Is This the Dawning of the Age of Vulgar Demagoguery?
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 05, 2016 at 10:19:43 AM EST
Before the end of GOP primaries, I wrote about how Catholic neo-conservatives couldn't bring themselves to support Donald Trump. Even now that he is the Republican nominee, he even seems to be a bridge too far for their tastes.

But Catholic neo-cons are not unanimous about Trump.  Former U. S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is one of Trump's most prominent supporters.

In March 2016, during the Republican primary season two prominent Catholic neo- conservatives, Robert P. George and George Weigel wrote in the National Review, a tersely-worded declaration urging American Catholics not to vote for Donald Trump.

The statement pulled no punches. Among the admonitions it contained:

Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists' families -- actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country. And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.

As well as:

We understand that many good people, including Catholics, have been attracted to the Trump campaign because the candidate speaks to issues of legitimate and genuine concern: wage stagnation, grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending, the breakdown of immigration law, inept foreign policy, stifling "political correctness" -- for starters. There are indeed many reasons to be concerned about the future of our country, and to be angry at political leaders and other elites. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to consider, however, that there are candidates for the Republican nomination who are far more likely than Mr. Trump to address these concerns, and who do not exhibit his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and -- we do not hesitate to use the word -- demagoguery.

Let's underscore that:  "...his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and -- we do not hesitate to use the word -- demagoguery." Let's underscore that:

In neo-conservative parlance, those described as "vulgar" have specific meaning - and it is not praiseworthy. The vulgar among us are the opposite of "the thinkers." It is a concept that comes down to us from the neo-cons' philosophical guru, Leo Strauss. As the writer Shadia Drury observed:

The difference between the vulgar and the wise (I will for the moment leave the gentlemen and statesmen out of the account) are for Strauss quite fantastic. The vulgar are self-seeking lovers of pleasure and wealth. They are Hobbesian men seeking power after power ending only in death. They can only be motivated to moral virtue by laws that threaten severe punishments and by the terrors of Hades. In contrast, the philosophers are almost godlike in comparison to ordinary men. They know that there is no God and no support in the universe for the laws that men make. They know that Hades is a necessary but noble fiction meant for the vulgar. Yet in spite of this they have no desire to harm others or get the better of them, even when they can do so with impunity. They are possessed of what might seem to be an incomprehensible nobility. Their justice is not a result of philanthropy or love for mankind. Nor is it motivated by fear of the earthly or heavenly powers. Strauss explains their nobility by saying that they place little stock in the things that ordinary men `hotly contest'. It is not that they do not love pleasure; on the contrary, they wish to lead the most pleasant life (for they believe that pleasure is the only truly natural good). However, unlike the vulgar, they have experienced not only the lower pleasures of eating, drinking, sex, wealthy, and power, but the eros of philosophy. According to Strauss, in relation to the pleasures of the philosophical life, all the other pleasures pale into insignificance. What other men so `hotly contest' appear `paltry' to those who have seen the `truly grand'. This is meant to explain their unusual nobility.

It should be duly noted that both George and Weigel are firmly in the Straussian camp. Thus their use of the word vulgar was no random choice of words.

Trump's vulgarity and demagoguery are readily apparent. During the course of his campaign he has mocked a disabled reporter; degraded various women opponents and journalists in the most misogynistic terms; and has tacitly accepted support from the Alt Right. Beyond that his invective against Mexican immigrants often borders upon racism.  From almost any point of view, his reckless disparagement of NATO as well as his warm comments about Vladimir Putin is downright alarming.

He is clearly far from the Straussian ideal.

Their inability to stop Trump has left them in a quandary. While many are unhappy about a Hillary Clinton presidency, they are also frightened that the Trump phenomenon is pulling the overall conservative movement into the undesirable direction of pitchfork populism - something infused with a very large dose of isolationism.  So it appears that most of them are sitting out this election while hoping for a better horse to back in 2020.

Enter Rick Santorum.

Originally a supporter of U. S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-T X .), Santorum claims that his overriding concern is that liberals will control the United States Supreme Court for generations to come if Hillary Clinton becomes President.

But perhaps Santorum is just vulgar.

Unlike William Kristol and Robert P. George, Santorum can be a bomb thrower. His many caustic statements have been well documented.  Perhaps most infamous among them was his assertion that John F. Kennedy's speech on the separation of church and state to the Protestant clergy of the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in Houston in 1960 -- made him want to "throw up."

