Esquire columnist Jack Holmes cited President Donald Trump’s ally Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) as an indication that Republicans have officially become just as illogical and ridiculous as their party’s leader.
Trump was in Kennedy’s state Wednesday night where other far-right personalities like a former star of Duck Dynasty took the stage to assail Democrats.
Kennedy “bills himself as a no-frills, common-sense type who’s just trying to make sense of the highfalutin activities in Washington on behalf of the everyman back home,” wrote Holmes.
Kennedy has supported progressive policies in the past, like defending internet neutrality. “But in this political age, you can only keep the ‘R’ next to your name for so long until you are forced to embrace—or do so gleefully—the aesthetics of Donald Trump, American president. Kennedy was proof of that last night,” he explained.
“I don’t mean any disrespect,” Kennedy said from the rally podium about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “but it must suck to be that dumb.”
It’s an ironic insult given Kennedy prefaced it by saying he meant no disrespect.
“It’s a perfect illustration of how, in the Age of Trump, The Base now demands the performance of bludgeoning the various Enemies,” Holmes explained.
Indeed, Trump rallies are not merely about hearing the president speak or endorse whatever right-wing candidate is pulled from the annals of the tea party. They’re a show with hours of propaganda-fueled speeches, chanting and attacks for anyone with a “D” next to their name.
Conservative Bill Kristol made a similar observation Wednesday night, saying that a central tenet of Trumpism is “petty vindictiveness and cowardly bullying.”
Trump’s campaign has turned it into part of a kind of political vaudeville show.
“At every one of these traveling arena shows, there’s a list of heels that folks on stage are expected to mention and bash until the crowd can join in with lusty boos and, possibly, a chant demanding extrajudicial punishment,” he wrote. “Kennedy is well aware that if he sticks to talking about the tax cut or gutting Obamacare, it’s no longer enough. People want a show—the uglier the better, in order to reinforce who’s Us and who’s Them.”
He said it had reached a level of absurdity when the right goes from saying they disagree with Pelosi to saying she’s an idiot. “Particularly when it comes to navigating political disputes and the parliamentary machinations of Congress,” Holmes wrote.
Kennedy, however, is the same person who called sitting officials in Congress “wackjobs” and claimed they were “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” He seems to prize hyperbole over reality.
“The point is not to make arguments that your policy platform is superior to the other party’s in order to win majority support,” Holmes closed. It’s not even to criticize your opponents based on their political choices. If you are a Republican in the Year of Our Lord 2019, you are required to bludgeon the Enemies. Whatever you must say to do so, regardless of facts or reason or basic decency, will suffice. As a reward, you get to feel the roar of the crowd.”