Posted tagged ‘Vulgarians’

The Most Frightening Political Fix

July 5, 2016

The Most Frightening Political Fix, Front Page MagazineDavid Horowitz, July 5, 2016

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What can be done? First of all it’s a matter of deciding who you believe – the political elites who are telling you everything is normal, or your lying eyes? The political system is corrupt and cannot clean its own house.  What is needed is an outside political force that will begin the job by putting the interests of our country first again. Call it what you will – nationalism or common sense – it is the most pressing need for the country now. Such a force would have to find its support outside Washington. Call that what you will – populism or democracy – no reforming leader can be elected without it. No political leader can begin to accomplish this task, without the support of ordinary Americans registered at the ballot box.

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Today we have witnessed a most frightening manifestation of the corruption of our political system. Doubly frightening because of what it augurs for all our futures if Hillary Clinton should prevail in the November elections. At the center of this corruption – but hardly alone – are the criminal Clintons – the Bonnie and Clyde of American politics – and their Democratic Party allies; but we should not fail to mention also the Republican enablers who would rather fight each other and appease their adversaries than win the political wars. 

We knew they could fix the Department of Justice; we suspected they could fix the FBI. What we didn’t know was that the fixes would be this transparent: the secret meeting with a chief culprit and the DOJ head; the next day announcement by Justice that the Clinton bribery investigations would be postponed until well after the election; the suspiciously brief FBI interrogation of the former Secretary of State who during her entire tenure had recklessly breached national security protocols, deleted 30,000 emails; burned her government schedules; put top secret information onto a hackable server in violation of federal law; and topping it all the failure of the FBI director after enumerating her reckless acts to recommend a prosecution – all within a single week, and just in time for the Democrats’ nominating convention. It was, all in all, the most breathtaking fix in American history.

And it wasn’t ordinary criminal corruption. It was corruption affecting the nation’s security by individuals and a regime that have turned the Middle East over to the Islamic terrorists; that have enabled America’s chief enemy in the region, Iran, to become its dominant power; that allowed the Saudis, deeply implicated in the attacks of 9/11, to cover their crimes and spread Islamic hate doctrines into the United States; it was about selling our foreign policy to the high bidders at home and abroad, and about making America vulnerable to our enemies.

What can be done? First of all it’s a matter of deciding who you believe – the political elites who are telling you everything is normal, or your lying eyes? The political system is corrupt and cannot clean its own house.  What is needed is an outside political force that will begin the job by putting the interests of our country first again. Call it what you will – nationalism or common sense – it is the most pressing need for the country now. Such a force would have to find its support outside Washington. Call that what you will – populism or democracy – no reforming leader can be elected without it. No political leader can begin to accomplish this task, without the support of ordinary Americans registered at the ballot box.

Washington’s Hollow Men

July 5, 2016

Washington’s Hollow Men, National Review, Victor Davis Hanson, July 5, 2016

The government/media power elite are spectacularly ignorant of the American people.

We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass Or rats’ feet over broken glass In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion. — T. S. Eliot

n Merced or Dayton, if an insurance agent, eager to help his wife facing indictment, barged into a restaurant where the local DA is known to lunch, he would almost certainly be told to get the hell out.

But among the Washington elite, the scenario is apparently quite different. The two parties, in supposedly serendipitous fashion, just happen to touch down at the same time on the Phoenix corporate tarmac, with their private planes pulling up nose to nose. Then the attorney general of the United States and her husband, in secrecy enforced by federal security details, welcome the ex-president onto her government plane. Afterward, and only when caught, the prosecutor and the husband of the person under investigation assure the world that they talked about everything except Hillary Clinton’s possible indictment, Loretta Lynch’s past appointment by Bill Clinton and likely judicial future, or the general quandary of 2016.

There has been a lot of talk since Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump of the corrosive power and influence of the “elite” and the “establishment.” But to quote Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid, “Who are those guys?”

