Fear and Loathing at Saint Anselm: The Donald Gives a “Presidential” Speech on National Security

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

NC readers will recall that I regularly do close readings of speeches given by major political figures: Obama, Clinton, Rubio, and even Julia Gillard, then Prime Minister of Australia, using Magic Marker-style color coding to highlight, for example, neo-liberal catchphrases, or footnotes to annotate and interpret rhetorical forms.

Well, you’re not getting anything like that from me tonight. It’s been cold and rainy up here for days and I can’t garden, the goddamned furnace is running in the middle of June, and then — bathos alert! — there’s the Orlando Pulse Club mass shooting and the disheartening reaction to it, but worst of all I have a severe and painful case of cognitive dissonance from coping with the idea that anything Donald Trump says can possibly make sense. Then again, maybe there’s a reason Trump went through seventeen of his competitors for the Republican Presidential nomination like a hot knife through butter.[1] Eh?

So I’m going to keep it simple. If you want to listen to Trump’s speech at St Anselm College in New Hampshire, or watch it, here’s the video:

Because coverage for Trump, as with Sanders, has been vile piece of jobbery by our Acela-rising scorps, I’m going to quote great slabs from Trump’s remarks. I’ll briefly compare and contrast what the press said to what Trump’s words were. I may add brief commentary of my own. I’m not going to quote the whole speech. Instead, I’m going to quote three topic areas[2] from his prepared remarks. (The transcript of the speech as delivered, sadly in ALL CAPS, is here). The topics:

  1. Diversity and Multiculturalism
  2. Blowback
  3. War and Peace

So let’s look at what Trump has to say;

1. Diversity and Multiculturalism

After calling for a moment of silence, Trump says[3] this:

TRUMP: Our nation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community.

This is a very dark moment in America’s history.

A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.

It is a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.

It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.

It is an attack on the right of every single American to live in peace and safety in their own country.

We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people – with force, purpose and determination.

Let’s put aside the question of sincerity: that would require us to treat whatever Manafort and Stone have cooked up, versus whatever Clinton’s focus groups have emitted, as commensurate; but that’s not possible. Let’s focus on the fact that Trump, remarkably for a Conservative Republican, puts “solidarity” (!!!) with “the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community” up front, and treats the ability of people to “love who they want” at “the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.” That’s what we used to call, back in the day at Kos, performative speech; it changes who the Republicans are as a party by virtue of having been said.[4] Now, politically I’d guess that Trump won’t be winning a lot of votes in the LGBT community over this any time soon, let alone turning around his unfavorables. I’d also guess there will be real, and more subtle, effects: Trump is disempowering certain Republican factions (especially the “Christian” right, proven losers), and empowering his own base not to act hatefully toward gays (and if you believe that Trump voters are authoritarian followers, that’s important)[5].

That said, it’s quite remarkable to hear the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party say that he “stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community.” I’d even go so far as to say it’s newsworthy. WaPo did; Bloomberg did; the conservative hive mind managed to emit a “viral” pro-Trump letter by an anonymous gay person; but Times stenographers Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, in an Op-Ed somehow misfiled as reporting, omit to mention this portion of the speech altogether. Sad!

More seriously, Dylann Matthews of Vox does real reporting, connecting Trump ideologically to the European right, starting with the Netherlands’ Pim Fortuyn, gay himself, who combined support for LGBT rights with a blanket ban on Muslim immigration, and moving on through Marine LePen, concluding that Trump’s support is “a smokescreen through which to advocate anti-Muslim policies.”

But Fortuyn was open about his support of gay rights; and open about banning Muslim immigration, so isn’t “smokescreen” itself a smokescreen, begging the question? What Matthews really seems to mean is that Fortuyn’s support for LGBT rights is incompatible with Fortuyn’s support for banning Muslim immigration. Empirically, that doesn’t seem to be the case; Matthews certainly doesn’t document any decrease in LGBT rights after Fortuyn’s rise. So where is the incompatibility? At this point, we note that Trump shares, with Clinton’s liberals, and apparently with Fortuyn, although not with the left, the idea that to “express identity” is the essence of a “free people.” Speculating freely, we might imagine that Matthews believes that Muslims, like LGBT people, must also to be free to express their identities, and that to prevent them from doing so is “Islamophobia,” along the lines of homophobia.

Here identity politics founders on its own contradictions, as identities clash on both values and interests; identities cannot all be silo-ed in their own “safe spaces.” For example, immigration, like globalization, creates public goods but has economic costs that some classes disportionately bear, and economic benefits that some classes disproportionately accrue, as blue collar workers know but professional economists are only belatedly discovering. Does the expression of identity trump those costs? Why? And whose identity? One does not sense, for example, that liberals are fired with concern for heartlanders who identify as Christians (unless Christians serve a geopolitical purpose in faraway Syria), or with men who identify as gunowners. So if what liberals (and conservatives) mean by identity politics is really just power politics and the upward distribution of wealth, straight up, that’s fine and clarifying, but wasn’t the alpha and omega supposed to be justice? Even love?

Of course, by now we are far afield from Trump; but as far as accepting LGBT people as fully human, can’t liberals take yes for an answer?

