Monday, January 4, 2016

The New Yorker cartoon of the day...

“I suspect a challenger from the right. Let’s slaughter everyone on the right.”

...isn't necessarily the funniest one in this week's issue. But it does illustrate a point I'd like to make.

And that is this: in pre-modern times -- and I don't know this to be true, but it makes sense to me -- the king was most likely the baddest motherf****r in the tribe. I don't know who said it first (Emerson?) but in The Wire Omar famously warned, "Come at the king, you best not miss."

Think about it: the "godfather" of a crime family is the strongest, smartest and, yes, the most willing to have you "whacked" for some transgression. Who runs the playground at school? The bully. Who does your dog naturally follow? The alpha male. Need I go on?

I thought of all this when reading a piece in the Times on New Year's Day, "How Jeb Bush Hopes to Save His Candidacy." (I also thought: Does anyone really believe Jeb can save his candidacy? Does Jeb? Or does he feel like he owes at least a good-faith effort to all those billionaires who donated over $100 million to his super PAC?) Take a look at the accompanying picture, below:

Does that guy look like the baddest motherf****r in the tribe? Or does he look . . . "low energy"? Is it really surprising that Trump is leading in the polls? Regardless of your opinion of the Donald, you have to concede he's currently the baddest motherf****r in the Republican Party.

And isn't that what the president of the United States is? Our version of a king? And who, in modern times, fit that role the best? I'd say Reagan: tall, broad-shouldered, with movie-star good looks, a full head of dark hair ("premature orange," as Gerald Ford quipped) and a deep, booming voice. The Gipper had a ready (and easy) answer for every problem (no matter how complex), talked tough to the Russians, and was utterly and at all times supremely self-confident (even when he said stupid things like trees cause air pollution). No wonder the GOP practically canonized him!

Oh, and by the way, do you remember the knock on George H. W. Bush back in the 1980s? He was a "wimp." Yep, the guy who was actually a fighter pilot in World War II was considered more "low energy" than the guy who spent the war making training films! (Reagan actually served in something called the "First Motion Picture Unit" -- you can look it up.)

Now I know what you must be thinking right about now: How does this apply to Democrats? And I'd say: the same, only different. Huh? In other words, Democrats also value strength, etc., they just measure it in different ways. And in a Democrat's world, President Obama and Hillary Clinton are the baddest motherf****rs in the tribe: both are smart, competitive and capable leaders. Obama has the added distinction of being calm, incredibly poised and an inspirational speaker, while Hillary has a vindictive streak. In either case, however, if you come at them you'd better not miss.

What's my bottom line here? I'm not sure. I'm still skeptical that Trump can turn his good poll numbers into actual votes, but I'm also pretty confident that Jeb is toast.

Happy New Year!


James said...

Trump doesn't seem like a "bad ass" to me. He's more like Oz, a feeble old man hiding behind a curtain with a microphone.

Mike Tracy said...

That may be how you see him, but I think his supporters look at him much differently.

James said...

I'm sure that's true. The bad ass as leader idea doesn't add up to me in general either though. It seems that the most convincingly aspirational candidate has won for the past 30 years. H.W. maybe not so much but he seemed to be more of an outgrowth from Reagan than anything else. You could doubt W. as convincing but he wasn't an overt fear monger, at least not in the 2000 campaign.