In the case of the ancient Romans or of the traditional British ruling classes, land, birth, education, money, government service, and cultural notoriety were among the ingredients that made one an establishmentarian. But our modern American elite is a bit different.

Residence, either in the Boston–Washington, D.C., or the San Francisco–Los Angeles corridor, often is a requisite. Celebrity and public exposure count — e.g., access to traditional television outlets (as opposed to hoi polloi Internet blogging). So does education — again, most often a coastal-corridor thing: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, etc.

Net worth, whether made or inherited, helps. But lots of billionaires, especially Midwestern sorts, are not part of the elite, in that their money does not necessarily translate into much political or cultural influence — or influence of the right sort. (Exceptions are Chicago traders who bundle millions for Hillary.)

Especially influential are the revolving-door multimillionaires, especially from big banks and Wall Street — the Tim Geithners, Jack Lews, Hank Paulsons, and Robert Rubins, but also the lesser flunkies of the Freddie/Fannie Clintonite crowd, a Franklin Raines (raking in $90 million) or a Jamie Gorelick ($26 million), all of whom came into the White House and its bureaucracies to get rich, but who always seem shocked when the public does not like their incestuous trails of bailouts, relief plans, favorable regulations, etc.

Creepy too are the satellite grifters like “investment banker” Rahm Emanuel — who somehow, between the White House and the House of Representatives, made off with $16 million for his financial “expertise” — or Chelsea Clinton, who made her fortune ($15 million?) largely by being a “consultant” for a Wall Street investment group (her fluff job at NBC News was small potatoes in comparison). The locus classicus, of course, is the Clinton power marriage itself, which invested nearly 40 years of public service in what proved to be a gargantuan pay-for-play payoff, when they parlayed Hillary’s political trajectories into a personal fortune of well over $100 million. Give them credit: From the early days, when they would write off as IRS deductions gifts of their used underwear, they ended up 30 years later getting paid $10,000 to $60,000 a minute for their Wall Street riffs.

The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines. The Andrea Mitchell/Alan Greenspan power marriage was hailed as a threefer of media, government, and money. What was so strange, however, was just how often wrong were Mitchell in her amateurishly politicized rants and Greenspan in his cryptic Delphic prophecies — and always in areas of their supposedly greatest expertise.

Take also the Obama Cabinet. When we wonder how Susan Rice could go on television on five occasions in a single day to deceive about Benghazi; or John Kerry — in the middle of a war whose results Obama would come to call a “stable” and “self-reliant” democratic Iraq — could warn American youth that the punishment for poor school performance was “to get stuck in Iraq”; or Jay Carney (now senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon) and Josh Earnest could both repeatedly mislead the country on Benghazi, the reason may be not just that they felt their influence, status, and privilege meant they were rarely responsible for the real-world consequences of their own rhetoric, but that they had forgotten entirely the nature of middle-class America, or never really knew it at all.

I get the impression that members of the D.C. elite do not wait in line with a sick kid in the emergency room on a Saturday night, when the blood flows and the supporters of rival gangs have to be separated in the waiting room; or that they find dirty diapers, car seats, and dead dogs tossed on their lawns, or wait two hours at the DMV, or are told that their journalistic assignment was outsourced to India, or read public-school teachers’ comments on their kids’ papers that were ungrammatical and misspelled to the point of being incomprehensible. The elite seems to be ignorant that, about 1975, Bedford Falls flyover country started to become Pottersville.

In forming perceptions about Benghazi, the Iran deal, globalization, or illegal immigration, it is sometimes hard to know who is making policy and who is reporting and analyzing such formulations — or whether they are one and the same. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is married to former ABC television producer Ian Cameron. Ben Rhodes, who drew up the talking-points deceptions about Benghazi and seemed to boast of deceiving the public about the Iran deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Will 60 Minutes do one of its signature hit pieces on Ben Rhodes?

