“I end with a new word, at least new to me. A friend called it to my attention. It speaks of the moment we’re in. It is “kakistocracy,” from the Greek. It means government by the worst persons, by the least qualified or most unprincipled. We’re on our way there, aren’t we?” ~ Peggy Noonan
I’ve never been a big fan of Peggy Noonan’s writing style. It strikes me as overly earnest and sappy, and because of this it often comes off as insincere and affected. As anyone who has read my stuff knows, I’m more into angry fist shaking rants. But the lady can obviously write well, and compared to some of her colleagues in the punditocracy, especially at the Wall Street Journal, she does at times seem to demonstrate that she gets it.
Noonan often articulates the frustrations of the struggling middle class in a way that many other pundits do not, and a lot of Wall Street Journal types would do well to take note. But just when you’re ready to declare that Noonan gets it and is on our side, she’ll fire off some hang-wringing piece that reaffirms her place among the above us all punditocracy.
Noonan is clearly conflicted. She can't decide if she's down with the people and fighting the Man, or more interested in signaling her sophistication to fellow pundits and the usual readership of the Wall Street Journal. Pick a side Peggy.
I’m all for nuance and making distinctions where you differ with a candidate. I have repeatedly made it known that I’m more of a non-interventionist on foreign policy than Donald Trump, for example, although I think his more America first foreign policy is on the right track. But there is nuance and making distinctions, and there is joining the chorus. The linked Noonan op-ed is joining the chorus.
Yes, Donald Trump had a bad week and had some unforced errors, but the constant unrelenting barrage from the liberal media and their “conservative” anti-Trump collaborators was clearly a coordinated effort intended to harm Trump. No assessment of the week is fair or complete that doesn’t mention and condemn this. The crying baby story that Noonan cites, has now been shown to not be accurate. The spate of stories that came out all at about the same time that Trump might drop out were obviously part of a coordinated effort based on nothing. Barring some seismic level event, Trump is not going to drop out. The idea is absurd on its face. The memo obviously went out, and the blatantly anti-Trump media dutifully regurgitated it. Any examination that concentrates on the foibles and missteps of Trump without mentioning the deliberate perfidy of the main stream media is no examination at all. It’s piling on.
I have many times conceded that Trump is an imperfect candidate, but much of the fretting about Trump’s style and demeanor among the pundit class strikes me as feigned outrage. Where are the similar protests about Hillary blatantly lying about her emails or ruthlessly quashing bimbo eruptions? And if it’s not feigned, then it’s prissy. Sure, traditionalist conservatives should prefer a perfect gentleman as the candidate, but the liberals who are now trashing Trump have spent their whole careers’ bashing traditional standards and would surely call any trad con perfect gentleman candidate an archaic old foggy if not a reactionary guilty of thoughtcrimes just by being.
NeverTrumpers who relish and amplify the liberal media’s efforts to take down Trump, (which should tell you whose ultimate side they are on) scold Trump supporters for not picking one of the other 16 candidates. Well wise guys, we had one candidate who was restrictionist on immigration, anti-globalist trade deals, more America first on foreign policy and overall spoke the language of looking out for the middle class vs. 16 movement conservative approved cookie-cutter candidates to greater or lesser degrees, and they scratch their head as to why Trump won and his supporters chose him. Noonan gets this dynamic and points it out in her column, so while she may need to pick a side, she at least gets it more than the clueless NeverTrump sore losers.
And even if there had been another more populist and nationalist candidate among the other 16, I’m not sure it would have changed the outcome much at all anyway. The whole package that is Trump, both good and bad, is probably a necessary component of his success and the advancement of his unique issues set. The success of Trump and the Trump phenomenon cannot be separated from the bombastic billionaire builder and reality TV star that America already knew when he first rode the escalator down in Trump Tower to make his announcement speech.
It’s hard to identify any other “regular” Republican politicians that support the same issues cluster that Trump does because the GOP Establishment and the movement conservative apparatus have done such a good job of maintaining message discipline, but Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and Rep Walter Jones (R-NC) come to mind. Would John Duncan or Walter Jones have moved the needle in the way Trump has been able to? It’s possible they would have made some inroads, but they wouldn’t have had thousands showing up for a rally in a football stadium in Alabama shortly after they announced. The hand-wringers have no one but themselves to blame for creating a situation where the GOP elite were so out of touch with their Flyover Country base that it took an unorthodox candidate like Trump to break through.
Whatever Trump may be, good or bad, he is not the “worst,” the “least qualified” or the “most unprincipled” as Noonan implies with her kakistocracy reference. In fact, the whole Trump package is, as I have argued repeatedly, both a feature and a bug. Noonan gets it more than most. She now needs to decide if she wants to help move the Middle American uprising along or continue to signal to her colleagues that she hasn’t entirely gone native. Pick a side Peggy and stick with it.