“Hell,” said Alabama’s Democratic Gov. George Wallace before roiling the 1968 presidential race, “we got too much dignity in government now, what we need is some meanness .”
Twelve elections later, Wallace’s wish is approaching fulfillment as Republicans contemplate nominating someone who would run to Hillary Clinton’s left. Donald Trump, unencumbered by any ballast of convictions, would court Bernie Sanders’s disaffected voters with promises to enrich rather than reform the welfare state’s entitlement menu —Trump already says, “I am going to take care of everybody” — and to make America great again by having it cower behind trade barriers. If elected, Trump presumably would seek reelection, so there would be no conservative choice for president until at least 2024.
So far, George Will is making sense. Trump is a buffoon and for a businessman he doesn’t seem to have a clue how economic growth occurs. Will is a student of history and knows a little about populist demagogues. There were three such demagogues in the 1936 presidential election. Alf Landon, the Republican candidate, was not one of them. FDR had no fear of Landon and barely took notice of him. The three men FDR feared in 1936 were Louisiana Senator Huey P. Long, Catholic Radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, and an elderly California doctor named Francis E. Townsend.
Coughlin’s radio sermons reached millions. An enthusiastic supporter of Roosevelt in 1932, Coughlin soon soured on FDR’s programs because he thought they were inadequate. By 1934 Coughlin was what is now called an SJW, a social justice warrior.
With a simple letter to the editor Dr. Townsend had started a national movement for government-provided old age pensions. He wanted every person over age 60 to be provided $200 a month, provided they spend every penny of it before receiving the next check. Thus began FDR’s push for social security, which initially gave those aged 65 and over with a monthly stipend of $35.
Will uses the third man Roosevelt feared in the months leading up to November, 1935 to make a point about Donald Trump:
The Democratic Party once had to defend itself against a populist demagogue. During the 1932 campaign, while lunching at Hyde Park with his aide Rexford Tugwell, Franklin Roosevelt took a telephone call from Sen. Huey Long, who as governor had made Louisiana into America’s closest approximation of a police state. When the call ended, FDR told Tugwell:
“That’s the second-most dangerous man in this country. Huey’s a whiz on the radio. He screams at people and they love it.”
Who, Tugwell asked, is the most dangerous? FDR, recalling Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s violent dispersal of aggrieved military veterans in Washington in July 1932, answered:
“You saw how he strutted down Pennsylvania Avenue. You saw that picture of him in the Times after the troops chased all those vets out [of Lafayette Park] with tear gas and burned their shelters. Did you ever see anyone more self-satisfied? There’s a potential Mussolini for you.”
Trump, who was a big-government liberal Democrat until he recently discovered he was a conservative Republican, has the upturned jutted jaw, the celebration of “energy” and the flirtation with violence and torture that characterized the Italian who was a radical socialist until he decided he was a fascist. Trump, however, is as American as Huey Long.
George Will points out some problems for Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton. Just as Romney’s attacks on Obamacare fell flat because he was the architect of Romneycare, its predecessor in Massachusetts, Trump’s attacks on Hillary and the Clinton Crime Family Foundation will suffer from Trump having previously been a big supporter and contributor to both.
Then Will shows us his colors by trying to make us believe the Republican establishment is a corpse that died on April 24, 1966 when the New York Herald Tribune expired. Since then, says Will, the GOPe has been comatose. Only an avid supporter and devoted member of the Republican establishment can say this with a straight face.
If by comatose Will means the establishment has stopped being an opposition party and has become a party of mealy-mouthed politicians that just want to make nice with Democrats (who willingly accept their cooperation in advancing a liberal agenda but hate their guts anyway), then he has a point. But that’s not what he means.
Far from being comatose the Republican establishment is very much an active opposition force against its own voters. It took a while for voters to realize they were being snookerd by the very people they were voting for. Their cognitive dissonance has now abated and they’re angry, sort of like you get when you finally realize after many trips to the dealer that the car you were sold is a lemon.
Donald Trump didn’t just appear out of nothing. The Republican establishment is the Doctor Frankenstein of 21st Century American politics. They created Trump. If they’d been doing their jobs for the last 30 years Trump would still be just another Manhattan tycoon donating huge sums to the Hillary campaign and the Clinton Crime Family Foundation.
As you would think because of his devotion to the GOP establishment, corpse or not, Will supports Rubio over Trump, not Ted Cruz.
Here is something related that is pretty interesting: Republican Establishment’s Open Borders Lifeboat Sinking Along With Rubio. Would that it be true.