Thursday, November 3, 2016

Roger Stone and the Tragedy of Donald Trump


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I want to start this post by admitting that, yes, the whole interview really could be nothing more than a dirty trick, one last little con from a man with a lengthy history of pulling them.

For all that, cognitive dissonance set in by the first answer in Vox.com’s interview with long-time Donald Trump confidante/enabler Roger Stone. It’s a challenging piece to read, in all honesty, and that has everything to do with the many, many areas where Stone’s politics line up with mine – again, assuming this entire interview isn’t a long con designed to help me stop worrying and love The Donald. Assuming it’s true, those include: gay marriage, the essential stupidity of the Iraq War (more on this later/elsewhere), a more circumscribed foreign policy, challenging all the political/corporate elites, etc. It’s not a perfect match – we split on supply side, and by a long shot, plus on some, ahem, other stuff (more later) – but two questions came to me by the time I got to the end.

1) Why the fuck does this guy spend even one minute on the utterly odious InfoWars, an outlet that I really believe needs to be utterly discredited and shuttered (by way of people ignoring it, thereby forcing them to shut off the lights, not via censorship, still, fuck those guys)?

2) How easily would Trump have won this election if he sounded anything like this?

From here, we need to wade through the second half of the blessing/curse reality that is the internet: because this is Stone, and given the company he keeps (lots of assholes; plus, InfoWars, a wart on an asshole), I had to check into other sources for background on Stone. And, yeah, it’s pretty much what you’d imagine – not just dirty tricks, but a lot, like, a fucking library's worth of just pointlessly awful things he’s said about other human beings, because…no, there really is no excuse to (short list): to call people “quota hires” or to call Herman Cain “Mandingo” (srsly, WTF, shithead?), 9/11 Truther shit….and, suddenly, the InfoWars thing makes perfect sense. And goddammit. Goddammit.

This is the Internet, this is the age. The deeper question is, why? Why would Stone say…just all the awful shit that he’s said, created and/or pedaled all the dumb, toxically corrosive lies that he has? Why, more than anything else, would he push the “rigged election” bullshit that really could destroy the republic because, again, this is the Internet, this is the age. And why the hell did Vox’s Tara Golshan not press him on that and all the worst of his past slanders – and they are that, slanders? Why is the worst conspiracy theory she points out the one about Hillary Clinton’s health (HELLO, 9/fucking-11/truther?). (And Chelsea Clinton “a slut”? Just…fucking pig. So, so pointless.)

There, I have no idea. I do, however, have two thoughts.

First, he knows his audience. One comment from the interview stands out here above the rest:

“Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t; it depends whether your polling indicates that is the right thing to do.”

He’s talking about “dirty tricks” there, or, in the immediate case, pushing conspiracies – e.g. dirty tricks for the internet age. And, yes, his polling is telling him that it is 100% the right thing to do. In one interpretation, the American public is broadly ignorant, and therefore gullible. If you have the time (and have gone to the bathroom recently, so as not to avoid any reasonable, yet ill-timed loosening of the stools) sit through this NPR segment on what’s going on in St. Cloud, Minnesota around a transplant Somali community up there. That segment speaks for itself, but, the point is, when something already makes you uncomfortable, having someone come along and tell you, 1) that you’re right to be uncomfortable, and 2) it's worse than you can possibly imagine, go buy guns!!! Well, that starts to make sense. That’s the siren song of Fox News, of Breitbart, of InfoWars. The more isolated a community, the easier the sell.

The second thing is bigger, something that conservatives and Republicans, in particular, need to get through their heads. If the party, along their candidate, sounded more like Stone did in that Vox interview, had they disavowed the alt-right and the neo-Nazis, and had Trump refuted his rape-y past (present? future?), where would they be now? Four days from Donald Trump being president -elect. I’ve heard it said that Trump couldn’t have broken through the GOP field if he didn’t feed the GOP base raw meat dipped in blood. Maybe. (And I respect the author of that post a lot.)

The Trump candidacy is tragic, and on every level. The Republican Party, at least as it existed in recent years, is dead (the Democratic Party has issues of its own; for another day). So many pieces of Trump’s “platform” (look, factually, it’s mostly a series of brain-farts) broke from the most dishonest, limiting pieces of GOP orthodoxy and that was not just good, but wise. The clock was running out on the contradictions since Bush left the White House; the opening was there, all Trump had to do was take it. Instead, he held the door open for the trolls and the racists, he normalized sexual assault, and so on. He let a generationally weak candidate like Hillary Clinton push him to the wall that was the GOP’s to win.

Maybe I’m na├»ve. Transgressing “political correctness” is huge with Trump’s supporters. The GOP has a future with populism, because, as noted in an earlier post, the Democrats have ceded the field in a lot of ways, or at least one key way. Someone less amoral and, yes, belligerently ignorant than Trump could have shifted politics to the GOP for years; they wouldn’t have to cheat to win anymore, either.

I have thoughts on the next four years, and from both sides. I’ll do that later. Still, big opportunity blown. And for Trump. Yep, I need a shower. Roger Stone is, indeed, a prick. Shouldn’t have deleted that tweet. #TwitterRemorse

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