Whatever was the matter with Kansas when Thomas Frank wrote his book is now less daunting for the left, believes New York magazine’s Eric Levitz, who contended in a Wednesday piece that the closeness of this week’s House special election in the Wichita-centric 4th District appears to spell trouble for conservatives.
New York Magazine
Appearing as a guest on Friday's Hardball, MSNBC's Joy Reid claimed that Donald Trump's voters wanted him to "get all the brown people" off Obamacare instead of themselves. And then, following up on her AM Joy show the next morning, she hosted New York magazine columnist Frank Rich to discuss his latest article, "No Sympathy for the Hillbilly," in which he argued that Democrats are misguided in thinking that spending more time being sympathetic to Trump voters will lead them to future electoral success as they should work to boost their base turnout instead.
On Tuesday's Tavis Smiley show on PBS, as New York magazine's Andrew Sullivan appeared as a guest to discuss current political events, host Smiley at one point fretted that -- because Republicans denied President Barack Obama the chance to appoint Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court -- they were "trampling" on the Constitution, and oddly asked if they might ignore other parts of the Constitution like the abolition of slavery or the right for women to vote. Suggesting that Republicans violated the Constitution in blocking Judge Garland, Smiley whined: "It was, to be sure, a violation of democratic norms, but it was more than that. To me, it was a trampling on the Constitution by the Republican party who did not give Mr. Garland a hearing. ... He was obligated to put forth that nomination, and they were obligated to take it up, I believe, and vote up or down. So it wasn't just a violation or an abrogation of norms, it was a trampling on one of our most precious documents."
On Tuesday night, one of the crazier news nights since Election Day occurred when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow failed on a level akin to Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s vault when she falsely claimed to have a bombshell exclusive (that wasn’t hers) in the form of President Trump’s 2005 tax returns.
This past Tuesday, three prominent left-wing writers examined Paul Ryan’s health-care bill; what they see as the typical Republican attitude toward health insurance; and the modern GOP as a whole. Unsurprisingly, they found all three wanting. For example, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall contended that on occasions like this that call for wonkery, Republicans are ill-equipped to deliver it, inasmuch as they’ve “spent years since 2008 (actually before but especially since 2008) stoking their base with increasingly fantastical and ridiculous claims.”
How is Donald Trump “not a normal Republican”? Let New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait count the ways. Trump is “crudely ethno-nationalist,” wrote Chait in a Tuesday post, and he’s “personally ignorant and undisciplined in a manner that sets him apart not only from traditional Republicans but most human adults.” That’s pretty much it for Trump’s deviations from orthodoxy, according to Chait, who thinks current White House economic and fiscal proposals are “perfectly orthodox” by party standards, notwithstanding blasts at them from GOP-aligned sources such as National Review.
Even though Donald Trump won the presidential election, thereby causing “pessimism about the liberal project,” Barack Obama is winning the post-election, and Obama’s “vision of the country…will ultimately win out,” asserted New York’s Jonathan Chait last Sunday. According to Chait, the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration and last weekend’s protests over his executive order on immigration “have drawn on powerful American ideals: inclusion, social mobility, and optimism. Obamaism may have lost control of the levers of government, but it has never lost the country.”
“The most important development of the last half-century in American politics,” believes New York magazine’s Chait, is “the Republican Party’s embrace of movement conservative ideology.” In a Thursday post, Chait cited six books, none of which was written by a conservative, that “help elucidate” this phenomenon. Among Chait’s choices: E.J. Dionne’s Why the Right Went Wrong; Richard Hofstadter’s Social Darwinism in American Thought (“scathingly dispatches a powerful right-wing idea that was destined to endure: the notion that the free market is a perfectly just mechanism for rewarding value and punishing failure”); and Paul Krugman’s Peddling Prosperity (“a powerful critique of supply-side economics…which Krugman aptly dispatches as simply crankery lacking any grounding in serious economic theory”).
In a rather pointless article published by New York magazine Wednesday evening, associate editor Madison Malone Kircher conducted an amateur forensic analysis of President-elect Donald Trump’s obviously staged speech writing photo, taken at his Mar-a-Lago resort, with the objective to mock it. “Live by Twitter, die by Twitter,” she declared at one point, “Or, at least, have your photographs picked apart on Twitter.” The first suspected atrocity that required Malone Kircher to conduct her “investigation” were questions regarding Trump’s writing implement.
Next Tuesday, three days before the current POTUS becomes an ex-POTUS, Jonathan Chait’s Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail will be published. On Tuesday, New York magazine, where Chait is the chief political pundit, ran an excerpt from the book in which he claimed, “The truth is that Obama enacted careful, deep, and mostly popular solutions to a broad array of problems to which his opponents have no workable response.”
Donald Trump is a visceral and emotional conservative, not a philosophical conservative, but that’s good enough for government work, suggests New York blogger Chait. The main aim of Chait’s Thursday post was to slap down the argument from some righty pundits that candidate Trump was, as Chait paraphrased it, “a non-ideological figure, or even a progressive…who chose the Republican Party for no particular reason, and who shares none of its salient characteristics.” Chait indicated that in general, conservatives’ distaste for the president-elect is found among journalists and intellectuals, while “activists” have worldviews similar to Trump’s.
After nearly eight years of competing theories, the essence of the Tea Party has been determined, says Jonathan Chait. In a Wednesday post, Chait claimed that Donald Trump’s election as president verifies liberals’ explanation of what the movement stood for. The right, wrote Chait, was wrong to argue that the Tea Party was all about “timeless principles of conservative movement thought” such as “advocacy of balanced budgets [and] adherence to a strict constructionist version of the Constitution,” while the left understood that the movement was “an expression of ethno-nationalist rage centered around a black president and the belief that his coalition stood for redistribution from older, white America to its younger, more diverse supporters.”