believe he believes what he's saying. Ted Cruz would be a real problem for the GOP establishment in a way Trump would not: Cruz has already gone up against them and doesn't like them.

So why aren't TruCons(TM) endorsing Cruz? After all, he is, in fact, the most-conservative choice who could (again, possibly) be elected. Why Trump?

The answer is in Sarah Palin--it is not that Trump is the answer to the problem--it is that he is the hardest hit that voters can deliver. His impact zone will first and worst be the GOP establishment--but secondarily Trump strikes a blow against political correctness that only Ben Carson came close to. Carson flamed out--but Trump hasn't.

Cruz, by comparison, runs a pale second. Cruz, to be sure, is politically incorrect--but he's not as in-your-face-about it (can you imagine Ted Cruz saying "Someone is doing the raping?"). Culturally, Cruz is in government--a Senator--Trump is a repudiation of all government. He's never held office.

In the face of this, it's easy to see how Palin, Limbaugh, and other right-wing agitators fit into the Trump celebrity entourage. It's why no one cares about his policy--just his delivery. Oh, sure, he can't embarrass his supporters--but they'd be more humiliated by him apologizing for something than not knowing what the nuclear-triad is.

The fact that actual, thoughtful conservative pundits were surprised and dismayed by this means two things:
  1. They did not understand the forces that elevated Palin in the first place--forces that were very clear to everyone outside the bubble.
  2. In their world view they have created protective cocoons of rationalization around their side's emotional drivers that have only (barely) been pierced by actual events.
Of course this is just a one off, innit? It's not part of a trend which was ugly in '08, uglier in '12, and promises to be the nastiest yet in '16. Right? It's both-sides and Sanders-is-a-communist, and
Keep Calm, It Won't Be Trump.

Until it is.

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