The Candidate Who Has Fallen Under the Weight of Her Stone

"This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl -- look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.

"But she’s more than just good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage…and victory."


"Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn’t give up, Ben: she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her."

-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
On November 8, 2016 the timeline of one possible American future collapsed.  The timeline almost everyone was expecting.  The timeline all the clever dogs had predicted and in which they had all invested heavily.

That future was suddenly dead, and another future -- a malignant, wild and unplanned for future -- was born.

And it wasn't supposed to be that way.

At our house we barely slept that night, and were barely breathing the next day.  We cried and held each other a lot as we stared down the barrel of a future that was never supposed to happen.  We were gutted and panicked not because we didn't know what that future held, but because as Liberal bloggers and podcasters who have been deeply involved with politics since we were in our teens, we knew damn well what monsters were about to come shambling out of our nightmares and into out daily lives.  The specifics were hazy but the broad outlines were perfectly clear to anyone who had not spent the past 30 years lying to themselves:

From me the Day After:
The South Rose Again

No excuses.

They did not listen when we warned them over and over again that the Right was playing with a dark and terrible fire.

And now that fire is here...

From me, the Day After:
Its Hour Has Come Round At Last 

From me, the Day After:
Republican Women Have Spoken

And this is exactly what they sounded like.

From CBS News:
Surprisingly, given all of the attention to Trump’s attitudes and behavior toward women, he did virtually as well among white, Republican women (91 percent support) as he did among white, Republican men (92 percent). Clinton was more competitive among white independent women than men, losing to Trump by a 49 to 41 percent margin among independent women and by 57 to 31 percent among independent men.
Remember these women.  They chose this.  They wanted this.

Remember that Republicans did not win yesterday by playing nice and cooperating and agreeing with Democrats, in the spirit of comity, to set aside our differences for the good of the country.

They won by spending thirty years and billions of dollars honing their rage and paranoia on the whetstone of racism and ignorance.  They won by seeding the corporate media with quislings and collaborators and fellow-travelers who made sure the camera would never focus on that rage and paranoia and racism and ignorance, and that they would never pay any real price for fucking up everything they touch.

I have no idea how this all ends, but I know the only way we come back from this is by finally listening to people who actually understand how these fuckers think and not Beltway bubble muppets.

From me, the Day After

For decades, our Beltway overlords had airily dismissed any and all evidence that the Party of Lincoln had long since devolved into a paranoid, racist powder-keg.  That reality was in such direct and violent conflict with the Both Siderist fairy tales that were their stock-in-trade that it could not be tolerated. So, marshaling all the multi-billion dollar media might at their command, they flatly dismissed reports that the Party of Lincoln had mutated into the Party of Jefferson Davis as nothing but wild rumors and campfire scare stories from a faraway land, recounted by unreliable Liberal alarmists.

Because it wasn't happening in their own gated community, it couldn't possibly be true.  Because, if it were true, they were 100% confident their own, private early-warning system -- their friendly neighborhood Conservative wise men with whom they dined, and rode the Acela Corridor train, and coached their kid's soccer team, and drank wine with around the back-yard fire pit  -- would have mentioned something about the GOP turning into a rabid, rage-drunk existential threat to American democracy.

But their elite Republican friends and colleagues assured them that there was nothing wrong.   That all was well.  That nothing was going on out there beyond the horizon and those panic-peddling Liberals could be safely ignored.

And then came Donald Trump;s campaign for  president -- from escalator to ballot box, from shitting on John McCain to attacking Gold Star parents -- which we unreliable Liberal alarmists thought would finally be the Ali vs Foreman of the political world.

The moment when the whole Bullshit Beltway Both Siderist cabal which had been to created to protect the interests of the political elite would finally be beaten to the canvas under the withering flurry of body blows that Reality was raining down.

