Politics & Policy

Spare Us the Overwrought 9/11 Analogies, Donald

Trump speaks at a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, September 8, 2016. (Reuters photo: Mike Segar)
We aren’t trapped on Flight 93, and Trump isn’t going to save us.

My old friends Dennis Prager, Bill Bennett, and Rush Limbaugh, among many others, seem to have made a transition. It’s not enough to vote for Trump. No, even reluctant supporters must now talk themselves into believing that conservative “principles” require a vote for Trump. Like John C. Calhoun, who discovered that slavery was not only not immoral, it was a “positive good,” some Republicans are urging that a vote for Trump is a moral imperative. To oppose him is, in Bennett’s words, “moral superiority.” Rush Limbaugh, who travels in a private plane, condemns anti-Trump intellectuals at tiny, poorly funded think tanks for “wanting their checks.”

To justify support for an emotionally stunted, aspiring authoritarian, Prager et al. argue that the country “cannot survive” four years of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Limbaugh warns that this is a “Flight 93” election — meaning we either storm the cockpit and risk death, or surely die.

Bad analogy. The passengers on Flight 93 were pretty sure they were going to die. The only question was whether to go down fighting and possibly disrupt the terrorists’ plans, or to die passively. Those passengers ought to remind us that much remains right with America, because the voices crying doom are particularly piercing just now.

There is much decay in America. Government, best represented by an IRS that targets Americans for their political activism and an FBI that declines to hold high officials to the same standards as ordinary ones, is corrupt. Government is also sclerotic and headed for insolvency — with the approval of both major-party candidates. The courts are making social policy without even a pretense of constitutionality. Race relations are getting worse. The press is dominated by mindless infotainment. Men are dropping out of the labor force. The Internet has unleashed the most feral appetites of the human soul — from child porn to anti-Semitism. Manners are fraying.

So, yes, it may be that we cannot pull out of this dive. Many of these ills are not susceptible to repair by a president. In any case, how can people who until the day before yesterday emphasized the crucial importance of ethics, morality, tradition, and honor now argue that Trump is not the antithesis of those virtues?

If you’re going to have a cult of personality, at least choose someone worthy, or at least interesting. Trump has spent a career in the tabloid zone and it shows. The amazing thing is that a lifelong teetotaler can sound so drunk. At NBC’s “Commander in Chief” forum, for example, Trump repeated his favorite barstool bluster that the United States of America should have “taken the oil” before departing Iraq. Leaving aside for a moment the morality of using the U.S. military to pillage another nation, the “how” of this formulation is a bit murky, since Trump is adamantly opposed to “boots on the ground.” We could have left a small force, he airily explained to Matt Lauer. And the Iraqi population would have been fine with that? No danger of an insurrection, to say nothing of sabotage?

Trump has spent a career in the tabloid zone and it shows. The amazing thing is that a lifelong teetotaler can sound so drunk.

Trump again repeated the debunked claim that Mexico is “taking all of our jobs, most of our jobs,” and preened about causing the resignation of a mid-level Mexican government official as proof of his toughness. A truly great nation needn’t lord it over minor Mexicans. He later purred about his cordiality with Vladimir Putin, and imagined how delightful the world would be if we could have a better relationship with Russia, which “wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do.” Well, not badly enough actually to fire on them it seems. Russian jets hit Bashar al-Assad’s opponents square-on but left ISIS pretty much unscathed.

Trump claims to have taken an interest in international affairs for “many years,” but he apparently missed the part when Obama/Clinton had the same naïve hope about Russia. They called it a “reset.” Trump would decry it as a “disaster,” even as he slides into the exact same rut. Despite his slogan, Trump is quick to slander America. Asked about the attempted coup in Turkey, he sneered that the U.S. lacks the moral authority to criticize other nations. When presented with Putin’s record of killing opponents, he was phlegmatic: “Our country does plenty of killing also.” He’s long admired dictators he describes as “strong leaders.”

Trump’s comments on foreign policy come at a time when he’s been attempting to impersonate a normal candidate, and some observers have developed blinding amnesia. This Trump is bad enough, but the other one — the violence-inciting, promiscuously dishonest, bankruptcy-declaring, NATO-dissing, tax-return-withholding, alt-right-empowering, threat-issuing, and America-disparaging Trump — cannot remain chained for long. That Trump cannot save America. He might do even more damage than she. So spare us the overwrought Flight 93 analogies.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More
Elections

Fire Brenda Snipes

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Florida’s Broward County, does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. Snipes has held her position since 2003, in which year her predecessor, ... Read More
Elections

The Georgia Smear

Back in 2016, when Trump refused to say he’d necessarily accept the result if he lost, we were told that this was a terrible violation of democratic norms. Now, refusing to accept that you lost an election is the highest form of patriotism. Not only are the media and the Left not pressuring Stacey Abrams to ... Read More
PC Culture

The Lonely Mob

Just before the election, an Andrew Gillum intern named Shelby Shoup was arrested and charged with battery after assaulting some college Republicans on the campus of Florida State University. It was rather less exciting than that sounds: She went on a rant about “Nazis” and “fascism” — Gillum’s ... Read More
World

How Immigration Changes Britain

Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, ... Read More
Elections

Sorry, Brian Kemp Still Won

Here was the state of play as of yesterday per the Kemp campaign’s breakdown of publicly available information: As of Saturday, November 10, 2018 (12:00 p.m.) *Information below is public.  Total votes reported: 3,924,658 Kemp: 1,975,162 (50.33%) Abrams: 1,912,383 (48.73%) Metz: ... Read More