Friday, May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017--Jack, Not In a Good Mood

"I'm not in a good mood."

"If true, I could take a pass on talking to you right now. I'm feeling good, the weather's perfect, I have a lot to get done, and to tell you the truth I don't want you to bring me down."

Jack said, "I only need 10 minutes. Start the timer."

"I'm OK but, really, just for 10 minutes. If you're calling about Trump I can imagine why you wouldn't be feeling very happy." I couldn't resist poking him.

"It's not what you think. With all this Comey business and now a special prosecutor or counsel you might be assuming that I want to talk about that. Suffice it to say, I agree with Trump--it's a witch hunt, plain and simple."

"The people involved with this now, Robert Mueller especially, do not engage in which hunts. But feel free to believe whatever works for you."

"I want to talk about why Trump supporters are sticking with him. People like you expect that his favorabilites will plummet. Well, think again. They're pretty rock solid. Still about 40 percent."

"I have been wondering about that."

"Well, it's pretty simple. Basically, he's doing exactly why we sent him to Washington to do. To tear everything down. Even if he has to put a blowtorch to things. That's why they're going after him. Even Republicans, though they won't admit to that out loud. We've grown fed up with everything. Both parties are at fault. All they want is to keep the gravy flowing in their direction. They don't care about the people, they only care about feathering their own nests. To continue to do so. Trump is a threat to that. That's what we wanted and that's what we still want from him. Bring it all down. Start all over."

"None of this surprises me. There's a lot of frustration out . . ."

"Listen to yourself. Frustration? It goes way, way beyond that. We're talking rage, fury. Not frustration."

"You got me. I underestimated it. A lot of people are furious. They deserve to be. I share some of that, but no way is Trump the solution. In fact, he's part of the problem. He's on the gravy train too. He's all about wanting the government to do things to the tax code, for example, that will yield to him and people like him more and more money. At everyone else's expense. At the expense of the rest of us."

"Furthermore," Jack rolled on, ignoring me, "people like you and the elite media think they know how to make sense of this. You have your conventional wisdom that you apply to what's going on but that gets in the way of your understanding what's really at work. In fact, your conventional wisdom is a good place to begin because everything you assume to be true isn't true. It's the opposite of true. Take any example, and I'll show you how the reverse of what you think you understand is not what's going on. Go on, try me."

"I'm not sure I'm following you. So why don't you give me one example."

"Sure. You value leaders who are thoughtful and restrained. You think that's what voters want. You assume that's what we want, what everyone wants. Well, we don't. We want a leader who goes with his gut and is the opposite of restrained. We don't value that. Restraint. We value the opposite of that. Reasonable leaders think they can negotiate their way to good deals for people. What they wind up negotiating is worthless to us. Worse than that. It is harmful to us. So we like it when Trump goes off script and tells it like it is. Especially when it comes to what's politically correct, which is another example of how the conventional wisdom is all wrong. We're OK with the outrageous. In fact we value it."

"This sounds totally crazy to me."

"We're also OK with crazy. Not totally crazy, but a decent amount of crazy. Crazy also shakes things up. We like it when everyone is scared about the next things coming out of his mouth. I'll admit it, I would prefer if he toned it down. Not all the way down but a little bit. It would make him more effective."

"'Trump' and 'effective' don't belong in the same sentence."

"One more thing from the conventional wisdom," Jack said, ignoring me again, "About economics. I don't mean big-picture economics but personal economics. People like you think that a big motivator for people is concern about their personal finances. Of course to some extent that's true. Everyone has to pay rent and eat. But even truer is that people like me don't follow what you assume about us--we're not primarily motivated by what's 'good' for our bottom line. 'Good' in quotes. Money doesn't trump everything for us. Bringing everything down, bringing everything to a halt is what motivates us. That's what we care about. Bring it down so we can start all over. Enough tinkering around the edges. Even if the tinkering puts a few more dollars in our pockets. Blowtorching it, that's what we wanted from Trump, that's what we still want even as the witch hint unfolds."

"I have to run in a minute," I really did, "so cut to the chase--what do you want to see happen? I mean for him to accomplish."

"What I just said--to bring things to a grinding halt. A lot of people are saying, including conservative people, that if Trump is forced out of office--and I don't see that happening; to be a loser would kill him so he's not quitting--if Pence took over, people are saying, he'd sign the same kind of bills Trump would sign. But Pence fits the conventional wisdom so with him it would be more of the same. We're in a crisis and, don't quote me, we need to be in one. As I see things a bigger mess would be even better."

He paused for breath, "My 10 minutes are up," Jack said. I could sense him smiling, feeling good about himself. That he got all this off his chest.

"I have one more thing to share with you," I said.

"What's that?"

"You may hate it, viewing it as another example of the conventional wisdom. But you remember when Trump was first elected how so many people of my persuasion were worrying out loud, fearing that he was like Mussolini and was going to bring fascism to America?"

"I remember that. I thought you and people who thought that way, who were so afraid, feeling so smart about yourselves and how you looked down you noses at us, showing off what you thought history taught, well, I thought you were a bunch of jerks. Sorry, but that's what I thought."

"I felt that people who thought that way were way over-reacting. But whatever we thought at the time, one thing I said, and this was conventional wisdom too, was that no one should underestimate the power of checks and balances built into our system. Look around, take a look. As of two days ago we have a special counsel and Trump is on the ropes. I don't know where this is headed but his strongman days are over. That's one thing I'm sure about."

"We'll see," Jack said, "People of you persuasion counted him out before, all the way back to the first days of the primaries, but he won the nomination and the election and he's still standing. A little weaker at the moment, but keep you eye on North Korea. I'm not suggesting anything, but if things get out of control there, it will be commander-in-chief time."

As usual, after having the last word, Jack hung up.

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