Not Donald Trump
Definition of unman
1 : to deprive of manly vigor, fortitude, or spirit
2 : CASTRATE, EMASCULATE
For an alleged right-winger, David French sure loves him some left-wing tropes. He seems to think that having a bully pulpit make you a bully or something. It is not surprising that he wrote this for The Atlantic, which is a dead-tree version of Vox. It was originally titled, “In Trump’s America, Bullying Is The New Norm.”
The Unmanning of Conservatism
Donald Trump wants everyone to know that he’s a tough guy. In 2017, the congressional candidate Greg Gianforte “body-slammed” the Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after Jacobs tried to ask him questions about health-care policy. It was a cowardly, criminal act. Not long after, Trump praised him. At a campaign rally, the president of the United States said of Gianforte, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of—he’s my guy.” One could write the comment off as a bad joke, a one-off mistake made off-the-cuff, but it’s entirely consistent with Trump’s fundamental ethos. He’s a bully, and his fans love him for it.
Of all the disorienting and disturbing cultural effects of Trump’s ascension to the presidency, few are as disorienting and disturbing as the redefinition of ideal masculinity in the hearts of many of his biggest fans. The sheepdog has been replaced by the wolf.
Cheap shots have replaced bravery. A certain kind of animal cunning has replaced honor. Libertine aggression has replaced fidelity. It’s as if the movie was remade from the bully’s perspective, and the bully became the hero. The man who evaded his generation’s war, who compared the dangers of his sex life to serving in Vietnam, is honored beyond the warrior.
Moreover, the very defense of virtue is now seen by some as fundamentally unmanly. Criticize Trump and you’re “pearl-clutching.” You’re “low-testosterone.” You’re wetting your panties. Sadly, even some veterans have succumbed to this impulse, viewing Trump’s pugilistic style—there’s no critic he’s not willing to (rhetorically) punch in the face—as a continuation rather than a corruption of their previous life of courage.
Trump mocks and exploits women. He shamed and attacked a Gold Star family. He coddled the pathetic tiki-torch brigade in Charlottesville, Virginia. And he does all these things while basking in the approving roars of his testosterone-fueled crowd.
The wolf is having his moment. But it may not last: The sheepdogs are at his heels. In one of those coincidences that just might signal divine providence, the sheepdog closest to catching Trump is an old marine, Robert Mueller, a faithful man who was decorated for valor in Vietnam. In his diligence, competence, and restraint he presents a striking contrast to the president.
You know there is something wrong with French’s central thesis (Trump is a bully) when the fiorst piece of evidence he cites is Trump making an obvious joke about someone else’s alleged bullying. If bad jokes were a crime I’d be serving consecutive life sentences. I don’t know exactly what Gianforte did or didn’t do, but it doesn’t sound like bullying.
Bullying is not defined by a single incident. It is a pattern of behavior in which the bully uses force or fear to dominate and control others whom the bully perceives to be weaker than himself. The power imbalance between bully and victim is key to the essence of bullying.
But being more powerful than the other guy does not make the stronger guy a bully. It may shock you to know that in my youth I often allowed my pelican mouth to overload my hummingbird sphincter. My mouth would say offensive things to older, bigger kids. Not infrequently those older, bigger kids would get fed up and would try to plug my mouth with one of their fists.
Did that make them bullies? No, of course not. It made them kids who didn’t like the mouth on that smart-ass who lived down the street. Bullies seek out their victims. They are attracted by fear. Bullies are typically insecure and have low self-esteem. They are often victims of bullying themselves.
“. . . Trump’s pugilistic style—there’s no critic he’s not willing to (rhetorically) punch in the face . . .”
Trump is a counter-puncher. If you hit him, he’ll hit you back. That is not bullying. That is a policy of deterrence.
Someone should tell David French that if you are going to get on your moral high horse you cannot tell lies.
Trump mocks and exploits women.
Trump has a history of being a womanizer. He used to brag about the beautiful women he has bedded. But even Horseyface and the other hooker that tried to blackmail him did not accuse Trump of bullying. The closest he came to bullying was when he tried to pressure that beauty pageant winner who started to plump up like a Ballpark Frank into dieting exercising. All ther women in Trump’s life have been well compensated for their time.
There are a few women like Rosie O’Donnell who tried to take on Trump and did not fare so well. The most famous is probably Megyn Kelly. Both Rosie and Megyn were near the peak of their careers when they took on Trump. It’s been downhill for both of them ever since.
Megyn Kelly was the hottest property in the news business when tried to kill Trump’s candidacy with a pre-planned attack aimed at what was perceived as Trump’s biggest liability. Trump shrugged off her questions by making a joke (about Rosie.) He followed up with a few comments over the next couple days that, despite what the media may claim, were fairly mild.
He shamed and attacked a Gold Star family.
This is the one that pissed me off. It is a leftist lie. The Khan Kerfluffle was a set-up from the git-go.
This is also from the Atlantic:
“I’ve had a flawless campaign,” Donald Trump insisted this weekend. A campaign’s most serious errors are only sometimes obvious in retrospect, but Trump’s decision to launch an all-out rhetorical war with Khizr and Ghazala Khan looks like an unforced error.
