The Inside Joke

Conservative columnist David Frum of The Atlantic:

“But unlike Richard Nixon, Donald Trump is not speaking for a silent majority. He is speaking for a despairing minority.

The range and reach of Trump’s voice will be inescapably limited by all the people he does not speak to. He does not speak to those rising and thriving in today’s America. He does not speak to entrepreneurs and business owners. He does not speak to people who work in creative industries or the sciences or technology. He does not speak to those who feel emancipated by the lifting of inherited cultural and physical limits. He does not speak to those who feel that this modern age, for all its troubles, is also a time of miraculous achievement and astonishing possibility.

I’ve compared Donald Trump to William Jennings Bryan, who forfeited the chance in 1896 to build an alliance of all those discontented with industrial capitalism because he only truly felt at home with rural people—and could not refrain from inflammatory language about cities and city people. Tonight this comparison seems even more valid than ever. Trump’s right about the shock of globalization and the disruption of migration. But it’s not enough to be right to become president, as Henry Clay famously quipped. You have to be right in the right way and at the right time. You have to be the right messenger to carry the right message.

The political observer Michael Barone warned in 1992 that Pat Buchanan would go nowhere in politics because Americans aren’t angry people, and they don’t trust angry people with power. That’s a powerfully and enduringly true comment. Listening to the chants of “Lock her up,” you’d think that this Cleveland convention was enraged. For the first three nights, at least, that was an illusion of the television cameras. Just outside the frame, at any given moment, at least as many delegates were playing Words with Friends as yelling for extra-judicial punishment of Hillary Clinton. On the final night of the convention, the audience seemed to shout the line with real rage. But an indispensable element of Donald Trump’s success to date has been the smirking hint that the whole thing was a scam, and we were all invited to be on the inside of the joke.”

One thought on “The Inside Joke

  1. He’s scamming everybody who supports him and they have no clue. It’s what he does and I believe it’s become so second nature to him that he doesn’t even have a clue himself. He’s like Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man except without the epiphany at the end. He just keeps selling those useless band instruments saying people can “think” themselves into playing. That was the one great thing about being out of the country for 2 weeks. No Donald!!

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