He’s the quintessential American. Tucker Carlson:
About 15 years ago, I said something nasty on CNN about Donald Trump’s hair. I can’t now remember the context, assuming there was one. In any case, Trump saw it and left a message the next day.
“It’s true you have better hair than I do,” Trump said matter-of-factly. “But I get more pussy than you do.” Click.
At the time, I’d never met Trump and I remember feeling amused but also surprised he’d say something like that. Now the pattern seems entirely familiar. The message had all the hallmarks of a Trump attack: shocking, vulgar and indisputably true.
When was the last time you stopped yourself from saying something you believed to be true for fear of being punished or criticized for saying it? If you live in America, it probably hasn’t been long. That’s not just a talking point about political correctness. It’s the central problem with our national conversation, the main reason our debates are so stilted and useless. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t have the words to describe it. You can’t even think about it clearly.
This depressing fact made Trump’s political career. In a country where almost everyone in public life lies reflexively, it’s thrilling to hear someone say what he really thinks, even if you believe he’s wrong. It’s especially exciting when you suspect he’s right.
All of which explains why almost nobody in Washington caught the significance of Trump’s finest moment in the first debate. One of the moderators asked, in effect: if you’re so opposed to Hillary Clinton, why did she come to your last wedding? It seemed like a revealing, even devastating question.
Trump’s response, delivered without pause or embarrassment: Because I paid her to be there. As if she was the wedding singer, or in charge of the catering.
Even then, I’ll confess, I didn’t get it. (Why would you pay someone to come to your wedding?) But the audience did. Trump is the ideal candidate to fight Washington corruption not simply because he opposes it, but because he has personally participated in it. He’s not just a reformer; like most effective populists, he’s a whistleblower, a traitor to his class. Before he became the most ferocious enemy American business had ever known, Teddy Roosevelt was a rich guy. His privilege wasn’t incidental; it was key to his appeal. Anyone can peer through the window in envy. It takes a real man to throw furniture through it from the inside.
If Trump is leading a populist movement, many of his Republican critics have joined an elitist one. Deriding Trump is an act of class solidarity, visible evidence of refinement and proof that you live nowhere near a Wal-Mart. Early last summer, in a piece that greeted Trump when he entered the race, National Review described the candidate as “a ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula.” Virtually every other critique of Trump from the right has voiced similar aesthetic concerns.
Why is the Party of Ideas suddenly so fixated on fashion and hair? Maybe all dying institutions devolve this way, from an insistence on intellectual rigor to a flabby preoccupation with appearances. It happened in the Episcopal Church, once renowned for its liturgy, now a stop on architectural and garden tours. Only tourists go there anymore.
America is a nation of commoners. Our archetypes are the frontiersman, the cowboy, and the self-made millionaire. These guys don’t give a shit what you think. They are rough and tough, not refined and cultured. They don’t bow down to anybody. They say what they mean and mean what they say.
Now you can argue (and I’m sure 1539days will) that that is all bullshit and that Trump is a rich kid who went to fancy schools and spent his life in mansions and penthouses. All of that is true, but we are talking imagery, not reality.
Donald Trump is not the messiah. He will not magically fix all our problems. He could even make things worse.
What Donald Trump has done is expose the bullshit that is our political process. The GOPe is scrambling to co-opt and corrupt him and the Democrats are losing their minds.
As for me, I’m just enjoying the show.