FrankenTrump

The Republican Party and its handlers, including the right wing talk radio jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, and the bought-and-paid-for media such as FOX news, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.* But once the Tea Party got going, mainstream conservative Republicans, including and especially leaders in Congress, went right to bed with it. The Tea Party gave Republican strategists an easy way to garner votes and support. This was especially easy to do because America decided to elect an African American president. Make no mistake. The Tea Party is pro-white, anti-everybody-else, and having an African American Democrat as president made defining issues and shaping rhetoric trivially easy.

It is a mistake to think that the Tea Party comes with a set of positions on various issues. It does not. Yes, the Tea Party tends to be libertarian, conservative, and so on and so forth, but really, it is philosophically inconstant and mostly reactionary. This has been demonstrated over and over again, as President Obama embraced various issues that were previously held by prominent Republicans, and those policies were immediately opposed. Because they were the policies of the Black President. The merit of a policy had nothing to do with opposition against it. They were President Obama’s issues, therefore the Tea Party was against them. And since the Republican Party was so rapt with the Tea Party, the GOP was against them.

This worked well. It gave the Republicans massive victories in a gerrymandered Congress. It meant that absurd excuses for leaders won elections, or if they did not, lost by only a few percentage points, when they should have been largely ignored by the populous.

The reason for even doing this is abundantly clear. An informal tacit (maybe) cabal of 1%ers and various regulation-loathing industries, most notably the petroleum industry, paid for the campaigns and managed lobbyists, the Republican leadership managed the elections, calling in the Tea Baggers each November. Add a little voter suppression, a little Swift Boating here, a healthy dose of Fear of Terrorism there, a wartime setting, and the Republicans, who hold policies that when asked most voters are actually against, became far more powerful than even Newt Gingrich and his Republican Revolutionaries could have hoped for.

But there is a catch and the GOP got caught.

An actual Republican running for, or serving in, office, can go only so far in supporting absurd policies. Established politicians reluctant to take the final “logical” plunge through the Tea Party’s looking glass were often “primaried” and sometimes pushed aside by the emerging Tea Party candidates. By keeping up a full court press to overthrow everything President Obama tried to do the mainstream Republicans held a central place in this game, but there was plenty of nibbling around the edges of their power structure. They went from leaders (sort of) to managers. Worldwide Wrestling Federation mangers.

Then, purity happened.

Imagine a candidate that has never run for office before, but has greater name recognition than all but a fraction of a percent of the entire panoply of politicians that make up any and all American parties. Imagine that this candidate has excellent media presence. Imagine that this candidate has no established policy related views. Imagine the candidate has an arguably good resume of successes, even if many of those successes are either unrelated to governance, or are tainted by equally impressive failures.

Mostly, though, imagine that this candidate is perfectly willing to make over the top statements denigrating non-white people, and at the same time, statements endearing to the anti-government, libertarian-trending right wing. Imagine that candidate is willing to say, again and again in the style of Dale Carnegie, that all of our elected officials are stupid. How stupid are they? They are so stupid that the Mexicans are smarter. They are so stupid that the Chinese are smarter. They are so stupid that people the right wing disdains, and other people the right wing fears, are smarter.

This is something mainstream politicians can’t say, because it would require saying it about themselves. But there is one candidate that can say these things.

I am speaking, of course, of Donald Trump.

And the point of this missive is not anything about Donald Trump. I don’t have to tell you about him, he’ll be happy to do that himself. The fairly obvious point I want to make here is that Donald Trump is, in essence, a creation of the Republican Party. And, he is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare.

Why is he a nightmare and not a darling of the GOP? For one reason I am certain is true and one reason I hope is true. What is certain: Trump obviates and invalidates every single Republican elected official (and the Democrats too). The less certain reason is that he can never win a national election, but in running for President as the nominated GOP candidate, he could bring down the party. Not that parties are easily, or really, ever, brought down (apparently). So maybe not all the way down, as in, “you’re going down, Republicans!” More like downish, relatively down, down and out, at least for a couple of election cycles.

And this is why I’ve decided to call The Donald by a new nickname.

FrankenTrump.

(CamelCase optional.)

Victor Frankenstein made a beautiful thing. He thought. And in the original text, he did. But I’m thinking more of the movies, where Shelley’s “The Monster” is known as Frankenstein (for some reason) and where The Monster is the hideous creation of a mad man who thought he could control and create life. But FrankenTrump is not life controlled or created. FrankenTrump is a distillation, an emergent entity, a possibly inevitable outcome of setting aside all efforts to govern or develop actual policy and do nothing but play politics, 100% of the time in every way possible, involving elected officials, the party itself, a good chunk of the press, and everything else that can be controlled. Victor Frankenstein melded this and that body part to make something he eventually could not control and that eventually became his ruin, after terrorizing the townspeople for a while. The Republican Party stitched together a lock-step party policy, a complex and insidious campaign of voter suppression, a panoply of pernicious pundits, an entire mega news organization, and piles of money, and created FrankenTrump.

