Killer clowns

Just because Just The Tip Trumpers are silly doesn't mean they're innocent

© 2016 Gage Skidmore, used under a Creative Commons license

Hope you won’t think I’m being lazy but I did the summary version on Twitter so let’s start with that:

Got it? OK.

You can read the Peggy Noonan column yourself, and but it’s pretty much how I nutshelled it:

Back on 9/11 everyone was so terrorized by violence and carnage of the sort we usually visit on other people that we’d accept any way of lashing out, even if it made no sense and under-elected George W. Bush was telling us to do it, wasn’t that awesome, and now look at us, we are riven by dissension and the culprit is, well I’m not gonna say it directly because that would be rude but it’s “a nonstop condemnation of our past” (you know, black people stuff) and “elites” (i.e. “professors and media leaders and tech CEOs,” other hyper-rich people are OK), and, and, and, deficit spending, and, and, and what about that freak show the Met Gala, look here are pictures, I don’t usually have pictures but you have to see how freaky they were, it was like something out of Cabaret, and I just know that “regular people” like my doorman and dry cleaner and nail salon girls are as worried as I am, and I can’t say out loud what they’re gonna do but boy wait till the next election. Bartender!

We all know Noonan’s nuts, and she’s even less coherent than usual here, making assertions that collapse after two seconds contact with common sense. (For instance: “Just about every large business in America is now run by its human resources department because everyone appears to be harassing and assaulting each other, or accusing each other.” Really? Have you looked at the Dow? It’s around 34,000. If that’s HR’s doing, we’ve been seriously undervaluing them.)

Noonan is a representative of conservatism’s old guard — the allegedly serious conservatives who don’t go in for all that vulgar Trump stuff and are bravely holding the line for the old-fashioned rightwing values. Did you see that bit about deficit spending? That’s how we did it back in ’84, dadgummit, before all these newfangled ideas came in!

I’ve been making fun of those guys since the rise of Trump and the immediate collapse of that old guard — the apparatchiks who stood against him until he was really on the rise, and then plotzed, some becoming completely abject courtiers, some making occasional half-hearted and unconvincing complaints before basically supporting whatever he asked for — the “Just The Tip Trumpers,” the Charlie the Tuna “Conservatives with Good Taste,” etc.

But lately I’ve been a little less amused by these guys — because after five years, it’s apparent that, ridiculous as they are with their noses contemptuously lifted to evade the stink of the Trumpenproletariat, they’re still securely poised on their prominent perches and when they talk about the state of the nation, the things you and I see as grave dangers to the Republic — massive inequality, people losing their hold on solvency as the stimulus programs fade away, the willful spread of COVID by Republican governors for political purposes, and the rise of a no-fooling neofascist movement loyal to a former President who’s still unpunished and undaunted after his attempted coup — about those things, these reasonable, wouldn’t-wear-a-red-hat-if-you-paid-them conservatives like Noonan and Ross Douthat and Jeff Jacoby and Jonah Goldberg remain completely unconcerned.

And what do they think is important? Attacking critical race theory in primary schools and antifa and cancel culture and the Met Gala — bullshit that serves no purpose but to pump up the culture war that is the Trumpkins’ oxygen. They don’t do the yammering belligerent drunk routine Trump does, because they’re not expected to convince the slobs, who have already been pre-convinced by podcast goons and radio screamers. Their role is to lend a touch of class to the proceedings — God knows why; maybe donors and media barons find it soothing, like a little port before bedtime.

Or maybe their job is to weave a spell over some of the less insane sorta-conservative voters who remain disappointed or even disgusted by Trump but still have a soft spot for gently conservative sentiments spieled out in high-class magazine and newspaper copy — they’re from an era when Republicans read, or at least their parents did, and they remember when the GOP was a respectable organization, and maybe they’d like it to be again; and maybe when they read Peggy Noonan and others like her they think: You know, maybe Republicanism really is still respectable, and maybe if people think it isn’t it’s only because they’ve been bamboozled by, by, by cancel culture, you know, like our granddaughter says she’s “non-binary,” I always thought that sounded sinister and now Caitlin Flanagan tells me it is, and he’s not a freak or a nutter, see I wasn’t just imagining it, at that makes me wonder if these liberals are the real freaks, look at this Met Gala thing…  

In other words, they haven’t changed, and they’re still absurd, but absurd as they are they aren’t harmless.