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On the eve of destruction, Republicans turn against each other

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With little ammunition remaining to fend off the impending disaster to their party and candidate, Republican Trump supporters are resorting to the most specious and rhetorical of arguments. Consider, for instance, the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn.

He’s a longtime columnist for the newspaper, which allows us to take a peek at his track record. Gay marriage? After the Supreme Court’s historic decision approving it, McGurn, an avowed Catholic, was in full poopy-pants mode: “A triump for gay rights but not for democracy,” he opined, with lip-licking malice.

Global warming? According to McGurn, President Obama—who just a week ago presided over the strongest climate-change agreement in history, the Paris accord—has “squelch[ed] further inquiry” into the science (!!!!!) of climate change, because he (Obama) chooses to believe the 99.5% of climate scientists who believe in it, not the .05% of Republican hacks who don’t.

But I digress! Onto All Things Trump! Let’s look at McGurn’s column from yesterday, entitled “The Cheap Moralizing of Never Trump.” He attempts to dismiss the anti-Trump movement by, essentially, insulting its adherents. How? First, he says that calling Trump “coarse and boorish” is only to be expected from Democrats: “It’s an old argument for the left.” But, as he’s sadly forced to concede, “Republicans are now hearing it from the right as well.”

This is an inconvenient truth. No longer can McGurn simply vilify Democrats. Now, his own party—large segments of it—has joined the anti-Trump parade. What’s a conservative columnist to do? Instead of claiming that Trump isn’t “coarse and boorish” (how could McGurn? Trump is), McGurn instead deflects the argument by focusing on the insinuation (by the anti-Trump crowd) that Trump’s supporters must be “evil…or…invincibly stupid.”

Well, I’ll give him that. There is a belief on the left (which I share) that anyone who would vote for Trump at this point is, somehow, mentally unhinged. Now, I won’t use the word “evil” because its definition is too tricky, but I do believe Trump voters are “stupid.” (“Invincibly” is a nice writer’s word but I’m not sure there are degrees of stupidity when it comes to bad political choices). Not all Republicans are stupid, and not all evangelicals are stupid; but those Christians who believe in the literal inerrancy of the bible are stupid, and I’ll tell you why.

There are different types of intelligence, according to the respected American psychologist, Howard Gardener, who, in 1983, listed them. Several aren’t relevant here (natural intelligence, musical intelligence, spatial intelligence, etc.) but the most important one, from the point of view of what makes for a good citizen, is logical intelligence. This is what fuels the process of reason; it enables people to discern the truth of things, as opposed to being misled by fantasy, superstition, ignorance and deceitfulness.

In this sense, evangelicals (and apparently Trump himself) have proven they aren’t as logically intelligent as are Americans who actually believe in science. We are blessed, in this modern era, to have the greatest array of scientific knowledge ever collected in the history of mankind; and scientific knowledge is a good thing. It helps us in every aspect of life, has resulted in the healthiest, most progressive human culture ever. (Whether we’re happier is another story…) It therefore follows that anyone who rejects scientific knowledge, as evangelicals do, has a mental problem; labeling them “stupid” is harsh, but we have to call a spade a spade. When it comes to logical intelligence, they really are stupid.

McGurn’s argument is so thin and specious, it could have been expressed in two sentences. But that’s not enough to fill an entire column, so, for the rest, he puts on his pit bull costume and goes after—who else?—Hillary Clinton, with the usual B.S.: she “lies” (no proof offered), her “public life has been a series of scandals” (courtesy of who? McGurn’s Republican Party, which has smeared Hillary for 25 years and come up with absolutely nothing), she would be “a third term for disastrous Obama policies.” Maybe someone forgot to tell McGurn that President Obama’s approval rating is consistently in the low- to mid-fifties, whereas his predecessor, George W. Bush, had an approval rating of only 34% just prior to leaving office. Americans therefore strongly disagree with McGurn: they believe in large numbers that Obama has been an excellent President. This is further corroborated by the polls, in which Hillary Clinton is poised to win red states: Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada; and even Alaska, Texas and Georgia are turning pink! Clearly, Americans do not feel like Obama has been a disaster; quite the contrary. If Hillary Clinton governs as well as Obama has, most of us would welcome it.

So McGurn is struggling. Even the arch-conservative Jonah Goldberg—son of Lucianne Goldberg, one of Bill Clinton’s nemeses, a tattling gossip who did her best to bring Bill Clinton down—assaulted McGurn in yesterday’s National Review. He did so rather anemically, but still, the fact that these two radical rightwingers, McGurn and Goldberg, are at war is further proof of how Trump has been a bomb in the Republican Party, blowing it up, turning it against itself, and exposing for all the world to see its internal incoherence.

 

  1. In a comment to Steve’s piece titled “The rightwing media wants birtherism to go away as an issue. Gee, I wonder why,” I alluded to the Goldwater Rule.

    It came up again in today’s (Wednesday’s) Wall Street Journal:

    “Narcissism Can’t Be Diagnosed Through a Camera Lens”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/narcissism-cant-be-diagnosed-through-a-camera-lens-1476831585

    Excerpt:

    . . .in the wake of damaging speculation published in a survey of psychiatrists about the mental fitness of 1964 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the American Psychiatric Association has abided by a principle known as the Goldwater Rule, published in its “Principles of Medical Ethics with Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry.” The Goldwater Rule states that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

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