And now they have to live — or die — with it.

More popcorn please.

___________
*And for this I apologize. Back when Michele was still in the Minnesota State Legislature, I was one of her first targets, coincidentally having her son in my evolution class and apparently, at least according to him, inspiring her to introduce one of the first, if not the first, “academic freedom” bills ever. Sorry.

Comments

  1. #1 Obstreperous Applesauce
    August 27, 2015

    Tea Party . Yeah, let’s give at least some credit where credit is due: Dick Armey and his Franken-turfing Franken Works.

    I tend to think of Trump as Ubu Roi (and maybeFox news as his Pshit-a-Pump, though there are a lot of contenders for that role.)

  2. #2 Windypundit
    Chicago
    August 27, 2015

    Michele Bachmann created the Tea Party Caucus, but she didn’t start the Tea Party movement. That began loosely within the Republican party during the run-up to the 2008 election, and it was made up of various subgroups who felt they were being ignored by the Republican establishment during the Bush years. This included Ron Paul fans, of course, as well as people who just hated McCain, and they were willing to risk throwing the election to Obama to make their point.

    Once Obama actually won, however, there wasn’t much point in opposing Republicans any more, so the Tea Party changed goals and went after Obama and his agenda, attracting more followers in the process. Michele Bachmann started the Tea Party Causus to try to get in front of this movement, and I think the liberal opposition was more than happy to cast her as the Tea Party leader for the same reason that liberals love it that Trump is leading the Republican polls.

    As for Trump, I doubt he can win the general election…but then I didn’t expect him to last this long either. I thought he’d be one of those brief pop-up candidates people get interested in before moving on to pick someone more realistic to run. But Trump seems to be defying that trend and improving his position. And as someone else once said, every time one of us Americans says Trump can’t really win, the people of Toronto take a drink.

  3. #3 Andrew Skolnick
    Buffalo, NY
    August 27, 2015

    Nice one Greg. Think we should establish a site to collect and display all art that attempts to describe the latest scourge on the world to rise out of the cesspool of American culture. My contribution for the day was a similar montage I called “Der Hindentrump.”
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154090155843362&set=a.437086238361.227688.710648361&type=1&theater

  4. #4 dean
    August 27, 2015

    Trump is the expected outcome of eight years of the expanding tirades by the right aimed at the president they hate – a black man who dares to use the front door of the White House. I think much of the concern of the other Republicans comes not because of what he says, but that he doesn’t use the coded language they do.
    But they could be thinking the same thing a friend of mine has been, and which I hadn’t: if by some awful chance he keeps his momentum up and could be their nominee, who would possibly be his VP mate? That person would have to be as or even more crazy than him, and that would go a good way to destroying the party’s standing.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    August 27, 2015

    Who? Jesse Ventura has volunteered.

  6. #6 John Mashey
    August 27, 2015

    The Tea Party ideas go back to early 1990s with Kochs+Big Tobacco via Citizens for a Sound Economy. See
    this post and read the UCSF paper it cites.

  7. #7 dean
    August 28, 2015

    I hadn’t heard that about ventura. I don’t feel wrong.

  8. #8 The Donal
    United States
    August 28, 2015

    “No, it’s pronounced, ‘Fr-ah-nkenTrump.’ ”

    The only quibble I have is that I have noticed that Republicans have no shame. They will support Trump until they can’t, then they will support Cruz or whomever and forget how stupid they were before. Hispanics and Asians will remember, but the core won’t.

  9. #9 Brainstorms
    August 28, 2015

    Yes, but don’t you realize that if they’re trained to not think, they’re also trained to not remember?

  10. #10 Obstreperous Applesauce
    August 28, 2015
  11. #11 Brainstorms
    August 28, 2015

    Geez, with the way right-wing handlers dispatch their propagandistas to eat the brains of their glassy-eye heel-clicking followers, you would think that the Trump-oon du jour would be something involving zombies, wouldn’t you??

    (Personally, I think something involving an uncontrolled flamethrower –being used indoors, natch– would be a better cartoon meme…)

  12. #12 Obstreperous Applesauce
    August 28, 2015

    Well, the chupacabra theme does play off the immigrant issue, sort of. But since you mention it, and we’re talking about chimerical Trump beasts, you can Google up numerous apps/services that will zombify photos for you. The result would be a… zomtrump? It almost rolls off the tongue. He does eat brains, however the zombie apocalypse may be a better metaphor for his infected horde.