Secretary of State John Kerry — who famously docks his yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on it — is married to Teresa Heinz, the billionaire widow of the late senator and catsup heir John Heinz. Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney married Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America; his successor, Josh Earnest, married Natalie Wyeth, a veteran of the Treasury Department. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “body woman,” is married to creepy sexter Anthony Weiner; perhaps she was mesmerized by his stellar political career, his feminist credentials, and his tolerant approach to deviancy? And on and on it goes.

These Christiane Amanpour/Jamie Rosen or Samantha Power/Cass Sunstein types of connections could be explored to the nth degree, especially their moth-to-the-flame progressive fixations with maximizing privilege, power, and class. But my purpose is not to suggest some conspiratorial cabal of D.C. and New York insiders, only to note that an increasing number of government and media elites are so entangled with each other, leveraging lucrative careers in politics, finance, and the media, and doubling their influence through marriage, that they have scant knowledge of and less concern for the clingers who live well beyond their coastal-corridor moats. And so when reality proves their preconceptions wrong — from Benghazi to Brexit — they have only outrage and disdain to fall back on.

Sometimes their smug isolation is the stuff of caricature. Mark Zuckerberg waxes poetically on about the illiberality of building border walls (e.g., “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others”), but he is now simultaneously involved in three controversies involving either hyper-private security patrols or walls or both as he seeks to use his fortune to create Maginot Lines around his Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Hawaii properties to keep the wrong sort of people quite distant.

I should end by returning to Hillary Clinton, whose insider arc from the cattle-futures con to quarter-million-dollar Wall Street chats to the e-mail scandal shares the common and persistent theme of influence peddling, greed, and lying, while she lectures Americans about the need for trust, fairness, and transparency. Or perhaps I should finish with Chelsea, a chip off the old blockess, who became instantly rich as she decried the culture’s overemphasis on wealth, and whose husband’s hedge fund is tottering, after disastrously investing in Greek bailout bonds — at a time when his mother-in-law and Sidney Blumenthal were exchanging classified speculations over whether German banks would guarantee Greek debt and hence investors’ money.

But I conclude on a much more sober, judicious, and appropriately unimpeachable D.C. figure, the rightly revered Thomas Pickering, career diplomat, bipartisan Council on Foreign Relation fixture, co-chairman of blue-ribbon investigative committees, and perhaps heir to the itinerant fixers of a bygone age, such as Sumner Welles, John McCloy, and Clark Clifford. Pickering — multilingual, veteran of hazardous diplomatic posts, confidant to presidents of both parties, and octogenarian “wise man” — was asked by the State Department to conduct its internal investigation of the Benghazi debacle, as chairman of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

Four of the five members of this board, including Pickering, were apparently recommended by Hillary Clinton’s own State Department team in good Quis custodiet custodes? style. No one would dare suggest that Pickering, appointed as an undersecretary of state and an ambassador by Bill Clinton, and a well-known Clinton friend, might have various conflicts of interest in investigating fully the allegations that Hillary Clinton refused to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi, or falsely claimed in public that the loss of four Americans was the result of an inflammatory video, just hours after she confided in e-mail communications that it was a preplanned al-Qaeda attack.

Instead, Pickering decided that Clinton would never appear before his committee and declared that he was not interested in a gotcha finding; yet somehow Clinton aide Cheryl Mills found a way to review the board’s findings before publication. In the end, the State Department chastised and put on leave lowly subordinates for seemingly working within the security parameters established by the sacrosanct secretary of state.

Nor would anyone suggest that the temperate and esteemed Pickering, as a vice president of Boeing from 2001 to 2006, and then a consultant to Boeing from 2006 to 2015, had any special financial interest in promoting the Clinton, and then the Kerry, outreach to Iran. Indeed, Pickering testified before Congress and wrote elegant op-eds about why the Iran non-enrichment accord was a good deal — but without ever quite telling the country that a liberated Iran was also considering a $25 billion purchase of aircraft (with potential dual use as military transports) from Boeing — which just happened to be Pickering’s quite generous corporate client.