2. Blowback

Trump says:

America must do more – much more – to protect its citizens, especially people who are potential victims of crimes based on their backgrounds or sexual orientations.

It also means we must change our foreign policy.

The decision to overthrow the regime in Libya, then pushing for the overthrow of the regime in Syria, among other things, without plans for the day after, have created space for ISIS to expand and grow.

These actions, along with our disastrous Iran deal, have also reduced our ability to work in partnership with our Muslim allies in the region.

For instance, the last major NATO mission was Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. That mission helped unleash ISIS on a new continent.

(I think the Iran deal is one of the few good things that Obama has done.) Trump is describing what Chalmers Johnson called “blowback.” Isn’t it remarkable the Trump is the only candidate — including, AFAIK, Sanders — who’s even mentioning it? (See here for Clinton’s pivotal role in promoting the LIbya debacle in the Obama administration.) And if you want a good view into the heart of the foreign policy establishment, try the Foreign Policy podcast. They think Obama was weak because he didn’t put “boots on the ground” in Syria; they love Clinton because they think she’ll be “muscular”; and they hate Trump, and think hes’s a lunatic. Well, what’s more lunatic then setting the Mediterranean littoral on fire, and provoking a refugee crisis in the European Union? Moar blowback, anyone?

3. War and Peace

With respect to a military response to “radical Islamism,” the difference between Trump and Clinton can be summed up most effectively in the form of a table. (I’ve taken Clinton’s words from this transcript.)

Figure 1: Recommended Military Action Against “Radical Islam”

Trump Clinton

The attack in Orlando makes it even more clear: we cannot contain this threat – we must defeat it.

The good news is that the coalition effort in Syria and Iraq has made real gains in recent months.

So we should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign, accelerating support for our friends fighting to take and hold ground, and pushing our partners in the region to do even more.

(Clinton’s speech was delivered at a Cleveland company that makes military helmets. Military Keynesianism, anyone?) AP [***cough***] labels Trump’s speech as “aggressive,” by contrast to Clinton’s, without mentioning (a) that Trump is conscious of blowback and (b) only Clinton recommends airstrikes and an “accelerated” ground war; ditto Politico; ditto The Economist. WaPo, omitting the same two points, labels Clinton as “sober.” I guess a couple three more Friedman Units should do it…


Just as a troll prophylactic, let me say that this post is not an endorsement of any candidate (not even Sanders, who snagged an F-35 base for Vermont). I’m not sure how to balance charges of racism, fascism, and corruption in the context of identity politics, when clearly all three are systemic, interact with each other, and must be owned by all (both) candidates. (Do the bodies of people of color char differently because they are far away? Doesn’t a “disposition matrix” sound like something Adolf Eichmann might devise?)

Rather, this post is a plea for citizens to “do their own research”[6] and listen to what the candidates actually say, put that in context, and try to understand. The press, with a few honorable exceptions, seems to be gripped by the same “madness of crowds” that gripped them in 2008 (except for Obama, against Clinton) or in 2002-2003 (for WMDs, and for the Iraq War). Only in that way can we hope to hold candidates accountable.


Some brief remarks on Trump’s advance work:

1) Trump still needs practice with his teleprompter;

2) The mike was picking up Trump’s breathing;

3) The staging looks like Dukakis (that is, provincial). It should look like Reagan (national);

4) Trump’s website is simple and easy to use and looks like it was designed for a normal person, not a laid-off site developer. However, it looks low budget. Hmm.


Here’s why I skipped Trump on guns and the NRA. To frame this in partisan terms: From Democrats, what I consider to be a rational policy on guns — taxing gun owners for the externalities of gun ownership combined with Darwin Awards over time, and ridicule — is not on offer, so it’s foolish to waste time with whatever ineffective palliative they propose, especially while they continue to take money from private equity firms that own gun manufacturers, and arrange overseas contracts for those same manufacturers. As for Republicans, it’s impossible to see how the country could be more awash in guns than it already is. So if you want to argue about guns, don’t do it here. There’s plenty of opportunity in both Links and Water Cooler.


[1] And don’t tell me all Republicans are crazy, because Clinton’s trying to appeal to them.

[2] Except for Section 3, “War and Peace,” I’m not going to compare Clinton’s foreign policy speech today to this speech by Trump, because I’ve analyzed several Clinton speeches already, and presumably NC readers already know how to parse her.

[3] I’m not going to analyze Trump’s rhetoric in in this post, but note the anaphora: “It is… It is.. It is….” Notice also the simple, declarative sentences, which Trump uses very effectively as hammer blows; the most complicated sentence we get in this passage is the parallel construction of “not only because… not because.” And note the sound patterning from the sentence containing that phrase, gutturals like gunfire: “A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.” Whoever Trump hired to write his speeches, they’re doing an excellent, and unobtrusive, job.

[4] That’s not to give the parties, let alone Trump, credit; they follow and don’t lead. LGBT people led, in particular the now almost erased ACT-UP, with its non-violent direct action.

[5] And if you’re extremely cynical, you might see Trump as posthumously rehabilitating Roy Cohn. But today is my day to be kind.

