As of tomorrow, there’s only one year left in the Obama presidency.
Is Trump’s Big Announcement an Endorsement by Sarah Palin?
In September, I noticed:
“Jerry, how much do you think Lorne Michaels would pay me if I were to run in 2016?” Sarah Palin asked Jerry Seinfeld in a skit that aired as part of Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special in February.
“Run for president? Sarah, I don’t think there’s a number too big,” Seinfeld responded.
“Hypothetically, then, what if I were to choose Donald Trump as my running mate?” Palin continued.
“Sarah, you’re teasing us, that’s not nice!” Seinfeld responded in mock indignation.
Eight months ago, the idea of Donald Trump appearing on a GOP presidential ticket was literally the punchline of a joke.
The first decades of Trump and Palin’s lives couldn’t have been more different. The Christian social conservatism that drives Palin is at best a perfunctory afterthought for Trump. She began her political career driven by outrage at a group of self-interested Alaska politicians who called themselves the “corrupt bastards club”; Trump brags about his ability to get what he wants from politicians in exchange for donations. And it seems likely the pair don’t quite align in their views of popular culture. Palin’s daughter Bristol ripped Miley Cyrus as an example of pop stars who proclaim tolerance while showing contempt for Christians; Trump reportedly told Cyrus he “loved” her provocative performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.
But both have starred in reality shows, both are used to crushing media attention, and both pitch themselves as the voice of a new silent majority ignored, mocked, and demonized by hostile media and political elites.
If she endorses Trump, Team Cruz will have serious questions about how their man fell short.
“I think it’d be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion for the conservative cause, and if she was going to endorse Donald Trump, sadly, she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life on the sanctity of life, on marriage, on partial-birth abortion,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN’s “New Day,” adding that the Manhattan businessman supported the TARP bailout.
While acknowledging that Trump has signaled a shift in his more liberal views, Tyler said that “if it was Sarah Palin, let me just say I’d be deeply disappointed.”
The irony of Palin endorsing Trump this year of all years, if it happens, is that the tea party finally has a candidate running who not only passes nearly every litmus test they can throw at him but who’s run a brilliant campaign and stands a shockingly good chance of winning. That’s Cruz, a guy whom Palin herself has praised repeatedly in the past. (Rubio fans would tell you that it’s Rubio too, apart from that pesky immigration litmus test and the, er, brilliant campaign part.) If she backs Trump tomorrow, Cruz fans will laugh it off and call her a has-been who won’t move any votes but (a) I’m not sure that’s true and (b) that’s missing the point of why a Palin endorsement would be significant.
Support from Palin would give Trump some cover on the inevitable attacks from Cruz that he’s an establishmentarian in populist clothing. That’s Trump’s biggest vulnerability; any cover he can get for it from another populist with a national profile will help him. The larger meaning of Palin endorsing Trump, though, would be the signal it sends that populist conservatism is now less about conservatism than it is about populism. If you have enough of the latter, you don’t need to worry much about the former. It would be a bookend to the tea-party era, which started with Palin and Glenn Beck yelling at Obama about progressive tyranny and would end with Beck yelling at Palin and Trump about progressive tyranny.
If you consider Ted Cruz the conservative ideal or near-ideal in terms of philosophical grounding, legal perspective, and ideological rigor — and the case for that seems pretty self-evident — then watching tea-party leaders flock to Trump over him is pretty damn disappointing.
April 15, 2009 is largely seen as the birth date of the Tea Party movement. Here’s what Trump was saying that day about President Obama:
TRUMP: I think he’s sort of a guy that just has a wonderful personality, a good speaker, somebody that people trust. And I also think that the comparison with his predecessor is so different — it’s so huge that it really has made a great impact on people.
I think that he’s really doing a nice job in terms of representation of this country. And he represents such a large part of the country . . .
I think he’s doing a really good job.
Now, the sad part is that he can’t just do a good job. He’s got to do a great job. Because if he does a good job, that’s not good enough for this country. That’s how bad the country has become.
KING: Do you assess him as a champion?
TRUMP: Oh, yes, he’s a champion. I mean, he won against all odds. If you would have looked — when he first announced, people were giving him virtually no chance. And he’s just done something that’s amazing. He’s totally a champion.
Later in that interview:
KING: You’re not going to march with the tea party?
TRUMP: I don’t march with the tea party. But I’ll tell you what, they have a good point, because when you see the kind of money that this country is — to use a horrible expression, Larry, I know you’ve never heard this — but that this country is pissing away, I can understand where they’re coming from.
Trump went on to defend the TARP bailouts: “If they didn’t stuff the banks with money, we’d be in depression number two right now, Larry. I mean, we would be strongly in depression number two. So they did the right thing in putting money into the banks.”
Trump, the guy who donated $50,000 to make Rahm Emanuel the mayor of Chicago.
In the founding days of the Tea Party, Donald Trump was exactly what they were fighting against . . . and now some of those adherents have embraced him fully.
You know, in the comprehensive list of the world’s problems, the fact that all of the acting nominees at this year’s Oscars are white seems pretty low in terms of consequence. How many people on this earth can seriously, legitimately claim they’ve been wronged by this decision? Four or five? Ten? When you throw in the directing and screenwriting categories, 20 or 30?
