Bobby Jindal calls Donald Trump “a madman who must be stopped” and then promises to “burn down Washington.” Yes, really. Also, President Obama did not take over Texas. (More)
“We do need to burn down Washington”
No, that’s not the raving of Donald Trump. That’s the raving of Bobby Jindal, in a CNN op-ed where he calls Trump “a madman who must be stopped.” And no, I’m not making that up:
Conservatives need to say what we are thinking: Donald Trump is a madman who must be stopped. Failure to speak out against Trump is an endorsement of Clinton.
We do need to Make America Great Again. We do need to burn down Washington. We do need to eradicate political correctness. But we will not achieve that by nominating a walking punch line.
Jindal opens his column by trying to out-hyperbole the hyperbolic Trump:
President Trump today announced that the first season of “The Apprentice: White House Edition” will air on CBS this fall. Contestants, including Gary Busey, Ted Cruz and Kanye West, will vie for Cabinet positions. The announcement came as the newly renamed “Hair Force One” touched down in South Dakota for the unveiling of President Trump’s face on Mount Rushmore. Meanwhile, first lady Melania had reason to celebrate as her White House-branded perfume, Trump, by Trump, hit Macy’s shelves …
No, this is not a story from The Onion. It’s a vision of our future. The only people who would enjoy a Trump presidency are Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. The jokes write themselves.
But this is no laughing matter. Our country is slipping away. The liberalism and incompetence of the Obama administration have pushed us to the edge of a socialist abyss.
And he closes it by promising to be More Trump Than Trump:
I’m the Ivy League educated son of immigrants. Liberals hate me for that because instead of joining their ranks, I’m a gun-owning, God-fearing conservative who’s made a career of beating Democrats. They’re now an endangered species in Louisiana. As are bureaucrats – I’ve laid off more of them than Trump has fired people and I’ve cut my state’s budget by more than he’s worth.
If you want to stick it to the man so badly that you are willing to see Clinton win, vote for Trump. But if you want a politically incorrect conservative revolution, I’m the guy who can lead it.
“A game of kill-or-be-killed”
Writing for Bloomberg News, Mark Halperin says this is de rigueur for recent GOP WHannabes:
In the modern era, the Republican nomination has been won by the combatant who is best at playing a game of kill-or-be-killed. In the end, becoming the standard bearer has not been about the daily polls, the staff hires, the policy speeches, the fundraising, the cattle calls, the promised agenda. It’s been about having the skill and confidence to stamp out anyone who threatens you, using a combination of negative TV ads, candidate and major surrogate attacks, and planted opposition research.
Halperin continues that bloodthirsty analysis throughout his column. Or, as Ed Kilgore puts it, “Halperin gets his thug on:”
Thus, says Mr. Game Change, the name of the game in 2016 is “killer” (the piece deploys a variation on that word 18 times), and Donald Trump is a stone killer who must be killed first. But how to kill the killer without getting killed? That’s the toughie.
Other than adding to the general state of hysteria over Trump and reflecting the Party Elites’ efforts to talk themselves into a more lethal posture towards a candidate they fear, Halperin does offer one nugget of insight: the would-be Trump-killers are divided and somewhat confused on which kind of ammunition to use.
Halperin lists four anti-Trump frames that other GOP WHannabes are considering:
1. Trump can’t be trusted because he is an egomaniac with a bad character (his business dealings; his bankruptcies; his two divorces; his insulting statements about women; his casinos; his compulsion to name things after himself; his hazy answers about his own faith; and his aggressive use of eminent domain).
2. Trump is a liberal and unprincipled (past support for single payer, the Clintons, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and abortion).
3. Trump is not close to being fit to be a serious president or commander-in-chief (his recent answers on foreign policy; his lack of specifics on almost everything).
4. Trump is a politician, not a businessman/outsider (his long-time retention of Beltway lobbyists; his self-serving campaign contributions; his courtship of local, state, and national officeholders).
Jindal’s CNN column focuses on the first two, but Halperin isn’t confident that any combination of the four will succeed:
Can Trump be killed? The history of past nomination fights suggest he can be. The untraditional front-runners of the summer silly season have always swiftly fallen to the back of the pack – or out of the race altogether – in the fall. But we are in uncharted territory now, with a canny celebrity front-runner who combines an unprecedented and nearly unlimited access to both social and traditional media with a completely sui generis gift for attack and counterpunch politics. The three-month whirlwind since he entered the race demonstrates that of all Trump’s extraordinary talents, master of kill-or-be-killed might be his most decisive – and the single most important factor in determining whom the Republican Party nominates for president next year.
