Monday, February 17, 2020

The One Thing Arkansas (Or Texas, or almost any Southern State) Takes More Pride in...

...than military posturing, is know-nothingism.  Ted Cruz is too young to be a "Cold Warrior."  He won office the first time around promoting the conspiracy theory of Agenda 21, that the UN, as Charlie Pierce so memorably put it, wanted to "take all our golfs."  Well, that and fear of sharia law.  But he's not a true believer; he scrubbed all that from his campaign website the moment he won in 2012.  Sure, he hates Castro because Daddy does but, "Cold Warrior"?  Nah.

And Cotton is a preening military jackass who is proud of his "know-nothingism," as are the people of Arkansas.  Cruz is not quite as proud to be publicly ignorant, but he doesn't play up his Harvard Law education (or was it Yale?  Is there a difference to voters in Texas?  No.)  But Trump isn't forcing them to play the ass in D.C.  To Cotton and Cruz that comes naturally.

It's a dangerous thing to blame all out current problems on one person.  Trump is not Patient Zero of the infection in the GOP; he is the apotheosis of it.  There is a long history of this stuff rising in the GOP, beginning at least with the emergence of Newt Gingrich, but his antecedents go back as far as the failure of Goldwater against LBJ, as stark a distinction between Presidential contenders as we've had, with perhaps the except of McGovern v. Nixon.  But liberals were enervated by the disaster of McGovern, while conservatives responded to Nixon with Reagan a mere 6 years later; and then Poppy, and after 8 years W., and after another 8 years, Trump.*

Does anybody else see a pattern here?

Republicans ran against the "Commies" when it meant being strong on defense and "owning the libs."    Sure, some of them remembered WWII, but that faded from memory far faster than it did from movie houses (Hollywood built its empire on war movies distributed in my childhood, and I was born 10 years after that war ended).  The lessons of the war Trump clearly didn't learn (the importance of alliances and NATO, or even what "Pearl Harbor" means) are the lessons a whole new generation hasn't learned, and yelling at them about their historical ignorance is no way to win hearts and minds. Communism is as defunct as the Whigs, and as meaningless to many too many Americans (not all of them Millenials).  And by the time Reagan "ended" the Cold War (more credit goes to Gorbachev, actually; and John LeCarre warned us what we needed to do to prevent Putin's Russia, but who listened?), it was over anyway, and quickly forgotten.  If you're still thinking in terms of the "Cold War," you're still know what an IBM Selectric was, and probably remember rotary dial phones, too.  Ted Cruz was born in 1970; it could be he remembers neither.

If Cotton and Cruz are going to be left a party "deformed by Trump," it will be the party they joined in the first place; they won't notice the change.  They don't remember "Rockefeller Republicans" or when the "Grand Old Party" brought up images of country club stalwarts.  They grew up in Gingrich's party, in the party taken over, slowly but surely, by those who didn't accept the descent of Goldwater, the ascent of LBJ (too few of us did, as it turned out).  Nixon actually floated a minimum income for all Americans, a la Andrew Yang  50+ years later.  It was Nixon's attempt to keep up with expectations set by LBJ.  Reagan brought all that crashing to a halt.  Hard to imagine Richard Nixon as a liberal, but compared to post-Reagan, and especially post-Gingrich, Republicans, RMN is AOC.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, but honestly, some of the most virulent critics of Trump are not yet facing reality head-on.

*And LBJ had the "Daisy Ad," Reagan had "Morning in America," Poppy had Willie Horton, W. had "Turdblossom" as his political adviser/campaign manager, and Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, probably the only public figure likely to lose to him.  See another pattern?  The best Democratic politicians in that period were LBJ, Clinton, and Obama.  The worst were ground up by Reagan, Poppy, W., and Trump (although, yes, Trump won by the skin of his teeth, and W. won the first time by the Supreme Court, but why was it ever that close?). Politics matters.

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