It ought to be screamingly obvious by now that Donald J. Trump’s supporters base their opinions of his behavior on who gets upset by it, not the behavior itself. That’s why every outraged squawk about his offensiveness and unfitness for office from Establishment Republicans, feminists, minorities, liberal elites and plain old Naziphobes only boosted their devotion to him during the campaign. But no honeymoon lasts forever.
Even in the Agent Orange America we’re slowly learning to call home, it’s a new wrinkle when the populist right’s own nitwit madonna is the one calling bullshit. Yes, as our Alpha Cheeto basked last week in the deal that he and Mike Pence swung to keep 1,000-plus Carrier air-conditioning jobs in the U.S., Sarah Palin–Sarah freaking Palin, who was put on this earth to prove that there’s no “I” in “IQ”–slammed the whole boondoggle as “crony capitalism” and “sinfully stupid.”
Worse yet, according to Wasilla, Alaska’s only famous ex-mayor, it represented exactly the sort of heavy-handed government futzing with the free market’s roller-coaster excitements that “we Republicans” were put on God’s greenbacked earth to oppose. Wondrously–and brace yourself, because this happens as often as Halley’s comet rolls around–she is dead right.
Reliably pro-moneybags Forbes magazine has taken the same line, warning that the Carrier deal is a “baby step” down the road to an economy as mishandled as France’s or—yeesh, this was nasty—Venezuela’s. But Forbes isn’t read much in middle America, where Palin maintains a fan base even Taylor Swift would envy. As this unfolds, who will the heartland trust more: the Alpha Cheeto or their favorite Disney princess?
Palin’s criticism could simply be her way of reminding him that he’s better off having her inside the tent than idly playing with matches in the woods nearby.
Complicating things, Trump is supposedly eyeing Palin for a Cabinet post—Interior, most likely–and apparently, she’d like that appointment a whole lot. Her criticism could simply be her way of reminding him that he’s better off having her inside the tent than idly playing with matches in the woods nearby. As job-seeking strategies go, “If You Want to Buy My Silence, Give Me An Impressive-Sounding Title” makes more sense than relying on her resume, doesn’t it?
In case you haven’t OD’ed on irony yet, Palin, who’s only worth a lousy $12 million compared to prospective Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s $2.5 billion or education pick Betsy DeVos’s $5.1 billion banks, would be one of the poorer members of Trump’s cabinet, too. Life’s hard for working moms.
Whatever she’s up to or thinks she’s up to, the Carrier deal is a fairly revealing preview of what Trumponomics might look like: slapdash, short-sighted enough to make Mr. Magoo look like a visionary, and endlessly reliant on bragging to mask hypocrisy. As a candidate, Trump vowed to punish U.S. corporations for moving jobs abroad–not bribe them to stay, which is what $7 million in tax incentives for keeping 800 jobs at an Indiana plant amounts to. Yet he’s acting as if this giveaway proves he’s a savior, even though the hated Obama got no credit at all for his much more consequential bailout of GM and Chrysler back in 2009, when upward of a million jobs were at risk and the taxpayers eventually got most (though not all) of their money back. They won’t this time.
Unless I miss my guess, the people Palin likes to call “real Americans”—leaving the suddenly phantasmagoric likes of me contemplating our Twilight Zone demotion–are bound to catch on sooner or later they’ve been conned like Trump U students, albeit with no settlement in sight. Even so, let’s look on the bright side. Considering that it took just one phone call for Trump to foul up decades of pretending Taiwan isn’t a real country to avoid offending Beijing, he could have us at war with China by next Fourth of July. Then, Carrier can nab the contract to air-condition everybody’s bomb shelters, while Palin, whose military gifts are often overlooked (she did command Alaska’s National Guard for two years and a half, don’t y’know), finally gets to play Joan of Arc.