Sunday, May 27, 2012

George Will calls out Romney for campaigning with "bloviating ignoramus" Donald Trump


ABC News reports on a funny thing that happened on ABC this morning:

This morning on "This Week," ABC News' George Will called Donald Trump a "bloviating ignoramus," questioning why presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is associating with the real estate mogul, who once again falsely questioned President Obama's birthplace this week.

"I do not understand the cost benefit here," Will said on the "This Week" roundtable. "The costs are clear. The benefit — what voter is gonna vote for him (Romney) because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious it seems to me."

"Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics," Will added. "Again, I don't understand the benefit. What is Romney seeking?"

I don't know... approval from the powerful so as to fill some gaping hole in his soul?

(UPDATE: Trump has fired back, tweeting: "George Will may be the dumbest (and most overrated) political commentator of all time. If the Republicans listen to him, they will lose." I don't much care for Will, but I'd defend him here. There are many who are dumber. Has Trump ever watched Fox News?)

Look, I take (and for the most part agree with) Will's point, but there's the usual bloviating arrogance here:

First, while birtherism is a refuge for the ignorant, and worse, Republicans (that is, members of Will's own party) have for the most part spent the past four years, and more, questioning Obama's loyalty to America.

This more line of attack on first the candidate and then the president has taken a number of forms, but Romney himself has engaged in it repeatedly, accusing Obama of going around the world apologizing for America, a blatant lie. Yes, birtherism has been one of the ugliest forms of it, what with its more explicit racist component, and Trump has been one of the most visible of the birthers, and one of the loudest, but Will is just trying to distance himself and his beloved party from a movement, if you can call it that, that has been very much a part of the vicious Republican assault on Obama, one that's still going strong today.

Will often takes this smarter-than-thou approach in his punditry, and to his credit he has criticized the more extreme elements in his party on occasion, but you can't really have it both ways. Birtherism and similar lines of attack on the president (e.g., playing the affirmative action card, which Trump has also done) are a huge part of what the Republican Party has been about the past several years. If you count yourself a Republican, this is what your party is about. You can try to pretend otherwise, or wave off these elements as too silly to bother with, and you can try to make yourself look good by comparison in doing so, but that would be a gross misrepresentation of your party.

Second, Donald Trump is a popular Republican -- among Republicans -- as his high poll numbers last year indicated. Will may not like that, but it's true. And why is he so popular? It's his birtherism, sure, to a point, but perhaps more so his bullying views on foreign policy (advocating the America be a sort of global bully, pushing everyone around, including China, to get whatever it wants) -- indeed, this has become Romney's main foreign policy view as well: Russia's still Enemy #1 and America ought just to go around swining its supposedly massive dick. It's not exactly an enlightened position to take, but it's not like Romney is terribly enlightened on foreign policy.

Furthermore -- and this is really why Trump is so widely esteemed -- Republicans worship successful businessmen and the super-wealthy, and Trump is both (even if his record as a businessman has been full of massive failure*). Put another way, Republicans love rapacious greed, and Trump is nothing if not rapaciously greedy.

(*As I wrote back in February, if you want failure, you need look no further than Trump's own career -- for example, the USFL, the Trump Shuttle, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, massive debt, bailouts by banks, bankrupties... really, one could go on and on. See here and here for the details of these and other failures.)

Far more than birtherism, and even more than bullying American foreign policy and militarism, this is the core of today's Republican Party, with the chief policy goal being the significant lowering of those tax rates affecting the wealthy. The Republican Party is the party of plutocracy, not democracy, and it advocates a laissez-faire system in which the rich can acquire more and more wealth -- and of course more and more power. Will's views, admittedly, are more nuanced and complex than that, and he may not approve in full of this plutocratic agenda, or even acknowledge it, but basically both he and his party are fundamentally pro-Trump.

Third, while I agree that the benefits of appearing with Trump aren't clear, if indeed there are any, Romney has proven himself throughout this campaign to be a shameless panderer and suck-up who will do and say anything for votes. Given that, it makes sense he'd want to appear with a popular Republican celebrity like Trump. Furthermore, for someone lacking in charisma and broad public appeal like Romney, being at Trump's side is an opportunity to bask in a desirable glow of someone very much unlike himself. Romney and his campaign no doubt think he'll be able to benefit just from being in the presence of that glow.

But, really, Romney may simply want to be in the presence of another super-rich businessman. Look at who Romney is: a one-term governor and otherwise political failure who has made a fortune in the business world as a vulture capitalist. Trump has been critical of Romney in this regard -- "He'd buy companies. He'd close companies. He'd get rid of jobs." -- but that may not matter much to Romney. Or, rather, it may, but perhaps Romney sees in Trump what other Republicans do, business success, and perhaps that's all that really matters here.

Simply put, Trump is someone to whom Romney can relate on a deep personal level (more personal than political), someone even more successful (in a way), and even richer, than he is. If you view the world through a lens of plutocratic entitlement, as Romney seems to, Trump's a superstar. And who doesn't want to hang out with superstars?

So while there may be no obvious benefit to it, in terms of votes, is it really any wonder Romney will be appearing with The Donald -- and with Gingrich as well, making up what I've termed "the un-holy Republican triumvirate of 2012"?

The fact that George Will doesn't see this, or doesn't want to, is evidence that he doesn't understand, or doesn't want to, today's Republican Party, including its 2012 presidential flag-bearer.

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2 Comments:

  • a "bloviating ignoramus?"
    Isn't that like calling someone an intercoursing rectum?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:05 AM  

  • You write,

    "The Republican Party is the party of plutocracy, not democracy, and it advocates a laissez-faire system in which the rich can acquire more and more wealth -- and of course more and more power.

    "Will's views, admittedly, are more nuanced and complex than that, and he may not approve in full of this plutocratic agenda, or even acknowledge it, but basically both he and his party are fundamentally pro-Trump."

    Oh, but he most certainly does approve, and has joined with others on the right in advocating such heavy blows for plutocratic power as a return to the jurisprudence of Lochner v. New York, repeal of the income tax (the 16th Amendment), and repeal of popular election of the senate (the 17th Amendment), as well as imposition of restrictions on the franchise.

    By Blogger Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, at 8:53 AM  

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