Advice For Dubya: Vague Shots Across The Bow Aren't Going To Hit Trump Hard Enough
October 20, 2017

Well, this is nice, as far as it goes:

Former President George W. Bush offered an unmistakable denunciation of Trumpism Thursday without mentioning the president by name, urging citizens to oppose threats to American democracy.

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” Bush warned in remarks at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty event in New York.

More lines from the speech:

“People are hurting. They’re angry and they’re frustrated. We must help them," he said. "But we cannot wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the Agricultural Revolution or the Industrial Revolution.” ...

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization," he said. "... We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, [and] forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”

John McCain's recent denunciation of "half-baked, spurious nationalism" was also nice. But these are futile gestures. Maybe a generation or two ago you could have changed minds with appeals to conscience of this kind. Now you have to abandon the abstract nouns and get down in the mud with the man you're attacking. Bob Corker's "adult day care center" talk may be less Ciceronian than the McCain and Bush speeches, but you know it stung in a way that those lofty orations don't. And Corker had the sense to call Trump out by name. That's the only way you'll ever get his attention.

Bush delivered this speech, but his opposition to Trumpism is less than absolute:

Gillespie, of course, is running ads suggesting that his Democratic opponent in the Virginia governor's race is an MS-13 enabler; he's also embraced the cause of retaining Confederate statues. Maybe Bush believes that Gillespie, heretofore a relatively moderate conservative, is now running a red-meat campaign without really being a true believer, just like Bush's dad in 1988, the year of Willie Horton. But as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, we are who we pretend to be.

Oh, and Bush began the speech with a shout-out to, among others, Trump's UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, who was in attendance.

McCain, for his part, is denouncing Trumpism while endorsing the Trump-backed budget bill.

Do you gentlemen really want to distance yourselves from Trumpism, Bannonism, and Mercerism? Then leave the Republican Party. No, seriously: What would the impact be if John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, and a dozen other prominent members of the GOP said they'd had enough and were no longer Republicans because the Republican Party has been infested with anti-American values? Look, I know it's not going to happen, or anything remotely like it. I know that most of these folks will do nothing more than stomp their feet and say "It's my party too!" as white nationalists complete their takeover. But a mass defection would be huge news, and it might be a wake-up call to at least some of the less rabid rank-and-file Republicans, the ones who aren't on board with full-bore Putinism.

But, of course, all of the Republicans I've named were actively complicit as the party drifted to the edge of Trumpism; most did nothing as implicit Trumpism became overt. Yes, Romney gave a swell anti-Trump speech last year, in which he even called out Trump by name -- but then he prostrated himself before Trump in a futile attempt to become secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Breitbart is unintimidated:


Side headline on the Breitbart front page: "...‘BIGOTRY SEEMS EMBOLDENED’: FORMER PREZ TARGETS THE DEPLORABLES..."

You handed the party to these people. You used dog whistles and suppressed non-white votes and cozied up to neo-Confederates, and now the intolerance is overt and you say you're horrified. If you really are, then leave. If not, you're still part of the problem.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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