Conservative Ivory Towers and Trump


Father Rutler at The Catholic World Report has a good post on the conservative establishment and Trump:


We heard and read much commentary from ivory towers during the presidential campaign of 2016, some of it from academicians, and most of it from journalists, television commentators and pollsters for whom the imperium of reality is a form of colonial oppression. One self-styled conservative faculty member at Columbia University confidently predicted : “After Trump gets wiped out this November, the passions will cool. Unlike some past elections, this election won’t be close enough for anyone to argue that the opposition stole the election.”

Another contributor to a leading conservative journal added shortly before the voting began: “No one outside Trump’s evaporating base of diehards seems to think nominating a buffoon was an especially good idea. Yet there he stands, setting conservative politics back a decade every time his tongue makes it past his teeth.”

Their bewildered surprise on election night showed how locked and lofty their towers are, and how quickly perception withers in the groves of Academe. The object of their indignation and scorn, of course, was the billionaire candidate, who is the sort they might solicit for donations to the endowments and fellowships off which many of them live, but who would not be welcome at any of their Chablis and Brie symposia which they are deluded enough to think make a difference in the world. Various professors and journalists published “Never Trump” proclamations which made some cogent points for anyone interested in substance, but which were impassioned beyond reason and conspicuous for a kind of snobbery peculiar to arrivistes.

The veneer quickly shattered when they lapsed into middle school name-calling. Many of these were not liberal in politics, as the term now is used. A considerable number would call themselves social conservatives, and might even think of themselves as strong Catholic apologists. They were not satisfied to state their objections to Mr. Trump’s contentions and avowals, for they resented with unedifying condescension that he was not the sort who belonged in their circle and was stubbornly insolvent in their abstract alchemy. He was “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States” and gave offense with his “vulgarity, oafishness, and shocking ignorance.” He speaks with a “funky outer-borough accent.’’ As though these writers had a copyright on the tradition of culture, they complained: “Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.”

The palpable disdain from the Ivory Tower was not because reality has a bad taste but because it is in bad taste. Many of the same voices were relatively mute during the past eight years of our nation’s moral disintegration, possibly out of reluctance to lose status on campuses which have become ethical wastelands.

Before the election, which they assumed would bury conservatism in a landslide, the hyperventilating professors, journalists, and clerics, were preparing to preen that they had been prophets. When the polls closed, they suddenly learned to their dismay that humanity consists of humans, the cipher for whom was “uneducated white males” who had not matriculated in the shade of the Ivory Tower. It is not beyond some of them to shy from the fact that they bet on the wrong horse. Now there is some chagrin that the winning horse has left them at the gate. This brings to mind the incident in 1914 when none of the three white cassocks fit the small and bent figure of the newly elected Pope Benedict XV. The papal haberdasher was hastily summoned to make adjustments. When he told the Holy Father that he knew he would be elected, Benedict said, “Gammarelli, if you knew, why didn’t you make me a cassock that fit?”


Go here to read the rest.  Trump as a man has huge flaws, to say the least.  However, looking back at the campaign, it is stunning how many conservative elites completely misread the political mood of the nation, and also how many were willing to either endorse Hillary Clinton, or assume that a victory by her was better for the country than a Trump victory.  In short, they were more comfortable with conservatism being under assault by liberal control of Washington than they were rolling the dice with Trump.  Great defeats can be productive if one can learn from them.  In 2016 the conservative pundit class was handed a complete debacle of a defeat, but I see little evidence that they have learned anything from it yet.

