The Overton Straitjacket? (The Santorum Interpolation? The Huckabee Propinquity?)

I completely agree with John Fund. No wait, let me back up. Belle and I were just talking about this. (Our planes passed, heading in opposite directions, and we held up little notes to the windows.) Wouldn’t it be funny if Trump were a double agent?

Our way of thinking about it wasn’t quite like Fund’s. He presumes Trump is motivated by desire for Canadian-style health care. We hypothesized there could be some money in it. The Clintons are rich. Surely they could just be paying him off with cash or promises of favors or whatever.

But the interesting thing about the Trump situation, structurally, is this. As I noted in this post,

Here’s a non-obvious (perhaps because it is incorrect) thought about the dynamics of having a right-wing dominated by its extreme right-tip, to the point where it doesn’t really have much of anything but a right-tip. You’d think it would automatically NOT be like that. You’d think such a dominant right-tip would not only generate a more moderate middle but also an ‘acceptable’ right to its right. That is, whatever is the center of political gravity – which is now on the extreme right – would sort of end up ‘moderate’, by definition, so long as you adopt a relative definition … But this doesn’t actually seem to be the way of it. Rather, what we get is this big weight of conservative opinion, this huge clump of conservative grass-roots, right at the edge of what is considered at all acceptable, in US political discourse. There is a very narrow range of things you can say without being, on the one hand, a RINO squish; or, on the other hand, having to say it was all ‘taken out of context’ when David Corn or Media Matters gets wind of it.

The Trump candidacy is a good illustration of this odd dynamic. It’s hard for the right-wing to deal with Trump because he is saying things that are 1) totally unacceptable; 2) not that far from things that are completely acceptable, to the point where it’s maybe not acceptable to totally deny them; 3) there’s no bright line between the two. So it isn’t actually illogical – even though it’s absurd! – for Trump to argue that Jonah Goldberg is just a RINO. (Trump is saying things large segments of the conservative base think are kind of obvious. Goldberg is saying he is unacceptable. Only a RINO would presume to vote a big segment of the base off the island. Goldberg is a RINO.)

Belle and I decided it should be a Ludlum novel. So we need a Ludlum title. The Overton Straightjacket is already a perfect Ludlum title, so we should probably run with that. But maybe other options should be considered. The idea behind ‘Santorum Interpolation’ and ‘Huckabee Propinquity’ would be that you have a situation in which Clinton is very worried about one of the more extreme candidates, so she hires someone to be juuuuust a liitttle more extreme, thereby slotting someone unacceptable into the debate. (Both of Ted Cruz’ names are one syllable so he’s sadly unworkable in Ludlumian titular conjunction.)

A good twist would be that conservatives working furiously to stop this thing from happening figure out, at the last minute, that Trump isn’t a double agent for Hillary. (So they can’t stop him just by somehow snipping the line to Hillary.) He’s a triple agent working for Jeb!, unbeknownst to Hillary! Makes a crazy kind of sense.

Maybe it should have more of a mock-Chesterton vibe. The Man Who Wasn’t Thursday.

I do like this line from Goldberg: “He is like William Jennings Bryan, only his cross of gold has an all-you-can-eat buffet under it, and looks remarkably like a capital ‘T.’” That makes me want to write an alt-history in which Bryan’s famous cross of gold speech is basically like some boilerplate from Atlas Shrugged. In my novel, Bryan is pushing trimetalism. He has invented a new alloy, Bryan Metal, which – if only he is allowed to pay in silver – will allow the construction of superfast railways, allowing poor farmers in the West and Mid West to bring their goods to market more efficiently. But the trusts in the East, in conjunction with the owners of the existing railroads, are trying to stop him. William McKinley must be some kind of socialist, I guess?

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