The moment when (he said, switching metaphors) unimpeachable evidence of the horrifying, slavering, racist monster the GOP had become was dumped right at the feet of the lords and ladies of Westeros.  Evidence so compelling that just for the sake of their own self-preservation they would at last be forced to stop lying to the public, to look the real threat in the eye and start talking about our real enemy and what to do about it.

But as you know, it didn't happen that way.

Even as the jaws of the wild, undead thing the Republican Party had created was snapped at their throats, our elite professional political media was still peddling this sort of surreal nonsense (original Tweet since deleted because Matthew Dowd is a coward):
Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don't talk about one without the other

— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) November 1, 2016

They saw no reason to curb their venomous vices (from Vox) --
Study: Hillary Clinton’s emails got as much front-page coverage in 6 days as policy did in 69 
A stark finding from an analysis of New York Times coverage.
-- because they never imagined Hillary Clinton could possibly lose.

And because they were completely invested in the illusion that she couldn't possibly lose -- because she was the unbreakable, load-bearing pillar that was going to support their cloistered, privileged little world no matter what they did to her -- they felt free to treat her as their own, personal stash of career advancement rocket fuel.  A limitless natural resource they could plunder forever, strip-mine forever, shit on forever...and then toddle safely off to bed knowing that however much they sliced her up during office hours, she would would still be on the job long into night, sweating over the details of the plight of the poor, the hungry, the uninsured and the unemployed.

You know, all that vital, boring shit which they all believed the government would somehow just go right on doing, more or less, regardless of how aggressively it was vandalized by the barbarians on the Right.

After all, that's the role Obama had served for eight years, right?   The calm, uncomplaining mule who would pull that plow one grueling inch at a time, while the GOP clubbed him, hobbled him, sabotaged him and salted the Earth every time he tried to lay in a crop for the future.   Who would continue to offer compromise and beg for bipartisanship while the Republicans made a mockery of any offer he made...and the elite the media jeered and hooted and blamed him for not "leading". 

That was supposed to be Hillary's next job.  An tireless pillar that would bear the load of keeping the American experiment alive while everyone else fucked off and blew shit up for kicks.

Except (as the saying goes) she would do it backwards and in high heels.

For Republican delinquents in congress, this meant they could look forward to four more sublime years of playing hooky from the part of their job they despise -- the tedious drudgery of democratic self-government -- and four more years of doing the things they love most in all the world: pandering to the Pig People, bomb-throwing and endless, grandstanding show-trials.

For the Beltway media it meant extending their already decades-long vacation from the tenacious, exacting job of actual journalism and  adding four more glorious years of lazy, hacky, Both Siderist trash to the already-gargantuan garbage patch they had made of their profession.  Both Siderism is, after all, just a rote, plug-and-play algorithm: a ritual duty to the political elite city-state that any talentless drone can perform (See "David Brooks: Both Siderism Is a Farce that Gives Us Meaning" or literally any of the thousands of other essays I have written about crimes of Mr. David Brooks over the past 13 years.)

For Donald Trump losing would mean ascending bodily to the exalted status of wingnut sainthood. He could bray as loud and as long as he pleased and Fox would carry it as live Breaking News every fucking day. Every night the  "Crucified!  America Destroyed by a Rigged Election!" hour would be followed by "The Liberal Deep State!" which would then be followed by three hours of infomercials for Trump scams and cheap, Chinese plastic crap.   Everyone would get rich as the entire Republican base wallowed in Trump's martyrdom and their victimhood while buying Trump-brand dick pills and reverse mortgages to show their party loyalty.

For the Conservative media it meant four more years of lucrative attack, attack, attack.  Of working hand-in-glove with Republicans in congress to make sure that every Clinton cough was the End!Of!The!Republic!  Four more years of profitable scab picking, conspiracy mongering and lamentations.  Four years of covering the heavily-armed and spoiling-for-a-war New Tea Party as they occupied America's Ramada Inn parking lots demanding Hillary's head on a pike for...whatever.

