When Trump Does Something Outrageous, the Left’s Response is Incomparably Worse

Perhaps we can't follow the Marquess of Queensbury when the Left's playing "Rollerball."

By John Zmirak Published on July 6, 2017

Every week, it seems, I feel tempted to write off Donald Trump. But then his enemy’s reactions pull me back from the brink. He acts again and again in ways that would put off any traditional conservative. That seem at first like the actions of an ignorant Philistine or peevish narcissist. However, the left’s response is every time so incomparably worse, so horribly disproportionate, that we rally to Trump again. We wonder to ourselves: Are things really that far gone? If so, are Trump’s stunts exactly the kind of tactics which we need? Would (say) a President Jeb Bush just serve as the Left’s hapless piñata?

Trump trashes, flouts, or brutally mocks things which we would ordinarily value. Following our instincts and traditions, we wish to protect, as precious props to stability and peace:

  • Institutions, like the press, the Senate with its traditions, and political party structures.
  • Customs, like seeking bipartisan support for legislation.
  • Conventions, such as personal respect for one’s political opponents.
  • Offices, such as the president’s, which call for dignity, gravitas, and a certain stoic detachment.

All the Decent Drapery of Life

 Those are examples of what the greatest conservative thinker, Edmund Burke, defended. He called them

the pleasing illusions, which made power gentle and obedience liberal, which harmonized the different shades of life, and which, by a bland assimilation, incorporated into politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society. …

He warned against the programs of the radicals of the French Enlightenment who led that nation’s catastrophic Revolution. At their hands:

All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns, and the understanding ratifies, as necessary to cover the defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion.

To translate that from baroque 18th century language into plain modern English: Burke thought that good manners, old customs, and polite hypocrisy keep the peace. They act as buffers between our passions and the world of other people. This slows us down, gives us time for second thoughts. Think of the referee in a boxing ring — who keeps the fighter’s aggression within safe parameters. Makes sure that we fight fair, and not to the death.

The George H.W. Bush Bodyslam GIF

Technology has helped to strip away some of our buffers.

Would a President Jeb Bush just serve as the Left’s hapless piñata?

In the past, when you wanted to send an angry letter to the newspaper, you first had to type it. If you had typos, you needed to type it again. Then you had to address the envelope, find a stamp, walk to the mail box and send it. Then you had to check the paper every day to see if the editor had run it. He would have scanned it for libel, profanity, and obvious errors of fact. He only published those which didn’t. Today, any one of us can write the whole world on social media falsely accusing our enemies of being child molesters — in the time it took you to read this sentence.

Isn’t it true that the Left feels completely unbound by conventions, rules, or even elementary decency? Given that fact, by sticking to the rules, aren’t we promising to lose? That was most clear on the Senate judiciary filibuster.

Just think how long it would have taken, say, President George H.W. Bush to make a film in which he bodyslammed and shaved the head of a CNN surrogate. (Really, sit back and try to visualize that film. Makes you smile, doesn’t it?) But with modern technology and President Trump, all he needed to do was wait for someone to make a GIF. It helped that there was already video of Trump actually bodyslamming someone, from his old TV wrestling days. That’s always handy.

The Buffers Are Gone

The conventions that Burke valued and Trump flouts enforced a kind of discipline. They kept us from tearing our country apart. And sometimes in the American past, they did break down. Specifically, on the brink of the Civil War, when a Southern member of Congress felt insulted by a Northern colleague’s anti-slavery speeches. So he beat him nearly to death with a walking stick. Northerners were outraged. Southerners flooded their countryman’s office with brand new walking sticks. Once that happened, you knew that war was on the way.

Trump trashes such institutions. On that we agree. But isn’t it true that the Left feels completely unbound by conventions, rules, or even elementary decency? Given that fact, by sticking to the rules, aren’t we promising to lose? That was most clear on the Senate judiciary filibuster, which was only ever used to block pro-life judges from the U.S. Supreme Court. So the GOP was absolutely right to nuke it. To do any less would have amounted to a betrayal. Is the same thing true of Trump and his bare-knuckles fights with major media? Is he a boxer who walked into the ring and saw that the referee was biased? That his opponent had brought brass knuckles? And then, he picked up a chair to even the odds?