Is it all that strange that when Washington fixtures write outraged op-eds about the “fascistic” Donald Trump or the “self-harming” Brexit voters, no one seems to listen any more? Does a Hank Paulson — former assistant to John Erhlichman, former CEO of Goldman Sachs (which has given over $800,000 to Hillary’s campaigns as well as $675,000 in speaking fees), former Treasury secretary, and of some $700 million in net worth — ever sense that his assurances that Hillary is presidential and not corrupt are not believable? Or that the effect of his politicking is analogous to angrily waving a Mexican flag at a Trump rally?

In a sense, these revolving-door apparatchiks and incestuous couples are bullies, who use their megaphones to disparage others who are supposedly blinkered and ignorant to the point of not believing that a videomaker caused the attacks in Libya, not trusting the Iranians, being skeptical about the theory of sanctuary cities, missing the genius of the European Union, not seeing the brilliant logic in allowing in 12 million immigrants from southern Mexico and Central America under unlawful auspices, panicking about $20 trillion in debt, and incapable of appreciating the wonders of outsourcing.

In matters of deception, ostentatious vulgarity never proves as injurious as the hubris of the mannered establishment. So what I resent most about the Washington hollow men is not the sources and methods through which they parlay wealth, power, and influence, or the values they embrace to exercise and perpetuate their privilege and sense of exalted self, but the feigned outrage that they express when anyone dares suggest, by word or vote, that they are mediocrities and ethical adolescents — and really quite emotional, after all.

The EU-Progressive Paradigm is Falling Apart

June 27, 2016

The EU-Progressive Paradigm is Falling Apart, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, June 27, 2016

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In short, millions of ordinary people in America, England, France, and many other Western nations know that the paradigm of transnational hegemony and technocratic rule created not a utopia, but an arrogant privileged class that believes it is superior and thus entitled to boss other people around and lecture them about backward superstitions and bigotry. And it looks like these average citizens have had enough.

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Long-developing cracks in the Western political establishment’s century-old paradigm suddenly widened this year. In the US Donald Trump, a reality television star and real estate developer, improbably became the Republican Party’s nominee for president. Bernie Sanders, a socialist and long-time Senate crank, challenged the Democrats’ pre-anointed nominee Hillary Clinton, who prevailed only by dint of money and un-democratic “super-delegates.” Meanwhile in Europe, the UK voted to leave the European Union, perhaps opening the flood-gates to more defections.

These three events share a common theme: populist and patriotic passions roused by arrogant elites have fueled a rejection of Western establishments and their un-democratic, autocratic, corrupt paradigm.

That political model can be simply defined as technocratic and transnational. Starting in the 19th century, the success of science and the shrinking of the world through technology and trade created the illusion that human nature, society, and politics could be similarly understood, managed, and improved by those trained and practiced in the new “human sciences.” This new “knowledge” said people are the same everywhere, and so all humans want the same things: peace with their neighbors, prosperity, and freedom. The absence of these boons, not a permanently flawed human nature, explains the history of war and conflict. National identities, along with religion and tradition, are impediments to institutionalizing this “harmony of interests.” International organizations and covenants can be created to enforce this harmony, shepherd the people towards the transnational utopia, and leave behind the misery and wars sparked by religious, ethnic, and nationalist passions.

Technocracy, however, is by definition anti-democratic. So how can the foundational belief of Western governments – the sovereignty of free people and their right to be ruled by their own consent–– coexist with an administrative state staffed by “experts” and armed with the coercive power of the state? Quite simply, it can’t. As for the transnational ideal of a “harmony of interests,” it was repudiated by the carnage of World War I, when the Entente and Central Powers sent their young to die under the flags of their nations on behalf of their particular national interests.  Yet the West still codified that transnational ideal in the League of Nations, even as it enshrined the contrary ideal of national self-determination, the right of people to rule themselves free of imperial or colonial overlords.