Trump’s rivals used to believe he would kill himself within weeks of entering the race. Then they believed that the press would kill him off before Labor Day. Now, many of them privately answer the question “Can Trump be killed?” by saying, quietly and with a combination of frustration, wonder and doubt: I hope so.
“An ignorant, garbled howl of anger, fear, alienation, and resentment”
Republicans have a Trump Problem for several reasons. First, as Salon’s Kim Messick explains, the GOP has become the party of Angry White Men:
Central to that idea is the concept of dispossession. As I have argued before, the deeply Protestant roots of Southern revanchism posit a world in which rightful authority belongs to white heterosexual males who have, through fortitude and invention, wrested wealth from the detritus of a fallen world. The men of the Tea Party experience modern life as one continuous assault on this birthright. It began with the hated Lincoln’s defeat of the Slave Power, which toppled the racial order of the Old South; today’s hysteria over “illegals” – not to be confused with a rational concern for border security – simply sublimates this most primal of racial insults. Then came socialist-inspired efforts to level wealth and to distribute its hard-won gains to the undeserving and unproductive; then the agitations of “feminism” to remove women from their rightful place in a domestic sphere presided over by men.
The GOP base is indeed angry, but its anger is not some free-floating tantrum. It is an expression of a particular worldview, one that sees modern life as a deliberate, willful, well-designed effort to divest the virtuous white remnant of its privileges and to shower these on the unworthy and unholy. The Tea Party does not need a time-out; it needs better ideas about modern politics.
But that faction’s roots go back much further than 2012 – all the way back to the origins of the modern conservative movement in the right-wing populism of the postwar John Birch Society and similar groups. They were a ragtag conglomeration of ideological radicals animated by rage against various actors, forces, trends, and policies in mid-20th-century American life: the New Deal, Big Government, communists, negroes, elites, decadent city folk, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, feminists, homosexuals, and secularists. Some feared them all, others focused on one or a few. All of them saw the world through a fog of paranoia and conspiracy.
Bravo to the party’s Peter Wehners: The future lies with you. But that future will be delayed so long as Republican candidates remain beholden to voters who view politics primarily as a megaphone for broadcasting an ignorant, garbled howl of anger, fear, alienation, and resentment.
“Declaring an enemy of two or more of your states”
And that brings us to today’s big news. Operation JADE HELM 15 ended yesterday, and President Obama did not take over Texas:
The exercise will end quietly Tuesday, however. Carried out in parts of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, it will conclude after two months of operations, said Suzanne Nagl, a spokeswoman for Army Special Operations Command, which oversaw it.
“At this time, we do not have any lessons learned to share since we have not yet conducted an after-action review of the exercise, but we do believe the exercise overall was a success,” Nagl said in an e-mail.
I can think of one lesson. If you run around howling about a looming military takeover of Texas, you look really foolish when a routine training exercise turns out to be … a routine training exercise:
A lot of conservatives who really should have known better are guilty of “pandering to idiots” in an attempt to smear the president and undermine trust in his authority, and as the exercise ends without any guns seized or conservative Christian rounded up – let’s pause to remember those foolish conspiracy-mongers.
Not surprisingly, some of the most scenery-chewing comments about JADE HELM 15 came from the excitable Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who cited his own military service and right-wing conspiracy theories to justify concerns that Obama was targeting “hostile” conservatives. “Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border,” Gohmert said. He later accused Obama of essentially declaring war against states that vote Republican. “When my own commander-in-chief through his subordinates is just fine with, for games purposes, declaring an enemy of two or more of your states, I got a real problem with that,” Gohmert said during an appearance on the 700 Club. “That is one of the most insensitive, outrageous things that a military commander could do.”
In fact training exercises routinely designate ‘enemy territory’ but, again, the GOP have spent years stoking anti-government paranoia. So the facts just bounced off, and in March fully one-third of Republicans believed JADE HELM 15 was being used as a cover for a military takeover of Texas. And don’t expect them to change their minds.
The Millerites did not abandon their beliefs when October 22, 1844 passed without Christ’s return. And as psychologist Leon Festinger famously documented, the Seekers revised their prophecy after no UFO arrived to rescue them from the cataclysmic flood that did not happen on December 21, 1954. The nature of cognitive dissonance is that we revise new facts to fit our worldview, so those who believed President Obama intended to take over Texas will probably declare that he planned to … and would have … were it not for the heroes who exposed the dastardly plot.
The one-third of Republicans who believe that conspiracy are largely the same ones who now back Trump, and the same ones Jindal hopes to woo by saying “we need to burn down Washington.” If challenged, Jindal will say that was just a figure of speech … but many in the GOP base want someone who means it literally.
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Good day and good nuts