Off the Deep End Into an Empty Pool
As a longtime contributor to American Thinker, I share the dismay of many readers at AT’s changing standards since the editors jumped onto the Trump train. In addition to the way this has affected me personally — I can’t speak my mind as freely over there as I once did, and many old readers have understandably fled for the hills, displaced by Breitbartians — it has been disappointing to see some of the most embarrassingly amateurish fan boy sycophancy bleeding off the very pages that once proudly gave featured billing to some of the most important “beyond the beltway” political commentary of recent years, and did much to afford the dubious entity called “the alternative media” whatever good name and respectability it has mustered.
Now, all too often, AT is dominated by rose-colored Trump cheerleading, and childish attacks on the integrity of anyone who dares to doubt Trump’s prowess with such epithets as “establishment hack” and the ever-populist “Trump derangement syndrome” (which used to go by the name “having principles”). As for the readers’ comments — a mainstay of the old AT and one of the few political forums on the internet that tried to keep things thoughtful — those pages have now been all but completely taken over by foul-mouthed cultists, bigots, and warring trolls from the alt-right and radical leftist factions.
I continue to contribute there whenever possible, meaning when what I have to say is neither suggestive of an imperfection in Trump nor “too theoretical” for the kind of readership they are attracting in large numbers these days. To put this more positively, there are still enough thoughtful readers hovering around to make AT a worthwhile outlet for some of what I have to say on some of the topics that interest me, so I continue to write for those readers when I can, and leave the cultists to celebrate their perpetual Trump New Year as they wish. That is to say, I have taken a “live and let live” approach, for the most part.
However, it seems the cult has been dipping into the champagne a little early this year, and a little too liberally, which has forced me to comment — first in an early morning e-mail blast to a couple of good writer friends who, like me, have had to sit by, stunned, and watch a website where we had each built a substantial readership of thoughtful conservatives turning itself over to the angry mob; and now, here in Limbo, to all of you.
AT’s lead article Wednesday gushingly declared that Trump’s presidency is “a miracle in our day that a lot of us thought we might never see again.” I would think this would be the wrong time of year to be talking about miracles as commonplace events we’ve all seen before, but whatever.
The author continues: “We can now say, emphatically, this is the most effective first year of any President in our lifetime, perhaps in a century.” Heck, since I assume the author was not around a century ago and therefore basically pulled that figure out of his…hat, why not just go all the way and say EVER? That, after all, is what he means.
Then, after explaining how he always loved Ronald Reagan, and why, the author (who shall remain nameless out of respect for his family) has the gall to add a disclaimer: “My praise of Reagan’s Presidency is in no way meant to diminish Trump.” Heaven forbid anyone should have to be offended by hearing his hero compared to a mere mortal like Ronald Reagan.
Then the author tells us point blank that “Trump’s first year was the most consequential of any President I know, including Reagan.” Just to remind us that this is a really big deal, he then adds, “Hardly faint praise.” Thanks for the self-analysis. No, it’s certainly not “faint praise” — it’s the most embarrassing act of click-bait sycophantic flattery in the history of political commentary.
Then comes a list of bullet points reciting the extraordinary accomplishments of Trump’s first year, the format indicating that we are to give all these points equal weight. How many “best year ever” accomplishments has he isolated? Fifty — that’s one historic accomplishment per week, recalling that we haven’t quite reached the full year mark yet.
Not to be outdone by anyone in the butt-kissing sweepstakes, however, the author calls his list of fifty bigly accomplishments “An incomplete list.” By noting that his list is incomplete, the author is clearly intending to imply that an exhaustive list would be impossible — that Trump’s accomplishments are infinite. By this standard, it seems impious even to be offering a partial list at all. Doesn’t infinity imply that Trump may not be defined by his positive traits, but only negatively, as St. Thomas Aquinas said of our descriptions of God? Trump: unlimited, infinite, atemporal, illiterate, and so on.
But what of the specific accomplishments on the author’s list? I note the first six, to give you the flavor:
1. “The economy has taken an unprecedented move towards the better.” (What the hell does “unprecedented” mean here, let alone “towards the better”? And how does one measure such things?)
2. “The GDP is moving upwards. Most are forecasting close to 4% growth in 2018.” (Notice that’s a forecast for the future, not an accomplishment of the first year — but when you’re worshipping an Eternal Being, The Trump, past and future are meaningless terms. For that matter, if 2017 is so flexible as to include a year and “accomplishments” that haven’t happened yet, why not also include years prior to 2017, and credit Trump with winning the War of Independence?)
3. “New jobs are increasing monthly.” (Obama had similarly good years of job growth, if you are just counting “new jobs.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics has the charts to prove it.)
4. “Manufacturing jobs are returning to the country for the first time in thirty years.” (How many jobs? From where? Are these “returns” partial and temporary or complete and permanent? Are they returning under duress after Trump’s illegitimate bullying tactics and threats? No details, so I guess we are just playing “I believe, I believe.”)
5. “The bleeding of corporations leaving the country has stopped.” (“Stopped”? No corporations left the country in 2017? What does that even mean? And why is it a good thing, exactly?)
6. “Corporations have begun to reinvest in American factories and interests.” (Okay, no numbers again, but isn’t this just a restatement of items four and five, above? We’re only on item six out of fifty, and already the author is padding the list with redundancies.)
In fact, you can’t judge the success of a first year, at least regarding economic growth, until the whole presidency is over, when you can assess the ultimate effects and lasting significance of any given year’s short term trends. So this whole list, insofar as it deals in vague abstractions about “growth,” and loose forecasts of the “most people believe” sort, is pap.
How pappy? The author, in his breathless schoolgirl enthusiasm, doesn’t even take the time to worry about little things like English grammar, let alone clarity. It’s all “We’ve never had it so good” excitement from start to finish, and spiralling ever further into wooly-headed nonsense at each step:
“In the meantime, Trump has plans to begin rebuilding infrastructure, building the wall [gee, I thought that was already begun], to make a military be strong and proud again [proofreading, anyone? — and by the by, when was the U.S. military weak?], to honor our veterans [he has “plans” to do this? — what plans, a party or something?], our police [grammar alert: which of the preceding verbs is supposed to go with “our police” here? — begin, building, make, honor?], perhaps fully repeal Obamacare. [“perhaps” — and, um, can Trump do that on his own?] There is more, his list is large [“He’s so big and strong!” — hero worship nonsense…] and he is learning at warp speed.”
Gosh, why do the rest of us even bother showing up for life each day? There is Trump! A miracle! “I bring you tidings of great joy….”
If somehow you haven’t quite detected the tone of teenage idol worship (or something much worse) in any of the above, I give you the article’s conclusion:
I’m not suggesting he is done, not at all. He’s not. He seems to be just starting. But he’s shown us what a consequential President is made of. The blue-collar billionaire builder has simply begun a miracle in the United States of America.
He is pointing us to a great America. By God’s grace, we can reclaim the USA. He’s just pointing. We need to do our part alongside him. Work hard, MAGA.
America needs the Dear Leader! You all need to stand with him!
I need a cookie.