A loss leader is a product or service at a price that is not profitable but is sold or offered in order to attract new customers or to sell additional products and services to those customers
The war was over, the Movement in ruins, and Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times -- the aging Imaginifer* of the fallen regime -- wanted nothing more than deliverance from the ruin and carnage he had sanctioned. Sure he was keeping the money...and the fame...and the perks...but he didn't want to personally get his hands dirty any more.
In his time Mr. David Brooks had marshaled a million words for the Movement and grown rich thereby. He had paraded whole paragraphs in the Long March to Beatify Saint Reagan. He had been in the trenches during the Vilification of the Dirty Hippies and the Rise of the NeoCons.
Then, after The Thing We All Agreed Never To Talk About, when all seemed lost, he performed his greatest service to the Movement -- helping to lead them out of the wilderness with The Great Denial and creating the sanctuary of the Church of Both Siderism.
But now everything was going to shit and all he wanted was to semi-retire in comfort and travel the world, unencumbered by his past. He wanted the freedom to pile up a fortune lecturing youngsters on Humility and pile up another fortune lecturing adults on Redemption and Faith without anyone asking any tricky, embarrassing questions.
He wanted to tend his roses and use his extremely valuable New York Times real estate to blather about born-again-paganism in language that, in days of old, the Imaginifer of Bush The Conqueror would have blasted off the page:
...Democracy isn’t a political or legal bargain. It’s enchanted like romantic love, but on a larger scale. Each democratic citizen receives the love of her fellows as a gift to which the only appropriate response is gratitude and love in return.The poet has a special responsibility as society’s seer, who grasps the eternity in the present and sings to people about their own unique divine powers within.Personally, I have issues with born-again paganism. Shapeless, it leads to laxness — whatever moral quandary you bring it, it gives back exactly the answer you’d prefer to hear. It throws each person back on himself and leads to self-absorption and atomization, as everybody naturally worships the piece of God that is one’s self. Naïve, it neglects the creedal structures that are necessary for those moments when love falters...
He wanted to sit on his million-dollar porch with his faithful hound Burke at his feet and whittle and muse about how nice it would be if every family were like this family --
...The kids who show up at Kathy and David’s have endured the ordeals of modern poverty: homelessness, hunger, abuse, sexual assault. Almost all have seen death firsthand — to a sibling, friend or parent.
It’s anomalous for them to have a bed at home. One 21-year-old woman came to dinner last week and said this was the first time she’d been around a family table since she was 11.
And yet by some miracle, hostile soil has produced charismatic flowers. Thursday dinner is the big social occasion of the week. Kids come from around the city. Spicy chicken and black rice are served. Cellphones are banned (“Be in the now,” Kathy says).
The kids call Kathy and David “Momma” and “Dad,” are unfailingly polite, clear the dishes, turn toward one another’s love like plants toward the sun and burst with big glowing personalities. Birthdays and graduations are celebrated. Songs are performed....
-- without any inconvenient conversations about who broke the country and shredded our bonds of mutual affection in the first place.
But even with his horrid past safely walled off by his Beltway colleagues, his reputation as a man who knows how to weather a firestorm that he helped touch off and come out the other side rich and respected had survived among those who want to follow his example.
Which is why, about once a month, one of the hungry little orcs of The New, New, New True Conservatism comes slogging -- pasty and grim -- up the hill to his house along the footpath worn smooth by Ben Domeneche, Charlie Sykes, Rich Lowry, Michael Steele, Michael Gerson, Hugh Hewitt and a dozen, dozen others over the years.
Because while Rush and Sean and that crowd can wow the faithful with giant, roaring, racist battle wagons designed to hurl indiscriminate megatons of lies and rage, Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times is known to the initiates as a master of the subtler arts of Beltway power and persuasion. The ways of slow poison and deflection.
And once they arrive at his door, they all burble out the same hysterical question: What the holy fuck are we gonna do about Trump, David? I mean holy, holy fuck!? He's the nominee of my goddamn party! How did it ever get to this? The Liberals are having a field day with this. They're gonna bury us with this! I've got a wife, David, and a bookie, two agents and several expensive mistresses dependent on me, plus I tithe and is anything happens my church if gonna take a huge hit. What am I gonna do?
Then they collapse, weeping: the walk up this hill is not very rigorous, but they're in terrible shape.
And always Mr. David Brooks answer the same way.
First, get their attention:
Then, sighing, he gives them his little speech...
* * *
Are you sure you want to go down this road?
Are you sure. Because this is the Dark Side, kid. The real Dark Side. And I am contractually obligated by the Nameless One who owns clear title to my soul to inform you that once you're in, there's no going back.
They nod again.
Well okay then. Right off the top. Donald Trump is not the candidate of your party, because you have no party. Because you're an "independent". Say it. "I'm an independent."
I'm an independent.
Say it again.
I'm an independent.
Good. You can dress it up any way you like -- Conservative independent, constitutional independent, Evangelical Christian independent, whatever, but always independent. In the business we call it "Dowding" and at the very least it'll at least keep your sorry ass above water and food on your bookie's table.
