Weakness: The ultimate RW insult


If you want a perfect encapsulation of the conservative world view, you need look no further than “A Boy Named Sue,” a song made famous by Johnny Cash and (ironically) written by the late Shel Silverstein, a writer of children’s books.

“Son, this world is rough, and if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough…

It’s the name that helped to make you strong”

Not a good father. Not a good husband. Not a good citizen. But strong. It’s all that matters.

That’s why blustering manhood and guns and codpieces play so well on the right. It is also why weakness is both a cardinal sin and the ultimate RW insult. Weakness evokes the same makes-my-skin-crawl response the Nazi Shliemann had in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “the thought of this — (spitting it out) — Jewish ritual.”

So Donald Trump dumping on Jeb Bush in a Horton-esque new attack ad and on the Bush family in an interview is an especially low (and potentially politically fatal) blow:

On Jeb Bush: “I mean, this guy. I don’t think he has a clue.”

On George H.W. Bush: “I really liked the father — really like him as a person. But I hated his ‘read my lips, no more taxes,’ and then he raised taxes monstrously.”

On George W. Bush: “He didn’t seem smart. I’d watch him in interviews and I’d look at people and ask, ‘Do you think he understands the question?’?”

And back to Jeb: “He’s not up to snuff. .?.?. Jeb is never going to bring us to the promised land. He can’t.”

Martin Longman writes at Washington Monthly:

There’s no doubt that Trump is a bully. But this is a case of a bully standing up to a bully and exposing the latter as a paper tiger. And this is really what GOP strategist Steve Schmidt was getting at when he said the following:

“Look, Jeb Bush was a very successful governor, he’s a thoughtful man, he was a good, conservative governor. But every day, Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush, and Republican primary voters are not going to default to the establishment candidate who is being weakened by these attacks that go unresponded to.”

I don’t know how Jeb Bush thinks he is responding, but none of it is getting through. I hear nothing, and it’s basically like Trump has Jeb by the hair and is just dunking him repeatedly under the water while taunting him for being a weak and ineffectual and “low energy” loser.

The conservative base loves alpha dogs like Trump and banty roosters like Dubya. Jeb Bush is neither. What was he thinking? Longman continues:

This all might seem like playground stuff, but Jeb doesn’t compensate by going out and clearing brush on his ranch. He doesn’t even obsessively work out or go bicycling every damn where. He’s soft and doughy and low energy and non-threatening, and he just looks like a guy who wants to run the Pentagon but has been stripped of every last shred of toughness and masculinity.

It’s true that nine out of every ten things that Trump says are either untrue or insane, but when he goes after the Bush family what he says is generally accurate.

Reagan faced down an “evil empire” in cowboy hat. Dubya faced down an “axis of evil” in a flight suit (and a cowboy hat). Trump has no cowboy hat, but his Sikorskis and tough talk telegraph to the GOP base that he’s “tough.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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