Du Toit tries to explain it all to PJ O’Rourke who, regrettably, just doesn’t get it.
I’ve always liked P.J.’s writing, by the way, because he uses just enough humor to make a political point insightful without being boring or snarky. But after reading this, his latest political work, I got the feeling that P.J., always something of a journalistic outsider but possessing a keen political sense, was almost in the same boat as the liberal mainstream media when it came to the 2016 results — he was caught between his distaste for Donald Trump as a person and his knowledge of our political system. The only thing that set him apart from the rest was his intense dislike of Hillary Clinton and most things Democratic, but in the end, he was betrayed because like our hapless sportscaster above, he only knew one game.
And if there’s a better analogy of last year’s election than Calvinball (for both political parties), I can’t think of one. The only difference between the parties was that on the Democrat side, the party bigwigs changed the rules as they went along (the Clinton campaign essentially cheating Bernie Sanders out of fully participating in the nomination process), whereas on the Republican side, the rules were constantly being changed by the voters — and as Trump was the only one who caught the “toss ’em all out” mood of the electorate, he was able to play it all the way to the White House. Nothing says “Change” like “Drain the swamp”, after all.
So all the way through P.J.’s book, I could see his complete inability to understand what was going on — why was Trump winning, how could voters not vote for Rubio / Bush / whoever wasn’t Trump, and so on. The fact that NJGov Chris Christie and OHGov John Kasich — mere distractions both — merited more than a few lines in the book was, I think, symptomatic of the media’s problem in general: they got caught up in personalities when what was really happening was a sea change in voter attitudes towards the whole political structure.
And that pretty much says it all. I’ve always liked PJ too, going all the way back to his old NatLamp days. He’s made much razor-sharp sport over the years of DC dysfunction; it kind of amazes me sometimes how anyone, much less somebody as perceptive and skeptical of the federal government as O’Rourke always was, could look at the mess professional politicians have made of things and think for a moment that the best way to come to grips with it was to elect yet another professional politician, instead of a cantankerous, brash outsider who relishes a good scrap, is accustomed to success without being paralyzed by the occasional setback, and is immune to agonizing over what his enemies might say about him.