A certain moral flexibility


Nick Naylor (lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies): My job requires a certain… moral flexibility.

Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Martin Blank (contract killer): When I left, I joined the Army, and when I took the service exam, my psych profile fit a certain… “moral flexibility” would be the best way to describe it. I was loaned out to a CIA-sponsored program – it’s called “mechanical operations” – and we sort of found each other.

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Perhaps it is a class thing. We already know the rich live by a different set of rules from the hoi polloi. One fascinating thing about moralizing by many conservatives is their flexibility about accepting people (among their tribe) who bend the rules and get away with it. If an opponent does it, that’s wrong. If they do it – say, waterboarding or carpet bombing – well, you can’t make an omelet, etc., etc. Beating the system or rigging the game in one’s favor is a sign of strength. Cleverness and guile are the marks of a leader.

So the latest from BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith should have no impact whatsoever on Donald Trump:

The New York Times is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump, who, in an off-the-record meeting with the newspaper, called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views.

Smith suggests a bombshell in the unreleased tapes from the off-the-record part of the interview:

On Saturday, columnist Gail Collins, one of the attendees at the meeting (which also included editor-in-chief Dean Baquet), floated a bit of speculation in her column:

The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.

Trump’s fans (he calls them that) want Trump the celebrity deal-maker. Someone skilled in the art of manipulation. They don’t care if they are the ones being manipulated. The fact that Trump can put one over on them is proof that he should be a ruler, and that they deserve to be subjects. It is entertaining to be fooled. But not by David Blaine in a tee shirt. By someone flashier, more Las Vegas, more Siegfried and Roy.

Asked about the tape and whether building a border wall is negotiable, Trump told Sean Hannity, “By the way, it is negotiable. Things are negotiable. I’ll be honest with you, I’ll make it two feet shorter or something. I mean everything’s negotiable.”

Bill Clinton got impeached for dissembling over the meaning of is and sex. What Trump pomises to get elected? Negotiable. Clinton didn’t know how to negotiate.

The fact that Trump is an ostentatious showman, that he’s a fake and a manipulator just makes democracy political entertainment, and isn’t that what we want? The fact that he himself can be duped into retweeting real quotes from Mussolini and fake ones from Gandhi just adds to the show.

I have to admit that when I wrote about the professional wrestling entertainment flavor of Trump’s run for president, I did not realize he had actually participated in WrestleMania:

It’s all fake. Sports entertainment. Are you not entertained?

And it’s Super Tuesday. Trump doesn’t need to buy votes, but I’m surprised he isn’t selling tickets.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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