And for the so-called Never Trump Republicans and the "Disrupt The K'rupt Duopoly" Dowds and Fourniers of the political world --
-- these would be the high cotton days indeed.  Having staked out the "Vote for some rando instead of the candidate from either major party because Both Sides are equally awful" territory --
Meet David French: the random dude off the street that Bill Kristol decided will save America from Trump
-- usually occupied by Steiniacs and Naderites, they bet the mortgage  on Trump losing.  So that after Hillary Clinton's victory they could swing into action as the “We Told You So! ” faction, take over the GOP,  and ride Mike Pence or Ted Cruz or any warm body to victory in 2020 because after the four years of GOP relentless witch-hunts and Beltway media amplification which would to follow Hillary Clinton would be damaged to the point of unelectability.

And thus Bill Kristol and the Never Trumpers would sweep in and take over a dazed and demoralized Republican Party in exactly the same way that Bill Kristol and the Neocons swept in and took over the Bush presidency in 2001.

And most important of all for the collective fortunes of all Republicans and the entire mainstream media,  a Hillary Clinton win would mean that everybody but the crazy. alarmist Libtards could go back to pretending that the malignant, unhinged, racist Republican base they had seen baring their fangs at Trump rallies somehow did not really exist.   A bit scary when you see it on teevee, sure, but David Brooks and Michael Gerson and Joe Scarborough and Tom Friedman and Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker and Ross Douthat and Max Boot and Charlie Sykes and Rick Wilson on and on and on would be there to hold the nation's trembling hand and reassure us that what they had seen was nothing more than a trick of the light.

A little burp economic anxiety acid reflux.

An undigested bit of electoral beef, America.  A blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of confection than of Confederacy about this, so don't worry yourself about it one little bit.

And there would be nobody to say any different except those moonbat Libtards who are always shouting about something or other.

But thanks to America media corporations gifting Donald Trump with billions of dollars in free publicity, and Wikileaks, and Russia, and a thoroughly lazy and cynical political media drunk on horse-races and hot-takes, and a dozen other factors, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a large margin, but lost by a few thousand votes in a few, key districts.

And literally overnight, The First Bank of Reality called in the loans of everyone from the GOP brain caste, to lots of Republicans in congress, to the Republican Never Trumpers, to the Beltway media who had gone all-in on retooling their factories to spend the next four years prospering by bashing Hillary Clinton.

Some, like Lindsey Graham or Ted Cruz, who have no conscience or moral ballast whatsoever and will get down on all fours for anyone who will protect their status with their donors and their place in the food chain, just flipped. 180 degrees.
Pure, uncut Quisling.

Others have contented themselves with penning Stern Letters and then voting as Trump wishes them to vote anyway.  Or are finding a tiny scrap of courage only as they head for the exit.  Or are getting shoved out the door for insufficient loyalty to the Dear Leader.  Or, like Paul Ryan, just plain running, leaving a slime trail of treason and cowardice behind him wide enough to be seen from space.

Meanwhile, the Never Trumper Republicans and the mainstream media frantically renegotiated the terms of their covert alliance.  Instead of taking over a desperate and scattered Republican Party that would be grateful for their leadership, they found themselves cast out of a unified party of zealous, out-and-proud bigots and imbeciles.

Because, as predicted by those crazy moonbat alarmist Libtards long before Donald Trump and long before Barack Obama, the base had finally taken over the party and they demanded a candidate who reflected their actual values and beliefs.  Which left the mainstream media -- which had pooh-poohed the existence of such creatures and believed their respectable Never Trump Republican neighbors when they told them that the bigots and imbeciles were a negligible fringe group -- thoroughly screwed.  They had geared up for four years of using Hillary like a pinata, and now, the same Respected Conservative Big thinker who could confidently write this in 2014 --
The big Republican accomplishment is that they have detoxified their brand. Four years ago they seemed scary and extreme to a lot of people. They no longer seem that way. The wins in purple states like North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado are clear indications that the party can at least gain a hearing among swing voters. And if the G.O.P. presents a reasonable candidate (and this year’s crop was very good), then Republicans can win anywhere. I think we’ve left the Sarah Palin phase and entered the Tom Cotton phase. --  David Brooks, November 5, 2014 
-- could write this just one election cycle later:
Because Mr. David Brooks never understood his own Republican Party at all, but Donald John Trump sure as shit did which is why he caught Beltway media and the elite Conservative pundits completely flatfooted.