[6] See PBS, CBS, and *** cough *** AP on fact-checking. Sometimes, of course, facts are “facts”; more importantly:


Must be detail oriented

Said no search firm ever.

Which is better: The candidate who gets the big picture right, and details wrong, or the candidate who’s great with detail, and bounces from one clstrfck to another? You tell me.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. James Levy

    Perhaps these, written by The Donald himself, are more indicative of his real thoughts:

    Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

    What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough

    And, of course, he’s vowed to destroy ISIS.

    But of course BECAUSE HILLARY!!! he must be for peace and justice. And these are just the things we want to spew out of the mouth of a president in the midst of a national tragedy.

    Vote third party

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      I’d vote third party if there was somebody decent. I will agree there is no hope whatsoever. But I’d rather have Trump as prez than HRC.

      1. David Eccles

        Jill Stein – She is Bernie Sanders and more, but without the f-35 base, or any affiliations (not bought off like HRC) to the oligarchy. She is exactly what the 70% of voters refusing to choose Trump or HRC are looking for in real change.

        1. jgordon

          Jill Stein is great! But I’m still supporting Trump. Hillary is like a huge asteroid brushing earth’s atmosphere. It’s no longer just about the lesser evil; at this point we have an existential threat on our hands.

    2. aab

      Dude, you keep acting like people on this site advocating for voting for Trump against Clinton like him. I don’t think I have ever read one comment here like that. Put that straw man out in a corn field where it can do some good.

      Did you bother to read any of the horrifying things Clinton said today? Her fond memories of 9/12? How it’s time to surveil EVEN MORE, and get private companies to do more of it? How it’s important to obey the President in times of crisis like this? Blaming “radical Islam” for an American-born security state worker who had visited that bar NUMEROUS TIMES, getting really, really drunk while watching the action before he came back with the kind of gun she helps sell around the world?

      Just recognize that with the entire establishment behind her, voting third party likely puts her in power. Make whatever choice you want. But stop pretending she’s not just as dreadful. Or that anybody visiting this site thinks Trump is awesome.

      This situation sucks. Both these candidates suck. Do you disagree with that assertion?

      1. Roger Smith

        HRC pivoted towards Ted Cruz yesterday, and that should be a wake up call to everyone.

        I am so sick of this “All Trump, all the time” talk. She (and now her dog Warren) is literally the candidate of the brainless news-media. She won’t be gaining any votes by ignoring policy… though I guess her polices wouldn’t win votes anyway, so I guess she should just forfeit the nomination at this point.

        I don’t like Trump as a serious vote, but you have to admit, it is lucky he is here when he is. He put away all the weak GOP candidates and is set to put a stop to the Clintons. For better or worse, at least we have a competent tool with which to fight the corruption of the Democrats… as opposed to someone like Jeb or Cruz.

    3. Disturbed Voter

      There was no escape from the Roman Empire, in practical terms. You could go into the forests and join the barbarians. Or wait hundreds of years for the system to destroy itself, temporarily.

      What if all third parties are controlled opposition? Who you gonna call?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t recall saying that Trump was for “peace and justice.” Can you point out where I did?

      Policy speeches are meant to convey policy. When Clinton gave her speech, she “spewed” out calls for airstrikes and “accelerated” ground forces. When Trump gave his speech, he did not. When we look at Clinton’s track record, we see rather a lot of charred bodies. When we look at Trump’s record, we don’t.

      The choice between a corrupt warmonger who gives every indication of doubling down both on charred bodies and the use of public office for private gain, and a crooked billionaire who’s backed by the some of the most malignant operatives in the conservative movement is not an easy one; I think better choices need to be constructed*, and I do not find your ALL CAPS strawmanning useful or amusing.

      * Please, Greens, use Links or Water Cooler for your rebuttals on this point.

  2. Disturbed Voter

    Imperialism is the same everywhere and all the time. The legions must always be increasing in number, always getting combat experience … so they must be deployed against manufactured enemies. Just as true today as it was in the Vietnam War period. All foreign policy, going back to Pharaoh is based on non-domestic exploitation, and the resistance of the barbarians to that exploitation. All domestic policy, going back to Pharaoh, is based on domestic exploitation, and the resistance of the peasants to that exploitation. Marx was only wrong in thinking that there was a technological magic bullet to cap this process. In fact it will continue until there are no more humans to exploit, be exploited. No society can afford to admit the truth, we create culture, like a oyster creates a pearl, because we can’t deal with the truth.

    1. Torsten

      While “civilizations” are prone to exploit humans, it has proved more efficacious to exploit Mother Nature, from the first smelted bronze spear and ploughshare to the mining and centrifuging of uranium. Only the platform of the Green Party acknowledges this, which is why the Green Party is reviled.

  3. Jus'Thinkin

    You forgot one of his most powerful statements (I watched the whole speech) —
    “No more nation building.” Delivered in Trumpian fashion.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I saw that, but I wanted to keep the post very focused. I deleted a whole section on the “clash of civilizations” perspective — Islam vs. the liberal West — originated by Samuel P. Huntington. Who was, of course, a Democrat.