The Khans, Muslims immigrants from Pakistan, spoke Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, recalling their son, Captain Humayun Khan, who died while serving in Iraq in 2004.
“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son ‘the best of America,’” Khizr Khan said. “If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims.… Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’”
Khan added, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
The speech was a breathtaking moment, hailed by conservatives and liberals alike. For about a day, Trump steered clear of commenting, perhaps a wise choice: What could he profitably say? But starting Friday night, the Republican nominee began firing back.
The most complete response came in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. First, Trump made light of the fact that Ghazala Khan had not spoken. “His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there,” Trump said. “She had nothing to say. She probably—maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” (Ghazala Khan said she was too overcome with emotions to speak.)
Second, he tried to change the subject: “We have had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism, that’s what I’d say. We have had a lot of problems where you look at San Bernardino, you look at Orlando, you look at the World Trade Center, you look at so many different things.” Then he tried to change the subject again, attacking retired Marine General John Allen, who also spoke at the DNC Thursday, for failing to defeat ISIS.
Finally, pressed by Stephanopoulos, he insisted he had sacrificed—by having a career in business. “I think I have made a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done—I’ve had tremendous success.” Stephanopoulos asked whether those were really sacrifices. “Oh, sure. I think they’re sacrifices,” Trump said, likening his pursuit of monetary success to parents’ loss of a child in service of the nation.
Trump had never met nor spoke about the Khan family. He had nothing to do with the son’s death. The father is a lawyer who handles immigration cases. Somebody in the Democrat party thought it would be a good idea to put the Khans on stage at the Democrat convention to bash Trump over his immigration policy. It is obvious in hindsight that they wanted Trump to hit back.
But Trump said nothing despite repeated questions from reporters. So they kept at him. After a full day of questions about what Khan said, Trump broke down during an interview with a Clinton henchman disguised as a journalist and made one comment and then tried to change the subject. Then he tried to change it again. Nevertheless, Steffy George persisted, and Trump gave a weak answer.
The media pounced. Both Khans tore into Trump like angry chihuahuas. Trump made a couple more comments over that weekend but didn’t say anything to add fuel to the fire. Then Trump shut-up about the Khans. And now, 2 1/2 years later, the Khans still haven’t shut up. If you don’t believe me, google “Khizr Khan” and see what he’s been up to.
Trump understands what Josh Marshall called “The Bitch-Slap Theory of Electoral Politics.”
One way — perhaps the best way — to demonstrate someone’s lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves — thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can’t or won’t defend themselves certainly isn’t someone you can depend upon to defend you.
Demonstrating Kerry’s unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he’s made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.
Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person’s supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who’s receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.
When asked why they supported Trump, the number one answer given by Trump supporters was some variation of “Because he fights.” John McCain would not fight Democrats. He saved his ammo for attacking Tea Partiers and Trump supporters. (And, of course, Trump himself.) Mitt Romney was portrayed as a ruthless corporate pirate, which is ironic considering that he campaigned as Milquetoast Mitt.
He coddled the pathetic tiki-torch brigade in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This is so much bullshit. It started with the Left going after Confederate statues in the South. In Charlottesville, the mayor ordered that the local statue of Robert E. Lee be taken down and the park renamed.
A group calling itself “Unite the Right” wanted to protest. I’m not sure who these people are or what they believe. Although everyone on the right is accused of being a racist, these guys might actually be the real thing. The media calls them the “alt-Right,” and/or “white nationalists,” as well saying that they are white supremacists.
I don’t know if these people are racists or not. They do not make their views explicit. Most of them deny that they are racists. Even Richard Spencer, the alleged leader of the alt-right, is an enigma. There is reason to believe that Spencer is actually a leftist running a false-flag operation.
The protest was set for a Saturday. Every white supremacist east of the Mississippi planned to attend. This means there were couple hundred racists gathered in one place, the largest such gathering since the early 60’s. On the night before the planned protest Spencer led a bunch of his group on a march using tiki torches. This is where some of the infamous photos came from.
The next day the counter-protesters heavily outnumbered the protesters. Not all of the protestors were associated with “Unite the Right” Many of them simply objected to taking down Lee’s statue. Antifa was out in force in C’ville that day, and there were a number of violent clashes between left and right. Local officials shut down the rally and ordered people to disperse.
About this time a 20-year-old man from Ohio named James Alex Fields Jr. arrived in C’ville. He was unable to reach the rally because of the crowds. For reasons known only to himself and God he drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring a bunch of other people. Fields, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, is now serving a sentence of life +400 years.
The media, of course, demanded that Trump say something. What Trump said was true – there were good people and bad people on both sides. In his initial statements, he did not explicitly denounce white supremacists. Later he did explicitly condemn racism.
This is what David French calls “coddling.”
This post has growed like Topsy so I’ll end here with one last observation:
The growth of white supremacy on the right is primarily due to the use of identity politics on the Left. If you make attacking white people a fundamental part of your ideology, don’t act surprised when some white people join together to oppose you.