EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Readers Acolytes of the Cult of Trump, GOP entertainers, finger-in-the-wind quislings, rationalizers, temporizers, apologists, and others who know who you are,
So, congrats to those of you deserving congratulations. Operation Destroy the GOP and Salt the Earth upon Which It Stood is going swimmingly! Technically, that would be ODGOPSEUWIS, but let’s call it ODGOP (pronounced “Odd-Gawp”) for short.
The final phase of ODGOP kicked into high gear on Thursday. Prior to last night’s speech, President Obama had largely played along with the Clinton strategy of isolating Trump from the rest of the GOP. Obama in early August:
This is different than just having policy differences. I recognize that they profoundly disagree with myself or Hillary Clinton on tax policy or certain elements of foreign policy, but there have been Republican presidents with whom I disagreed with but I didn’t have a doubt that they could function as president. I think I was right and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues, but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job.
But Thursday in Ohio (of course), Obama turned the knife like it was a Phillips-head screwdriver wielded by Otto von Tendorp, a fictional serial killer who kills his opponents with a Phillips-head screwdriver he turns very slowly.
“You claim the mantle of the party of family values, and this is the guy you nominate,” Obama said.
From there, it got worse.
From the Washington Post:
“But so the problem is not that all Republicans think the way this guy does. The problem is, is that they’ve been riding this tiger for a long time,” Obama said, referring to those who questioned whether he was born in the United States, those who called him “the antichrist” and subscribers to other conspiracy theories. “They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years, primarily for political expedience.”
“People like Ted [Strickland]’s opponent, they just stood by while this happened,” Obama said, referring to [Republican senator Rob] Portman. “And Donald Trump, as he’s prone to do, he didn’t build the building himself, but he just slapped his name on it and took credit for it.”
“This is in the swamp of crazy that has been fed over and over and over and over again,” Obama said to applause. “So the point is, if your only agenda is either negative — negative is a euphemism, crazy — based on lies, based on hoaxes, this is the nominee you get. You make him possible.”
Now, I’m happy to disagree with some — and just some — of this. It’s not like the Left’s base isn’t fed its own brand of crazy from time to time either. It’s not true that birtherism is all the GOP has been about. It’s not like Obama is exempt from blame for this sorry state of affairs after spending his whole presidency trolling his political opponents and defying constitutional norms. And it’s certainly not true, as he said last night, that the “central principle” of the Republican party is to “make it harder to vote.” That’s ridiculous, irresponsible rhetoric.
But the point here isn’t to rebut Obama on the merits. Less than a month out from the election, arguing with Obama makes about as much sense as challenging my cat to a game of Battleship (first of all, she cheats, as befits her feline nature). The point is it’s all fair game.
Wahhh, the Media
But let me concede a few things. Yes, the Mainstream Media (MSM) is biased against Republicans. This has been true since, if not the Mesozoic Era, then at least 1960. Yes, the media is particularly biased against Donald Trump. But this is not quite the outrage Trump’s spinners want to make it. Not only is Trump an exceptionally unworthy presidential candidate on the merits, but he does everything he possibly can to maximize the endemic problems of liberal-media bias. Thanks to his lizard-brain narcissism, he would rather have awful headlines about himself and be the center of attention than have Hillary Clinton steal the limelight. LBJ liked to say, “Let’s not step on our d**ks” on this or that issue. Trump is like one of those Italian barefoot peasant women who make wine by stomping on grapes all day, except instead of grapes it’s d**ks as far as the eye can see and Trump is wearing very expensive shoes.
Yes, absolutely, the WikiLeaks e-mails provide countless vulnerabilities that might have destroyed Hillary’s candidacy if she were running against any conventional Republican. But it’s not liberal-media bias per se that causes the press to pay outsized attention to tales of sexual misconduct; the press always pays attention to sex. The Lewinsky scandal got a lot of media attention. You could look it up.
The press always pays attention to sex. The Lewinsky scandal got a lot of media attention. You could look it up.
