Saturday, July 1, 2017

Shocked! Shocked!

     Claude Rains’s Captain Renault couldn’t do it any better than the Main Stream Media and their NeverTrumper allies on the nominal Right. From coast to coast and continent to continent, the Punditocracy is agog that an American president would dare to punch back against the forces that have been relentlessly denigrating some cases, demonizing him as Satan come to Earth.

     Meanwhile, those of us who voted for him are thrilled that Trump didn’t leave his campaign-season pugnacity in his other suit. Not only is it a good part of why we supported him; it gives the lie to the supposed objectivity of those who pronounce on him, his policies, and his administration from a magisterial height. Beyond that, it’s both heart-lifting and educational for the rest of us who’ve languished in the Slough of Political Despond as we watched the “respectable” Right quail and wring its hands before the savagery of the Left and its media handmaidens.

     More simply put, the time for one-way “civility” is over.

     Have a few words from my favorite Christian Mercenary:

     The call for civility is a call for surrender, because it is only the right that understands it. The collectivists work against every sense of civility. It is their tactic to assault civility, to thrust their hedonism in the faces of Christians, to attack the traditional marriage by expanding the definition into meaninglessness....

     While the right has continued to pursue a civil discourse with what can only be considered a death cult of the left, civil rights have disappeared, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association have all but been eradicated. It is a stupid, one-sided game encouraged by those on the right, who have actually aligned themselves with the left and use the concept of civility as bludgeon against their own side. It is an act of fratricide. [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     (A chess player would have said “helpmate” rather than “fratricide.” Either way, I’m sure my Gentle Readers get the point.)

     There are many questions to be explored here, but the one that consumes the most mental bandwidth is probably this one: Why would supposedly conservative pundits and luminaries work against a president that’s largely on their side?

     Upon adequate reflection, this proves to be the door that opens upon all the tawdriest secrets of the political universe.

     Remember this Rule from this otherwise unrelated piece?

Every situation comes with incentives and constraints. Though you will try to maximize your harvest of the incentives, you must satisfy the constraints.

     That’s the tactical implication of Ludwig von Mises’s Axiom of Action. As the Axiom of Action is the fundamental rule beneath all human action, ultimately any set of decisions and actions must be compatible with it, at least in the mind of the decider / actor. Therefore we must ask: With regard to the position of the anti-Trump pundit who’s also a supposed conservative, what are the incentives and constraints as he sees them?

     This requires that we try to see the world as such a person – call him Smith, for lack of a better name – would see it. How does it appear to him?

  1. Smith’s livelihood mandates the conservation and expansion of his audience.
  2. Premise #1 requires that Smith’s stances remain distinct from those of other pundits.
  3. Being outside the actual governing class, Smith’s not required to produce specific political results.
  4. However, a segment of the governing class – the Republican Establishment – considers Smith an ally and a mouthpiece, which guarantees him “access.”
  5. That segment is largely uninterested in wielding the power of the majority; it prefers to be the “loyal opposition” as long as it gets a share of the gravy.
  6. Donald Trump is the first real threat to the interests of that segment since Ronald Reagan, and given that he’s uninterested in being guided by that segment, he’s a bigger threat than Reagan ever was.
  7. Therefore, as an “established conservative pundit,” it’s Smith’s responsibility to protect and advance that segment’s interests by maintaining a critical, always-somewhat-disapproving posture toward Donald Trump.

     Note the complete lack of anything resembling a moral-ethical principle in the above. Any such would fatally perturb Smith’s calculations for his personal survival. Without such a constraint, Smith can tread a tightrope of pseudo-conservatism: He can retain a veneer of limited-government allegiance, yet keep faith with his Establishment rabbis, while simultaneously distancing himself from the barbarian upstart who’s embarrassed the GOP’s mandarins by actually working toward the goals he set during the campaign. Some of those goals horrify the gray heads of the Republican Establishment; to others, they’ve given plentiful lip service but little else.

     Cynical? Why, yes. But then, one can hardly study the political-media orbit for as long as I have without being compelled toward some pretty dark conclusions.

     We’ve seen more than mere “incivility” from the Left. Anyone who can fog a mirror is aware of the “Antifa / Black Bloc” violence that’s marred political events and conservative-oriented gatherings. This, too, will have consequences. There are more angry, frustrated conservatives, getting ready to “act out” and damn the consequences, than the Left is aware. While there might yet be a few disruptions in which all the violence goes one way, the reaction will only build to a higher eventual eruption.

     Thus, the Establishment, sensing the dynamic in play and fearing the consequences for its positions, plays the “civility card,” as for example in this tweet from Senator Susan Collins:

     No, it’s not going to happen – at least, not if Portland, Oregon is any indication — and anyone in the pseudo-conservative Punditocracy with a modicum of sense is aware of it. But they’ll continue to call for one-way “civility” until they’re pulled from their perches; it’s the only way they can retain a grip on their posts until the onrushing darkness should arrive.

1 comment:

Dr. Mabuse said...

You list the 3 main actors: Smith, the Conservative Establishment, and Trump. But there is a 4th: the conservative populace. They're large and uncoordinated, but they can intrude upon Smith's calculations in unwelcome ways: dropping magazine subscriptions, boycotting, deriding and complaining. It's very easy for the main actors to forget about the people, as we've seen since November 8, but if enough of them throw their weight to one side, sometimes they can exert enough unexpected pressure to upset the calculations of Smith and his patrons.