Of course it’s Freudian. The behavior of many popular conservative political commentators over at Fox News, writers at places like National Review, Red State, and The Federalist is easy to describe. It is a crack-up and a meltdown. The reaction by these talking heads to presidential candidate Donald Trump is as entertaining as Trump himself.
And that gets right to the core of the problem. It’s entertainment. Those conservative political commentators see themselves as intellectuals of a high order. Forget that few of them have actually spent much time in the real world of politics, and others aren’t old enough to yet know much at all. Of course they don’t see it that way. They’ve got the academic degrees, the published books, and the TV appearances that count more than practical experience.
They’ve all been told how smart they are — and they’ve believed it. It’s easy for them to suspend disbelief about the condition of the country’s economic, social, and foreign policies because they’re admired and paid well and listened to by their tiny audience.
Yep, that’s right…their tiny audience. Yes, even Fox News, which is of course the largest cable news channel, doesn’t reach but a fraction of the country. Yes, it’s the largest fraction compared to the others, but it’s still a fraction.
It’s worse over at the National Review and Red State and The Federalist. Don’t you know how it drives those writers crazy? Their brilliance is only read by a relative few.
Those troubled political entertainers are content to share their ample wisdom with the nation — or rather, with the conservative choir. Fox News, National Review, Red State and The Federalist are resources primarily for those who already agree with them. They are, as I’ve called them often over the years, political entertainers. Nothing more. Analysts, whose analysis reaches few and changes even fewer minds.
Deep inside the hearts and minds of those commentators is pain due to the size of their audience and their almost non-existent impact. Feed them truth serum and they open up: it’s not easy being them. Brilliant. Admired. And an entertainer with a small audience.
And then comes Trump onto their turf. Showman. Entertainer. Braggart. A guy who knows how to reach an audience. A guy with an incredibly high name I.D. and an ability to attract an audience.
Thus comes the subconscious turbulence that wrecks the days and nights of those Fox/NR/RS/TF talkers and writers who see themselves at the bow of the boat and kings of the world. Here comes Trump, a guy who also has an impressive education and has succeeded in business — famously.
Ouch — famously. There’s the rub. Those pontificators want to be famous too. This desire is dynamically repressed, but it’s having an impact on their reasoning nonetheless. While it may be a subdued wish, it’s driving them to enlist in the ranks of the clown car commentators. You can see it in what they write and hear it in what they say: “Trump is a joke.” “Not serious.” “A danger to the GOP.” Maybe worst of all: “Not a conservative.” Horrors!
As if the performance of nearly every elected self-proclaimed “conservative” in the nation didn’t exist. Those who don’t desire to be an entertainer with a large audience understand well that conservative talk is cheap. Conservative commentary is so cheap it’s free — you can hear and read a lot of it for free on the Internet.
What’s interesting to me is that there are conservative commentators who are not cracking up and melting down. Rush Limbaugh is one. Of course Rush has had the largest audience in the land for over two decades. Big audience = no psychological problem. Interesting.
Author and radio talk show hosts Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage also seem to be keeping their mental stuff together regarding The Donald. No signs of breakdown there, either. While they all have sizable audiences as well, none compare to Rush’s. Yet they’re able to see Trump for what he is: a successful American businessman and entertainer who sees the unsuccessful players in the political arena and wants to do something about it.
To express doubts about Trump’s elect-ability and veracity and grasp of the issues is one thing. What we’re seeing on a daily basis from the conservative political entertainers sounds more like what can be heard on a grammar school playground during recess.
Personally, I’m undecided. I’m there in the crowd waiting to see if I can believe that Trump shares enough of my views. He’s talking a great game — as have so many before him. That great talk has left the country mired in government-wide failure, from the school board level on up to Capitol Hill. So I’m proceeding with caution, listening carefully with an open mind to the possibility that just as B-movie actor Ronald Reagan did, this guy might have what it takes as well.
Donald Trump may yet blow himself up. If he does, there will be joy in Mudville. But, there are plenty of others betting that he can make it to the chair behind the desk in the Oval Office.
That possibility makes things even worse for the political entertainers who yearn not only for an audience, but for influence and power.
OMG — Donald Trump on top of the political world.
Image credit: redstate.com.