Paul Krugman is unsurprised by the thunderous calliope of the Donald Trump carnival parade marching toward D.C. So am I.
"Both the Republican establishment and the punditocracy have been shocked by Mr. Trump’s continuing appeal to the party’s base,” Krugman wrote. “He’s a ludicrous figure, they complain. His policy proposals, such as they are, are unworkable, and anyway, don’t people realize the difference between actual leadership and being a star on reality TV? But Mr. Trump isn’t alone in talking policy nonsense. Trying to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants would be a logistical and human rights nightmare, but might conceivably be possible; doubling America’s rate of economic growth, as Jeb Bush has promised he would, is a complete fantasy. And while Mr. Trump doesn’t exude presidential dignity, he’s seeking the nomination of a party that once considered it a great idea to put George W. Bush in a flight suit and have him land on an aircraft carrier.”
Recall, by the way, that over on “liberal” MSNBC, Chris Matthews declared himself to be vastly impressed by Bush’s manliness during that transparent and stupid stunt. Matthews virtually swooned. The American corporate news media should never pretend to be surprised by garish, vulgar and empty-headed claptrap. That, today, is its stock in trade.
Nor can the Republicans pretend to be shocked by Trump, who represents the full fruit-bat fruition of the ugly and underhanded tactics they have been pursuing sotto voce for at least 40 years.
Donald Trump reveals the 21st century GOP for what it is: a gibbering subway flasher yanking his raincoat open over and over again. But all the other GOP candidates have the same equipment, and intend to use it to do the same thing to us. All the Republican presidential candidates are dangerous fascist authoritarians who are hostile to democracy, peace and equality under the law. The other candidates just know enough not to say so out loud, and that’s what makes them “too subtle” for the knuckle-dragging GOP base they have created. Trump has out-bigoted and out-stupided them.
Fox News spent months lionizing that jackass Trump in order to whip up that very atavistic audience, but it was evident throughout the GOP debate they controlled that Fox’s new orders were to destroy Trump because he's now in the way of whichever nominee Fox boss Roger Ailes intends to crown. A news channel would never do that, but a propaganda channel would.
Fox News “journalist” Megyn Kelly was tapped to knife Trump, but the weapon turned in her hand. She threw facts at Trump, forgetting that the Fox News audience has been trained not merely to ignore facts, but to sneer at them.
Trump struck back, and Kelly — a practiced propagandist on a channel that sells sexism likes soup — somehow forgot that the GOP base loves to see uppity women slapped silly. Trump’s poll numbers went up, and Kelly went on a surprise “vacation.” Trump continues to knock Kelly around, joking about her period, and his numbers continue to rise.
Trump, who avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War, actually sneered at the military service of Sen. John McCain, who broke both arms and a leg as he ejected when his Navy dive bomber was shot down, putting him in a Hanoi POW camp. And the GOP base, which makes a show of worshipping U.S. troops, promptly turned on McCain and backed Trump. In fact, what Tea Baggers really worship are displays of ruthless authoritarianism. The more unjust, the better.
Republicans must always have a bête noire, a childish, fairy-tale monster they can point to. When you're actually working to undermine the interests of the poor and middle class, it's all you can do — shriek and say, "Look out, forget about all that, the socialist, terrorist, humanist boogeyman is coming to get you and your kids!"
Welfare recipients, for example, make delightful targets for GOP venom. They are denied a voice, so they can’t fight back. And with the Republicans’ billionaire puppet masters busy wiping the American middle class out of existence, they desperately need to find somebody else to frame. Poor people make the perfect diversion to keep ordinary Americans distracted until their crimes are a fait accompli.
Trump’s selection for useful bête noire is a particularly good one, the illegal alien. Actually, Republicans just LOVE illegal aliens when you change the spelling to “cheap labor.” But Trump knows the tastes of his xenophobic audience, and has even managed to spend much of his strange political career trying to paint the very president of the United States as an alien.
To court favor with the base, Trump has threatened the constitutional principle of citizenship by birthright. Actually, Trump would love to kill citizenship period. Contemporary Republicans loathe the very idea of citizenship and equality under the rule of law. They want only gullible "consumers" and cowering serfs who know how to take a beating and beg for more. Fascism is capitalism gone crazy, with rich people permitted to effectively buy the government, put themselves above the law and wield totalitarian power against the majority of citizens, whom they reduce to serfdom. That’s the danger that’s now within sight in America. Again, that's what all GOP presidential candidates represent. It's fun seeing the GOP writhing in its self-inflicted agony, even though Trump's candidacy will probably amount to nothing but a sideshow freak tent at the GOP circus. I still think Trump is a passing phase, a narcissistic clown not really interested in being president. But what’s frightening is that he's also the 21st century Republican Party reality laid bare, in all its unhinged ugliness.