we’re not going to put up with it any more
rhetorical claim: Trump is reported to have warned the allies that if they did not meet the 2 percent standard by January the United States would “go it alone.” To Stoltenberg he publicly warned that the United States was “not going to put up with it.” In his tweets, he asked, “What good is NATO” if Germany was paying Russia for gas? Why should the United States pay billions to “subsidize Europe” while it was losing “Big on Trade”? In his rallies, Trump describes America’s closest allies as “our worst enemies” and says they “kill us” on both security and trade. “We’re the schmucks,” he bemoans about America in its dealings with NATO and the European Union.
rhetorical effect: Making bullying great again. Designed to discredit the alliance in the eyes of Trump’s faithful throng back home, these demands signal that Trump wants to destroy NATO, not shore it up. Trump is training his base to hate NATO and love Putin. Disrupting NATO is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. As Robert Kagan argues
But even Trump must know the likely response in Europe. The insults and humiliations he inflicted on allied leaders will not be forgotten or forgiven. They will make it impossible for European leaders to win public support for the spending Trump disingenuously claims to want. What German leader after such a tongue-lashing could do Trump’s bidding and hope to survive politically?
Any student of history knows that it is moments like this summit that set in motion chains of events that are difficult to stop. The democratic alliance that has been the bedrock of the American-led liberal world order is unraveling. At some point, and probably sooner than we expect, the global peace that that alliance and that order undergirded will unravel, too. Despite our human desire to hope for the best, things will not be okay. The world crisis is upon us.
one of the great acts of American generosity and charity
rhetorical claim: HHS Secretary Alex Azar described the administration’s treatment of immigrant children as “one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”
rhetorical effect: taking credit for addressing a crisis they created in the first place; justifies kidnapping; turns the kidnapped children into a political hostage shield for administration propaganda purposes; densensitizes us to inhumane and cruel public policy, etc. As Eugene Robinson put it, “tell me how adopting child abuse as a policy is supposed to Make America Great Again….Kidnapping children. Failing even to account for them. Sending families home to be killed. Give us your huddled masses, this administration seems to say, and let us kick them in their little faces.”
pulling a stunt
rhetorical claim: at Thursday’s House hearing about the investigation into Clinton e-mails, the Dems pulled a stunt by bring up the forced separation of childen from their families.
rhetorical effect: labeling dissent a “stunt” reduces free speech to being considered a subversive act at best, and a hypocritical ploy to score political points at worst.
the art of the deal
rhetorical claim: Trump’s negotiating strategy is clear: be tough with your demands, don’t get taken advantage of, be prepared to walk away if things aren’t going your way, and, above all, project power and unwavering commitment. You can’t reach agreement on a deal on your terms by playing nice.
rhetorical effect: Best explained by Paul Krugman:
It’s all of a piece. Whatever claims Trump makes about other countries’ misbehavior, whatever demands he makes on a particular day, they’re all in evident bad faith. Mr. Art of the Deal doesn’t want any deals. He just wants to tear things down.
The institutions Trump is trying to destroy were all created under U.S. leadership in the aftermath of World War II. Those were years of epic statesmanship — the years of the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, in which America showed its true greatness. For having won the war, we chose not to behave like a conqueror, but instead to build the foundations of lasting peace.
When every policy, ethic, tradition, and accommodation–is considered nothing but a “deal”, the world is reduced to being a transactional, zero-sum Hobbesian universe of all against all.
the war on poverty worked
rhetorical claim: The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty “largely over and a success,” arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty.
“Over the past 54 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty, federal spending on welfare programs targeting low-income households has grown dramatically, contributing to a substantial reduction in material hardship,” the White House Council of Economic Advisers wrote, saying that poverty had fallen by 90 percent since the programs began.
“None of these statistics is intended to deny the ways in which millions of Americans sometimes struggle to make ends meet,” the economic advisers wrote, but “the vast majority of Americans are able to meet their basic human needs.”
rhetorical effect: an excuse to justify massive cuts in the social safety net and onerous new work rules as a condition for any federal aid, even health care and food; makes inequality a policy aim of the administration; claims success for a government policy that just weeks earlier had been called a total failure; turns the satisfying of “basic human needs” into a ceiling rather than a floor, sort of like counting ketchup as a vegetable. Undercounts the poor and underestimates the difficulty of climbing out of poverty, even in a robust economy. Most people who can work are already working or are looking for employment–the problem is that the jobs available to that group do not pay a living wage.