  4. EndOfTheWorld

    No more nation building. That alone is enough to vote for Trump. “Nation Building” is an utter and complete failure! Just look how we “nation-built” Iraq! I’m sure the kind, non-confrontational citizens of Libya are overjoyed their nation was “built” by Hillary. If there was a viable third party candidate, that would be one thing, but there is not, so the best way to defeat HRC and the neocon cabal is to vote for The Donald.

    1. James Levy

      George Bush said exactly the same thing. Word for word.

      How did that end up? And why should we believe Trump? You keep cherry-picking his statements then saying “I’m with that guy.” Well, that guy is a liar.

      There is no evidence that Trump will be better than Clinton. Every indication is that he will be differently-terrible.

      1. RUKidding

        I agree! Yes, Trump SAYS a few things now & then that different from the usual political bs palaver/pablum… and are often TRUTHS that most political aspirants would never utter. I give Trump that much… and no more.

        Trump, like nearly every (100%?) politician out there lies BIG, lies continuously, and lies about nearly everything. WHY should I believe him simply because he says something that I agree with?

        Like Trump is going to cherry-pick his voluminous statements and produce results only and just for the “good” things he’s bloviated?

        Doubtful. If anything, those are the statements that he’s least likely to do anything useful about. I grant that it’s interesting what he says sometimes. But listen to the rest of his speech for heaven’s sake. I disagree with a huge amounts of it. Just saying…

      2. Steve C

        The difference between Trump and Bush is that Trump is totally self motivated. Nobody powerful wanted him but he walked all over everybody and claimed the prize. Bush was a weakling who convinced himself he was doing it all himself when really he was put there by people more powerful than himself with Dick Cheney as his minder. Bush was a little boy who was allowed to be king of the playground but the grownups were calling the shots.

        1. dk

          I don’t see how such and energetic panderer can be considered self-motivated in the larger context. Self-promotion requires a deep investment in the opinions of others. He’ll do whatever he thinks he should to be viewed as important by others. He has no particular world-view other than TRUMP in big gold letters, and hordes flocking around it to bask in its warmth. Not that gold is actually warm.

          So whereas Bush was browbeaten by the more dominant Cheney, Trump can be compromised and manipulated by any diligent brown-noser who can get within earshot (Christie keeps trying).

          But maybe more to the point, Trump is a horrible manager. The executive branch would remain in effective gridlock, at least for his first two years (and Trump might pull a Palin and bail from the job by that time). That could weaken US support for NATO… and Trump has made other statements that amount to weakening NATO. So compared to Clinton, Trump is a pretty good bet for Putin.

      3. craazyboy

        It’s always hard to tell if we are getting hope and changey speeches. But one thing to keep in mind is how “invested” a candidate is in the status quo* – the part of the status quo that’s most important here is the neocon-neolib club. Take that away from Hillary and you have a completely unanimated, lifeless, meatbag – which I guess is now being described as “muscular” by our famously free press.

        Trump isn’t “invested” in any of that. Either intellectually, power network wise or financially.
        He could really believe things should be done differently. It will come down to whom he decides to surround himself with as far as cabinet posts and advisors. But he’s not weak minded like GWB, so maybe he doesn’t just get waltzed around once in office.

        I have no idea really what is going on in Trump’s mind. Just grasping for reasons to not go into severe depression.

        * Being a billionaire, Trump is certainly in the status quo – but I’d say it’s far down the hall and in a different wing than political-economic-military-S&P 500 industrial-complex

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The famous bumper sticker in Louisiana when Edwin Edwards ran for governor against David Duke: “Vote for the crook: It’s important!”

          However, in the 2016 Presidential election, we have to ask clarifying questions: Which crook? And what kind of crook?

          1. Olaf Lukk

            From the same campaign, considering Duke’s KKK sympathies: “Voter for the lizard, not the wizard!”

      4. fajensen

        We don’t need any evidence for Trump being better or less terrible, but, we *know* from experience that Hillary actually *is* terrible, mass-murdering, war-mongering terrible, that everything she does either quietly turns to shit or turns to shit dramatically leaving a blazing trail of destruction while meaningless numbers accrue in the Clinton Foundation.

        Picking the unknown is the rational choice here.

      5. TK421

        There is no evidence that Trump will be better than Clinton.

        Past behavior is still the best predictor of future behavior. Hillary has helped push to destroy two countries, Iraq and Libya, Donald has destroyed zero. If nothing else, Hillary should be punished for her heinous acts and denied the presidency.

    2. craazyboy

      To be more precise, first we kick all the blocks down, then we build the nation.

      But maybe it sounds good in theory. hahaha

  5. Carolinian

    Thanks for this. As I’ve said before, the Trump haters act as though every flaky thing he says is totally sincere and every thoughtful thing he says is just a con. You can’t say that words define the man and then ignore the ones that don’t fit your thesis. Perhaps it’s all insincere but then that would also apply to the crude insults as well. Or perhaps he means all of it which can seem a bit confusing. Clearly Trump is no one’s vision of an ideal president. But the simple minded press are showing their true colors with their one sided attacks. Their much ballyhooed “objectivity” was always a lie. Now they don’t even bother to pretend.