It was inevitable and obvious that this lecherous adulterer who bragged in print about cheating on his wife would have these skeletons in his enormous, gold-and-velvet-lined closet. But no one needed to be a master sleuth or even a run-of-the-mill opposition researcher to know this. You know why? Because this guy said so! When accused of being a sexual predator by Howard Stern, Trump said, “That’s true!” — and then he laughed (in front of his daughter, whom he has affectionately called “a piece of ass”). Trump has told little girls that he would be dating them soon. If you want to write that all off as jokes, fine. Well, he also said that he couldn’t run for political office because of his attitude toward women:
“I think women are beautiful — I think certain women are more beautiful than others, to be perfectly honest — and it is fortunate that I don’t have to run for political office.”
This is apparently a disgusting recurring theme in Donald Trump’s life. You know what? I think women are beautiful. I also think some are more beautiful than others, too. But just because you find women beautiful doesn’t allow you to act like a blind guy and treat women like they’re the Braille edition of Playboy. But that’s precisely what he said he did in the Access Hollywood tape. He said he’s attracted to beautiful women and therefore he has an inherent right to search them for contraband.
The Real Outrage
Here’s the thing, though: Even if you wanted to think the best of a man who disparages war heroes but insists that dodging the clap was his “personal Vietnam,” a serious political party would have still demanded that he submit to an internal opposition-research investigation. Read John Fund’s piece in National Review from Thursday. Trump refused to let his own campaign do an inventory of his skeletons. The guy who hires the best people was implored by the people he hired to do this basic form of due diligence and he refused. And now we’re supposed to be shocked that the Clintons found the skeletons in question? Or that the press is eager to report on them? Or that Newt Gingrich and Kellyanne Conway are left looking ridiculous and blindsided? My God, what planet do you live on?
The coverage of Trump is an outrage. But the outrage it exposes is how grotesquely unfair and partisan the press was to previous Republican nominees.
So yes, the coverage of Trump is an outrage. But the outrage it exposes is how grotesquely unfair and partisan the press was to previous Republican nominees. The Trump campaign is getting the coverage it deserves (and is asking for!), and that highlights how the coverage of past candidates was so extraordinarily unfair. Take for example, the bowel-stewed hysteria over Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment. Romney said — and did — exactly what feminists and liberal reporters should applaud. He wanted to hire qualified women. So he reached out to women’s groups for suggestions. They sent him lots of recommendations. Binders full of them. And then he hired many of the women listed in the binders. What a monster!
Or consider the claims that Romney was a racist. How stupid does this garbage look now?
Let’s Talk about Sex Baby
So let’s talk about these allegations against Trump. I think they’re true. Maybe not all of them, but certainly enough of them, not least because they conform to what Trump confessed to in an unguarded moment. But also because we can be sure that at least some of them were given to the media by Democrats who would have made sure to vet them.
I honestly can’t get my head around the fact that Hillary Clinton’s closing “argument” in this election is sexual harassment. Bill Clinton’s lifelong enabler has managed to turn this topic into a deadly weapon against a Republican nominee. This is like Godzilla turning public safety into a winning issue in the Tokyo mayoral race.
But even harder to fathom: the logical Mobius strip of Trump’s argument. Hillary Clinton is evil because she attacked Bill Clinton’s accusers (never mind that Trump was on her side of the argument when it mattered in the 1990s). That argument could fly, except for the fact that, almost in the same breath, Trump says his accusers are malevolent liars. He told the crowd to “just look” at one of them as all the proof required to know that she’s a liar. Translation: “If she were hotter, it’d be totally believable that I forced myself on her.” To simultaneously defend Trump on these charges while attacking Hillary Clinton requires contortions not seen outside the pages of Plastic Man.
Next of the NNN
Obviously, I don’t know for certain that Donald Trump is really trying to lay the groundwork for a cable-TV network, though a lot of smart and informed people I know think that’s the case. If you’re looking for a theory to explain what Trump and Campaign CEO Steve Bannon — the former head of Breitbart News — are doing, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than this fanciful notion that he’s trying to become president. Since the convention, only once did he make any serious effort to expand his losing coalition to a larger, winning coalition: His tone-deaf, ridiculous, and utterly fake appeals to black voters. “Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before,” Trump said. “Ever. Ever. Ever.”