Because elite Conservative pundits and Never Trumpers like Mr. Brooks and Bill Kristol and Michael Gerson and Ron Fournier and Matthew Dowd share a huge amount of the same DNA with the mainstream political media.  They are intellectually lazy.  They are ruthlessly careerist.  They are co-dependents in the same toxic Both Siderist folie a deux and they are focused relentlessly on repeating professionally rewarding fairy tales about a fictional Republican Party that exists only in their imagination and at their back-yard barbecues, instead of the real and terrifying Republican Party that exists out here in the real world.

So after the unthinkable happened, Never Trump Republicans and the mainstream media still needed each other -- desperately -- but now instead of being the wind beneath each other's wings for four beautiful years of Congressional GOP show-trials, Hillary-bashing, Tea Party 2.0 coverage and the unveiling of the new-new-new-new Republican Party headed by the same old ghouls, now they each needed the other to build a New Big Lie.

A new a fleet of lifeboats hurry-up-quick to escape the catastrophe they had each, in their own way, worked their entire adult lives to unleash.

The New Big Lie would incorporate some elements of the Old Big Lie ("Both Sides Do It") --
-- and some minor variations, but the major themes would be:
  1. Surprise!  Donald Trump is not a real Republican.  Despite the fact that he rolled up historic victories in the Republican primaries, easily wiped out an entire field of better-qualified Republican contenders, was nominated by the Republican Party, won on the Republican ticket, and has made the Republican congress into his willing political bidet, somehow Donald Trump is not a real Republican.  This is a lie which Joe Scarborough is particularity fond of, having repeated on his teevee show, by my count, about seven million times over the past three years.   Joe Scarborough, who might as well have handed Trump a personal check for 100 million dollars for all the free air-time he gave him.

  2. Also, for you kids keeping score at home, Donald Trump is not a real Conservative either.

  3. Because Donald Trump cannot be a real Republican (nor a real Conservative) a deus ex machina must be quickly tinkered together to explain how he was nominated and how he won as a Republican.  And thus "Economic Anxiety" was born -- the magical plot device which, though never actually explained, by sheer, sledgehammer media repetition became the commonly accepted excuse for why, in less than one year, Donald Trump transformed David Brooks' Burkean, forward-looking "detoxified" Republican Party of 2014 into the shitpile of racism, ignorance, paranoia and rage Republican Party of 2015.

  4. The creation of an agreed-upon canonical time-line that divides all of history into BE (Before Escalator) and AE( After Escalator).  Before Escalator:   David Brooks' Burkean, forward-looking "detoxified" Republican Party  After Escalator: A shitpile of racism, ignorance, paranoia and rage  of "Economic Anxiety".  
This new set of operating parameters had an immediate effect on the both Beltway media and their Never Trump Republican co-conspirators.

The invention of the magical "Economic Anxiety" plot device spawned an entire genre of Beltway-absolving media fiction called Magic Ruralism (tm).  Which, among other things, enables a person name Salina Zito to make a great deal of money making up reassuring fairy tale about life out in the wilds beyond the Hudson and the Potomac.

The creation of the BE/AE canonical time-line absolves the Never Trumpers -- life-long Republican analysts, operatives. columnists and Hate Radio jocks -- of the need to ever answer really basic questions like, "How is it that none of you geniuses who have spend decades trading on your supposed deep, insider political knowledge and strategic savvy never noticed what was going on inside your own fucking party?  What every lowly Liberal in America has been screaming about for 30 years?  That your Party was rocketing down a road to ruin and madness that would inevitably end in disasters like Bush and Trump?"