    1. fresno dan

      As I’ve said many times, Trump simply destroying the establishment republican party is one of the most profound things of the last fifty years. Trump demolishing the third rail of repub conventional wisdom that “Bush kept us safe” was earth shattering. His challenge of “free trade”, NAFTA and trade deals and crony capitalism is important not only in the repub universe, but in beginning to challenge the whole neoliberal mindset. I think a fair person would conclude Trump is challenging neoliberalism much, much more than any other repub or dem, save Sanders.
      And as I have said, Trump is a bad, no good, terrible blowhard ignoramus who has said appalling things. But for a repub presidential nominee to say:
      “A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.

      It is a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.

      It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.”

      is astounding – – “FREE people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity” – a repub who actually seems to understand and CONSISTENTLY apply the word FREEDOM – not just as a BRAND word that means low taxes and freedom for me, but not for you in your own bedroom – – incredible that it is Trump (and LONG, LONG overdue from the repubs).

      I really doubt Trump can win (or should) but the fact that a repub nominee does not kowtow to the moral majority in the repub party is something that I believe shows some real independence, just as Trump saying with regard to foreign policy that the “establishment” doesn’t know what they are doing.

      Trump is not causing this, nor do I think he is leading this – but he is the first among repubs to acknowledge this. And someone had to be the first, and Trump at least is that, and he has done it boldly, and unequivocally – – and that, at least, is a start.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And Trump demolished “Bush kept us safe” in South Carolina, a heavily militarized state. The troops know what a clstrfck our wars have been, even if the brass and the political class can’t admit it.

        Of course, Trump could be lying. Then again, in this instance, it seems riskier to tell the truth, as he did. But he took the risk. Clinton does not and will not, ultimately because “clstrfck” isn’t a view of our wars that she accepts.

  6. Steve H.

    Alliteration: “terrorist targeted” “nightclub not”

    and your own “gutterals like gunfire, a consonant correlation between Trump and the shooter.

  7. Uahsenaa

    I would hazard a guess that what’s being appropriated in the co-opting of certain facets of identity politics is righteousness, especially in the face of adversity/resistance. Neoliberalism doesn’t exactly have much it can champion and certainly can’t do so with great vigor, so getting in front of the pride parade affords an opportunity to be seen as a moral crusader instead of a technocrat or imperialist. Mike Judge skewers this mindset quite well in Silicon Valley, where we see a series of programmers and “disruptors” who seem to genuinely believe that they will radically change the world for the better by building a better compression algorithm.

    We saw this in Afghanistan as well in 2003. There the moral cause was the rights of women and girls, freeing them from the oppressive Taliban. I suppose the imperialists can take some minimal credit for one of the effects of turning the country into a perpetual warzone is that girls could get some kind of education, but the point in making that war partially a (weak sauce) feminist enterprise was to take on this cloak of righteous vindication. And it’s a weaseling that the women’s movement in general is susceptible to, given how very real causes like the elimination of female genital mutilation just so happens to coincide with the vilification of brown people. Teasing out the problem (FGM) from the larger society, which has elements that both approve and disapprove of the practice, is more difficult than just claiming the one is synonymous with the other and getting on board a campaign of liberation.

    Whether Trump is genuine in his support of LGBTQ rights is an open question, but it matters far less to me than how it provides a banner behind which those who might not otherwise rally to a Rep. candidate might find common cause, even if, in reality, it’s just another standard being used to march people to their deaths or perpetual misery.

    1. reslez

      we see a series of programmers and “disruptors” who seem to genuinely believe that they will radically change the world for the better by building a better compression algorithm

      Haha, if only they were as productive as that. No, they believe they’ll change the world by figuring out more ways to collect data and sell it to marketers. Maybe they will but it’s not the kind of change I consider positive.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Nobody mentioning how, um, inconvenient the report of the Saudis funding Clinton was, and the timing. Tricky enough so the Podesta denial machine was deployed. So on a day when LGBT people were being slaughtered the presumptive nominee is seen to be backed by a medieval monarchy where being gay means the death penalty? Awwwwwk-ward…

  8. RW Tucker

    It’s very important to go to the primary sources. If you listen to the media, you’d think every Trump rally was filled with racist chanting.

    Instead, Trump’s speeches are filled with railing against TPP and other trade deals, as well as criticism of nation building foreign policy and relationships with Saudi Arabia. He even talks about peace (!?!) with China and Russia. What politician talks about peace anymore? Of course, then he digresses into dipping bullets in pig’s blood to shoot Islamic extremists and talks about making the wall ten feet higher.

    But at least I know where he stands. With HRC, I can’t believe a single thing she says.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Interesting that you mention Saudi Arabia: a topic not addressed in Trump’s New Hampshire speech, and perhaps the “dog that didn’t bark.”

      Even as Trump repeated “Radical Islam” (in caps, mind you) like an incantation, Saudi “prince” Mohammed bin Salman was here in the U.S. to meet with 0bama. He can get away with this because the “28 pages” haven’t been released yet.

