The march of the 2020 phonies be­gins

Prospec­tive Demo­cratic chal­lengers try, and fail, to be ‘au­then­tic’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Mon­ica Crow­ley

Of the many ex­pec­ta­tions Pres­i­dent Trump has blown to smithereens, per­haps the most ba­sic is that a can­di­date has to be some­one they’re not in or­der to win over vot­ers. Don a mask of po­litesse, flash end­less forced smiles, go fish­ing, dance awk­wardly on “Ellen,” eat a corn dog at a state fair and pray that it all trans­lates to “re­lata­bil­ity” and its even more valu­able cousin, “lik­a­bil­ity.”

The rul­ing class — they’re just like us! Ex­cept they’re not.

As a can­di­date and as pres­i­dent, Mr. Trump be a saint — be­cause he’s not one.

There wasn’t a need to “hu­man­ize” Mr. Trump — be­cause as a non-politi­cian, he was al­ready con­sid­ered “one of us.” He sim­ply asked vot­ers to take him as he is and trust him to “make Amer­ica great again.” And they did.

His op­po­nents at­tack him for be­ing dis­hon­est, but he is about as straight­for­ward a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure as we’ve ever had. They project onto him their own de­fi­cien­cies and fak­ery. They pose as cham­pi­ons of virtue, tol­er­ance and com­pas­sion but en­gage in de­ceit, in­tol­er­ance and vi­cious­ness.

Mr. Trump’s re­fusal to join their pan­tomime re­veals them to be the phonies they are; hence their ever-more de­ranged anti-Trump frus­tra­tion.

As the 2020 elec­tion cy­cle gets un­der­way, we’re al­ready see­ing can­di­dates who have Lizzie from the Bos­ton block.

For her an­nounce­ment, Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand made the now-de rigueur trip to “The Late Show,” where Stephen Col­bert had to res­cue her from an in­ter­minable deer-in-the­head­lights pause. Up next: Kirsten makes frit­tatas with Rachael Ray.

Sen. Cory Booker an­nounced his run from a gritty Ne­wark neigh­bor­hood which screamed “street cred.” No word if his imag­i­nary drug dealer friend “T-Bone” was on hand.

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris has had the most suc­cess­ful launch so far, which she then mud­died by ca­su­ally en­dors­ing the to­tal elim­i­na­tion of pri­vate health in­sur­ance as part of a rad­i­cal “Medi­care-for-all” plan. Af­ter bit­ing crit­i­cism, she back­tracked, only to back­track from the back­track. She be­gan the week look­ing like the first vi­able black fe­male pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and ended it look­ing like a gar­den-va­ri­ety pol.

Of course, re­cent his­tory is lit­tered with politi­cians who’ve en­gaged in stunts to bet­ter con­nect with or­di­nary folk: Richard Nixon ex­claim­ing “Sock it to me!” on “Laugh-In”; Michael Dukakis rid­ing a tank in the com­bat zone of Michi­gan; Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s pro­fessed love of

His op­po­nents at­tack him for be­ing dis­hon­est, but he is about as straight­for­ward a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure as we’ve ever had. They project onto him their own de­fi­cien­cies and fak­ery.

beef jerky; Bill Clin­ton an­swer­ing the box­ers-or­briefs ques­tion on MTV; a cam­ou­flage-jack­eted John Kerry ask­ing a ru­ral store owner “Can I get me a hunt­ing li­cense here?”; Barack Obama drop­ping in on Ben’s Chili Bowl; Mitt Rom­ney’s care­fully di­sheveled hair; Hil­lary Clin­ton pro­claim­ing “I ain’t no ways tired” in a black church; just about ev­ery pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s hedg­ing on is­sues was based on what they thought a par­tic­u­lar au­di­ence wanted to hear.

None of this re­ally works any­more, be­cause Mr. Trump has crushed the ex­pec­ta­tion of po­lit­i­cal fal­sity. He has con­di­tioned vot­ers to want their po­lit­i­cal ap­peals straight-up, no chaser. This is why true-be­liev­ing so­cial­ists like Sen. Bernie San­ders and Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sioCortez have res­o­nance.

When politi­cians pan­der now, it’s no longer just cringe-wor­thy. It’s seen as des­per­ate, pa­thetic and worse, passe.

Mr. Trump has changed the game. Con­trived op­por­tunism is out. Raw au­then­tic­ity is in. And all of his po­ten­tial chal­lengers are still try­ing to fig­ure out how to fake that.


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