For the TeaOP right now it’s a case of the art of two James Whale films imitating life: Simply put, they’re Dr Frankenstein and Donald Trump is the monster they’ve stitched together from disparate dead parts—ideologies, so-called “social values,” racial biases, Gilded Age beliefs, conspiracy theories, pre-Internet politicking, gerrymandering, political grifting and good old-fashioned carney barking.
We’re currently at the juncture where the Monster has turned on its creator, but there’s a third-act twist—the villagers in this case are both enabling and encouraging the lumbering brute to continue terrorizing the countryside. This is because Donald Trump is also the TeaOP’s Political Singularity; a nexus of the ill-informed, the addled, the out-of-touch, the echo-chamber zealots and those deeply suspicious of anything beyond their neighborhood boundaries. He is the TeaOP political base incarnate. And the increasing political stridency and radicalism that this base has made possible since 9/11 is the lightning that’s brought Trumpenstein to life.
The massive irony is that almost everything Donald Trump has done that has shocked and dismayed the TeaOP leadership is stuff they’ve quite happily trafficked in earlier:
His public doubting of McCain’s heroism maps perfectly to the TeaOP’s swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004.
Trump’s dodgy belief that business wealth equals political competence is the cornerstone of both Americans For Prosperity and ALEC.
Trump’s attacks on his fellow TeaOP candidates traces back to the attempted and groundless delegitimization of Obama via Birtherism.
His characterization of Hispanic illegal immigrants as drug traffickers and rapists has roots in the racism of Steve King and Joe Arpaio—and, by extension, to the mostly TeaOP defense of the Confederate flag.
Thrice-married Trump’s self-proclaimed expertise on heterosexual marriage and his blatant lying with regard to the GNP, ISIS as a hotelier, the unemployment rate, nuclear capability, et al honors the long history of TeaOP political grifting, which includes Paul Ryan’s fake national budgets, the ginning-up of voter fraud statistics, using Obama’s “you didn’t build that” without its context, Rubio’s hastily revised family history, McCain suspension of his presidential campaign for a weekend so he could “solve” the economic meltdown and, most notably, the making up of literally any negative concerning ObamaCare.
Trump’s loutish, loudmouth behavior—his exaggeration of, well, everything—has its precedent in all manner of TeaOP bullshitters—Sarah Palin, Louis Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and, most recently, Marco “The-President-Has-No-Class” Rubio. The TeaOP has a proud tradition of arm-waving spew—they have become a party of carney barkers with the sole mission of getting the electoral rubes inside the tent by any means necessary and this has found its most concentrated expression in Trump
And finally, The Donald’s increasing popularity in the polls has to be taken seriously because of the potentially validating affect of the overlay of TeaOP voter disenfranchisement, its massive red-state gerrymandering and the 24/7 cocktail of talking points, propaganda and fear from Fox News, its communications arm. Having built the Monster, the TeaOP has also constructed and radicalized the villagers and given them out-of-proportion influence. It’s a triple play that’s coming back to bite them.
The TeaOP is understandably horrified because Trump’s every action and pronouncement, cheered on by the base, effectively holds up a mirror to the party, and those hideously distorted reflections are occurring in public and the daylight, and can’t be blamed on the inaccuracies of the political fun house. For the national electorate beyond the base, Trump is a shambling, spewing collection of the TeaOP’s very dubious greatest hits, and they realize it.
Donald Trump isn’t a fluke, an eccentric amateur of Herman Cain caliber. Rather, he is the breathtaking, awful high-water mark of the TeaOP’s duplicitous statements, dumb beliefs and deeply bad actions—the destination the party has been rushing toward with collective open arms for more than a decade.
I find all this as deeply satisfying as Wile E Coyote’s Acme products inevitably pulverizing him. And so my fingers are crossed that having come this far, the TeaOP and its monster will strive to have an appropriately James Whale ending . . .