Austin Frank -> Is the Anti-Trump Movement Getting “Dumber”?
Anti-Trump Movement Getting “Dumber”?
It has been many a moon since I have found myself agreeing with David Brooks, one of the New York Times’ few token “conservatives” (even though he and the others, Ross Douthat and Bret Stephens, are all virtue signaling anti-Trumpers).
But in the wake of the “Fire and Fury” book, even David Brooks is starting to realize how pathetic the #Resistance has become. His column is entitled “The Decline of Anti-Trumpism” and the header photo is a picture of someone clutching the Wolff book. He begins:
Let me start with three inconvenient observations, based on dozens of conversations around Washington over the past year:
First, people who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.
My impression is that the Trump administration is an unhappy place to work, because there is a lot of infighting and often no direction from the top. But this is not an administration full of people itching to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Third, the White House is getting more professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.
It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.
I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.
Brooks is so close here. So close.
Take it one step further, genius: there is only one White House.
The “Potemkin White House” is an act. Trump’s tweeting and “sideshow antics” (which I believe to be very effective) are not unfortunate realities that the “sane people” have learned to work around and leverage effectively.
It’s all part of the operation.
By now it’s clear that Trump’s tweeting is the main thing the NY/DC media loathe about him, and Brooks has made that clear. All that tells me is Trump’s Twitter account is his greatest weapon. It allows him to cut out the media middleman and send his message unvarnished to the world. It marginalizes a media that would like nothing more than to twist and distort his message and his words and present their own version of him to the world.
But Twitter allows him to sidestep their propaganda chop shop.
Whatever. Brooks will never totally see the light, although he is a lot closer to doing so than many of his anti-Trump friends.
I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.
This is what we’ve been saying all along: the anti-Trump movement has a staggering superiority complex, imagining itself morally, intellectually and psychologically superior in every way to Trump and his supporters, all the while it has descended into hysteria, conspiracy theorist, and outright bloodlust. It is so profoundly angry and blinded by that profound anger, that it has come to believe a multitude of obviously false narratives about the President — namely that he is certifiably insane, that he COLLUDED WITH RUSSIA and that he is a terrible racist.
The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him. And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.
This is what happens when you dominate all of the cable news save for Fox News, and when the entire entertainment industry is pumping out your orthodoxy. This is what happens when you have to go out of your way to be exposed to the Other Side’s point of view.
Ultimately, Brooks’ point is that he’s #Concerned the anti-Trump movement will descend to the level of Trump movement.
He’s fretting that anti-Trump will become “Lowbrow”:
In every war, nations come to resemble their enemies, so I suppose it’s normal that the anti-Trump movement would come to resemble the pro-Trump movement. But it’s not good.
We anti-Trumpers have our lowbrowism, too, mostly on late-night TV. But anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the Wolff book.
Wolff doesn’t pretend to adhere to normal journalistic standards. He happily admits that he’s just tossing out rumors that are too good to check. As Charlie Warzel wrote on BuzzFeed, “For Wolff’s book, the truth seems almost a secondary concern to what really matters: engagement.”
The ultimate test of the lowbrow is not whether it challenges you, teaches you or captures the contours of reality; it’s whether you feel an urge to share it on social media.
Yes — the Wolff book is certainly the first noted instance in which the anti-Trump movement descended into a fact-free frenzy.
The first hint of lowbrow on the anti-Trump side. Yessiree.
This is why as much as I appreciate Brooks’ half-assed effort to call out the lunacy of his fellow travelers — self-critique is always more effective than adversarial critique — it’s still a futile effort.
At the end of the day, he’s only in the good graces of the left as long as he’s constantly spewing venom about Trump. Leftists have always got these Never Trumpers on a short leash. The moment Brooks or Stephens or whoever says anything even remotely pro-Trump or anti-anti-Trump, they’re going to get their heads bitten off by thousands of irate NYT commenters. Brooks is not going to compel anyone on his side into self-reflection.
They’re all too far gone.
And so is Brooks.
So he’s resisting the salacious allure of “Fire and Fury” — big whoop. I’m not going to give him any credit for that. Anyone with an ounce of common sense is doing the same.
Congrats, David Brooks, on not credulously embracing a book riddled with typos, provably false lies, and wildly outrageous gossip!
Just because all of his idiot’s friends are taking the Wolff book as if it is the Literal Word of God and a Sacred Text, doesn’t mean Brooks deserves any credit for resisting the urge to do the same.
So he’s the tallest midget — I’m not impressed.
Brooks is still totally in denial about Trump and the reality of the anti-Trump movement today. The entire Brooks column has a strong whiff of sanctimony and moral superiority.
The whole message Brooks tried to convey to his fellow-travelers was that “we’d better watch out, or soon we’ll be just as bad as the Trumpkins!”
There is no reevaluation of the fundamental assumptions of anti-Trumpism (i.e. that it’s largely an exercise in virtue signaling and moral preening). There is nothing close to an epiphany in Brooks’ column. He’s still as convinced as ever that Trump is Unthinkably Evil and THIS IS NOT NORMAL and that he literally CAN’T EVEN when it comes to Trump.
All Brooks shows us here is that even broken clocks are right twice a day.