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In ‘Un-American,’ a scholar powerfully describes ‘the fake patriotism of Donald J. Trump’

For most of his life, John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College in California, identified as a Republican but, one assumes, as an American first. Or so he says in the preface to his new just-out-last-week book: “Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald J. Trump.”

The takeover of his party by Trump seems to have shaken that attachment. So far, I’ve only been able to read the beginning of  “Un-American,” which is available online, so I’ll provide a link to that. But it was powerful and persuasive (or should be to anyone not totally inebriated on the sauce that Trump is, so far somewhat successfully, selling — although, as you may recall, Trump won his current job with assistance from our nation’s leading foreign adversary and without getting a majority nor even a plurality of the popular vote).

I can’t say that Pitney has unearthed new evidence of Trump’s cheating in the election, nor of the unfitness for his job that Trump has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate daily. So maybe I’m attaching too much import to his scholarly expertise or his former partisan loyalty. But I thought the chapter was powerfully convincing to anyone not completely besotted on the Trump joy juice.

I assume there are many Republicans who would say yes, there are troubling aspects of Trump’s character and rhetoric and even some of his policies but what-about what-about what-about.

Go ahead. Stick with him. But don’t pretend it isn’t well established that your guy is a liar, a braggart, a sexual predator, a tax cheat, and, as Pitney clearly demonstrates in so many ways, far more interested in his own wealth, power and fame than in making America great. Several parts of the book are readable at the link below by clicking on “Look inside.” Choose “First Pages” and read just a one-chapter overview of facts that are not in dispute and are laid out by a scholar and a lifelong Republican.

And if you feel so moved, explain to me in the comment thread what Pitney got wrong.

This link will get you Chapter One and more of “Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald Trump.”

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/06/2020 - 04:10 pm.

    And in describing it as “The Fake Patriotism of Donald Trump,” Mr. Pitney is being very kind, indeed to the Current Occupant. The text is primarily a detailed description and recitation of most of the many, many ways in which Mr. Trump’s “patriotism” is fake, and reveals, as Eric suggests, a narcissist of astonishing proportion. As a private citizen, Mr. Trump may well have been an asset to both foreign and domestic criminals.

    As President, Trump is a traitor, and has been committing treason – defined as providing aid and comfort to this country’s enemies – since the first day of his term. Thomas Jefferson wrote, and Pitney quotes, “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” Trump’s thoroughly documented history of honesty’s antonym – a nearly constant stream of lies, both small and large, numbering in the thousands, demonstrates his utter disregard for truth, this country, and its citizens.

    “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, by making sure that Trump’s impeachment went no farther than the House of Representatives, is a co-conspirator. So is feckless Attorney-General William Barr, and there are, of course, others equally deserving of the title “sycophant.”

  2. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/06/2020 - 05:25 pm.

    That Trump is “a liar, a braggart, a sexual predator, a tax cheat, and … far more interested in his own wealth, power and fame than in making America great” is trivial, though any one of these would have caused a Democratic president to be impeached long ago. What is non-trivial is that Trump and the Republican party are working day and night to destroy the norms and institutions of democracy; install an authoritarian regime; and end the American experiment for once and all.

    To say it for the 100th time, Trump did not “take over” the Republican party. The Republican party spent 50 years assembling a base specifically cultivated to vote for someone like Trump; Trump simply appeared and collected their votes. For decades, some of us without political science degrees have observed that the Republican party, as it does seemingly with every one of its vices, simply has projected its anti-Americanism onto those it has conjured as its domestic enemies. That Professor Pitney only recently has been able to perceive this doesn’t speak well for his professional acumen or, therefore, for the merit of reading his book.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/06/2020 - 06:23 pm.

    It will be interesting to see whether more republicans / conservatives go public with their concerns over a second Trump administration. I see the Lincoln Project has gotten under his skin already.

    I suspect there are a significant number of people on the right who are quietly – and some noisily – declining to support a second term.

    • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/07/2020 - 09:24 am.

      Are Republicans more likely to suddenly put their scruples ahead of politics than Democrats?

      If the answer is no, then it is just as valid to judge the temperament of the electorate by observing the growing number of Democrats (shockingly many women) that are publicly stating they believe Tara Reade, but are going to vote for Joe Biden anyway.

      • Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/07/2020 - 12:13 pm.

        Jim, I’m unsure of your point. Seldom is a voter presented with a flawless candidate, whether in terms of a candidate’s personal shortcomings or ideologically.

        In this election, it looks like my choices are: Biden, Trump, 3rd party, or don’t vote. Assuming Ms Reid’s allegations are true, Biden is still a better choice than Trump, who is an erratic liar unsuited to the job. Ideology & personal behavior aside, there is still no contest. In the face of a national emergency Trump is focused on taking credit for things that he hasn’t done, blaming others for anything that’s gone wrong, and focuses not on solving the problem but on making himself look good. The guy wasn’t ready for the job in the first place and has utterly failed to grow into the role.

      • Submitted by Bobbie Collins on 05/08/2020 - 08:29 am.

        I was brutally raped when I was 20.

        I agree that every voice should be heard. But when a crime occurs… any crime… and there are no “objective” witnesses… it’s always a conundrum. Whether it’s murder, rape, theft, whatever… it’s critical that we listen to all purported victims. However, there’s always the possibility that a victim’s story is not credible.

        Thus it’s most important to look without bias into any collaboration or inconsistencies.

        Tara Reade’s story has changed, and changed again; it does not have significant credible collaboration. (And so far, no written complaints have surfaced… but they should be researched.)

        It’s well documented that Joe Biden was inappropriately physically expressive towards women in the past. But all of these transgressions were obviously displays of affection that used to be part of our culture. I know. I am a woman in my 70’s. I get this.