      Trump’s objection to Radical Islam was directed at grassroots radicals like He Whose Name Can’t Be Mentioned, not our head-chopping Saudi “allies” who’ve been paying to play ever since Frank Roosevelt went to meet King Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1945.

      Ripping Radical Islam while giving a pass to the most lavishly-funded fount on Radical Islam on the planet conveys a message from the Donald: let’s make a deal!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        If Trump doesn’t bring the 28 pages up in his (postponed) Clinton demolition, that’s a definite dog-not-barking-in-the-night sign. Thanks for the tip.

    2. grayslady

      Yes, there are certain topics upon which Trump has been consistent. Does he fabricate his own facts sometimes? Absolutely–although that is consistent with someone who sees dealmaking as a game. Throwing out hogwash against your opponent is part of the process of assessment. The way the person reacts tells you a lot about what kind of opponent you have.

      However, when you consider the free-for-all nature of the Repub debates, and how little time each candidate had to squeeze in a comment, the first thing to come out of the candidate’s mouth was likely to be what the candidate really believed. There wasn’t much time for any of the candidates to think on their feet once the back-and-forth started. So I think it’s likely that most of what we heard was indicative of the deeply held individual beliefs, not crafted statements a la Hillary’s debate performances. What made the Repub debates so clownish to many of us, I suspect, was the answers the candidates provided, more than the format. That, and Trump’s numerous ad hominem attacks.

      When you separate the wheat from the chaff in Trump’s remarks, as RW Tucker says, there is a surprising amount of consistency on certain topics. I do think Trump is racially biased–a position consistent with both his upbringing and his view of himself. I also think Trump is sincere in his opposition to nation building because, in spite of his fifth-grade speech patterns, he is an intelligent man. Intelligent people understand the insanity of empire and nation building. To me, it is no more bizarre to see Trump running as a Repub with these ideas than it is to see Hillary running as a Dem who only wants to cater to the uber rich.

  9. Noonan

    This is good analysis. I want to add this: I am an Episcopalian living in a small town in the Deep South. I attended the same-sex wedding of two of our parishioners ten days ago. The ceremony was performed by our priest and was a moving expression of two people’s committment to one another. I also know a lot of very conservative Southern Protestants (some of whom are family) who were opposed to same-sex marriage. Despite their disapproval, none of them wish any harm upon anyone in the LGBT community. They have accepted the fact that same-sex marriage is now the law and doesn’t affect them in any meaningful way. My point is that the “Christian Right” is not going to act hatefully toward gays, Trump or no Trump. Case in point:


    I think you will be suprised by how many LGBT voters support Trump. We live in interesting times.

    1. cm

      I also wonder how many LGBT actively loathe Clinton based on her Nancy Reagan, Don’t Ask, etc. actions during the Bill’s term.

      Trump is no Cruz — I doubt he’s particularly anti-gay.

      1. Buttinsky

        A lot of LGBT people have flagged Clinton’s apparent belief that Nancy and Ronald were co-founders of ACT-UP. But as Lambert’s note suggests, the force of cognitive dissonance is strong with us and some prefer Clinton’s clearly phony pandering (I mean, after all, she did come out in support of same-sex marriage years after Dick Cheney did) to Trump’s unpredictability.

        This whole subject, however, reminds me of an episode I actually watched of Trump’s reality TV show “Apprentice” years ago. One of the competitor applicants was gay and I’ll never forget the genuine mystification in Trump’s voice and expression when he asked the man something like, “Really, you don’t like women?” I think it’s naïveté rather than hostility that defines his attitude. I’ve had quite well-meaning relatives like this. He really is ignorant, and I’m not sure if that’s a plus or a minus when compared to the Clintons’ cunning.

  10. Tom

    It is a terrible indictment of our times that Trump the evil clown is the only one talking sense in foreign politics.

    1. sid_finster

      It so often happens that the court jester is the only person allowed to tell the truth.

      1. aletheia33

        yes and that’s why i get this secret frisson of mischievous joy whenever i contemplate the possibility of his actually being elected president. it’s the entertainment bonus and i can see how people get hooked on it.

        … i don’t have to vote for clinton or trump because my state isn’t swinging, so i have the luxury (and agony) of merely spectating.

        lambert thanks for this great piece. clarifying. it helps, being exposed to hillary’s attack language, to have a parser such as yourself standing by to tease it out.

  11. fresno dan

    Up in rural CA the only news during the day is Fox, so I had to watch to get any current events on the Orlando tradegy. I have to say the extremely empathetic coverage of the LGBT community (Greta Van Sustern asking a gay man whose boyfriend had died when they met), and Megan Kelly actually challenged Kallstrom when he said that Obama has terrorist sympathizers in his administration. Maybe Fox is getting it that everyone born in America IS an American….maybe, just maybe they are beginning to understand that simple and ignorant is not the way to go…

    Most will understand that this individual below cannot speak for a whole denomination of a religion. If people would think, maybe they will understand that regard to other religions as well…

  12. Take the Fork

    This is getting good…

    The folks who gave us
    [Khomeini/Saddam/Bin Laden/Saddam/Ahmadinejad/Zarqawi/ISIS = Hitler]
    [America First Foreign Policy = Munich = Auschwitz]
    the folks who gave us
    [Jack Tripper/Will & Grace/Queer Eye = Good]

    Accustomed to treating their targets like cattle, they are now they are trying to finesse what cannot be finessed.

