Pres. Trump apparently likes his steaks extremely well done. The punditry about this has been extreme, but not well done. The commentary more resembles the fattiest tartare you’ve ever tasted.
First, there were the the mopes like Vanity Fair‘s Graydon Carter, the Washington Post‘s food critic, and the occasional random food blogger recoiling in horror from Trump’s vulgar taste, exacerbated by his use of ketchup. It was of course suggested that Trump’s gauche dining habits were in some way a metaphor for his parochial and close-minded politics.
Then there were the conservatives. Some of the movers and shakers in conservative media, the thinkers, even one of its most elegant writers appeared on some of the right’s most respected and influential platforms to defend Trump’s dietary habits, or at least to note that others would see it as an asset.
And many smart conservatives shared those columns on social media, nodding their heads at the notion that lefties’ hysteria about Trump was largely a matter of aesthetics.
Yet righties found it scandalous that then-candidate Barack Obama passed up a the campaign ritual of a Philly Cheesesteak in 2007. And notable that he was the sort who ate arugula…and kale. It was a metaphor, you see, for his effete liberal sensibilities and politics.
Does the Trump/Obama comparison simply reflect the long-simmering populism of the GOP? In a word, no.
Righties also had great fun with Bill Clinton’s appetites for fast food and… women with big hair. They were a metaphor, you see, for the decadence and generally low class of the Democrats, not to mention the seeming grubbiness of the Clintons’ scandal-laden politics. So inferior to the patrician Pres. George H. W. Bush.
Of course, the Democrats also have done this before Trump. Ronald Reagan supposedly liked jellybeans — a childish indulgence that reflected a simpleton who once co-starred in a movie with a chimp. Etc., etc.
This is what happens to people who never get out of the marinade of partisanship. It’s what drives otherwise normal people to take insane conspiracy theories seriously. It’s the sort of thing people will look back upon with mild embarrassment, should they ever bother to reflect.
The temptation will be to justify spending time on Trump’s steak by framing it as an example of anti-Trump hysteria. But if you pass a man on a street corner wearing a sandwich board and ranting about the Freemasons, do you stop to loudly counter him to other passers-by? No, you don’t. And you know why you don’t.
The other temptation will be to denigrate the Left by supposing lefties’ objections to Trump are significantly aesthetic. To be sure, many liberals preferred Trump to Cruz and Rubio during the primaries.
But he’s Pres. Trump now. His picks for his Cabinet were significantly Republican and often conservative. His Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, compares favorably to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Trump and a GOP Congress are rolling back some regulations. And while the House GOP’s AHCA strikes me as a lame effort to marginally roll back Obamacare, Democrats will see it as the wrong sort of wealth distribution.
Moreover, Dems clearly have opposition on the merits to some of the more uniquely Trumpian policies, such as the “extreme vetting” of refugees and the expansion of immigration enforcement (even though it falls short of some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric).
It’s pretty obvious that the Left’s opposition to Trump is not significantly driven by his tastes (or lack thereof). Those tastes are just another target of opportunity for them. But the people responding seriously to these trivial pursuits are not doing themselves or their audiences any favors.
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