Friday, May 27, 2016

The gazillion Trumps

HuffPost ran an intriguing article the other day entitled "Trump’s Neo-Nazi And Jewish Backers Are Both Convinced He’s Secretly On Their Side." Specifically:
Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, the founder of the Facebook group Rabbis for Trump, argues that Trump’s daughter’s conversion to Orthodox Judaism is proof enough that he harbors no ill-will toward Jews. “You’ve got two Trumps — The Trump that’s trying to get the vote, and the Trump in real life,” said Rosenberg, who renamed his group “Rabbi for Trump” after failing to attract support from other Jewish clergy members.

[Neo-Nazi Andrew] Anglin agrees that there are two Trumps, and he isn’t worried that Trump has Jewish supporters and family members. Trump, he said, is too savvy to openly announce his views on Jews, and only allowed his daughter to convert to Judaism to trick Jews into supporting him. “He couldn’t simply say it straight,” Anglin wrote. “That just wouldn’t fly in America.”

The notion that "there are two Trumps" is one I have seen expressed by a number of supporters. Here, for example, is former rival Ben Carson explaining his endorsement of Trump:
"There are two different Donald Trumps," Carson said at the billionaire's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. "There's the one you see on the stage and there's the one who is very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him. That's the Donald Trump that you're going to start seeing more and more of."
In a similar vein, Rush Limbaugh describes Trump's heresies as proof of his brilliance:
Will we finally now admit how brilliant Trump is? Can we all finally admit that he’s been setting these people up for years? He’s been out there praising the Clintons. He’s been fooling them. He’s been making the Clintons think he loves them, he supports them, he’s in their camp, he’s got them tamed, they’re not even thinking about Trump, even looking about Trump, and Trump is just icing them.
I could go on with further examples, but you get the idea. In my last post on Trump, written in December, I wrote that I didn't think he was going to win the nomination, but I also imagined that if he did I'd be half-expecting him to suddenly announce it was all one big joke. What I failed to grasp was the extent to which his supporters have embraced his aura of profound unseriousness, to the point that it's become their main rationalization for dismissing any areas of disagreement they have with him. If you like his border wall idea but don't like his past support for the Clintons, you say he wasn't serious about the latter but is serious about the former. If you have doubts about the border wall but like other things about him, you call it a "virtual wall," as Rep. Chris Collins did a couple of weeks ago.

Politicians have always found ways to attract disparate groups, like FDR being able to garner support from both blacks and segregationists. But I don't know that it's ever been accomplished by having the different groups assuming he's telling boldfaced lies for the things they're against and the unvarnished truth for the things they're for. I'm not sure if that makes his supporters incredibly cynical or incredibly naive--or some bizarre combination of the two.

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