We’re Way Past “Normal”

Roger Kimball thinks so. He is no rowdy populist. In fact, he’s an erudite art critic. He runs a magazine that publishes articles with titles like “Matisse and Montclair in Boston” (from the current issue). He wears a bowtie. But Kimball thinks that Trump is responding proportionately and effectively, given that the culture is completely out of control. As Kimball writes:

The Left has been on a campaign to ruin normality since the 1960s. Their dearest wish was to destroy and hollow out and ridicule the bourgeois virtues of good manners and decorum—even to utter those words sounds odd, so successful has their battle against the language of traditional manners and morals been. As David Marcus notes in a percipient essay at The Federalist, progressives long ago declared war on the normal. And now they are upset because someone they dislike has appeared wielding real power in ways they find abnormal?

“These are the same people,” Marcus notes, “who over the past few years have insisted that five-year-old boys becoming five-year-old girls is normal. They tell us that a guaranteed basic income and running for president as a Socialist is normal. Forcing Catholic hospitals to offer birth control, undocumented immigrants voting in our elections, and abolishing the police: normal, normal, and normal.”

As Kimball and Marcus note, the stakes are much higher than they were in say, 1960. Back then Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon could have a civil debate. Neither candidate’s supporters, in case of losing, would have claimed that the winner was a tyrant. They wouldn’t have started a “resistance” movement. Nor fantasized in public about assassinating him. Neither candidate threatened the basic religious liberties of millions of Americans. Nor planned to flood the country with unassimilable foreigners, just to import more voters for his party.

The issues we face now are life and death. The Left isn’t playing hardball. It’s playing Rollerball.


Just the very latest stunt: CNN seems to have blackmailed some private citizen who created the GIF that Trump used. They ferreted out his identity, found some offensive stuff that he posted — then swore him to permanent silence, on pain of public exposure. If that is how major news organizations operate, they deserve Trump’s contempt. And if things have really come to that pass, we really must add: God help us.

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  • Gary

    People in the US, whether citizens or not, have so many disagreements now that unity is out of the question. The “united states” is a misnomer. And I don’t believe that will ever improve. Civil war is far more likely than unity.

    • I’m sure you’re looking forward to it.

      • Gary

        I would much prefer that everyone had the same beliefs that I do. But that isn’t reality.

  • BTP

    This is the world now, I don’t know what has take conservatives so long to figure this out. I have some suspicions.

    In any case, yes, this is how it is now and President Jeb would definitely continued to lose, except that top marginal tax rates would be a little bit lower and the rate of destruction of the culture would be slightly slower. All we are seeing now is how you stop it. Maybe. If it can be stopped.

    But yeah, it’s a package deal. Like the way that, if you care to save Spain from Muslim domination, you need to have grim killers from Castile make it happen. There simply isn’t some other way. You might as well complain that hammers are hard and ugly and wish you could drive a nail with something softer and lovelier.

    • Zmirak

      Very, very well put. Sadly, too many leaders recast Christianity as some blend of Utopian socialism and Barney the Dinosaur. Thinking like yours they pretend is “worldly” and “not attuned to Gospel values.” Then they go collect the German church tax and take a vacation in the Bahamas.

  • Kathryn Rose MacDonald

    I often wonder if either side realises exactly how crazy they’re acting. Y’all, I’m from rural ALABAMA. I know crazy. I’m looking at it. We joked about a Christopher Walken-Gary Buesy ticket in the early days of the 2016 election meme wars.No amount of batshit crazy from that pair can possibly compare to the insanity we have now between the Trump camp and the rest of the world.

    I don’t think either side is really any more prone to lack of good manners, civility, or good sense than the other. I’ve seen appallingly disrespectful and downright hate-filled behaviour from all sides. That’s the world we live in now, there is no room to do anything but escalate…and that is precisely what each side does. Whether I agree or not, I can easily see how well President Trump fits into the zeitgeist and why. It’s terribly, terribly sad.