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  1. My stepson heads finance for Amgen Corporation for all of Taiwan. At Christmas I said to him on Facetime, ” You’re going to hear from Trump”. He burst out laughing…” we already have”. Because our major media hate Trump, his effect on the corporate world is being grossly underestimated. The NY Times has the reporters skilled for data that is complimentary to Trump but it won’t get done. They are obsessed with working towards his demise so they have Paul Krugman laughing at Trump’s account of crime and unemployment by citing the long term decrease ( not the last two years uptick to include also…overdoses) in crime and the sanated lower unemployment figure sans those who dropped out from job searching. If Hillary were in and spoke remotely like Trump on those two issues, Paul Krugman would use Trump data to buttress her despondency. That how the very smart Times lies daily while accusing Trump today of continuing some lie of his. Conservatives of the textbook sort on the other hand can in some cases believe in the free market in places where it is problematic. Luxuries and their prices should not be regulated. No one needs a boxster Porsche. But the lower classes of all colors need through their own fault the antidote for drug overdose and the price for that antidote tripled in several months such that small towns who carried it in their ambulances six mnths ago, cannot afford it now. Trump is non doctrinaire. He will regulate drug prices where research costs seem like bs to him…if he can do so. Having done selfish things in business, he is jaded about excuses because he has used them. Scripture says…”the fool when he walketh in the way, calls all things foolish.”. It’s a factor with him as to the drug industry who in his eyes are robbing from the insurance industry like United Health. The trick is to find out to what extent his cynicism is correct.

  2. Google Diocletian’s Edict on Price Controls sometime and ask yourself how that worked out for the Roman Empire.

    Look, I’m glad Trump won, but he’s not infinitely preferable to Hillary Clinton. For me the point of diminishing returns is reached if & when he becomes a slightly more palatable, Americanized version of Peron

  3. Donald Trump is the Blue Dog Democrat of our times with strategy focusing on working people and conservative values. He has a clear mind and a strong will. He will identify all the obvious problems and fix most of them. He will be opposed by all those with serious spiritual and mental problems, i.e., those with a very clouded view of reality. These folks would include those mentioned by Fr. Rutler plus Pope Francis and most of the clergy in the Catholic Church. This will be a war of values from which none of us can escape and all of are involved.

  4. I look at the red portions of our national map and think of the Vendee during revolutionary France, and of Trump as a Neo-Jean Chouan and his movement as a latter day Chouanneire. The French Revolution is a pivotal event in human history. The Reformation and the so-called Enlightenment were antecedent but in a significant sense the French Revolution has not ended. Tempered by an honest appreciation of human nature, my sympathy is more with the peasants, the hoi polloi who elected Trump than with the urban effete who disparage him. And this from an admirer of William F. Buckley Jr. and long-time subscriber to the National Review. Like Jean Chouan and you and me, Trump is a fallible human being. But he is also rather unique, a billionaire who has long rubbed blue-shirted elbows with the hard-working and practical men and women in construction and learned a great deal about life from them. There is much about which to be happily optimistic.

  5. I am ill reading your snobbish comments. I and millions of other highly educated professional people who are famous and admired have been part of the movement from the first. Mr. Trump is a truly fine and brilliant man who has made mistakes as we all have. And you deserve to suffer shame for maligning him. May God help you.

  6. Ernest, we have had price controls in this country for over 1/2 a century. Just check out the Department of Agriculture’s propping up of various food commodities prices. The generation before me, in my family, tells a story of the US Dept of Ag telling my paternal grandfather how many rows of what crops he could planting his own privately farmed land. My grandfather was told that, should he plant “extra” rows, that a government would arrive post haste, & destroy those “extra” rows. I think a lot of what is done with food controls in this country has been & still is pure Communism. The Feds have literally paid farmers not to plant their fields with crops. The Feds have completely interfered in the free market by deliberately raising the costs of gas/oil and subsidizing failing green energy like ethanol and wind power. And don’t get me started on Obamacare.

  7. “In short, they were more comfortable with conservatism being under assault by liberal control of Washington than they were rolling the dice with Trump.”

    I would say that some of these “conservatives” referenced had their cake and icing as part of the Establishment and could have cared less, except in theory, that the rest of the country is going to Hell in a hand basket. No only are “conservatives” under assault, they have been all but completely run out of the public square. Hence, the requirement that public school teachers, paid with tax dollars, not call biological boys and girls–“boys” & “girls.”

  8. My altogether too dense reference to the French Revolution aside, the liberal left is so possessed of their progressive conceits they cannot see the damage they have inflicted upon the ordinary people. Hence Trump, and I wish him every success.

  9. There is also the matter of Hillary Clinton. Her extremely careless acts would subject her presidency to blackmail and worse. And while we conscientiously avoid working at the rumor mill, there have been many allegations which bring into question her stability and psychological profile. Her finger on the button?

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