Friday, February 19, 2016

Fidgeting in the cheap seats

(edited and expanded from an earlier version)

I like me a heaping plateful of schadenfreude as much as the next guy, and the consternation of the Republican party elders facing the Rise of Trump as he, in C. Northcote Parkinson’s memorable formulation, “appear[s] like the demon king among a crowd of pantomime fairies,” makes for an all-you-can-eat buffet of same. The head of the RNC recently said, rather wanly, “All these, uh, folks are fighting to be the nominee and spokesperson of our party, um, and we're going to be there to support whoever that nominee is,” to which the incomparable Charles Pierce responded, As though you have a fcking choice, Reince. If He, Trump runs the table, he's going to have you serving drinks on the helicopter in a French maid's outfit. The impending auto-da-fé of the GOP establishment, which appears certain in one form or another whether or not the short-fingered vulgarian wins the nomination or has the prize finagled away from him in Cleveland, will be a joy to watch viewed solely as entertainment. From here, I’d like to see a brokered convention (and I would really, really hope that the Pubbies will conduct their conclave on sound Second Amendment “open carry” and “stand your ground” principles, which should make for the best floor fight footage since Chicago 1968 as the stadium runs red with the blood of red-blooded, red state, red-white-and-blue-but-especially-white American patriots. Yee-haw! Good times) that leaves Trump and the Trumpistas with a bad case of hemorrhoids, and pitching such a fit as will leave a vast smoldering crater where once the Quicken Loans Arena stood.

As will perhaps be evident, I’m not quite prepared to cast off the conventional wisdom that even the GOP is not crazy enough to permit Donald J. Trump to be its standard bearer this November. But of course, it’s looking increasingly as though while the party poobahs aren’t crazy enough to go with Trump, they are also not strong or smart enough to stop him, that having summoned forth the violent evils that he now embodies, and having carelessly left open a corner of the pentagram, they are shortly to be devoured by the demon king. In that event, it behooves the rest of us to dry our crocodile tears and consider some possibilities that, however outlandish, would now be considerably less remote. As I’ve observed elsewhere, were I a naughty foreigner who, wishing this country ill and desiring its international standing to be further defiled, had taken the trouble to examine its recent patterns of public stimulus-and-response, I would be simultaneously rooting for Trump to win the nomination, and laying the operational groundwork for a feat of public outrage—say, beheading an entire Wisconsin Christian daycare center and setting fire to a basket of kittens on national television—in late October that would stampede a critical number of the Teeming Millions over the cliff.

In my darker moments Trump denialism puts me in mind of those doomed bit players in a summer blockbuster, say, Jurassic Park XVI: “Sure, the monster made it past the concrete barrier, the coils of razorwire, the piranha-stocked moat, the machine gun emplacements, the minefield, the particle beam weapons and the electrified fence, but no way is it gonna clear this spiked palisade here. Sucker’s what, fourteen, sixteen feet high? And it says No Trespassing right there. We’re good.”

Until we’re not, hey?

More alarming than Trump is the near-certainty that if he is indeed the GOP candidate in November, something north of 45% of the voters will go for him—more, if the towheaded moppets and their kittens get whacked the day before Hallowe’en. The enraged, inchoate movement that has found its voice in this charismatic demagogue appears prepared, if they are thwarted in July, to burn down the Republican Party. What might the rough beast have in mind, after placing second in November, for the Republic?