Gordon Campbell on Donald Trump, and Dr DreAugust 19th, 2015
For the past few months, you, me, and Rupert Murdoch have been waiting for the wheels to fall off the Trump campaign, and for some drab incarnation of business-as-usual (Jeb Bush, Scott Walker) to emerge as the real Republican standard bearer in next year’s presidential election. Hmmm. But if the wheels haven’t come off Trump by now, then when – and by what means, exactly? The more that Trump cuts his links to common decency, the higher his balloon seems to fly.
And if you look beyond Trump, the next highest rating Republican contender right now is no suit for corporate hire, but the next most crazy candidate in the field, Ben Carson. This is the guy who likened US political correctness to Nazi Germany, and who called Obama’s health care programme the worst thing to happen to the US since slavery.
At least the Summer of Trump hasn’t been dull. In the wake of the Great Debate though, has Trump become Fox News’s Frankenstein monster, out of the lab and beyond their control? Last week, this article by Ezra Klein suggested that at Murdoch’s behest, Fox’s heavy hitters (Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier)had been set loose expressly to deflate the Donald, and thereby elevate a more conventional contender. As per Murdoch’s Twitter feed:
Baier, Kelly, Wallace great job Thursday. Fine journalism, no more, no less. Friend Donald has to learn this is public life.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) August 8, 2015
Kelly has since become the short term casualty of the apparent fence-mending between Trump and Fox boss, Roger Ailes. (Murdoch has made his feelings about Trump pretty clear though, and these will resurface at a later date.) On another campaign front, Bloomberg News ran a fascinating story a few days ago about why the pack of Republican contenders sound so much the same on foreign policy. Seemingly, it is because most of them have outsourced their foreign policy advice to the same think tank, called the John Hay Initiative.
….the [Hay] group issues bi-weekly policy papers… and has briefed more than half of the 17 Republican candidates running for president. The Hay Initiative helped write recent foreign policy speeches for Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie, speeches that struck very similar notes. Members have also briefed Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and others. Rand Paul and Donald Trump are the outliers who have no interaction with the group, likely because their foreign policy views don’t jibe.
Thankfully, not all of the Republican contenders share the current campaign fixation on “anchor babies.” Quel horreur, these are the babies wilfully conceived by the hordes of alien migrants now allegedly pouring across the Rio Grande and through Tijuana in order to birth their babies on sanctified American soil – and thereby gain American citizenship for them under the heinous article 14 of the US Constitution that conveys a right of citizenship by birth. To their credit, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Mario Rubio have refused (so far) to join the stampede by Trump and the rest of the herd to change the Constitution and rid the republic of the alien baby menace. Perhaps that’s because Fiorina, Bush and Rubio (who all, tellingly, come from the Latino-heavy states of California or Florida) can recognise a suicidal policy initiative (regarding the Latino vote) when they see it. But Trump, Carson, Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lyndsey Graham…not so much.
Can Trumpmania really hope to survive the super-saturation coverage inevitable from here until November, 2016? Unfortunately, any of us (and Rupert Murdoch) hankering for his demise and for the re-emergence of a saner Republican Party should probably keep in mind that the last time that good ol’ Republican horse sense was in the political ascendancy in US political life was way back in the 1950s, under the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since then, its been a terrifying procession : Goldwater, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, the Bushes, Dole, McCain and Romney. . Even poor old George Bush Snr ended up captive to the same Reaganite ‘voodoo economics’ that he had once so gleefully (and accurately) mocked.
Trump – who is even more of an outsider than Ross Perot was in 1992 – is the heady culmination of the hate campaign that right wing America has been willing to wage against any government not headed by one of its own. In their eyes, Washington is that village in Vietnam that has to be destroyed in order to save it. Ironically, Trump’s immense wealth is regarded as positive by his fans, in that it is seen to put him into a zone beyond the usual political ties, allegiances and ass-kissing. In the land of the free, only the billionaires are now seen to be.
Dr Dre, Culture Hero
Talking about billionaires acting as underdogs and sticking it to The Man…Dr Dre’s Straight Outta Compton movie tells a familiar tale of the downtrodden triumphing against the odds, although its take on America’s inner city ills is depressingly timely. As a redemption/vindication story – the is film about the rise of the West Coast rappers N.W.A and the individuals – Dre, Ice Cube, Ice T, Eazy E etc who comprised it – the film shares obvious similarities with Eminem’s 8 Mile film. Or even with Cliff Richard in The Young Ones.
Reportedly. some fancy footwork was needed at times to get around the usual Bloods vs Crips sensitivities while filming in L.A.
N.W.A’s consistent misogyny, seen by many as epitomised by Dre’s notorious physical attack on female DJ Dee Barnes, have been omitted entirely from the story. According to the film’s director Gary Grey, that sort of “diss” stuff just wasn’t part of the narrative arc being pursued. Ah-huh. There’s a useful backgrounder on the Dee Barnes incident here.
The soundtrack – much heralded as Dre’s first substantial work under his own name since The Chronic in 1993 – is a sprawling, rewarding collection. Dre shows his gifts for spotting major new talent (Anderson .Paak’s contributions in particular ) displays his own chameleonic skills on the mic ( he sounds like different people on different tracks) and manages to get the best out of old hands (Xzibit ! The Game!) However, Eminem nowe seems beyond even the redemptive skills of Dr Dre, and his verses on the “Medicine Man” track demonstrate his worst recent traits ie, the manic speed freak delivery and the schtick of courting controversy via rape jokes. (At 42, he’s still trying to push those buttons?) “Genocide” is an album highlight, largely thanks to the third verse contribution by the new prince, Kendrick Lamar.