Next, understand that you're looking at this mess all wrong. Trump is not the boss of anything; he's your fucking Loss Leader. He's a maggoty can of tuna for $0.12 that gets them looking in the window,
Yeah, he stinks. On ice. He's a monster. He's an orange racist fire demon. And yeah, we built that shit.
But... But... He's also got a lot of people looking around the Conservative showroom floor for the first time in years. Of course, if all they see is an ambulatory Breitbart comment thread bragging about his sex crimes, well then you are fucked.
But if they see a lineup of respectable New, New, New True Conservatives? Conservatives who are, by any sane standards, are out of their fucking minds, but compared to Trump are as rational as Steven Hawking and as virtuous as choir boys?
Remember how desperate my pals in the "respectable" media were to forget the Bush Administration ever happened? So desperate they let 30 million Republican assholes get away with putting on those stupid hats, calling themselves a "tea party" and swearing they'd never eve heard of George W. Bush? Well all those people are still there, and I guarantee you, after Trump, they will be an order of magnitude more frantic to "put this election behind us and move on" as they were after the Fall of Dubya,
This could be your golden age kiddo! Your golden age! You just have to know how leverage your Loss Leader.
And to do that, other than always referring to yourself as...what?
I'm an independent.
Good lad. Other that that, you just need two more items in your inventory.
First, you're going to have to find yourself a spot somewhere in the "respectable" media. That's going to cost you money -- agents, publicists, some asshole to ghost you a shitty book about the "Future of Blah Blah Blah." All of that if money out of your pocket, but it'll pay for itself when you're a semi regular on MSNBC. Getting on one of the Sunday shows like "Meet the Press" is better. Or getting your name on the op-end page of the New York Times.
I know some people; I'll make some calls.
Second -- and this is vital -- no matter what you see, no matter how ugly it gets, not matter how fast one staggering Republican atrocity after another piles up in front of the whole world, your watch-word is always, always, always "Both Sides". Always. Say it.
Say it again.
If you want style points, study the collected works of Ron Founier. Ron's a fucking machine. Or Joe Scarborough, who is an asshole, but an object lesson in why you don't need the talking head who appear on-camera in your corner, just the men who own those cameras.
But for now, let us read aloud together from a very apt pupil of mine, Erick Erickson, who -- believe it or not -- was published in the Liberal New York Times this very week,
Erick Erickson: The G.O.P. After Donald TrumpBy ERICK-WOODS ERICKSONOver the past few months, a cavalcade of Republican policy wonks, pundits and partisan strategists have beclowned themselves on national television trying to defend the indefensible: their party’s nominee. Free-trade advocates have become protectionists. Strategists are treating Drudge Report surveys as scientific endeavors while dismissing legitimate polls as Clintonian propaganda.
But when the Russians go home, the pastors repent and riot police disperse white nationalist protests, the Republicans will need fresh ideas.
Republicans first must acknowledge there are legitimate concerns that fueled Mr. Trump’s rise. Both parties are more interested in listening to check writers than voters. Many Americans see their neighborhoods being overrun by addiction and poverty, but see neither help nor recognition of the problem from Washington. It is not hard to conclude that Republicans and Democrats alike value cheap, imported labor and could not care less about the heartland.
The bulk of both major-party candidates’ support comes from voters who hate the other candidate more....
Voters are being held hostage by hollow promises from both parties that Supreme Court nominations and Washington power will make their lives better......People need to feel more in control of their destiny, and that happens only when we ensure that their local governments shape their lives the most, not nine black-robed masters or a dysfunctional Congress in Washington...
See how Erick never loses focus?
All disasters are always the fault of Both Sides. The Republican Party is some faraway dumpster fire that has nothing to do with him. The Evil Federal Gummint is the source of all your sorrows and the enemy of all decent Americans.
O mores, o tempora!
Then and only then does he try to close the deal, hoping you're so dazzled by the slide show that you don't notice he's selling the same, shitty ideas -- school vouchers, huge tax cuts, massive deregulation, hillbilly Sharia law -- that we have been trying to cram down the throats of the American public since forever.
He's sloppy and heavy-handed, but it doesn't matter. A place will be found for him at the table, just as a place was found for my friend Bill Kristol, and my friend Hugh Hewitt, and, well, you get the idea.
* * *
By this time the sun is usually cowering low on the horizon anxious to leave, and the slivery shadows from Mr. Brooks' dead rose garden are growing long and dark and beginning to menace the porch where Burke the faithful hound has not moved in hours.
In fact, Burke the faithful hound has not moved in years.
With the lecture over, Mr. Brooks watches this newest New, New, New True Conservative stumble happily down the hill in the gloaming, flattening and smoothing the path to Mr. Brooks' door a little more.
Because while the war may be over...
...the next war is always right around the corner.
...the next war is always right around the corner.
Behold, a Tip Jar!
* Imaginifer: A special position from the time of Augustus onwards. Carried the standard bearing the image of the Emperor as a constant reminder of the troops' loyalty to him. He was paid twice the basic wage.