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For the many, not the few

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Yale computer scientist David Gelernter appears on the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, unveiling what is, even by the abysmal standards of that propagandistic garbage dump, an exceptionally ludicrous panegyric to America’s leading anti-intellectual, Donald Trump.

The thesis of this member of the artificial intelligentsia is that “leftists” hate Donald Trump because he’s just an ordinary American.  Of course this is a favorite theme of WSJ columnists, with the platonic form of the genre being Peggy Noonan’s encomium to George Bush the Lesser’s aggressive idiocy.

Gelernter seems  hellbent on wrestling that particular laurel (these classical cliches are addictive) from Noonan, as he lets loose a water cannon of rhetorical nonsense in support of his absurd and insulting premise:

In any case, it’s pretty obvious that the personality traits that the left detests in Trump are not that he’s just like most Americans. The degree to which Gelertner whitewashes Trump’s sins in order to transform him into an everyman is apparent if you inspect his list of the Trumpian qualities that supposedly enrage the liberal elite. “The leftists I know do hate Mr. Trump’s vulgarity, his unwillingness to walk away from a fight, his bluntness, his certainty that America is exceptional, his mistrust of intellectuals, his love of simple ideas that work, and his refusal to believe that men and women are interchangeable. Worst of all, he has no ideology except getting the job done. His goals are to do the task before him, not be pushed around, and otherwise to enjoy life.”

This is quite an account of Trump’s character. “Bluntness” is an odd description of a pathological liar, whose deceits are so prodigious that not even his spokespeople attempt to defend them as correct, and indeed who boasted in his own book that he uses lying as a tactic. It’s even more strange to credit Trump’s “certainty that America is exceptional” when Trump himself denies any such thing. Trump favorably compares foreign dictators to Americans presidents, and defends their brutality by dismissing America as equally murderous. (“You think our country’s so innocent?”) Trump has even explained that he abhors the term “American exceptionalism” . . .

The rest of Gelertner’s thumbnail sketch of Trump’s personality type consists of polishing his grotesque character flaws into ordinary, lovable foibles. Trump’s abusive bullying? That’s just “vulgarity.” His rampant infidelity and serial sexual assault? Nothing more than an all-American belief that men and women are not interchangeable.

Most comical is Gelertner presenting Trump’s business style as a can-do commitment to “getting the job done.” Trump’s business method consists of relentless fraud and theft. He habitually refuses to pay contractors for services rendered, cheats on his taxes, misleads investors, and works closely with gangsters.

Gelertner might defend these practices, but they are definitely not ordinary. Call me idealistic, but I think most people in this country have some lines they would hesitate to cross in the pursuit of wealth.

Gelertner’s op-ed is in keeping with a conservative tradition of conflating the traits of their party’s leader with that of the public as a whole. The problem they face is that the leader at the moment is not merely a dope, like Bush or Palin, but also ostentatiously immoral. Trump’s defenders would now having us believe that the average American is a bigoted, dishonest, bullying crook. Who hates America now?

On what is probably a related note, the good people at whatever ad agency handles the shilling of Bud Light (by far America’s best-selling beer) have decided that the Trumpian moment would be a good one to remind us that drinking that vile substance in mass quantities makes you a better person than those snooty elitists who wouldn’t drink that crap if the only alternative was a warm Diet Dr. Pepper.

 

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