AS THE PRIMARIES LOOM
REBELLION IS IN THE AIR
I’ve always gotten a chuckle out of the song, “Evil Ways,” which was Carlos Santana’s 1969 breakthrough hit. One can hardly think of a less feminist little ditty.
It’s about a guy who’s really steamed because his wife is out shopping with her girlfriends instead of making his dinner.
“When I come home, baby
My house is dark and my pots are cold
You’re hanging ’round, baby
With Jean and Joan and who knows who
I’m getting tired of waiting and fooling around
I’ll find somebody, who won’t make me feel like a clown
This can’t go on
Lord knows you got to change”*
The song is a real hoot, if you relish the annoyance of the chronically aggrieved. I’ve often wondered how it got so much airplay, given even the comparatively restrained feminist sensitivities of 1969.
Santana didn’t write “Evil Ways” (that was accomplished by Sonny Henry), but I always assumed he must have had a love of irony great enough to risk the wrath of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and others in the leftist vanguard of that day.
Alas, I must question my assumption. Moved by the recent State of the Union Address, Carlos Santana sent the President a heartfelt message…
“I am deeply inspired, encouraged and profoundly grateful for your words. Your consciousness soars with clarity and divine purpose. You articulated your views, subjects and comments with compassion. You made me feel how blessed we are to share life with your leadership. Even more than any other President I have witnessed (including JFK).”
Looks like somebody’s still drinking the Kool-Aid after seven years. Ah well, I can tolerate a lot in a good guitar player.
Not content to sing Obama’s praises, Carlos got political — and a little mean spirited…
“Regarding Mr. Trump, I remember when I was a child living in Tijuana, I often crossed the border to visit the San Diego Zoo. I would hear loud screams and commotion in the distance. As I came closer to the sound, I noticed everyone was staring at an ape in a glass cage. The ape was staring back at the crowd that gathered. With an angry look of disgust, the ape defecated in his hand and threw it at the crowd.
“This is what I hear when Mr. Trump speaks.”
And they say conservatives have been disrespectful to Barack Obama.
Come on now, this stuff is getting old. There are plenty of reasons for questioning Donald Trump’s fitness to be President. Are simian images and scatological comparisons really necessary?
It must be said, though, that some conservatives are hardly showing more restraint than Carlos Santana. In a special issue titled “Against Trump,” the editors of National Review declare…
“Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.”
Does such a “broad conservative ideological consensus” really exist within the GOP? Is there even much of a Conservative Movement left?
What happened to all that Tea Party fervor of several years ago? How much has been accomplished by those determined reformers who swept into Congress on promises of blocking the lawless rampage of an administration that regards our Constitution with as little respect as it would a roll of toilet paper? (There! How’s that for a scatological comparison?)
The lead NR editorial and a flock of accompanying essays raise plenty of valid points about this “real-estate mogul and reality-TV star” described as “an averagely well-informed businessman” whose “political opinions have wobbled all over the lot”…
“Since declaring his candidacy he has taken a more conservative line, yet there are great gaping holes in it.”
For instance, Trump had…
“supported abortion, gun control, single-payer health care à la Canada, and punitive taxes on the wealthy.”
Having just finished reading Trump’s campaign manifesto, Crippled America, I must say that The Donald does seem intent on retaining an air of uncertainty, around both his general ideological outlook and his approach to specific issues. He writes…
“A great leader has to be flexible, holding his ground on the major principles but finding room for compromise that can bring people together. A great leader has to be savvy at negotiations so we don’t drown in pork barrel bridges to nowhere [a reference to a notorious politically leveraged and unnecessary government construction project]. I know how to stand my ground — but I also know that Republicans and Democrats need to find common ground to stand on as well.”
How are we to evaluate such a statement? Is this the sage insight of a realist who understands the need for consensus building? Or is it evasion by someone with unlimited ambition but no actual plans or core convictions?
With The Donald you can’t be sure.
Even so, only a few days before the Iowa caucuses, Trump looks like the overwhelmingly dominant front-runner for the Republication nomination.
Yes, that could change. Ted Cruz’s Iowa numbers have crept up. The Des Moines Register has endorsed Marco Rubio. And you can never be sure how people will behave when they actually have to commit themselves (as opposed to blowing off steam to a pollster).
Valid concerns or not, the question that continues to vex Republican deep thinkers is:
Why this Trump phenomenon?
Neither conservatives nor GOP “establishment” types still seem able to fathom the depths of anger and frustration felt across the land right now. They also don’t grasp the extent to which people not only distrust government but dismiss any possibility of improving conditions through traditional political means.
Despite progress in some sectors of the economy and scattered upswings in hiring, the nation’s Labor Participation Rate (a measure of how many employable people are actually employed) remains dismal. Despite Democrat complaints about how Obama has been blocked at every turn by Republican “intransigence,” the executive-order juggernaut rolls on, subverting the Separation of Powers, the prerogatives of the states, and the rights of individual citizens.
And then there’s terrorism — fear of which is becoming a national epidemic — not to mention massive illegal immigration, Russia, Iran, and a looming war in the Middle East.
I suspect that recent stock market jitters reflect more than just the collapse of the oil industry. Investors are catching the scent of rebellion in the air.
Uncertainty is what spooks markets the worst. And with internal bloodletting on the GOP side, with the Democrats facing a “Sophie’s Choice” between a Socialist and a possible felon, with serious talk about unpredictable things like constitutional conventions, and a whole lot of other unknowns, uncertainty is the watchword of the day.
So why this Trump phenomenon? As I have written before, Trump’s…
“smart-ass self-confidence and shoot-from-the-hip disdain raise hopes of returning to a life that once seemed to make sense but now is out of reach. Essentially, The Donald is serving as the herald of a great restorative revolution that’s much desired and long overdue.”
All of which might be somewhat less than realistic (and the sentiment obviously isn’t shared by Carlos Santana). But by pinning their hopes on this odd “real-estate mogul and reality-TV star,” people are essentially saying to the political class…
“You’ve Got to Change Your Evil Ways!”
* “Evil Ways,” Copyright © 1967 by Clarence Arthur “Sonny” Henry)
Apparently not all Republican bigwigs are rattled by the Trump phenomenon.
Recently, a number of stories have appeared speculating that The Donald’s lead may be so commanding that certain power brokers and money men are concluding his win is inevitable. And anyway, as Heather Digby Parton of Salon observes, they may consider him preferable to Ted Cruz, whom they see as an uncontrollable right-wing zealot.
To be sure, someone who writes for Salon wouldn’t think cozying up to The Donald is a particularly good idea. But she provides a lefty overview of this change which might be afoot. Take it for what it’s worth…