    Prediction: If this imperfectly assimilated second-generation American murderer turns out to have been gay (or “curious”) you will hear the first strains of “Dueling Banjos,” and the blame will shift to all those intolerant bitterclingers.

  13. anon

    Is it possible that what Mr. Trump is attempting a form of traumatic bonding with the masses? The theory would fit the choice of title for this posting. According to traumatic bonding theory, cognitive dissonance arises from a sporadic and unpredictable pattern of abusive behavior that leads victims to respond with denial and dissociation. He’s likely not the only culprit, but the mere fact that other people wish to do harm for whatever motivation doesn’t make him any less of a threat.

    Dissociation, Cognitive Dissonance, and Donald Trump

  14. notabanker

    This is the only speech I have watched from Trump end to end, and at most previously it was news snippets here and there. I have been following his twitter feed, if for no other reason than you could not make up some of the stuff he tweets out.

    I agree with about all of your take Lambert, but the one big caveat is he has no answers. The best he’s got is it’s gonna be better under me. When he does delve into details, its not just wrong, it can border on stupid. If he just said, we have porous borders and we will never let in a refugee that has ambitions of leading a Taliban government. Boom, Done. But no, he has to say all those people in Afghanistan are bad, don’t share our values so they shouldn’t be here. This is after we sent our troops into fight a battle the Russians couldn’t win either.

    Clintons answers are predictable and unequivocal. An escalation that kills more people, pisses off new generations and creates multiples of the problem.

    Real blown opportunity for Trump in the end.

    1. TK421

      The way to not have a war with Russia is to not have a war with Russia. What more do we need in terms of answers?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He has no answers

      That’s the volatility argument. Imagine you have a stable market where there are a few winners and many losers. Who wants stability? The few. Who wants volatility? The many. So answers within the framework of stability may appear the worse choice, if that framework isn’t working out for you.

      1. notabanker

        Stability in the sense of deescalating and withdrawing military forces or stable in the sense of status quo with everyone constantly on the knife edge? I’m all in for answers within the framework of stability, I just don’t see them. Maybe its me…….

      2. dk

        The many want more volatility, not absolute volatility. The volatility of moving to a more favorable stability, not persistent chaos.

        There is a lot of disgust with the framework right now, but frameworks can be abused, and abuse of the framework has to be addressed directly; swapping frameworks doesn’t prevent abuse of a new framework (and it’s easier to abuse the new unfamiliar framework, since everybody is in new territory and may not know what all the signs are).

        Abuse (as in fraud, cheating, theft, disinformation, etc) and its passive cousin decay (data loss, infrastructure degradation, etc), are independent of any particular framework. They require specific and constant attention and remedy. I’m down with framework tweaking, but attention to abuse and decay has to be the top priority.

    3. Yves Smith

      NBC said his statement re Afghanistan with 99% of the public favoring Sharia law is accurate.


      Now I agree completely that him spending so much time trying to suggest there was some way to have prevented this shooting via better immigration policies and FBI work is ludicrous. He was a mercenary. He was licensed to have guns and if he’d wanted more, he no doubt could have gotten them readily. And he was born here. Help me.

      One thing I find disturbing about the “fact checking” is that one thing they fact checked as wrong was actually correct, and I now see they’ve corrected that section to make a different point.

      Trump: “Having learned nothing from these attacks, she now plans to massively increase admissions without a screening plan, including a 500 percent increase in Syrian refugees.”

      The Obama administration has accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees, but the screening process is lengthy. Only 1300 Syrian refugees have come to the U.S. this year.

      Clinton has said she’d accept up to 65,000 Syrian refugees, more than the 500 percent increase Trump mentioned. (This post has been corrected to say “more than” 500 percent instead of “far from” 500 percent.)

      “I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000, to 65,000, and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in, looking to really emphasize some of those who are most vulnerable,” she said, according to the Wall Street Journal, including “a lot of the persecuted religious minorities, including Christians, and some who have been brutalized, like the Yazidi women.”

      The article originally said Trump was wrong on the math, when his 500% was correct. It now says he was wrong in saying that Clinton has no screening plan.

  15. cassandra

    Excellent, but with one caveat. After Bush’s “humble nation” and Obama’s “hope”, it should be clear that what candidates say during their campaigns is only joshin’. Like the old song goes, “How could you believe me when I said I loved you when you know I’ve been a liar all my life?” I come to rely on past behavior, from whatever biography and history is available, to predict future performance (despite the stock caveat). By this standard, Hillary is carrying some seriously unpleasant major baggage, while Trump’s skeletons so far are neatly sequestered in the closet of questionable business dealings. I’ve been unable so far to conclude much from Trump’s selection of advisors. We probably won’t know what Trump will be like as a president until and if the personal dynamics beween him, his advisers, and the presidential bureaucracy has a chance to play itself out. If the Obama presidency is any indication, that will take a week or two.
    That having been said, I do find the media comments to be informatively entertaining. There are some really juicy examples of how they go about denigrating the presumptuous and praising the anointed, as you’ve shown. Thanks!

