The limits of Trump’s disdain for political incorrectness

How did Donald Trump pull off his stunning run to the presidency? I didn’t predict it, so I don’t feel qualified to say.

Steve Bannon predicted it. Indeed, he told Charlie Rose he was 100 percent certain Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton. Thus, Bannon has standing to opine.

Bannon told Rose that the core issue behind Trump’s success was his hard line on illegal immigration. He said that, though he’s confident the Democrats will shoot themselves in the foot by aligning with the over-the-top “resistance” movement, all bets are off if Trump gets behind amnesty for illegal immigrants, including amnesty for “dreamers.”

Trump seems to be doing just that.

Others who thought Trump might well win pointed to his disdain for political correctness. Roger Simon comes to mind.

Trump still displays flashes of political incorrectness. However, David French presents a strong case that “Trump cares too much about legacy media to be [a] champion against political correctness.” French writes:

One of the more disheartening aspects of Donald Trump’s disheartening dealmaking with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer is the extent to which he so obviously glories in any sign of approval from the likes of the New York Times, Morning Joe, or other parts of the legacy media. After his debt-ceiling deal, he reportedly called Pelosi and Schumer to crow that the “press has been incredible.” Is that a goal worth achieving? Will that make America great again?

French distinguishes between political correctness and saying what one needs to say to get what one wants. As an insurgent candidate, Trump wanted the support of the tens of millions of us who are disgusted by political correctness.

But I always suspected that Trump also craves the approval of the New York Times which, for many in Trump’s world, is the symbol of mainstream respectability. That would explain his trip to the New York Times for an extended meeting shortly after his election. It would explain why he spills his guts to Maggie Haberman and company.

As French puts it:

Sure, [Trump] will insult who he needs to insult and say what he needs to achieve his goals. And yes, he displays a degree of loyalty even to distasteful people so long as they love him and help him. (Hence his otherwise-bizarre unwillingness to decisively distance himself from the alt-right.)

But he also craves the approval of his hometown news outlets — outlets that just so happen to help define and shape the cultural and political tastes of the American Left.

Trump is no longer an insurgent candidate. He’s President of the United States. Thus, the approval — or at least a mitigation of the disapproval — of the major mainstream outlets has become that much more to be desired.

The war on political correctness must therefore take a seat. In French’s words:

The answer to political correctness isn’t vain ambition, personal insults, or a needy quest for love and affection. Indeed, those things feed the beast. It’s to speak the truth with a measure of grace and humility, indifferent to the demands of the cultural commissars. That’s not Trump. That’s never been Trump. And now his base is dealing with the consequences of championing a man who’s prone to wander the moment CNN bats its eyes.

French concludes:

The only way to pull Trump back from this Democratic brink is to threaten his first love, his own power. If the GOP can show him that he has something to lose – that he can’t truly shoot his immigration plan on Fifth Avenue and keep their support – then they’ve got a chance to keep him on task. If not, then prepare yourself for steady migration to a second consecutive Democratic presidency. And this much you can count on — the press will be fantastic.

Here, I part company with French. I don’t foresee another Democratic presidency, and I doubt that, even if Trump were to deliver one, the press would be “fantastic.” Trump would have to go full Bernie Sanders to achieve that.

I do fear an increasingly centrist presidency — one that will disserve the country and severely damage the conservative cause.


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