        Joe Biden has admitted and apologized for prior behavior that made women uncomfortable. He has owned his past actions and has stated his firm intentions to change.

        But the event reported by Tara Reade has not a shred of similarity to anything ever witnessed by anyone who has come forward at this time.

        Furthermore, I cannot conjure up any kind of visual image of how one person could “pin” another to a wall so securely, and still have one hand free to do what she states was done. Attempting to imagine being in such a scenario, I can construct all kinds of writhing and wriggling movements that would make such contact impossible for a person with only two hands (and a gym bag).

        As a rape victim, I cannot accept Tara Reade’s accusation until and unless additional collaboration or consistencies come to light.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/08/2020 - 11:24 am.

          A point–
          There is no corroboration of the actual event alleged — just of her claims, which are not in question.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/06/2020 - 09:49 pm.

    It is a very sad state of affairs and when ~ 40% support this disaster, America’s future does not bode well. “Going down the road on the hell bound train” and we can’t get off.

  5. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/07/2020 - 07:53 am.

    It’s nice that the scales have fallen off the eyes of a few horrified (Blue State) Repubs, but “conservatives” have worked for decades to lay the groundwork for manufacturing a failed and incompetent white electorate and “electing” a rightwing demagogue like Trump. So the Professor is simply making an appeal to close the gate after the horse is out of the barn, and is more than a day late and a dollar short.

    While Pitney has apparently seen the light on the dangers of an unqualified fool and conman like Herr Trump, I wonder if he disagrees with the Trump/McConnell installation of a democratically-illegitimate 5 man “conservative” majority on the Supreme Court as well? Or the endless supply of unqualified 40 year old conservative activists being placed on lower courts throughout the nation? Or the Trump regime’s ongoing destruction of the regulatory state and New Deal, which destruction “conservatives” have sought for countless decades? Or the anti-democratic elements of the failed Constitution that forced the mentally-unbalanced phony “patriot” on the nation?

    Once a society has failed and its government collapsed, these books are not calls to arms but are simply a history of what happened. After 2016 nothing can really be expected of the American electorate going forward. Like a stopped clock, it may be “right” for a minute twice a day, but the mechanism is no longer functioning.

  6. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/07/2020 - 08:18 am.

    The posts of Charles and Brian get at the new R dilemma:

    “Can’t win with him, can’t win without him”

    I don’t think Don Jr. or Jared Kushner have bright futures in national politics.

    And the “Never Trumpers” (Lincoln Project types and closet “Never Trumpers”) will soon have their re-ascendancy and immediately need to reconcile with the Trumpian hordes to reassemble anything resembling a majority. Will they show the courage to reject the screams of the red hatted hordes? Not likely:

    “Can’t win with him, can’t win without him”

    Survival will require a lot of political and moral flexibility. Maybe Lindsey Graham is the new age face of Republicanism?

    • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/07/2020 - 09:26 am.

      It’s guys like Lindsey Graham that drove me away from the GOP, but probably not for the reasons you’re considering.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/07/2020 - 10:42 am.

        Graham is the ultimate:

        “We’re you lying to me then, or are you lying to me now?” guy.

        The only thing we can conclusively state is that Lindsey Graham is a liar.

        I do not know what aspects of Graham drove you from the GOP, but if you put any value on the importance of truth to establish anything, you and others should be running away with your hair on fire.

        • Submitted by Richard Steuland on 05/08/2020 - 06:21 am.

          Whatever is being held over Lindseys head must be very damaging. My Dad was a Republican of the old school when decent honorable men held power. Long gone are the days of principled decent republicans. Today those claiming membership In the GOP are rogues like Jordan, Nunes, Stauber ect.Where do those decent former Republicans go in a two party electoral process?

          • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/08/2020 - 09:57 am.

            What is being held over the head of Lindsey Graham is the fact that the monstrous Trump is enormously popular in SC (which is one the Motherships of the “conservative” movement, just as it was birthplace of the Old Confederacy.)

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/07/2020 - 03:12 pm.

    Let’s not miss Eric’s main point here: There is another,respected Republican voice pointing out in detail how Donald Trump has failed as president and does not deserve to be re-elected.

    That’s important. And the more voices from the traditional right like his, the better. Some Republican Trump-voters-in-2016 may see the light. It only takes a few, after all–remember, the guy won with 77,000 votes more than Clinton spread across five states to get his electoral college majority!

  8. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/07/2020 - 04:26 pm.

    I’ve spent my entire adult life, over 4 decades, annoyed by bogus right wing patriotism, most of it by draft dodgers. In one of Geo. H.W. Bushe’s presidential campaigns, he toured US flag factory. Europeans just couldn’t figure out why he did that.

    Recently, on another online forum, I changed my avatar to the US flag. Just as I expected, the righties told me it was their flag, not mine.

    I’ve often wondered why lefties don’t take our flag back by bringing hundreds of them to lefty rallies.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/07/2020 - 05:24 pm.

      Taking the flag back is a wonderful idea, and I don’t know why it hasn’t been done more. At one of the first “resist Trump” marches after his inauguration, there were a number of American flags. I was hoping the trend would continue.

      Fun fact: The words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance as a way of getting the Communist Party to stop opening meetings with the Pledge (according to an unimpeachable source, viz. my Mother)..

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/08/2020 - 11:27 am.

        Right — it was in the McCarthy fifties.
        I remember having to make the change (actually, I usually stayed silent for those two words).

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/07/2020 - 09:54 pm.

      Because the flag should not be a symbol of national division.
      Just because some Republicans do it doesn’t mean that we should.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/08/2020 - 04:34 pm.

        Dude, “reclaining” it IS the way to make it a national symbol again. Thats the point. We’ve made mistake by cedeing it to the right.

        It’s like when a politician ignores an attack, by doing so it makes the attack the narrative.

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