This gruesome war demonstrated that people are still defined by a particular language, culture, mores, folkways, religions, and landscapes, and that nations have interests that necessarily conflict with those of other nations. That’s why the League failed miserably to stop the aggression of its member states Japan, Italy, and Germany, and could not prevent an apocalyptic second world war that took at least 50 million lives. Yet the Western elites continued to pursue the transnational dream of technocratic rule after World War II, creating the UN as yet another attempt to trump the reality of national differences with some imagined harmony of interests. In reality, the UN has been an instrument used by states to pursue those interests at the expense of other nations.

Still not learning their lesson, the transnationalists created yet another institution that would subordinate the nations of Europe to its control, on the debatable assumption that the carnage of two world wars was wrought by national particularism. They confused genuine patriotism and love of one’s own way of living, with the grotesque political religions of fascism and Nazism, both as much avatars of illiberal tribalism as nationalism grown toxic. Thus was born the supranational EU, which began modestly in 1958 with the European Economic Community, and then relentlessly expanded over the years into today’s intrusive, unaccountable bureaucracy of anonymous technocrats that has concentrated power in Brussels at the expense of national sovereignty.

Similarly, in the US the progressives of the early 20th century began transforming the American Republic based on similar assumptions. They believe that economic, social, and technological progress rendered the Constitution––particularly its separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalist protections of the sovereignty of the states––an anachronism. “The age of enlightened administration had come,” F.D.R. proclaimed, and he set about creating the federal bureaus and agencies that have over the years expanded in scope and power, and increasingly encroached on the rights and autonomy of the states, civil society, and individuals.

But the Eurocrats and progressives forgot one of the most ancient beliefs of the West, and a fundamental assumption behind the structure of the Constitution––that a flawed human nature, vulnerable to corruption by power, is constant across time and space. As Benjamin Franklin wrote during the Constitutional convention, “There are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice: the love of power and the love of money,” which when combined have “the most violent of effects.” As much as the democratic mob, any elite, whether of birth, wealth, or education, is subject to power’s corruption and abuse. That’s why our Constitution checked and balanced power: to limit the scope of any part of the government, and thus safeguard the freedom of all citizens no matter their wealth, birth, or education.

In contrast, the conceit of progressives and EU functionaries is that they are somehow immune to the seductions of power. They think their presumed superior knowledge and powers of reason make them more capable and trustworthy than the fickle, ignorant masses and the elected officials accountable to them. History, however, shows that technocrats are as vulnerable to the corruption of power as elites of birth or wealth, and that power is, as the Founders were fond of saying, “of an encroaching nature” and must “ever to be watched and checked.” The expansion of the EU’s tyrannical regulatory and lawmaking power at the expense of national sovereignty is the proof of this ancient wisdom. So too are America’s bloated federal executive agencies aggrandizing and abusing their powers at the expense of the people and the states.

Thus the dominant paradigm that has long organized politics and social life in the West is now under assault, for history has presented this model with challenges it has failed to meet. The resurgence of Islamic jihadism and terror has been met with sermons on Islamophobia and therapeutic multiculturalism. A newly assertive Russia has pursued its national interest with state violence, only to be scolded by our Secretary of State for “behaving in a 19th century fashion.” The financial crisis of 2008 was caused in part by government political and regulatory interference in the market, the same policies that have kept economic growth sluggish for over seven years. Feckless immigration policies have been worsened by a failure to monitor those who get in, and to assimilate those that do. And most important, the redistributionist entitlement regime has weakened the citizens’ character, fostered selfish hedonism, and is on track to bankrupt this country and many in Europe. All these crises have in the main been the offspring of progressives and Eurocrats, whose only solution is to cling to the policies that empower and enrich them, but degrade their own cultures and endanger their own peoples.

