“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
Believe me, I absolutely hate that I’m starting today by quoting Nietzsche. Making it even worse is that I’m use the same Nietzsche quote that everyone else uses whenever they talk about people becoming the thing that they claim to despise. So much for originality. Still, it’s an appropriate quote for today’s “outrage.”
There’s a clip floating around social media this morning. It’s from CNN and it features Rick Wilson and, to a lesser extent, Wajahat Ali mocking Trump voters as being (to quote Wilson) “boomer rubes” who don’t know how to read a map or anything else. While Wilson and Ali speak in mock hillbilly accents, Don Lemon giggles like a schoolgirl and then ends the segment by saying, “I needed that.”
Needless to say, there’s a lot of pissed off Trump supporters on twitter right now. There’s also a lot of pissed off people who don’t necessarily support Trump but who know that the clip is basically a dream come true for the Trump campaign. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump retweeted the clip this morning. (Wajahat Ali responded by tweeting that his “friends fear for my safety.”)
Here’s the clip in question:
Personally, I think a lot of the outrage about the clip is performative. Ali is an outspoken Trump critic and Rick Wilson has been doing his “anyone who disagrees with me is a rube” act for so long that I find it hard to believe that anyone was shocked by what they said or even by how they said it. Don Lemon is another matter, in that he at least pretends to be a journalist. But again, this is nothing that people haven’t seen in the past from Lemon.
Instead, what I find interesting about the clip is just how much those who claim to oppose Trump will act like Trump in order to make their point. I guess the argument would be, “Trump acts like a jerk so we’re justified in acting like jerks too.” I understand the argument but I think it misses an important point. I have not met a single Trump voter who doesn’t think that Trump can be a jerk. I’m sure there’s a few who worship him as blindly as Rick Wilson seems to think but the majority of Trump voters know that Donald Trump is hardly a perfect person. Trump’s campaign has even cut ads praising Trump for willing to be a jerk. To many people, it’s a part of his appeal. They consider it to be a sign of his authenticity. It also helps that Trump is someone who can say, “Yes, I’m a jerk but I’m the jerk who is presiding over the strongest economy in recent memory.” That’s an accomplishment that, for many people, will make it easier to justify voting for someone who they may not like personally.
But then you have the people in this clip. What are they going to say if someone accuses them of being a jerk?
Don Lemon: “Yes, I’m a jerk but I’m the jerk who is currently in last place in the cable news ratings.”
Rick Wilson: “Yes, I’m a jerk but I’m the jerk who helped run Evan McMullin’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.”
Wajahat Ali: “Yes, I’m a jerk but I’m the jerk that most people have never heard of.”
Which brings us back to the Nietzsche quote. To oppose Donald Trump, it’s not necessary to become Donald Trump. In fact, it’s probably best that you don’t because Donald Trump seems to be the only one who can pull that off.
As for the clip, there will be something new to be outraged about tomorrow.