Now, why am I taking all these images about JFK and recasting them in 2020 terms? It's not because I have any love for JFK, as @bobcesca_go can tell you. Rather, it is to make the point that the terms we use about "forgotten towns" in 2020 are ridiculous. /1
We have taken the great populist yawps of the past ten years and recast them as legitimate gripes from The Oppressed and Forgotten, when in fact this kind of malignant, backwards thinking has always been around; books were written on back in the day that we now ignore. /2
Now, as then, we conveniently forget that the *truly* The Oppressed and Forgotten are not part of those movements at all. Most Trumpers (and Lega, and Brexit voters) are middle class. Yes, Appalachia loves Trump. But that's not how populism has grown. That's not who they are. /3
Populism is not a movement of the very poorest. It's middle class white guys who think the culture doesn't respect them enough. It's the same guys snubbing JFK at TCU and putting ads in Dallas papers about Commies in 1963. It's about identity and class and race. /4
You could go to a hundred diners and gas stations in 1963 and those guys wouldn't sound a lot different from the guys you hear from in 2020, except they'd have been a lot more willing to just say "n*gger" out loud. They're insecure and hollow *people*, not hollow *towns*. /5
As @secupp once said, "the Forgotten Men" were forgotten for a reason. And @Tracinski was right to note that a lot of our rationalizing about Trumpists and other jerks is little more than "nationalist intellectuals just trying to backfill their ideology into this void." /6
I do not admire JFK as a man, even if I recognize many of the great things he did. But the reaction to him in 1963 was not that different from the reaction among the same sort of people who would hate him today as they hated him then. They've always been among us. /7
Why is it different now? Because social media and the cable news ecosystem (1) amplifies their voices, (2) allows the cranks in every city and town to unify to create a movement, and (3) provides easy access their eyeballs - AND WALLETS - in a way you couldn't do in 1963. /8
So, please, let's cut the weepy horseshit about how the Great Populist Revolt was the result of economics or culture. If the internet and Fox had existed in 1961, JFK would still be alive because he'd have been impeached by 1961. It's time to stop rationalizing. /9x

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More from @RadioFreeTom

22 Nov
To provide some context: I have no idea why Trump's guys flew some bombers over the Middle East earlier today. But the mission is over, and "deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies" is what U.S. administrations do when they don't really have anything else. /1
This is mostly a Cold War hangover, where "sending up some nuclear-armed bombers" had actual meaning. Since the B-52 is no longer part of the nuclear bombing mission, it's a showy way to say "We see you." It's not unique to Trump. But it does raise some questions. /2
Mostly, the question of who thought this was needed. I wouldn't be surprised if someone in DoD did this to placate President Angry Pants so that he could feel like he ordered something. Another question is whether something happened off the radar that the US didn't like. /3
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
So, here's a thread on missile defense, since the U.S. is trumpeting shooting down an ICBM from an AEGIS. This is about why I was okay with SDI in the 80s and think missile defense is now a gigantic waste of money and that "We have a defense!" announcements are a bad idea. /1
When I was working as a consultant on SDI stuff in the 80s, I recall two major assumptions: One is that it would freak the Soviets out. The other is that if it were ever built, it would be stationed above our ICBM fields as a point defense to complicate Soviet strike planning. /2
You can argue about whether "freaking the Soviets out" was a good idea. It almost backfired because it convinced at least some Soviet leaders that we were looking to start WWIII. But it did convince the Soviets that we were determined to win a qualitative competition. /3
Read 15 tweets
14 Nov
For the people who think I only started to wrestle with this "experts in a democracy" problem just a few years ago, this is from a book review I wrote thirty years ago - and it uses a line that appeared decades later in the book. /1
I was brutal on the authors of a book on SDI because they basically said that things like strategic defenses were just too important to be left to presidents like Reagan, and that engineers should get the final word. That made me bristle, and still does. /2
That's why "Death of Expertise" had a chapter explaining the difference between experts and policymakers - basically arguing that people in a democracy have the right to insist on dumb policies - even if I wish they wouldn't. That's still how I feel. /3
Read 5 tweets
11 Nov
I’m getting tweets about Susan Rice from the same people who were certain that Elizabeth Warren should be nominated for president because she would totally give Trump a raft of shit during the debates and that Joe Biden wasn’t tough enough to win. /1
Even if I agreed that Susan Rice was a great pick for anything, and I’m not sure I really agree with that, this is a time to move forward, bring in new people, not lightning-rod revenge picks. What might be emotionally satisfying to you is not the best choice for the country. /2
But in the end, these are Biden‘s decisions to make. I am allowed to disagree with all of you about who would be the best choices. Calling me a sexist or implying I’m a racist isn’t really an argument; it’s just the usual performative twitter emoting. /3
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
Progressives, I know you're working through the stages of grief. But I'm happy that Biden won. I wish you'd stopped the "defund the police" and "pack the courts" stuff that spooked a lot of voters into ticket-splitting, but whatever, there's still time to improve in 2022. /1
I'm not a member of the Democratic caucus and never will be, so you don't need to argue here with me all day. Look at the data from 2020, think unemotionally - it can be done - and think about helping Joe fix the joint for the next few years. That's what we should all do. /2
Biden managed to put together a large coalition. If it fractures in 2022, or sooner, the GOP will be waiting for you to make this mistake. Don't fall for it. But at least consolidate the anti-Trump win. Shouldn't be that hard./3
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
The most centrist possible candidate was the only guy who could beat Trump; meanwhile, progressives get beat as Dems fail to exploit Biden's coattails; millions of people engaged in anti-Trump, pro-GOP ticket splitting.

And this is the conclusion AOC draws.
*golf clap*
Let's leave aside the fact that Joe Biden, not AOC, is now the head of the Democratic Party. It tells you something that she couldn't even wait for the election to be called, much less for Biden to be sworn in, before opening fire on other Democrats. That's politically stupid. /2
But you can see why Spanberger and Lamb - who did not win a seat in a tiny-turnout primary in a totally safe D district - would be pissed. AOC is signaling that if there have to be Dem losses, so be it. Because one of them will not have to be her. /3
Read 6 tweets

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