Put aside how utterly absurd this claim is (rent Roots if you don’t know what I mean) and how understandably offensive it is to a lot of black people, it was never intended to win black votes. The campaign had this idea that white suburban women would be swayed by Trump’s “concern” for blacks. He failed — which should have been obvious from the start.And that’s it. For the rest of the campaign he’s been whipping up his 38 percent of the electorate into a kind of frenzy. Some people think he’s betting that he can dampen turnout generally, while spiking his base to win the election. Maybe. Or maybe that’s the rationalization they throw out there to distract from the more realistic goal: the launch of Nutter News Network. Read the transcript of Trump’s speech from Thursday railing about the globalist corporate-media conspiracy. It might as well be the mission statement for Bannon’s new enterprise, a network that stands up to the global cabal siphoning off our vital bodily fluids (in between commercials for water deflouridizers and gas masks). Why has Trump done scores of interviews on Fox and virtually nowhere else the last two months? Because he’s not interested in winning over undecideds, independents, or swing voters — you know the sort of thing serious presidential candidates do. No, he’s reselling the same product to people who’ve already bought it so he can take the customers with him after the election.
Why is Trump constantly saying that if he loses it will be because the election was rigged? Why is he wasting precious time attacking fellow Republicans, a move guaranteed to shrink his coalition even further? Because he wants the faithful to be permanently alienated from the rest of the political culture and utterly reliant on him. In fairness, it’s also because he can’t tolerate the idea that people will reasonably conclude that he’s a loser and choker so he has to lay the groundwork for the claim the other side cheated. But that narcissistic insecurity just makes him all the more susceptible to Bannon’s manipulation. He was such a Bannon puppet yesterday you could almost see Bannon’s fingers moving in the back of Trump’s mouth.
You Blew It Up!
So here we are.
All of the idiotic arguments his cheerleaders made a year ago have been exposed as the magical-thinking B.S. they always were. He can win blue states! Name one. He’s expanding the GOP coalition! Really? Then why are Republican Senate candidates outperforming Trump in almost every battleground state?
I feel like Charlton Heston screaming at the Statue of Liberty on the beach.
Many of the same people who said that we have to unify the party to beat Hillary Clinton now say that dumping Trump — the only possible way to defeat her (and that’s extremely unlikely to work) — would be treasonous and were the first to scream that Trump voters should screw the down-ballot candidates because Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t defend Trump anymore. If you honestly want to limit the damage Hillary Clinton will do to this country, the one and only obvious thing you should be doing is voting to keep the Republicans in control of Congress. If you think the GOP won’t fight Hillary hard enough, fine. But do you think a Democrat-controlled Congress will fight her at all?
I feel like Charlton Heston screaming at the Statue of Liberty on the beach. You people blew it all up. You embraced a man who has no serious allegiance to the ideals you got rich peddling and who had a vanishingly small chance of winning in the first place — even if he had been the disciplined candidate he deceitfully vowed he would be. Trump is now an albatross on the party and he will leave a Cheeto-colored stain on both the GOP and the conservative movement for years to come.
If you want to limit the damage you’ve caused to the party, vote for Republicans down ballot. Vote for Trump too, if you like. I don’t care, he’s going to lose anyway. But I’m going to vote for Evan McMullin so I can look myself in the mirror and maybe, just maybe, leave us something to build on after the catastrophe.
(Though I tremble at the thought, I’m ready to risk the wrath of SMOD for withdrawing my endorsement of him.)
Various & Sundry
No time for much today, I wrote this mostly on the plane ride back from beautiful North Carolina. And, now I’ve got to run to pick up my daughter and head to NYC. The doggies are doglike and I’ll flesh out the details next week.
Meanwhile, as we long suspected, the secret to Steve Hayes’s very important hair is his dirt diet.