Millions of citizens both in the US and in Europe have been watching these developments and living with the baleful consequences that the hypocritical, smug progressive and EU elites seldom encounter in their daily lives. This long-festering anger and resentment of those who smear them as stupid racists, neurotic xenophobes, and fearful “haters,” has now burst to the surface of political life. People can see that the “we are the world,” “global village” cosmopolitanism enriches and empowers the political, cultural, and business elites, but passes on to the people the risks of careless and often deadly immigration policies, and the economic dislocations of a globalized economy. They see that coastal fat cats, who can afford the higher taxes and the costs of environmental regulations, care nothing for the flyover-country working and middle classes pinched by higher electric and gasoline bills. People who live in tony enclaves of white professionals and hipsters support unfettered immigration, while others have to live with the crime and disorder that comes from thrusting into their midst people from very different cultures and mores, including some who have a divine sanction to kill the same people who have welcomed them in.

In short, millions of ordinary people in America, England, France, and many other Western nations know that the paradigm of transnational hegemony and technocratic rule created not a utopia, but an arrogant privileged class that believes it is superior and thus entitled to boss other people around and lecture them about backward superstitions and bigotry. And it looks like these average citizens have had enough.

England has spoken in favor of popular sovereignty and self-government. Soon it will be America’s turn. Our British cousins made the right choice. Let’s hope we do too.

Donald Trump, Bill Whittle and Republican Principles

May 11, 2016

Donald Trump, Bill Whittle and Republican Principles, Dan Miller’s Blog, May 11, 2016

(The views expressed in this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

In 2012, after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, Bill Whittle delivered an address on Republican principles. The Timid Republican Party has substantially ignored those principles and is not guided by them. Party candidates nevertheless continue to mouth them at election time. Perhaps they understand what the voters want and recite their fealty to get their votes. Once safely in office, they revert to ignoring those same principles.

During the current Republican nomination process, the Establishment has chastised Donald Trump for not being a “real” Republican and not adhering to Republican principles — the principles which they themselves ignore, by which he abides and by which as our President he will continue to abide. As they cringe at his refusal to mince words and to be politically correct, they seem uncomfortable with his wealth and his decision to finance his own primary campaign. Trump is very comfortable with being rich and is rightfully proud of what he has been able to do because of it — including not being subservient to wealthy donors and donor collectives to which Establishment members are themselves subservient.

While watching the video, please ponder what Trump would say — and do — as our candidate and then as our President.

It strikes me that Trump and Whittle care more about “Republican principles” than do members of the Republican Establishment. Trump is substantially more likely to support and adhere to those principles than the Party Establishment has, and than any candidate it would prefer has or would. In recent months, the “unwashed vulgarian” Republican masses have shown that they do as well. They are right.

Vote the Platform, Not the Man(ner)

April 13, 2016

Vote the Platform, Not the Man(ner), PJ Media, David Solway, April 12, 2016

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Recently, I’ve been corresponding with a friend on the ever-contentious subject of Donald Trump, a man whom my interlocutor finds objectionable on both political and personal grounds. Political positions can be discussed and debated even if they do not produce agreement or compromise, but a personal animadversion cannot be met with argument. My correspondent considers Trump an unreconstructed vulgarian, loud, ill-mannered and abrasive, all of which apparently render him unfit for office. He simply cannot vote for a man he dislikes.

Personal liking is one of the least reliable criteria for voting. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency is surely proof positive that affection for a political figure—the love affair with Obama was a national phenomenon—can result in unmitigated disaster. The same is true of personal dislike, which may often lead to the rejection of the best, or least worst, candidates for political office.

In Canada’s recent federal election, former PM Stephen Harper was vilified in the press and held in contempt by the majority of the electorate as a dangerous and unsavory character. He was rumoured to harbor a “secret agenda,” though nobody could say what it was. He was denounced as a brooding egotist and a control freak. He was viewed as unsympathetic to the marginalized and disadvantaged, stingy with entitlements, unimpressed by the claims of the arts community for ever greater government largesse, and generally hostile to Canada’s growing and increasingly clamorous Islamic community.

