Have you heard of Bush Derangement Syndrome? Though only first diagnosed in 2003 by Dr Charles Krauthammer, an American psychiatrist and conservative pundit, the first cases began to develop in the late 1990s; within two years, the United States was in the grip of a BDS pandemic: ‘the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency – nay – the very existence of George W. Bush.’ BDS is most commonly found on campuses, leading some to conclude it’s actually an STD. Four years into the Obama presidency, BDS began to subside, and many hoped the epidemic had ended. Alas, a mutant strain of BDS, which is being called Trump Derangement Syndrome, now grips the Western world. TDS may be defined likewise as: ‘the acute onset of paranoia (yada yada) in reaction to the policies, the candidacy – nay, the very existence – of Donald J. Trump.’ TDS is distinct from BDS in that conservatives and progressives appear equally susceptible – as are Australians. Exhibit A: Christopher Pyne, Minister for Clearing the Way, Dealing with It, and Fixing it by Funding It in Another Way Which You’ll Find Out in the Budget. During a recent appearance on The Morning Show, Pyne called Trump ‘terrifying’, and noted that his ascendency is ‘making American democracy look kind of weird’. (Speaking of, have you noticed Pyne’s hair looks kind of like dry Ramen noodles?) ‘These terrible rallies are appearing!’ he shrieks, as he’s apt to do. Technically they don’t just appear – the venues are booked by the campaign and tickets are supplied through Eventbrite – but we get the gist. Pyne’s problem, one suspects, is that he’s never seen a rally that didn’t want to kill him. His last encounter with an electrified crowd was when Leftist students Sydney Uni mobbed him en route to a Liberal Club event. Were he more familiar with the American system, he’d know that even candidates suffering from chronic tedium, such as John Kasich, would kill to bring in crowds as big as Trump’s. Surely Pyne himself wouldn’t object to a few thousand Liberal die-hards getting together to chant his name and listen to him babble about his genitalia for a few hours. Exhibit B: the Daily Telegraph touting a pair of academics, one from the ANU and another from Sydney, who warn that a Trump presidency would be a ‘disaster’ for US-Aussie relations. Our reasons to fear for the Tele’s health are legion. Firstly, by no stretch of the imagination is calling up two teachers and asking for their opinion ‘reporting’ – it’s a rodentine attempt to dress up an op-ed as a news story. Secondly, the Tele is to the university what Russia Today is to the Ukraine: they can’t decide if it’s a Bolshevist conspiracy or a cancer to be purged from the face of the earth. Thirdly, the last academic they quoted supportively was, I think, me, when I condemned the University of Sydney for firing Professor Barry Spurr. Brendon O’Connor, an assoc. prof at the US Studies Centre, claims Trump’s protectionist economics would prove ‘an absolute disaster’ for Aussie-American trade. Of course it wouldn’t really, because we all know that Trump’s concerning himself with Chinese clothing and Japanese cars, not Yellowtail Chardonnay. O’Connor also calls Trump ‘an egomaniac who thinks he can solve all sorts of global problems’ – which, naturally, is his professional opinion as an Americologist – and fears a friendly-fire incident might result in Trump declaring war on Australia. The latter is utter draff, considering only Congress can declare war. But no matter. This is the level of debate that we expect from the eggy Left. More disturbing is the Tele’s willingness to act as their Stakhanovite propagandist, churning out fashionable character assassinations. Blue-collar conservatism is foaming at the mouthpiece, a rare but not unheard-of symptom of late-stage TDS. What is to be done about all of this? Not only is this sort of demonisation grossly disingenuous, but it also drives Trump’s supporters deeper into his orange bosom. If a man with crazed eyes and a tattooed forehead approaches you and offers you a Coke, the sane response is to decline. But that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything wrong with the Coke. So, too, with Trump. Just because the arguments against him are curried by madmen doesn’t make them mad themselves. The real casualties of TDS are those of us trying to form a rational opinion about Mr Trump. With the political and media classes (especially on the right) substituting scaremongering for debate, we’re left to form judgements for ourselves.
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