The One Issue in Our Culture War Is Trump

But the ongoing arguments about whether these kids deserved the opprobrium that landed on them in the first hours after the incident had little to do with any serious disagreements about what was on those videos. All that most people needed to know what they thought was a momentary glance at the misleading excerpts posted on Twitter that showed a young man with a smile and a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap on this head.

This sterile debate in which a group of Catholic and politically conservative teenagers became a national Rorschach test is being blamed on the corrosive impact of social media. But the reason why this became a cause célèbre had everything to do with the baseball cap. If Nicholas Sandmann and his friends were not identified as Trump supporters, then it’s doubtful that, even if they had actually been guilty of mobbing a Native American with a drum, it would have garnered national attention, let alone becoming a story that overshadowed the government shutdown for a few days.

It was because they were supporters of President Donald Trump, and only secondarily because they were attendees at the March for Life, that they were labeled racist thugs harassing Nathan Phillips in much the same manner as Nazis attacking Jews during the Holocaust, as one particularly egregious Internet meme asserted.

.. Many conservatives and even some liberals may think there is still room for a debate about the great issues of the day without involving Trump. That ought to be especially true given his lack of interest in ideology and the inner workings of policy discussions. But it’s hard to think of a single domestic or foreign-policy issue about which the debate has not become one on which Trump’s position has not determined the stances of the participants. The willingness of former conservatives such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot to switch sides on Iran, Jerusalem, or climate change, issues on which they had once taken strong stands, has illustrated one aspect of Trump Derangement Syndrome. But this trend now extends beyond the few remaining Never Trump stalwarts still in the field.

.. For liberals, Trump has always been not so much a conservative opponent but a threat to democracy, even though their rights and that of a hostile media are still very much intact two years into his presidency. Trump has fielded the most conservative government in memory and, with a few exceptions, adopted stands on social, economic, and foreign-policy issues that conservatives had long held, but it makes no difference to some of his centrist or former conservative opponents. If the realization of long-cherished conservative goals such as tax reform, deregulation, and control of the Supreme Court or even moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem are considered unimportant when compared with his inappropriate behavior and statements, then it’s obvious that the only issue is whether to keep him in the White House or rid the country of the affliction of Trump and his “deplorable” supporters.

.. Covington demonstrated as clearly as anything else that the battle over Trump is not ideological in nature but cultural, that it’s about the president’s perceived vulgarity and unwillingness to behave in a presidential manner or, more to the point, like a member of the educated classes to which he actually belongs. That is what fuels the anger of his opponents. If the red hat that is emblematic of support for the president is, as some commentators have made clear on CNN and other outlets, now seen by Trump’s opponents as being as much a “trigger” for feelings of fear of racist behavior as a Ku Klux Klan white hood, then issues and ideology have become secondary to symbolism that denotes an attitude that is assumed to be hateful if not offensive.
.. As any casual viewer of late-night television knows, in the past few years virtually all of the popular shows have become daily in-kind contributions to the Democrats, as Hollywood’s liberal orthodoxy has taken full possession of pop-culture outlets. The ratings of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon suffered when he was perceived as neutral toward Trump, rather than as a hostile partisan, in 2016 during an interview. Fallon was forced to adopt a more political and anti-Trump tone in order to compete with his rivals.

.. That’s why the decision of TBS’s Conan O’Brien to attempt to avoid all mention of Trump and politics in his new half-hour show is instructive as to the difficulties of avoiding the only issue anyone seems to care about. If there is room for 30 minutes of comedy every day without its focusing on abuse or mockery of Trump’s foibles, then perhaps there might be some hope for the preservation of neutral space.But as the 2020 presidential race begins in earnest, it’s clear that Trump and not abortion, gun rights, religious freedom, or free speech remains the binary question around which America’s most bitter culture war revolves. For many Americans, politics has largely replaced religion as the factor that determines friendships and even marriages. Both Covington and the shutdown reminded us that there is only one issue worth arguing about, and its name is Donald Trump.

Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Sinking Democratic Brand

Her open threats to rivals epitomize the old-school gutter politics that are integral to her party’s problems.

.. Pelosi’s unabashed use of open threats and her death grip on power are a very big problem for her party.

.. She pointedly reminded them that “every action has a reaction . . . every attack provokes a massive reaction.”

.. Anyone who has led them to four consecutive defeats, bringing their House caucus to its lowest point in the last 90 years

.. Though reliably liberal, she is not a radical or a left-winger in the Bernie Sanders mold. To the contrary, she is a traditional machine Democratic politician, who likes to boast of her fundraising prowess. And that, rather than her political stands, is why her critics are right. In that sense, she represents everything that is wrong with the Democrats.

.. While Democrats like to say that they are the party of the young and that this portends their eventual return to power, they are led by a sclerotic band of elderly power brokers

.. The Democrats’ House leadership team of Pelosi, her longtime antagonist Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn are, respectively, 77, 78, and 76. When you consider that the Democrats’ two leading presidential contenders last year were the 69-year-old Hillary Clinton and the 75-year-old Bernie Sanders, it’s little wonder that Democrats are frustrated with their party’s inability to promote younger and fresher faces.

.. The Democrats’ House leadership team of Pelosi, her longtime antagonist Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn are, respectively, 77, 78, and 76. When you consider that the Democrats’ two leading presidential contenders last year were the 69-year-old Hillary Clinton and the 75-year-old Bernie Sanders, it’s little wonder that Democrats are frustrated with their party’s inability to promote younger and fresher faces.

.. If, as many Democrats are now confessing, their brand is even worse than that of the Republicans, Pelosi is the face of that problem.

.. the Democrats remain a party that hasn’t had a fresh idea since the New Deal or the Great Society.

Is Kamala Harris the Future of American Politics?

she can lay claim to a style that is the future of American politics: Her combination of incivility, bullying, and victimhood makes her the perfect reflection of our current moment.

.. Harris clearly tried to bully both Sessions and Rosenstein, cutting them off as they spoke and not giving them a chance to speak before she moved on to a new insinuation.

.. Male chauvinism is real and deplorable, as is racism. But what actually happened in the committee hearings bore little resemblance to the narrative that quickly took hold about them. Harris was not the victim here; a former district attorney, she was actually the one throwing her weight around in questioning Rosenstein and Sessions. McCain sought Burr’s intervention to begin with because in both instances, Harris had interrupted the witness, badgering him and rudely refusing to let him answer as she sought to produce damning clips for viral consumption

.. Harris is obviously not the first grandstanding senator in history to bully a witness in this manner. But it is, to put it mildly, unusual for cabinet-level officials to be treated like mafia dons.

.. there was no doubt that Harris was playing to her party’s base rather than “seeking the truth.”

.. Yet if the claims of Harris and her supporters were pure bunk, they were also brilliant political theater.

.. McCain’s and Burr’s pleas for civility in the committee — especially when a former colleague was being questioned — may have been easy to spin as racist or sexist, but they were really a feeble gesture of dissent against a sea change in American political culture.

.. By deliberately flouting conventional notions of civility in her questioning, Harris gratified the desire of liberals for their political leaders to get rough with the opposition. But in then posing as a victim who was being silenced

.. As the party that has linked itself inextricably to identity politics at the expense of its traditional working-class base, Democrats are particularly charmed by the idea of a minority woman standing tall in the face of abuse from white, male conservatives.

  • .. In theory, Harris could ride some combination of
  • an Obama-style appeal to minority voters,
  • her newly burnished credentials as a feminist victim, and
  • an appeal to the appetite of more militant “resisters” for total war on the GOP

all the way to the Democratic nomination in 2020.

.. Her incivility and appeal to identity politics may be everything that is wrong with contemporary politics.