So, the poll fetishists say, this is finally The End of Trump. He’s getting creamed not only nationally, but also in the swing states he’s promised to win. Today, August 4th, the glee is nearly unanimous on social media: the unlikely confederacy of traditional liberals, think-tank conservatives, #NeverTrump disciples on the right (who’ve embarrassed themselves, one by one since the spring by declaring their personal abhorrence of Trump, as if anyone cares) and centrists who sigh sigh sigh and wonder how American democracy has taken such an apocalyptic detour.
I look at Twitter—bound to be sold sometime after the election and transformed into a pictorial site filled with artichoke recipes and odes to slain animals—and remember a line from one of Bob Dylan’s last great songs, “Abandoned Love” (inexplicably left off Desire for the putrid “Joey” or now-weird “Isis”) that goes like this: “Everybody’s wearing a disguise, to hide what they’ve got left behind their eyes.” Because that’s what Twitter and Facebook are: one masquerade party after another, where participants post remarks they wouldn’t say—at least not with such incendiary gusto—in a public or private conservation where the possibility of live blowback is a terribly awkward possibility.
Michael Wolff, journalist-for-hire, does not conform to this stereotype. As I’ve written before, Wolff is one the last honest men or women in journalism, and he’s as bracing as ever in a wrap-up of both political conventions for The Hollywood Reporter. (Some sniffy sorts made fun of Wolff’s appearance in that publication, but the man’s a media nomad, and I suspect THR still issues checks that don’t bounce.) Wolff’s cagey about his own political views, and I’m guessing they’re idiosyncratic, but at the very end of his long—by today’s debased standards—essay he throws in with the Hillary side. But until then it’s a side-splitting political roller-coaster ride, and even if Wolff uses the word appalling (referring to Trump) too many times to count, he lets no one off the hook. Not the smug Democrats, angry “unwashed” Trump supporters, and certainly not the self-satisfied media club that believes it’s setting the rules for this bizarre, once-in-a-lifetime election.
Casting the presidential race as a battle between two disparate chunks of the electorate symbolized by Democrat Lena Dunham and Republican Willie Robertson, Wolff writes: “In this instance [the two conventions Wolff attended], Dunham represented a cosmopolitan, millennial, pansexual, women-focused view, abhorrent to a significant part of the country, and Robertson a nativist, older, gun-associated, military-inclined, white-male-focused view, abhorrent to the Dunham part.” Appalling, as Wolff says, but credit the author for not once using the word “Sad!” Wolff recounts a comment—demonstrating the victory of propaganda over policy—made by a friend in Philly, reflecting on Clinton’s boilerplate acceptance speech, “I think every woman in the US will remember where they were when Hillary accepted the nomination to become President.” Left unsaid was the devaluation of true “I remember where I was when…” moments—depending upon your age—JFK’s assassination, 9/11, bin Laden killed—for the depressingly mundane.
Wolff doesn’t quite handicap the election, but gives a conditional edge to Clinton, a candidate who has “the resume” for a strongman leader, unless she succumbs to her “obvious desire to be liked" and her newfound need to be seen as “cuddly, caring and inclusive.” As for Trump, he’s done “unless he continues to tactically mobilize the anger and bitterness of his supporters—that Duck Dynasty contempt and, for the rest of us, unfathomable humor” and strikes in one of the fall debates with “just one Trumpian moment of outrageous clarity, one more mock-innocent goof on the system and its self-regard, one break in [Clinton’s] self-control.”
Unlike his media colleagues, Wolff’s view of the election is fluid: he’s saying August polling is of minor significance, the number of real Trump supporters is unknown, and a lot can, and will, happen between now and Election Day that’ll, at least temporarily, cause the Hillary acolytes (that includes lifelong Republican/neocon Max Boot) to soil themselves.
—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER1955
The idea that every woman will remember where they were when Hillary was nominated is beyond absurd. The whole idea of the "I remember where I was" phenomenon is that it has to be a seismic and completely unexpected event that catches everyone off guard. Obama winning the election in 2008 doesn't qualify for that reason because it was expected or at least considered likely. Killing of Bin Laden maybe counts, but ten years after 9/11, the impact was dulled.
The women who don't support her certainty won't remember where they were, so that eliminates about 50% right off the bat. Catching people off guard isn't a definite prerequisite though, e.g. the first walk on the moon.
Because you are young it is excusable but birth of ones children is usually not a surprise. Wedding's are usually scheduled and deaths of loved ones are often not a surprise, just tragic. For me at least, these events are more memorable and indelibly marked on my psyche than any election or public event. I remember where I was on 9/11 but primarily because I was afraid for friends and family safety. I can't say 9/11 was completely unexpected since I was three blocks away from the 92 bombing so, it was certainly predictable, although I concede that the timing and methodology were not
I'm certain, Texan, that Nicky was referring to non-family events. I also remember the first WTC bombing ('93, not '92), and am still disgusted that President Clinton didn't even make a token visit to the site.
No defense of son needed Russ. I envy the fact that he is young enough to not have lost many many friends, family, and acquaintances to drugs, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, suicide, and yes, even 9/11, etc. I also envy the fact that he has the hope of spouse, children, grandchildren, career, etc. ahead of him. I was only trying to broaden his perspective, not insult. As I'm sure you would agree, as we age, politics, writing, national and international events are all entertaining, but, at the end of the day, it is our daily lives and loved ones who make the biggest impact on our lives and we don't always appreciate that fact before it is too late. That said, I apologize Nick, if I was too quick to judge or came across harshly.
Tex, have you been nipping too hard at the Dunkin' Donuts? You're still missing my point: he's writing specifically about non-personal events, those out-of-the-blue horrors that shock a nation. Like Pearl Harbor for my parents, and JFK for me (third grade, getting on school bus in Huntington).