When you come right down to it, Rick Santorum's Catholic politics is of the culture war variety. When he hews the orthodox line, it is only on biological issues. Other than that, his pronouncements often run counter to Catholic Social Teaching. He has embraced in Donald Trump a man who he claims speaks for the working man; something that just does not square with the facts.

While Pope Francis speaks out for workers who do not receive a living wage, Santorum supports a man who has declared that wages are too high. And as the pontiff has spoken out on the danger of Global Warming, both Santorum and Trump are climate science deniers. And while the Pope has expressed a desire to tone down the divisive rhetoric on biological issues in favor economic social justice, the former U. S. Senator from Pennsylvania has taken the opposite tack.

Santorum has shown the world that his Catholic neo-conservative orthodoxy takes a backseat to his culture war identity. And to that end, he is willing to embrace a scorched earth policy.

Santorum is helping Trump bring new life to the old school hateful language of Roy Cohn. Arguably they have seized the day -- and we wonder, is this day the dawning of the age of vulgar demagoguery?

Santorum's endorsement of Trump makes it clear that politics makes for strange bedfellows. Santorum is the type of Republican that the big money boyz in the GOP encouraged without any concern that the culture warriors and alt-Right might turn on the big money boyz. Normally, I wouldn't agree with Robert George and George Weigel on much, but they are absolutely correct on Donald Trump's complete vulgarity and demagoguery. To that I can also add Trump's utter racism and contempt for people of color. Weigel, George, and Kristol thought they could have their little wars in the Middle East and maintain control over the knuckledragging rank and file voters, but Trump's emergence has shown that the so-called leaders of the GOP have lost control. The GOP has been headed in this direction ever since Nixon sought to reach out to resentful white voters after the initial success of the Civil Rights Movement. They have now reached the pits with Donald Trump, and they seem to be clueless how their political strategies led them to their current predicament. They are not showing any sign of learning from it, either.

by khughes1963 on Mon Sep 05, 2016 at 11:20:18 AM EST

When Trump, George and Weigel use the term "political correctness" as a pejorative, what they really mean is that they want to have the freedom to insult other people without getting any negative responses or consequences in return. Sorry, guys, but that horse is already out of the barn, and it's a good thing!

by khughes1963 on Mon Sep 05, 2016 at 11:22:04 AM EST

"From almost any point of view, his reckless disparagement of NATO as well as his warm comments about Vladimir Putin is downright alarming."

This is your political opinion, and because this is not an overtly political site, all I will add is that I can cite authoritative opinions that disagree emphatically, upon good evidence, with the demonisation of Russia, and Putin in particular. Indeed it is much more the case that Putin (as the leader of Russia) is the victim of the "vulgar demagoguery" which you (rightly) decry, and this aggressive demagoguery is risking war between two nuclear-armed powers.

If there is interest, and if the moderator(s) approve, I can present documentation and sources to back up my assertion. The forces and interests at work provoking Russia are the same ones that are provoking China (another nuclear power) in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Trump's "Russia friendly" comments, and his disparagement of NATO constitute a cause for alarm to those whose interests are behind the USA's aggressive policies in these areas.

by Brian H on Wed Sep 07, 2016 at 01:54:37 AM EST

There are about 38.5 million Poles who would beg to differ.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Sep 09, 2016 at 12:17:06 PM EST
The situation in the Ukraine has also caused a great deal of grief for a lot of innocent people.  I was purchasing an item from a Ukrainian when it all came down - and he told me of the attitudes on the street (he was also forced to move, along with all of his neighbors, when the Russians came in).  When the item went out in the International Postal Service, Russia confiscated all of the mail from that area of the Ukraine and routed it through Moscow, adding several weeks wait to the delivery time for me (and many people never got their mail when that happened).  We weren't sure that I'd ever receive the package.  From the stamps imprinted on it, it sat in a Moscow office for most of that time.

Putin is NOT liked among Ukrainians, especially those who were forcibly displaced (and before they moved, they also experienced persecution for not supporting Russia).

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Sep 10, 2016 at 11:07:13 AM EST


by ryroja123 on Mon Oct 12, 2020 at 11:12:14 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (324 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (165 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (96 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (84 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (95 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (121 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (98 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (71 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (222 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (53 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (144 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (172 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (49 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (50 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (202 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (212 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (82 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (156 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (139 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (136 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (128 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (139 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (119 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (167 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (131 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (69 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (184 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (73 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (103 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (98 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.