surprising insight given the source: "The White Minstrel Show"
from The National Review of all places ...
by KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON ( who, for all his other flaws, managed to write an insightful opEd critiquing conservatism)
My disagreements with him are where he dismisses external factors which worsen outcomes and falls back to the trope of "Pulling yourself up by own bootstraps" etc. Other than that, he is spot on in his dissection of anti-elitist populism.
Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-elitism of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: Im an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion. Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level. Trumps rhetoric ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. has always been about reducing. Trump doesnt have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence its the failing New York Times. Never mind that the New York Times isnt actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that theyve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesnt matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kids lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. Thats what all that ridiculous stuff about winning was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives and how smart people came to be a term of abuse."
No less a virtue entrepreneur than Bill Bennett dismissed those who pointed out Trumps endless lies and habitual betrayals as suffering from moral superiority, from people on high horses, and said that Trump simply is a guy who says some things awkwardly, indecorously, infelicitously. Thus did the author of The Book of Virtues embrace the author of Grab Em By the P***y.
We need a Moynihan Report for conservative broadcasters. The problem, in Bennetts telling (and that of many other conservatives), isnt that Trump is a morally defective reprobate but that he is aesthetically displeasing to overly refined elitists. That is a pretty common line of argument and an intellectual cop-out but set that aside for the moment. Lets pretend that Bennett et al. are correct and this is simply a matter of manners. Are we now to celebrate vulgarity as a virtue? Are we to embrace crassness? Are we supposed to pretend that a casino-cum-strip-joint is a civilizational contribution up there with Notre-Dame, that the Trump Taj Mahal trumps the Taj Mahal? Are we supposed to snigger at people who ask that question? Are we supposed to abandon our traditional defense of standards to mimic Trumps bucket-of-KFC-and-gold-plated-toilet routine? "