I wrote this about a spectacularly dumb candidate tweet that simply would not let me rest. https://t.co/x3GSq9dH8b
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) May 28, 2021
David Roth, emerging national treasure, at Defector:
… It is both an uneasy and an incredibly easy time to be an ambitious Republican politician. A generation of hothouse freaks bred for and molded by the conservative political ecosystem are running up against the realization that their base cares nothing about the ludicrously shitty and unpopular policies they’ve been pushing for generations, and also hates their tricksy and smug debate-club rhetoric, and also hates them, really, mostly for the usual reasons that people dislike Yalies but also because they are boring. But what has replaced all that professional stuff is just trolling and recrimination and bile; there is no real reasoning to it, or with it.
What this base wants to see is itself, reflected in shades of gunmetal and gold, because it does not trust and cannot care about anything but that reflection. This is the language that Jenner is trying to learn to speak, the uncanny patois of sunburned small-business tyrants and seething but secretly bored bosses and aggrieved middle-management. The task before Jenner is to learn the things that the deranged hornball grifters and serial antagonizers of customer service professionals and sloppy hair-trigger affluenza cases hear all day from their televisions, and then learn to say it back to them. Trump was able to do this because, for all his wealth, he was exactly as small of spirit and vacant of principle and jealously selfish as the people that idolized him, and just as voracious a consumer of the same terrible television. For all the other things that might hold Jenner back as a candidate, she does at least seem to have all that going for her.
But she is not there yet. It is something like the point that Canceling The Cancel Culture and Waking Up The Woke don’t really mean anything. They’re statements made up of recognizable words, but they’re more about the sound than the shape. It is a way of saying “I, Caitlyn Jenner, am as upset about whatever these things might mean or be, as you are, in something like the same way,” and loading that I Would Also Like To Express My Fondness For That Particular Beer falseness up with a barely implicit promise to hurt their shared enemies. That it comes out so clotted and clanging and strange—that it somehow looks so ugly on the page, what with the random capitalization and that grating extraneous comma between the two consecutive “cancels”—is part of the point, both in how it consciously apes Trump’s own grandparental syntax and copy and because of the specific way it is trying to pander. It is a message from a candidate, but that candidate is both vapid enough and advised by sufficiently cynical professionals to know that the message will land better if it looks like a Facebook comment left under a Fox News video by a senescent shut-in, or like a text message from one bored rich grump to another.
This would all be a lot easier to laugh at if Trump hadn’t won, and if his presidency hadn’t ended the way it did, and if his legacy wasn’t being carried forward in the ways that it is. But Jenner is bad enough at this, both in terms of her wholly absent talent for the game and toweringly checked-out rich person’s laziness, that there’s still a certain bleak comedy in watching her flail away at trying to appear as aggrieved and fatuous as she is. “I will wake up the woke with an alarm clock called reality,” Jenner will read, robotic and blinking, from some teleprompter somewhere, at some point. “And there is no snooze bar.” …
And there will be some more applause, and then it will peter out, and in the moment before she starts speaking again, the absently vengeful and proudly vacuous people listening to her, all these little tyrants wrecked by leisure and softened unto death by their own laziness, will perk up—less because of anything the candidate might say and more in the hope that they might catch some glimpse of themselves in the blank, reflective surface of it as it goes by.