Now, if I were Will Smith, or Samuel L. Jackson, or Michael B. Jordan, I might feel differently. If I were Jada Pinkett Smith, and I felt my husband had been snubbed, I might boycott, too.
Then again, Smith has been nominated for Best Actor twice (Ali in 2001, The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006), and both years he lost to an African-American actor (Denzel Washington in 2001, Forest Whitaker in 2006). Spike Lee, who’s boycotting this year, was nominated twice and won an honorary award last year.
(Note that of the five actors nominated this year for best actor, only Eddy Redmayne has already won. Maybe Academy voters were biased in favor of actors who hadn’t won before? Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated five times and hasn’t won yet; he’s considered the favorite this year.)
I see only two solutions to Oscar-related “race rows”: equanimity in the face of disappointment, or quotas. Yes, quotas, whether explicit or implicit. These would be insulting and outrageous, of course: “black slots” at the Oscars. The very notion is repulsive. But the other route, equanimity in the face of disappointment, can be difficult, for all sorts of people.
Let me think charitably of those complaining superstars. Here are the movies that featured the best-actor nominees: Trumbo, The Martian, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl. Only The Martian counts as a mass-market hit. Creed, with Michael B. Jordan, was a hit. Concussion has made $33 million in the U.S., a modest hit; by comparison, Steve Jobs made about $18 million. Straight Outta Compton was the 18th-highest grossing movie of the year; some argue its director, F. Gary Gray, deserved a nomination.
The Oscars are a mess. Heavy-handed message pictures and emote-for-the-cameras historical dramas dominate the nominations; awards for comedy, sci-fi and fantasy films are unthinkable outside of the technical categories, and most years a lot of Americans haven’t seen any of the best-picture nominees. And then Hollywood wonders why the ratings aren’t as high as they hoped.
Maybe the argument shouldn’t be “worthy black actors are getting snubbed in the nominations process.” Maybe it would be stronger if it was “worthy black actors from movies people actually watched are getting snubbed in the nominations process.”
Friday, Rush Limbaugh particularly enjoyed my portrait of the much-less-frequently-discussed base–elite divide within the Democratic party, calling it, “really good and funny, too.”
Members of the Democratic base believe they’ve been given a raw deal by life. Whether or not they actually are poor (many are), they feel poor, and they feel that they’re barred from changing their circumstances. They believe they’ve been victimized by sexism, racism, and all manner of social discrimination. Their circumstances are a result of malevolence from powerful forces in American life, and not a predictable consequence of their own life choices.
They could have and should been great successes in life, but they were stymied at every turn by malignant forces out to keep them down. If it wasn’t their teacher and their schools failing to recognize their great potential, then it was their bosses and their employers. Cops hassle them for no reason.
The only remedy they see is for the government to give them things that they find too expensive: higher education, health care, child care — all of that should be free. Housing is expensive, too; the government should let them hold off on paying their mortgages as long as they feel squeezed. The rich should pay for all this, as they’ve got the money, and what do they need it for, anyway? The Democratic base knows it’s as smart and hard-working as Bill Gates and those fat-cat CEOs. There should be a revolution — then those millionaire and billionaires who think they’re so smart wouldn’t be so smug.
The Democratic elite is — well, elite. Life has been good to them. They may trash corporate greed, but they’ve already made their fortunes. Of course taxes should be raised to pay for everything — they can afford it, and they’ll talk to Wilkins the accountant to make sure they get every deduction they can. The country is doing well under Obama — he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for turning everything around. The real worry is how bad climate change is getting — why can’t Obama hurry up and just create cap and trade by executive order? Their broker says they could make a killing in the solar panel and wind industries, particularly with the subsidies. That new Tesla model looks terrific. Really, this country could be in a much better spot if they could just control all those backwards rednecks and their guns — really, in all their years of living in this gated community, they’ve never felt the need to own a gun. And somebody’s got to stop those xenophobes who are screaming about the Mexicans. Maria is the best maid they’ve ever had, how could anyone hate her?
Sanders is closer to what the base wants, Clinton is closer to what the elites want.
“As a surface explanation, it’s pretty damn on spot,” Rush concluded.
Tag-team authors Jim Geraghty and Cam Edwards mix their own amiable reminiscences with references to television dad Ward Cleaver to illustrate that being a grown-up is not the end of fun or freedom, but the source of real, mature, adult satisfaction and joy.
Unlike some advice tomes, most of Heavy Lifting is cheerful and personal. Occasional outbursts will mirror many readers’ reactions to the officious or irresponsible: “Get a farshtunken grip, educators. You’re supposed to be the grown-ups here.”
This eminently readable book is a breath of fresh air, bracingly presented to a culture that (like so many cultures in the past) feels that it is in trouble.
“If all the slackers in the world disappeared tomorrow, the video game industry would collapse. If all the Ward Cleavers in the world disappeared tomorrow, civilization would collapse.”
Over on Amazon, a new purchaser writes, “Geraghty and Edwards write well and with humor, and the humor carries some seriously good advice for guys. I teach at the junior college level and encounter lots of young men who aren’t ready to settle down in the least. They’re afraid of adulting, in other words, and I can easily imagine quoting from this book to make growing up sound like a badass thing to do (which it is).”