Chronicles of frothing hysteria

I love phrases like “frothing hysteria.” They are so frothing, so hysterical. Over the weekend I heard this one from both sides of the current American Civil War. It hasn’t got to uniforms, yet — you can’t get people to dress properly, these days — but it has become obvious that the line is drawn between the Red and the Blue. I have mixed colours in my paintbox to produce to my satisfaction what might be called a “Trumpf Red” and an “Alinsky Blue.” Blood red was incidentally the old Tory colour, before the Communists stole it; Whigs were often sky blue; Yankee colour schemes are thus stuck in the eighteenth century. (Bravo!)

The breaking news is that the Left are freaking out. But this is an old story. They’ve been doing that for decades, whenever they don’t seem to be getting their way. It is part of the power formula, not only for them but for the average three-year-old. … “What do we want?” … “Goo-goos!” … “When do want them?” … “Now!”

Rather, the curious development through the recent American election is that the Right are freaking, too. The Left may not follow this because it isn’t covered in their electronic newspapers. They have really no idea what is going on, or has been going on — what bugs these people in the broad space between the several Left Coasts. Ever gracious, I told them that Trump was going to win, even though I didn’t much like the man myself; but they didn’t believe me. (Perhaps they don’t read my Idleposts!) They couldn’t imagine such a thing: like that great genius Pauline Kael, sainted expositor of leftishness and Hollywood movies, who could not understand how Nixon had won when everyone she knew had voted for McGovern.

Who got Trump elected? The short answer is “Obama,” that wonderful man (from a Republican point of view) who, during his time in office, filled more than a thousand Democrat legislative seats with Republicans, right across America. With continuing popularity in all the big cities, he pushed the rest of the country a little too far. And that is why this time the simpletons in the sticks did not get behind a polite, pussy-footing McCain or a Romney. They got behind some real estate tycoon from Manhattan who appeared to understand them. Who — now this is a delicious tiny fact — consistently dressed in his sharpest boardroom suits, to convey his respect while he harangued them. (Professional politicians instinctively dress up for their colleagues; dress down for their more “rural” audiences, hoping they’ll appreciate the inauthenticity.)

There are lots of little things like that of which my gentle reader may be perfectly aware; especially if he comes from a Red State. In addition to novelties, there are little continuities in national character, that show from one generation to another. “Middle America” was never, exactly, isolationist. Rather, before 24/7 media, these people were a long way from the coasts. They were small town and laid back and slow to anger. Sometimes they’d turn up three years late for a World War. But when they got there, they got there.

Here’s another little thing. On his first few days in office, President Obama flourished numerous Executive Orders. The traditional number for new presidents was zero. Trump has nearly matched his predecessor, and indeed, most of his simply reverse Obama orders. The one notable exception was the modest, temporary (ninety days) item on inbound travel, which made so much news over the weekend. Those who have actually read it — apparently no one in the mainstream media — will have noticed that it does not contain any of the features they frothingly and hysterically condemn. It does not even mention the few terrorist-infested Muslim countries whose nationals were flagged. That list was helpfully supplied by the Department of Homeland Security. It came from the outgoing Obama administration. The nefarious Trumpfists had taken strictly Obama-era materials and recycled them into force. I think they did that purposely, to set their opponents up and make them look foolish.

What they have now learnt, is that clever tricks like that don’t work in an environment where “facts” are mostly “alternative.” You cannot argue with the (frothing, hysterical) mobs that were hosed into the aeroports by the same social media that got the Arab Springs going. There will be no opportunity for a civilized debate with people in a state of psychiatric meltdown. If this state were temporary, it would be unwise to excite them. But what if, thanks to Pavlovian indoctrination, it has become permanent, and the mere uttering of the monosyllable “Trump” will set them off? Straitjackets, anyone?

It was an unnecessary Executive Order, and from what I understand, nothing Trump has done so far has required one. All could have been accomplished with a few quiet phone calls, and perhaps one discreet written memorandum. But he wanted to make a splash.

His reasoning, and that of his remarkable Benedictine-educated chief strategist (Mr Bannon), is that you have to make a splash. You must fulminate and tweet to get around the guardians of the portals of information, and be heard by the folks “back home” — the ones who think you need to have a war sometimes, and why not now?

Too, they reason — and gentle reader may mark my words on this — that they are up against the leftist tactic of concentrating all available forces on one target at a time. This always wins, against a dispersed, purely defensive enemy. Now the Bannon Brigade are counter-attacking on nineteen fronts, and counting. Let’s see how those, who haven’t played defence for a long long time, will handle it. My guess would be through an extremely incoherent Long Hot Summer.

Risky, risky, any counter-attack strategy. Capitulation is much safer. But sometimes you get sick of always losing, and resolve to try something new, by way of experiment; or in this case something old, that hasn’t been tried for a while, against opponents who have grown smug and self-satisfied.

For decades the Left have been playing for keeps. The Right have been playing for mercy. With Trump, those Red State types — “progressively” deprived of elementary freedoms, of their dignity, and even of their livelihoods — have voted to play for keeps, too. They were used to shrugging and taking their lumps, from politicians they happened to despise. The politicians were used to administering the lumps, to their own fabulous enrichment. Suddenly the simpletons — or deplorables, as they now prefer — decide they’ve had enough. (Americans can be like that sometimes.) Elitist and anti-populist that I am, anti-nationalist and anti-tribalist, I kind of understand it.

The media think only the Left can get angry, and that it is their exclusive right. They are making a splash of how angry they can get, on the old assumption that it will intimidate the simpletons. Yet this is the very assumption they have pushed too far. For Middle America is in one of those Clint Eastwood moods. And the cameras are rolling, on frothing and hysteria; versus “make my day.”