    Exactly how immature do we have to get before we finally say, “Y’all, we done gone too far now. We had our fun and now it’s time to reel it in and start acting like our mammas raised us right.”

    • Charles Burge

      A real face-palm moment for me was when that Montana Republican candidate for U.S. House assaulted a reporter – and people cheered. I had thought Conservatives stood for basic decency, decorum, integrity, and other similar virtues. It’s been disappointing to me to find out that such may not be the case.

      Christians are supposed to be the salt of the earth. Salt, in New Testament times, was used to preserve meat in order to keep it from spoiling, Similarly, the presence of Christians in culture is supposed to slow its decay. Notice I didn’t say “stop”. The Bible says that culture will decay, but it should decay more slowly wherever Christians are present. Jesus asked rhetorically what will happen if salt loses its saltiness. Unless a full-scale revival comes, I think we’ll soon find out.

      • Dumbest Ox

        Two observations. 1) That “reporter” who was assaulted demonstrated that he was an enemy of basic decency, decorum, integrity, and other similar virtues. The press has worked hard to convince us sheep that “reporters” are paragons of basic decency, decorum, integrity, and other similar virtues, but they never have been. That “reporter” was a typical agent provocateur employed by the UK Guardian, a Red rag. 2) “…to slow its decay”… excellent point. The world has been decaying since the Fall; “Progress” is a false god.

  • John, I liked your headline. Kind of says it all. Mostly.

    There are some of us, though, that see that elitist individuals and organizations have tried to take over our lives, and that President Trump is standing in their way, fighting to give our lives back to us. Some of us have “1776” stickers on the backs of our laptops, for example, because we are rapidly approaching a time when 1776 will be the only viable answer.

    I hope we never get there, and so do those who feel as I do. I, though, have some serious doubts.

  • Nathan, WorldForger

    Whoa Whoa Whoa hold on, Trump was a wrestler? I don’t even watch wrestling and I think that’s awesome! he should have ran on that! I can just see the slogans now: Vote Donald Trump, He’ll body slam the deficit! He’ll put crime in a headlock! Our enemies will be down for the count! such missed opportunities!

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Duly noted. Though I have not found cause to to “write off Donald Trump” on a weekly basis. As for the left, rollerball is to tame an analogy to illustrate their intemperance. They’re bloodthirsty. Intoxicated by their fear of “Trumptopia” . They are watching the party of resistance reduced to impotence as they struggle for a message other than Russian collusion to further their agendas. They can’t be as stupid as they appear. Deceived maybe but not completely stupid. They, seemingly largely absent of moral authority have little more than duplicity , hypocrisy & antagonism w/which to deliver their futile blows against their political, cultural & philosophical nemesis. Meanwhile , in spite of the oppositions obstruction against the affairs of this administration, more policy on behalf of conservative values & Judeo-Christian interests are being advanced. Hey, as long as Trump refrains from profanity & crude commentary on the female anatomy I’m not only good w/this presidential provocateur but I’m enjoying the performance. Particularly since every pundit & pollster not right of center ( & a few that are ) continue to get it so wrong. What should have been a byline in national politics has instead become a force of almost biblical proportions to be reckoned with by those whose “wisdom” clearly has not come from above. Is it premature to suggest that this POTUS may wind up being not only a change maker but possibly one of the most effective presidents this ” one nation under God” has ever known …?

    • Christine Wright

      I am n absolute agreement with what you have said here. I do however, beg to differ on one point. Yes, Trump may turn out to be one of the best presidents this nation has ever known, but the opposition camp is large and many who claim to be in our camp are little more than wolves in sheep’s clothing, that I’m finding it doubtful we will ever see what we had hoped to see from a republican house, Senate, and white house. I saw Ted Cruz on the news the other day talking about not repealing Obama care, but instead fixing it. If these people keep it up I’m not voting for another republican ever again. This is dumb. I don’t want socialism and all these left wing policies that these republicans appear to endorse over the very reason their actual constituents voted to repeal, in order to assuage the communists, is bordering the ridiculous. At this rate, we may as well have seen Hillary have the presidency for
      all the good o it voting voice is doing.

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