  16. Jim

    You are to be congratulated for beginning to struggle with the complex personal/political/cultural/economic issues involved in identity formation.

    What exactly, from your perspective, is identity?

    At the moment I find attractive the idea that identity is a mental image or a type of cognitive map in my mind of my personal position in the social/cultural terraine that makes up the US.

    More specifically this terraine seems to consist of a sense of social status or standing of one’s place in a complex multidimensional map (relation to others/expectations of environment/ideas on proper conduct/proper expression of emotions/etc.)

    Somehow, each of our identities seem to participate in a subjective ranking of possibilities offered by the complex cultural environment in which each of us exists. This ranking seems linked to how one defines ones identity.

    Such ranking(which starts early in life) also seems to be largely an emotional process which selects what to remember and what to discard.

    Maybe this is a first primitive step in beginning to understand the complexity and contradictions in identity politics.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What exactly, from your perspective, is identity?

      Damned if I know; I’m not even sure it’s a static thing. I do think identity exists only in some sort of context, that is, is not a “personal characteristic” (assuming there is such a thing).

      Same issue with class (which I tend to approach from the standpoint of set theory; self-identification as _____ then becomes a set membership function (and sets can have overlapping membership (i.e., intersectionality (properly conceived as both/and, not either/or)))).

      It remains only to design the functions…

      1. jgordon

        I recommend that you take some mushrooms. This thing “identity” is really just a bunch of BS that we fool ourselves with. It’ll all be so clear on mushrooms.

    2. JTFaraday

      Exactly. We now have people rethinking identity who never thought it the first time, just as many years ago we had students rethinking modernity/ the enlightenment who never thought it the first time.

      This always seems to cause major mental inflammation. Which is to say, psychological inflammation. Intellectual inflammation would be okay.

      Rethinking identity was supposed to be both/and. Not “class first.”

      1. JTFaraday

        Indeed, I’m still not convinced that neoliberalism isn’t a byproduct of racism. It’s the 1970s and it’s time to keep the n-ers out. Discuss.

  17. Skippy

    Wellie at least this whole – outside terror – thingy takes eyes and minds off the – inside home grown terror – thingy…..

    Disheveled Marsupial…. now you even get to vote on which level of terror you prefer… progress..

  18. Quantum Future

    There is a lot of intelligent comments on details. I am going to pull it back to the concept of energy.
    Currency describes energy. Yes, it can mean money, raw energy or labor. The mass shooter and Islam begins to point toward our raw energy policies in the middle east. Russia raises the gas prices to Europe because of failed energy policies (corruption and real semantics related) and the West goes on to get more energy supply to Europe.

    I see a lot of the arguments on energy pointed toward alternatives which in time indeed makes us less dependent on ME oil. But I see the reality of fracking and other means to become more energy
    independent. But we as a country are not going to get there with our level of corruption (concept of justice) until this is fixed. No need for Trump build a wall for immigration, fine businesses for hiring them.

    And if you want less Orlando attacks against a soft target, energy issues must be solved. It iant about gay people, guns or other myriads of issues. It is has been about securing national energy assets for growth. The election is a big distraction for how ‘currency’ or energy is solved. That is the top level discussion I would like to see more of.

    The Orlanda murderer is being encouraged by invasion, and Saudia Arabia does not wish to see America energy independent of them. Call all this whatever you like in levels of cause and effect. Trump tends to see this the same way I do but I would like to see a more honest approach. I do not think politicians realize how much the Internet has become a mirror to ourselves.

  19. Plenue

    Sanders has explicitly talked about blowback. He mentioned the 1953 coup against Mossadegh in Iran during one of the debates.

  20. dk

    I’ve heard Sanders bring up blowback (in concept, not using the term) periodically throughout the campaign, but almost always tangentially, at the end of an argument against sending US troops to the Middle East.

    From the Feb 4 debate in Durham:

    … ISIS would like American combat troops on the ground so they could reach out to the Muslim world and say, “Look, we’re taking on those terrible Americans.”


    I remember hearing it in early speeches (2015). I think one may have been pre-campaign. And it’s not very consistent with drones-okay-sometimes and other more hawkish statements.

  21. dk

    Which is better: The candidate who gets the big picture right, and details wrong, or the candidate who’s great with detail, and bounces from one clstrfck to another? You tell me.

    They both suck. Is it really too much to ask, to have a competent manager who can do both moderately well? I think choices of staff are also very important in this context. If a leader can’t pick staff that isn’t compromised from the start, the leader is effectively compromised. The political concept of loyalty (mutual ass-coverage) eclipses competence again and again. In DC, mistakes are okay (inevitable, really, so why bother avoiding them along the road of political posturing and the quoing of quids), as long as you can pin them on the other side.

    1. jgordon

      Just going by her record, Clinton is a deranged lunatic responsible destruction of entire nations. In contrast, Trump has a long history being involved in shady and unsavory business deals. So while yes, it’s technically true that they both suck, there is a matter of degree to consider here.

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