Because, silly Libtard, during the BE era, nothing untoward was going on inside the Republican Party.


Full stop.

This, among other things, enabled Never Trumpers to make a great deal of money all writing the same book:

Books in which they rip off thirty years of the Liberal critiques of their Republican Party, file the serial numbers off, and sell it all back to the public as Breathless!Epiphany! for $20 a pop. 

Books which may well have languished in WalMart Dollar Bins and died unmourned and unremembered were it not for the  Never Trumpers many friends and fellow-travelers in the mainstream media.  Friends and fellow-travelers who also have a deeply vested interest in passing off the BE/AE bullshit as fact, and so have generously used their media platforms and reputations to aggressively pimp Never Trumpers tomes.

The circle of life!

There are a few Liberals with bylines who talk about out politics in these terms, but not enough.  Not nearly enough.

For example, Paul Krugman, has always been very consistent: 
... But why is America, the birthplace of democracy, so close to following the lead of other countries that have recently destroyed it?

Don’t tell me about “economic anxiety.” That’s not what happened in Poland, which grew steadily through the financial crisis and its aftermath. And it’s not what happened here in 2016: Study after study has found that racial resentment, not economic distress, drove Trump voters.
And this by Frank Rich on Thursday caught my eye for two reasons.

First, because it is true:
The Anonymous White House Official Is a Collaborator, Not a Resister
And second, because parts of it sounded eerily familiar:
But the piece could also be viewed as a P.R. strategy for its author. It reads like a defense document that’s being put on the record should that rainy day come when Mr. Anonymous, no longer anonymous, will have to defend his own actions in a Nuremberg-like legal reckoning once the king of Crazytown has been carted off. As any student of Vichy knows, there was no shortage of French collaborators who falsely claimed to have been secretly part of the underground Resistance to the Pétain regime once the war was over.
From me, all the way back in 2006:
And based on simple observation, guess who appears to be the largest group of late-blooming independents?

Those fucknozzles who, after giving Dubya the longest tongue bath in modern political history while calling everyone else a traitor, started gagging on the sheer tonnage of bullshit their creepy idolatry of George W. Bush was requiring them to swallow and obediently regurgitate every fucking day, that's who.

Most newly minted “independents” seem to be little more than Republicans who are fleeing the scene of their crime, but at the same time still desperately want believe in the inerrant wisdom of Rush Limbaugh. They are completely incapable of facing the horrifying reality that they have gotten every single major political opinion and decision of their adult lives completely wrong, so instead they double-down on their hatred of women and/or gays and/or brown people and/or Liberals, and blame them for the miserable fuckpit their leaders and their policies have made of their lives and futures.

Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin, they have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms.

But they fool no one.

Except, apparently, David Fucking Brooks.

You wonder why, despite public opinion seeming to swing our way a little, we on the Left are still shouting ourselves hoarse?  Why some of us dial in so quickly on the obvious contradictions and lies at the heart of the self-absolving BE/AE BS which the Beltway media and the Never Trumpers are selling so hard?

Because some of us have seen this fucking movie before.

And even with a little body work, a new coat of paint and a slick, new marketing campaign, we sure as hell can recognize the same old  Fabulous, Tea-Baggulous Bush-Off Machine when we see it.

The Tea-Belly Sneetches
(this one's for you, Mom wink

Now, the Bush-Belly Sneetches were backers of Bush,

The Plain-Belly Sneetches thought Bush was a Tush.
The Bushs weren’t so big; they were really quite small.
You would think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But because they backed Bush, all the Bush-Bellied Sneetches would brag,
“Plain-Bellies are nothing but Commies in Drag!”...

(Note: This one took awhile and your support for the effort is always appreciated)

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