The fact that he steered the country safely through the market crash of 2008, signed lucrative international trade deals, kept taxes down, reduced the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and provided the country with a balanced budget plainly counted for nothing. His emendation of citizenship protocols in an effort to check the spread of culturally barbaric practices, chiefly associated with Islam, counted against him. At the end of the day, he was simply unlikeable, he was “Harperman,” and he had to go.

Instead, Canadians fell in love with Justin Trudeau, easily the most unqualified prime ministerial candidate since Confederation (there have been many duds, eccentrics and charlatans, but Trudeau is in a category of his own). He was young, personable, wavy-haired, utterly innocuous and adroit at spouting platitudes. Women found him attractive, millennials recognized one of their own, and he embraced all the feel-good big-spending fads and sophistries of welfare socialism. In short, people found him immensely likeable, the polar opposite of the straitlaced, parsimonious Harper.

The consequences were not long in coming. Trudeau has been in office for half a year, more than enough time to engineer the rapid deterioration of a once-prosperous and relatively secure nation. He has brought in 25,000 “Syrians” and is aiming for many thousands more, all living off the public dole and no doubted salted with aspiring jihadists. He intends to build mosques (which he calls “religious centers”) on military bases and is re-accrediting Muslim terror-affiliated organizations that Harper defunded. He inherited Harper’s balanced budget and in just a few short months was busy at work racking up a $29.4 billion deficit. Not to worry, since Trudeau is on record saying that budgets balance themselves. Magic is afoot. All one need do is continue believing in the Ministry of Silly Walks and the nation will stride ever forward.

(Here’s the silly walks video. I was unable to restrain myself. — DM)

According to a March 18, 2016 Ipsos poll, 66 per cent of Canadians approve of his performance. A boilerplate article by Jake Horowitz for Policy.Mic represents the general attitude of appreciation. In his meeting with Barack Obama, Horowitz writes, “it was Trudeau’s tone of optimism, and his embrace of a style of politics marked by positivity, inclusion and equality, that truly shined [sic] through. Practically everything about his values comes in stark contrast to what we’ve heard from Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has dominated the 2016 election cycle with divisiveness, anger and fear-mongering.”

Often commentators will seek to buttress their personal liking or disliking on the basis of presumed intellectual substance. Despite his success in business, his knowledge of practical economics and international finance, and his instinctive recognition of what is needed in a country beset by astronomical deficits, trade imbalances and catastrophic immigration problems, Trump is frequently dismissed as an ignoramus. “Trump doesn’t read,” says David Goldman. “He brags about his own ignorance. Journalist Michael d’Antonio interviewed Trump at his New York home and told a German newspaper: ‘What I noticed immediately in my first visit was that there were no books… huge palace and not a single book.’”

On the other hand, we are told that Justin Trudeau reads. According to Jonathan Kay, formerly letters editor at The National Post and currently editor of The Walrus, who assisted Trudeau in writing the Canadian Prime Minister’s memoir Common Ground, “I can report that Trudeau is very much an un-boob. Several of our interviews took place in his home study, which is lined with thousands of books…We spoke at length about the Greek classics his father had foisted upon him as a child…and the policy-oriented fare he now reads as part of his life in politics…Trudeau probably reads more than any other politician I know.”

Kay never mentions that this intellectual giant failed to complete the two university degrees for which he had enrolled, earned his chops as a substitute instructor at the high school level, and inherited a formidable financial estate from his famous father, former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau. He has done nothing with his life except preen and posture for the public—a “shiny pony,” as journalist Ezra Levant has dubbed him. Trump on the other hand received an inheritance and turned it into one of the world’s major fortunes. As New English Review editor Rebecca Bynum points out, “the businessman from Queens understands the American working people better than the Harvard man from Texas or the mailman’s son from Ohio. He speaks in plain English to describe the incompetence, and yes, the stupidity of those currently in power, who could not have harmed our country any more if they had had outright malicious intent.”

