I don’t know that I have ever read a more devastating takedown of a president than this one by Peggy Noonan, of Donald Trump. She annihilates him, as only a woman could, and as only a fellow New Yorker could. She knows that to liken a New York male like Donald Trump to Woody Allen (without the sense of humor) is about the lowest blow there is. But nearly every line is savage. Excerpts:
The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.
He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen. It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband. Trump must remind people of their first wife. Actually his wife, Melania, is tougher than he is with her stoicism and grace, her self-discipline and desire to show the world respect by presenting herself with dignity.
The way American men used to like seeing themselves, the template they most admired, was the strong silent type celebrated in classic mid-20th century films—Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda. In time the style shifted, and we wound up with the nervous and chattery. More than a decade ago the producer and writer David Chase had his Tony Soprano mourn the disappearance of the old style: “What they didn’t know is once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!” The new style was more like that of Woody Allen. His characters couldn’t stop talking about their emotions, their resentments and needs. They were self-justifying as they acted out their cowardice and anger.
But he was a comic. It was funny. He wasn’t putting it out as a new template for maleness. Donald Trump now is like an unfunny Woody Allen.
“It’s so easy to act presidential but that’s not gonna get it done,” Mr. Trump said the other night at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. That is the opposite of the truth. The truth, six months in, is that he is not presidential and is not getting it done. His mad, blubbery petulance isn’t working for him but against him. If he were presidential he’d be getting it done—building momentum, gaining support. He’d be over 50%, not under 40%. He’d have health care, and more.
Read the whole thing, if you can handle rhetorical violence. This one is one devastating surgical strike after another, until there’s nothing left. If you can’t click through from that link, look for it on Twitter, which is how I got through the paywall.
It’s funny, but before I read this, I was explaining to my kids that the way Donald Trump and Anthony Scaramucci conduct themselves is the opposite of what it means to be a man. It’s how disgusting punks with no respect for themselves or anybody else behaves. Don’t be like that, ever, I said, don’t ever trust men like that, don’t look up to men like that, no matter how rich they are, and don’t ever be friends with men like that, because it will only drag you into the mud. And then along comes Peggy Noonan and says more or less the same thing, a thousand times better, and from one of the country’s biggest microphones.
Good. These cretins disgrace everything they touch. President Pence will have quite a job of rebuilding ahead of him. And this sorry excuse for a Republican Congress is not helping.
Of course the two are linked: The institutional party’s ideological trainwreck created the opening for Trump’s chaos populism.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 28, 2017