For the first time in our long association, my esteemed editor, Brian Mahoney, asked for a particular subject. "All I'm hearing from liberals is about how scared they are about Trump now being the de facto Republican nominee, and the possibility that he might become president, and the fact that they may have to expatriate to Canada," he wrote.
Sure, Brian. Why not. However, I don't understand why liberals are upset about Donald Trump, per se, in particular, as compared to the alternatives.
Remember when this primary season began. The story from Iowa in Rolling Stone was titled "Inside the GOP Clown Car." The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Politico, Joe Scarborough (previously a Republican congressman from Florida, now a right-leaning talk show host), Real Clear Politics, Esquire, the Arkansas Times—among many others—all used the expression.
Why is everyone surprised that when the car stopped, a clown stepped out?
Yet all the professionals—the party regulars, the consultants, and especially the pundits—are astounded. Discombobulated. Appalled. Reams have been written and towers of babble are being devoted to deconstructing the rise of Trump and the fall of themselves. Nate Cohn, the political analyst for the New York Times, is a perfect example. "A precocious number-cruncher and polling whiz," according to Politico, his job is to call the dog race. No issue, no facts, just who's stumbling, who's lunging, who's gonna get the rabbit. (As a sideline, his column has labored indefatigably and relentlessly on the nonexistence of Bernie Sanders. But that's another matter.) Every hound he's touted has failed. He was wrong so often that at last, on May 4, his column was titled "What I Got Wrong About Donald Trump."
Cohn is to be commended for noticing. But then came the explanations, somewhere between 15 and 22 of them. What was underestimated, unexpected, unimagined: the media, the opponents, the electorate, the establishment! All those things had to come together, to coincide, to combine, in such unpredictable ways!—oh my gosh!—to make Nate Cohn so totally wrong.
Actually, there is a very simple and clear explanation. I have to give credit where credit is due. My 23-year-old son was not at all surprised by the rise of Trump. "When idiots argue, the loudest one wins," he said.
The significant idea here is not that Trump is the loudest, it's that the entire Republican debate took place in their special bubble where the only speech that's permitted is Fox Babble. Would one of the other speakers of Loony Talk be less fear inspiring than Trump?
Seriously, Ted Cruz? A Republican that even other Republicans hate as too mean. Who knew that was possible among a group that so prides itself on being bellicose and bullying?
Marco Rubio? Ah, the young cherub who gets brain freeze at crucial moments. He's actually nearly as far right as Cruz.
Ben Carson? He somehow combines being brain dead with neurosurgery. He does not merely disbelieve in evolution, he suspects Darwin was inspired by Satan.
Carly Fiorina? She lies with a ferocity that is awesome to behold, as if bitter outrage will make Tinker Bell come to life, bite Hillary Clinton, and give her the Zika virus.
John Kasich? His heart's desires are to end abortions and destroy unions.
Chris Christie? If his weight weren't so great it would be appropriate to call him Donald Trump Lite. What would he do to make our nation better: "How about [what] I've done in New Jersey for the last six years and get rid of Planned Parenthood funding for the United States of America."
Jeb Bush? The National Review assured conservatives that he was "more conservative" than his brother. His foreign policy team was the same crew that missed 9/11, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and left them us the mess we're in.
Rick Santorum? Hey, anyone can be anti-abortion and anti-gay. That's not enough for Rick, who said, "One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is the dangers of contraception in this country. It's not okay."
Mike Huckabee? He wants to get rid of personal and corporate income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, gift and estate taxes, and replace them with a national sales tax and call it the "Fair Tax."
Rand Paul? He doesn't like wars, surveillance, people in jail for marijuana, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Education, and progressive taxes. He thinks the civil right of businesses not to do business with types they don't like is the greatest civil right. He thinks that Social Security is bankrupt, that Medicare is failing. He wants a flat tax and also to go back to the gold standard.
Scott Walker? When the Koch Brothers produce cloned candidates, Scott will be their prototype. Destroy unions, disenfranchise voters, cut taxes for the rich, stick it to everyone else.
Bobby Jindal? Applied the Koch brothers formula for wealth and success to Louisiana and left it bankrupt.
Rick Perry? The clown against which all other clowns are measured.
What disturbs liberals so much?
Policy? All the rest are as bad or worse. The US already spends nearly as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, they hysterically cry for more! More! Carpet bomb ISIS! No deal with Iran! Kill somebody!
At the same time they will cut taxes! And balance the budget! With policies that will send more money to the top and take it from the rest of us!
Stop gay marriage. Stop gay rights. Stop abortion, Planned Parenthood, contraception. Prayer back in the schools, creationism in the textbooks! Black Lives Matter is an attack on the police!
Trump has even blurted out some truths that none of the others ever would. All the politicians are owned by big money. The rich should pay more of their share in taxes. "Free trade" has screwed over most ordinary Americans. Who-goes-to-the-toilet-where is an overblown issue. If you're going to outlaw abortion, women who get one are committing a crime.
That explains why establishment Republicans are in a snit. But not Democrats.
Is it the anti-Mexican stance? The Islamophobia? The birther campaign and the open white-racist support? Please, fear of the blacks and browns have been pillars of the Republican coalition and the keys to its successes since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Is it just that the other guys talk in terms that have been focus group tested, made normative by repetition, and blind media acceptance? While Trump has lifted up the flap of the tent and let us hear how the clowns talk when they're drunk and think they're alone. Trump is not an aberration. He is the culmination.
The scary part of "When idiots argue, the loudest guy wins" is not about the winner, it's the fact that it's possible because it's idiots arguing.