The Harper case was anomalous. He was an evidently accomplished man, trained in economics (unlike Trudeau, he completed his university program), a stalwart Canadian who wrote a book on our national sport, A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey, (unlike Trudeau’s memoir, there was no Kay-like ectoplasm to assist in its composition) and was deeply interested in the Franklin Expedition and the lore of the Canadian North. And he was a reader. Nevertheless, Canadian novelist Yann Martel mocked Harper in a series of letters collected into a book, 101 Letters to a Prime Minister, condescendingly lecturing Harper on what he should read, with the implication (sometimes explicit) that Harper saw nothing but the financial bottom line and was a man without imagination, heart or a vision for the country larger than trade deals and tax policy. (Martel is evidently a prehensile reader, having discovered an obscure novella by the Argentine writer Moacyr Scliar, Max and the Cats, which arguably formed the plagiarized occasion for his own Life of Pi. Not the man to instruct the PM.) In any event, under a relentless media barrage the public came to see Harper as a rigid martinet. In the 2015 election, he never had a chance.

Harper was regarded by the press and a plurality of Canadians pretty much as Trump is currently viewed by establishment Republicans, sanctimonious conservatives and a partisan media, for whom The Donald has become politically non grata, a “reptile” in Andrew Klavan’s distemperate rhetoric. Trump’s dilemma is that he has refused to be housebroken. He is certainly a flawed human being, but I have never known one who wasn’t.

So let us now compare. Trump has pledged to set the U.S. on a sound economic footing, prevent the flow of illegal migrants across the southwestern border, limit Islamic immigration into the country, and restore America’s diminished prestige and might on the international stage. But he is, we are told, a boor, a plebeian, a crass opportunist, a know-nothing who doesn’t read. “Donald Trump may not be perfect,”  Bynum agrees, “but at least he will clean house.” All the more reason, it appears, for the virulence and disparagement with which he has been met. The bien pensants dislike him with a vehemence that does them little honor.

On the other hand, Trudeau, as we’ve seen, has plunged his country into deficit, has imported thousands of Muslims who will swell the welfare rolls and generate social unrest, as is inevitable wherever Muslims begin to multiply, withdrawn Canadian forces from the campaign against ISIS, and filled his cabinet with highly questionable personnel—women simply because they are women, such as the lamentably dense Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade (who disgraced herself on the Bill Maher show), and doddering retreads like Immigration Minister John McCallum. But Trudeau is suave, telegenic, blandly inoffensive—and he reads. People like him with a passion that also does them little honor.

Would any sane person choose a Trudeau-type figure over a Harper or a Trump to lead their country into a problematic future? The larger issue is whether any reasonable person should predicate his voting preference on personal liking or disliking. Trudeau is intellectually vapid, has the wrong instincts, and is unlearnable. But he is liked. As for Trump, I am not suggesting that he would be a better choice than Cruz may be or Rubio may have been, though I suspect he might. He still has much to learn about the intricacies and priorities of governing and about looking “presidential.” What matters is that a candidate for political office is smart, has the right instincts, and is willing to learn. I believe Trump qualifies in these respects. Disliking him is beside the point.

Writing for The Federalist, Timm Amundson acknowledges that Trump can be rude, arrogant and reckless, and asks: “How can a principled, pragmatic, deliberate conservative be drawn to such a candidate?” And answers: “It is because I believe conservatism doesn’t stand a chance in this country without first delivering a very heavy dose of populism,” that is, “a platform built largely on the principle of economic nationalism…focus[ing] on three primary policy areas: trade, defense, and immigration.” This is Trump’s bailiwick.

To approve or disapprove of a candidate on the basis of his or her social and economic platform is wholly legitimate, is at least theoretically open to debate and constitutes a sensible basis for choice. If you believe, as Amundson does, that the core populist platform is the surest way “for America to begin rebuilding her neglected middle class and restoring her sovereignty,” then cast your ballot appropriately. The Overton Window is closing fast.