  13. #13 Brainstorms
    August 28, 2015

    How about a more Anglicized “Trumbie” (or “Trumpbie”)? Almost sounds like the Chuckie version: At first blush it comes across as a friendly kid’s toy, but will disembowel you when your guard is dropped…

    I more fear one of his competitors will gang up with the RINO congress-beings to bring about the “Apocalypse for America”(tm). Trump (I would hope) would spend too much time fighting with those zombies and vetoing their bills, effectively paralyzing their ability to carve up the Constitution.

  14. […] Franken Trump lives: […]

  15. #16 Christopher Winter
    August 29, 2015

    Andrew Skolnick: That is a beautiful piece of work. It risks falling afoul of Godwin’s Law, but it’s beautiful.

  16. #17 Brainstorms
    August 29, 2015

    Speaking of Godwin’s Law… Why is it not-PC to make a comparison to the subject when the comparison to the subject is most apt? After all, many of those whose behaviors and tactics bear an uncanny resemblance most likely act that way due to diligent study of the subject — and for good reason: Model success where you see it and duplicate it to achieve similar success. If that’s what they’ve modeled, well… so be it. That’s not-PC???

  17. #18 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2015

    Brainstorms, there is a problem with these laws and rules you point out. My favorite, of course, is when I think someone is an unmitigated asshole, I call them an unmitigated asshole, and then I get accused of “ad hominem.”

    Yes. Yes, that was an attack on the person. On the asshole. On the unmitigated asshole. The proper use of the Latin phrase “ad hominem” in Internet Critique and Reasoning is when the personal attack is used to make an argument about an argument. “He is wrong because he is an unmitigated asshole” as opposed to just “He is an unmitigated asshole.”

    In this case, der Hindenberg is early Nazi ear, but also hals from an earlier time more linked with the Kaiser and stuff. So it is marginal. But as you say, it might apply and it is well done!

  18. #19 Yahzi
    Melbourne, Australia
    August 29, 2015

    Oh thank Dog. You get it. Why is it so hard for the Beltway pundits to get it?

    The Tea Party and Trump have one and only one inflexible policy, only one position from which no retreat is possible, no flips are tolerated, and no compromise is acceptable: White Male Privilege.

    Trump not only talks the talk, he walks it. He insults women and minorities and does not apologize. He exercises his WMP every day, without hesitation. Because of that they will forgive him everything else: divorces, bankruptcies, bad Bible quotes, donations to Democrats, everything,

    The only way Donald goes down is if he apologizes to a woman or a minority.

  19. #20 Brainstorms
    August 29, 2015

    What I had in mind (and is not inspired by Trump, but by his competitors) is the eerie (yet wholly logical) parallel between the tactics that Limbaugh & the other preachers on Fox, et al, use in their very effective propaganda campaigns to seductively obtain control of the minds, money, and votes of such a large segment of America…

    Hitler and the Nazis faced a huge and significant task of similarly obtaining control of Germany in the 1930’s — not just militarily or politically. but they had to somehow mesmerize the populace into accepting, supporting, and even wanting the (to us, now, obviously nefarious) things they were up to for their nation…

    Let’s face it, they perfected their craft. Their downfall came much later through different channels and for reasons not related to losing this control of the populace — but they were geniuses at getting the “good Christian people” of Germany to get behind some truly awful, ghastly anti-Christ stuff, from war all the way to horrific crimes against humanity.

    Noting how they did that is probably an important thing to study, considering it’s already proven to be dangerous stuff — dangerous on the scale of nations.

    And it doesn’t take a similar genius to figure it out what inevitably had to come to pass: Another nefarious group wishes to take control of the most powerful & wealthy nation and use it for their purposes — a group with similar anti-social, anti-nation, anti-human motivations…

    How to achieve that in this day & age? Simple: Model a previous success and duplicate; a similar success is then most likely to follow. And so it seems that Limbaugh & the other preachers on Fox, et al, have been very good students of these successful Nazi tactics of propaganda, etc. and have learned & apply them well. It’s too much of a coincidence to say that they happened to stumble across the same effective principles on their own (they’re not THAT bright, after all)…

    But why in the world would we be discouraging anyone discussing such a thing, given what amounts to a not-hypothetical existential threat it boils down to? Millions of human beings lost their lives to this kind of mind control (Germany under the Nazis & Russia under the similar Stalin cult of personality).

    Consider what America would face if this “political party/movement” were to gain sufficient power (politically/militarily) through these techniques that they could effectively begin overriding the Constitution and make it intractable to remove them? They’ve already learned how to disenfranchise a good percentage of those who would wield votes against them (and a good percentage of those who aren’t blocked stupidly fail to use this weapon against them).