rhetorical claim: The modern American Left has no faith in the Constitution (in fact, it loathes it), and on its long march through the institutions it has sought to diminish our founding document via emanations and penumbras of phantom “rights” whose existence, like that of Planet X, can only be inferred but not proven. What the panicking Democrats see as a hijacking of their country is, in fact, a restoration of basic American principles that have been nearly Alinskyed to death via the practical application of critical theory—a cultural-Marxist battering-ram that has been used to lethal effect against such institutions as the family, religion, and patriotism.
rhetorical effect: the entirely misleading smear of calling liberal policies Marxist or socialist or Alinsky-like is thus revealed to rely on the notion that the Constitution only pertains to the family, to religion, and to patriotism, and that all other rights–women’s rights, civil rights, environmental rights, human rights–are bogus. The GOP, for all its talk of individual rights, sure seems to only believe in the rights of the collective–the family, the nation, religion, etc.
rhetorical claim: Racism used to mean harming or disparaging people based on race. The new standard is that white people are not allowed to disagree with or dislike any person of minority background, no matter how egregious or abhorrent his or her behavior. The only exception is that liberals are allowed to attack black conservatives mercilessly because, well, they’re not really black. It’s also perfectly acceptable to disparage, condemn, and vilify all white people. The left has created a cult that rewards hatred, hypocrisy, delusion, and destruction of those outside the cult. We are witnessing dangerous and psychotic mass hysteria. Those of us who still live in the real world must be vigilant.
rhetorical effect: Everything becomes its opposite. Anyone defending racial equality or protesting police brutality or white privilege is called a hysterical, hypocritical, deluded racist. Believers in racial equality are called a cult. The left is psychotic. Thus anti-Trumpism is insane, and anyone calling Trump supporters racist is themselves a racist.
ending the sexual revolution
rhetorical claim: Roe vs. Wade rests upon the foundations of the sexual revolution of the sixties that shattered and still shatters the lives of countless Americans. The overturning of the decision must also be the beginning of a restoration of marriage, the family, and faith if it is to be truly effective. It must signal the return to a moral law with a respect for God and His law. This represents a great challenge to those defending the unborn since the culture is decadent. The struggle ahead will still be great, but the rewards will also be substantial.
rhetorical effect: reinforces one of the Right’s main projects: to veto everything the Sixties accomplished: women’s right to control their own bodies, civil liberties, sexual freedom, gay rights, birth control, etc. (The other major project is to repeal the New Deal. Call it the Great GOP Time Machine.)
the transatlantic ruling class
rhetorical claim: today the transatlantic ruling class has its own civilizational agenda, manifested by its subsidies for constituencies both business and cultural, ranging from “renewable energy resources,” to education, the arts, and lifestyle. Far from allied to safeguard and promote Western civilization, this ruling class treats its cornerstone, Christianity, as unmentionable at best and usually as the main feature to be extirpated from people’s lives. This class also regards self-rule, the capacity of people in towns, regions, or nations to decide by vote how they shall live, as among the evils to be done away with. It treats as enemy anything—thoughts, practices, institutions—that limit its own its own power and prestige. For their power and prestige, after all, are what it is allied to protect.
Since ordinary people in each and all of NATO’s countries pose the clearest and most present danger to that power and prestige, whenever any country’s people have challenged the power or prestige of their local member of the club, the other countries’ ruling classes have treated it as an attack on themselves. Under this updated version of the famous Article 5, the allied transatlantic rulers have warned, on pain of horrid consequences, the people of Britain to stay in the EU, the peoples of France to elect anybody but Le Pen, the peoples of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and most recently of Italy, not to vote as they did.
Nothing has equaled their fury against Donald Trump. This, of course, has little to do with Trump himself. Rather, it is the transatlantic allies’ reaction to their inability to bend the American people to their ways. The American people’s adherence to Western civilization, our inflexible desire to rule ourselves, is the negation of everything for which this class stands. And because America is what it is, the election of an anti-ruling class candidate has inspired European peoples to do likewise.
rhetorical claim: revives the old meme of Trump, the people’s billionaire, even as he consistently acts in the best interests of the 1% and harms the interests of the working class; stokes resentment against banks, corporations, the media, environmentalist–the list goes on. Manichean jihads like this keep America divided, Trump’s base festering with molten resentment and fury, and conspiracy theory dominating public policy debate.