I almost never watch Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday, but I made an exception last weekend because I wanted to see his interview with Ben Carson. Carson, as always, was great.
But I made the mistake of not turning the TV off after the interview ended. In a moment of uncontrolled masochism, I started watching Wallace’s “expert” panel, consisting of some liberal gal from the Washington Post and two of the most obnoxiously arrogant statists on the planet, George Will (affectionately known to his detractors as “Wee Willie”) and Arthur Brooks.
Wee Willie is one of those cartoonish, delusional Beltway Bubble intellectuals who have made careers out of being wrong most of the time. But Brooks is a mystery man to me — a guy who was a professional musician for nine years, playing the French horn for bands in Baltimore and Barcelona, Spain, as well as teaching the instrument for three more years.
I have nothing against the French horn, but I’m befuddled by what in Brooks’ resume got him the job of president of the American Enterprise Institute. But I guess it makes sense in the world of establishment Republicans.
Now, please indulge me while I go all the way back to 1978 and lay a foundation for what Wee Willie had to say this past Sunday. When the media was having a field day with the titles of my first two books — Winning Through Intimidation and Looking Out for #1 — he wrote a snooty, self-righteous column (all of his articles are snooty and self-righteous) titled “Shortcuts may lead to Nasty Places.”
In his trademark pretentious style, Wee Willie wrote, in reference to Winning Through Intimidation, Looking Out for #1, and a couple of other personal-development books that were bestsellers at the time, “You should tremble for our country when you see how the times, and ideas of seriousness and improvement, have changed.”
Because his Beltway shield protects him from the real world, he had no clue that his snarky little comment was an insult to millions of people who had purchased my books (not to mention the other two books). Of course, it was obvious from his words that he hadn’t taken the trouble to read either of my books, but truth is a minor inconvenience to bogus journalists like Wee Willie.
So, why am I bringing up his stupid comment after all these years? Because he’s been doing this kind of dismissive “journalism” for decades, and he did it yet again — big time — on Chris Wallace’s show last Sunday.
As a preface to his main points, he started off by saying that Donald Trump is a “one-trick pony.” Maybe he was referring to the fact that all Trump knows how to do is make money and promote himself. Hmm … no, that wouldn’t be correct, because it would make him a two-trick pony. I guess you’ll have to ask Wee Willie himself what he meant by that throwaway, dismissive comment.
He went on to say that the Trump phenomenon is the same “primal scream therapy” that attracted so many voters to George Wallace in the sixties and early seventies. According to Wee Willie, such voters were just throwing a “mad as hell” tantrum and had no intention of actually voting for Wallace.
He concluded his supercilious tirade by saying that when things get serious, voters will ask, “Do we really want to give nuclear weapons to Donald Trump? At which point, I think things change.” Excellent point. In fact, I’ve been lying awake at night wondering if a President Trump would nuke the whole world — just as Ronald Reagan did back in 1981. (Oh … that’s right. Reagan didn’t do that. His detractors just said it’s what he would do if he were elected president.)
Now to the unctuous, over-the-top French hornist Arthur Brooks. Though he is relatively unknown outside the Beltway, his comments were even more pompous and insulting than Wee Willie’s. He began his turn at the mic by saying, “This is a low-information, high-entertainment, high-protest moment. It’s summertime. It’s the same in the movies — it’s low-information, high-entertainment.”
Even liberal Chris Wallace flinched at his gallingly dismissive comments, but the French hornist wasn’t through. He then added, “If this persists past Labor Day, it’s something for the Republican Party to panic about.” (His inflections made it clear that what he meant by that comment was that the whole thing is irrelevant right now, and that Trump’s lead certainly will evaporate by Labor Day.)
He still wasn’t through: “Republican voters will gravitate toward the person who is most qualified to be president. … Republicans always come back. They came back to Mitt Romney.” (I’m not making this up. He actually said this. He apparently is so stupid that he thought people who are mad as hell would come to their senses and vote for a Republican establishment candidate because it worked out so well when they “came back” to Romney.)
At that moment, it occurred to me that if Trump should actually pull off the biggest election miracle in political history, the guy who sent him soaring beyond reach might just be a French horn player-turned-Republican-establishment bigshot. Yep, he’s actually proud of the fact that RINOs were able to get mad-as-hell Republican voters to support Miraculous Mitt.
What Wee Willie and his French-horn sidekick were clearly saying to millions of Fox News viewers who support Trump was, “You people are ignorant, but when it’s time to get serious, you’ll fall into line — just as you did for Dole, McCain, and Romney — and do as you’re told.”
This is the kind of Beltway claptrap that made Howard Beale such a lovable character in Network. People were mad as hell then, and they’re a whole lot madder now. This time around, they want The Donald … or Dr. Ben … or Ted Cruz … or Carly — anybody but the usual kind of Republican statist putz they always end up getting. But, in all fairness, I guess you can’t blame the establishment for being so confident that Republican voters will “come back” — because, to their shame, they always do!
If these Republican establishment characters annoy you as much as they do me, let me let you in on a little secret: Most of them are afflicted with the Dunning-Kruger effect. As I explained in my article “Blissful Incompetence,” the Dunning-Kruger effect is in evidence when incompetent people suffer from delusions of superiority and overrate their own abilities.
It’s the very fact that these people have such a low level of understanding of the real world (i.e., the world outside the Beltway Bubble) that they lack the awareness to accurately judge their own skills. Further, they tend not to recognize the higher skill level in others.
In the case of Wee Willie, hornhead Brooks, and their cohorts, they appear to be totally unaware of what’s happening in what is supposed to be their own area of expertise — politics — and thus grossly underestimate the ability of the average voter to accurately assess the field of Republican presidential candidates.
More specifically, the reason died-in-the-wool RINOs still believe that another establishment candidate is just what the Republican Party needs — notwithstanding the Dole, McCain, Romney disasters — is because they do not recognize their own inability to understand the public’s determination to rid America of career statist politicians.
I don’t know if Donald Trump will actually win the Republican nomination, but if instead the winner turns out to be a Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Carly Fiorina, they will owe him a debt of gratitude for blowing the lid off the decades-long scam that establishment Republicans have been able to foist upon Republican voters for decades.
I think it’s safe to say that The Donald saw the movie Network — and, notwithstanding the fact that he’s a “one-trick pony” — learned a heck of a lot from it. Too bad Peter Finch (Howard Beale) didn’t live long enough to see what’s happening in America 2015. I think he would have loved it.