    There’s even articles hinting at this showing up in the press; here’s one:
    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/08/19/one-party-system-what-total-republican-control-of-a-state-really-means/

    How about actually discussing the [pun intended] Elephant in the Living Room, in the sense of this: These people have seriously bad –yet obvious– intentions for a big segment of America; all they need is to gain sufficient power. How are they managing to get such a large segment of the nation — including those who would fall victim to what they intend to carry out — to so willingly yield their minds, money, and votes to have this happen?

    It’s 1930’s Germany all over again — this time in the U.S. of A. How do you stop this insanity before we truly do repeat history? We’re already on our way…

  20. #21 Obstreperous Applesauce
    August 29, 2015

    Trump and the 1930’s
    “Those movements are usually characterized as fascist though they were diverse, and the term itself is hellishly hard to define.”

    http://t.thestar.com/#/article/opinion/commentary/2015/08/27/donald-trump-helps-us-relive-the-1930s.html

  21. #22 Brainstorms
    August 29, 2015

    I hadn’t seen that; thanks. I didn’t intend to identify Trump with this; he’s not charismatic in the traditional sense, although he has connected to public sentiment today by the fact that he’s not. Which has surprised nearly everyone…

    Worried about him? I’m more concerned with the “Dick Cheney types” than the Trump types. Cheney has spent his entire political career looking for ways to undermine the design of our government and turn the presidency into a dictatorship.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cheney/

    Little wonder he slithers through the dark corners and stays out of sight as much as possible. He *is* more the fascist type.

    Of course the analogy wasn’t meant to be exact, just to raise concerns about the general similarities — the ones that should be worrying us. In the last 30 years, we’ve moved closer to the tipping point.

  22. #23 David S. Campbell
    August 29, 2015

    Ted Nugent would be the perfect VP pick dean.

  23. #24 Brainstorms
    August 30, 2015

    Nugent would round up voters at the point of a gun…

  24. #25 StevoR
    August 30, 2015

    @ ^ Brainstorms : .. But he’d walk funny whilst doing it coz his pants would be full of piss and shit – much like his brain!

    ( http://gawker.com/5983634/patriotic-american-ted-nugent-shit-his-pants-to-avoid-the-draft )

  25. #26 Brainstorms
    August 30, 2015

    His pick for the head of the IRS: Leona Helmsley. (Who would also make a matching VP for him, for that matter.)

  26. #27 Gilbert
    September 2, 2015

    This included Ron Paul fans, of course

    ‘included’, Windypundit #2? Is that like how Jimmy Wales was ‘included’ amongst the founders of Wikimedia?

    The Republican Party and its handlers, …, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.

    Michele Backmann ‘and a few others’ *created* the Tea (Taxed enough, already) party?? I think, ‘co-opted’ is a better word.

    On December 16th, 2007, supporters of Ron Paul staged a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party as a fundraiser event, and to promote Paul’s bid for the presidency. Paul’s GOP campaign received a “moneybomb”, which broke the record for 24 hour fundraising. This event coincided with the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. This was seen as a major upset to the Republican GOP establishment.

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Tea_Party_Movement#Beginnings

    “…Is there some Ron Paul R3volution in the teabagging, do you think?– Racheal Madcow”
    “… They really did come up with the concept of a ‘Tea party’…It is curious, though, as you point out; They do not use the verb ‘tea bag’.” — Generic infobabe

  27. #28 Greg Laden
    September 2, 2015

    Re-enacting the Tea Party has been done tens of thousands of times in Boston. That is not the formation of the “Tea Party.” The formation of the Tea Party Caucus, however, is a valid candidate for a starting point for the Tea Party.

  28. #29 Brainstorms
    September 2, 2015

    Why was one of Ron Paul’s crates labeled “USA”?

  29. #30 Gilbert
    September 2, 2015

    IDK, Brainstorms. I guess I missed that one.

    But if I had to guess, and I like to guess, then it refers to the difference between the United States (a corporation) and the United states of America (the conglomerate of individual states).

    Therefore, the “United States of America” now refer to the 50 States of the Union, and the term “United States” refers to the federal government.

    http://www.supremelaw.org/letters/us-v-usa.htm

  30. #31 Brainstorms
    September 2, 2015

    ‘Therefore, the “United States of America” now refer to the 50 States of the Union, and the term “United States” refers to the federal government.’

    Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And can even post it on a blog site.

    Of course, one would sound insufferably silly to refer to “The United Counties of California” to distinguish it from “The State Government of California”.

    But you could if you wish…

    I would guess that’s one of the nice things about living in the United States = USA = United States of America which is not the federal government-else-we-would-say-“U.S. Federal Government”.

    Which, by golly, makes it a very good thing that we have a federal government.