I’ve always believed that a sizeable element of younger American conservatism in 2015 saw Donald Trump as that garish builder, Al Czervik, (Rodney Dangerfield) who bought a membership at a swank Los Angeles country club in the comedy film “Caddyshack” (1980). Note the year, for those preening conservatives would be in their 50’s now, just like my oldest son, who saw it with me at age 10.
Only the film’s heavy was a fellow named named Judge Smails, who was the club’s society gatekeeper, played by Ted Knight, who had spent a career developing the stereotype of the insufferable, down the nose, male version of Margaret Hamilton.
Social snobbery is a theme I’d written about for several years before Donald Trump, but in the context of the “shoulders we stand on”, not just our family-line, but as melting pot Americans. It’s been a necessary survival tool in the mongrelized society America would grow to become. “To be American” is that learned trait to look over one’s shoulders and be aware of the forebears that shaped the world we lived in and pay gratitude to those who ploughed the ground before us. It would be in the Great Depression before America was really tested on this account, when the children and grandchildren of those millions of immigrants from all over the world who’d come here, not as literate English-speaking farmers and shopkeeps from England, but as common laborers in mills and factories from the bowels of the Continent with funny sounding last names and accents but never really got acquainted until they met at a place called World War II.
At that time the “shoulders-we-stand-on” theory was validated.
Now why I know these things and NeverTrumpers probably don’t is largely because I was born in 1945, a few months before Donald Trump. But unlike Trump, I was raised in a coal camp where there was only a 1-thru-12 high school, and only one church. My grandfather had been a coal miner in that town, and my father, its mine engineer. It was there I learned all sorts of rite-of-passage laws most kids are no longer allowed to learn, such as the penalty for lying, especially when believing that one’s rank would protect me. That Mick Hensley story had become something of a classic a decade ago, and I wrote several more “Famous Common People I Have Known” stories, including people from the Soviet Empire, and even prostitutes in Tokyo and South Korea. And one dog.
Let’s just say I’ve taken the American common herd on as clients, and as has become fairly clear by now, I’m representing them as defendants in criminal court, not in civil litigation, for Donald Trump is being accused of crimes mainly because he acted in their behalf. Today, they’ve been illegally slapped down illegally with the acquiescence of a crew of un-elected parvenus mainly because they find Donald Trump distasteful, mainly because he finds the common herd to stand above, not beneath them.
Back to “Caddyshack”, I was 35 years old when I saw “Caddyshack” with my two sons. It’s true, Donald Trump is regarded among a type of American conservative to be much like Rodney Dangerfield was in that film; a garish, boastful man. A rube. At the country club in Kentucky where I belonged in the 80s, we had a member much like that. He had been a forklift driver in New Albany, Indiana, but had married a niece of Colonel Harland Sanders of KFC fame, who started at new chicken franchise after he’d sold the KFC brand to John Y Brown. Col Sanders gave “Chicken Man”, as he was called, several nearby counties to build a franchise, so he quit his hourly job to do just that. Turns out he was a genius at it, almost driving the KFC’s out of business in several counties. This was about 8 years before “Caddyshack” but everyone in my town went to see the film because they believed Hollywood had stolen “Chick’s” schtick, down to the plaid golf trousers and souped-up golf cart, with an “oogah” horn. One club member said he was the only person he knew who could buy a $10,000 Cadillac and then spend another $5000 turning it back into a Chevrolet.
And Chick carried his bank statement in his hip pocket so he could show everyone, which annoyed a lot of the George Conways in our town. Indeed, he was the wealthiest man in the county. But he was also its greatest donor…only to local groups such as paying for the cheerleaders to go to camp for a week. A dentist friend of mine complained he always refused to give money to the local NPR-PBS telephone drive but would give a crisp 50-dollar bill to a kid selling lemonade. A walking malapropism, I used to keep a list of the words he butchered, like “elderly-berry wine.” But a genuinely sweet, sweet man. He died young.
When I saw “Caddyshack” with my sons, aged 11 and 9, they got the film’s message. But in a small southern county-seat factory town with a Chicken Man around, you’d expect them to. Their chosen funny guy in that film was Bill Murray, the Vietnam vet-greenskeeper. Rodney Dangerfield was funny too, as was Ted Knight, who behaved as arrogant men were portrayed in those days. All were stock stereotypes, all the creation of Harold Ramis, later of “Ghostbusters” fame. Everybody rooted for Rodney (Trump) against Ted Knight. At the time no one took any deeper meaning about class.
Those images all came back to me when I saw the reaction to Donald Trump. I never watched any of his shows (“The Apprentice”) but knew he was flamboyant. I had skimmed his “Art of the Deal” once but I worked a different side of the street in the communist world. After 10 years on-the-ground there I could have added chapters to it from what I learned from small business over there. But I knew Trump was a genius, (I was trained to recognize that) not just a nuts-and-bolts-genius, but a big-picture genius, for he’d never turned his companies over to corporate boards of directors for management. Somewhere along the line he’d read The Organization Man, maybe at Wharton. The small biznez Russians would have understood him, and loved to have had him, even an oligarch I get to get close to… had they been able to “find him” in 1992. Then, there might have been no Putin, no oligarch system. On reflection I wish I’d called him.
I’ve listed here ten “conservative” Trump detractors, mainly from “National Review” and the Lincoln Project, by age, as it may relate to this film “Caddyshack” and how old they would have been had they seen it. From “National Review”, Jonah Goldberg, age 11, (who blocked me on Twitter, Rich Lowry, age 12, Jim Geraghty, age 5 (one the RedState frat boys), and David French, age 11, a veteran, on the plus side, but also seduced by Bill Kristol on the minus, and finally, Andy McCarthy, age 21, who was never quite #NeverTrump until this week; From the Lincoln Project there’s George Conway, age 17 (husband of Kellyanne), Rick Wilson, age 17, Steve Schmidt,10, a real piece of work. And finally, standing apart by age and class, Brit Hume, age 37 in 1980, and Ari Fleischer, age 20, who, along with NR’s McCarthy and Lowry at NR, had been critical about Trump’s public manners and those damned Tweets, but were more equitable about his in-office accomplishments….at least until the recent attack on the Capitol on 6 January, and the subsequent second House impeachment of Donald Trump, where they’ve said not only that he deserves it, but the “facts” in the prosecutor’s sense of the term, justifies it.
Believe it or not, the window to all their souls might be found in how they might have viewed “Caddyshack’s” two principal characters, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. You can make your own guess simply by searching their written comments about the 6th, or their general comments about Trump in the past, and their general smarter-than-thou demeanor.
But the law about presented-facts that prove to be wrong— there are only four possible reasons for the mistake: The speaker was 1) misinformed, 2) incompetent, 3) knowingly lying or 4) delusional, as psychologically impaired.
This last one seems to fit quite a few of those named. “Cognitive dissonance” my 50 year-old calls. (F***ed up, my 46-year calls it.)
I only invite you to visit the several links posted “It’s Fear That Drives the Left’s Hate” two days ago, for it appears that same psychopathy exists among many of them. It appears this generation of “conservatives” have strayed from the natural law origins of their station, namely, “the shoulders they stand on”, which in scientific lingo is considered “survival-endangering”.
Look it up.
Either some of these people have had to lie to themselves about Trump’s actual words and acts over the past four years, or, they are cynically lying now. Of the 10 listed above, I’ve had some level of respect for two at National Review, based on prior performance as well as two the two elder statesmen. They seem like nice men. About the Lincoln Prospect, I have none.