July 5, 2016

"Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one."

"It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless. It celebrates the 'Übermensch,' or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump."

Writes Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in a NYT op-ed titled "The Theology of Donald Trump."

Shall we judge the "theology" of all the politicians we know? Shall we ask are they all more Nietzschean than Christian? And if so, must we do it as if we believe God is peering directly into our soul and will send us to Heaven or Hell if we are power-seekers who don't really, truly care about the poor and the weak? Or can we just do this in whatever way serves our power-seeking goals in the here-and-now?

ADDED:  I'd like to write a book continuing the topic I'm raising here. I'll never do it, so let me just tell you the title: "Who Really Cares?"

AND: My title has been used, I see. Here's a 2007 book called "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."
In his controversial study of America’s giving habits, Arthur C. Brooks shatters stereotypes about charity in America-including the myth that the political Left is more compassionate than the Right. Brooks, a preeminent public policy expert, spent years researching giving trends in America, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares, he identifies the forces behind American charity: strong families, church attendance, earning one’s own income (as opposed to receiving welfare), and the belief that individuals-not government-offer the best solution to social ills....
And Janis "Society's Child" Ian wrote a book of poetry she called "Who Really Cares?"

74 comments:

Jack Wayne said...

Just judging by public comments, it's more likely to be Obama than Trump. Obama is always saying "that's not who we are", "we're better than that", etc. but as I think Wehmer is an idiot, it's likely neither.

Darrell said...

Trump is famous for helping the poor. Only he uses his own money.
This shit is a waste of ink and electrons.

Ron said...

If I had a nickel for every greenhorn who projects his comic book Nietzsche ideas onto people he doesn't like...I'd have a ton of nickels.

I resign myself to feeling we need another 100+ years to be able see Nietzsche more clearly.

MisterBuddwing said...

That which does not kill me makes me stronger - with the possible exception of this election year.

chickelit said...

Politically, what doesn't kill Don Trump makes him stronger, so far -- there's that too.

James Pawlak said...

And, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?".

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Nietzschean = mean.

Christian = nice.

Got it.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Wehner seems to be explicating the philosophy of WWE, which is fine, he's a pundit, and no one really expects more. He's conveyed all he wanted to convey anyway: "Trump's like the BAD MAN". Anything beyond that primal scream is a waste of Wehner's brain glucose, which he no doubt would prefer to conserve.

John Henry said...

Why would he guess not? Does he have any knowledge of Trump's reading habits? I certainly don't either. Don't know whether he reads a lot or a little or what kind of books he reads.

Neither does the author, I suspect not. He may be suffering from Althouse commenter syndrome. He does not like Trump therefor Trump is not only wrong, he is "stupid" and illiterate. No basis for this, just more name calling.

I expect we will see a lot of this over the next 4-8 years.

John Henry

Luke Lea said...

Yes, really cheap. The NYT is no longer a newspaper, at least during election season or whenever some highly controversial political/cultural issue is in the news. It's a propaganda organ: https://goo.gl/TtdG56

Bay Area Guy said...

Wehner is one of these Conservative #NeverTrumpeteers. So, he unites with the NY Times to psychoanalyze Trump. How nice.

Shorter Wehner piece: I really don't like Trump. Here's my erudite, high-falutin' reasons why.

RichardJohnson said...

What has Peter Wehner written on the theologies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?
Just wondering.

Wehner has served in Republican administrations.

traditionalguy said...

More Big Lie crap that Trump is a Nazi. Everybody knows that Nietzsche was the philosopher beloved by Superman wannabe Hitler who hunted down and killed Jews and other ethnic types because his occult satanic religion was seeking to create a pure Aryan psychic power possessing blood line.

Trump is a simple laid back Calvinist Reformed Christian. But you will never see a piece including that inconvenient truth. All they have is The Big Lie coming in 50 shades that all brand Trump a dangerous Nazi.

chickelit said...

Huma All Too Huma #TrumpedUpNietzscheTweets

Matthew Sablan said...

Wow.

So, we're going for unpersoning Trump, I take it, as the strategy? I mean, they did the same thing to McCain Romney, but they only went so far there. I guess there's no barriers of decency any more.

chickelit said...

Twilight Of American Idol #TrumpedUpNietzscheTweets

chickelit said...

George Will To Power #TrumpedUpNietzscheTweets

chickelit said...

Trump Contra Clinton #TrumpedUpNietzscheTweets

Sebastian said...

"Shall we judge the "theology" of all the politicians we know?" Sure, why not. Love the scare quotes, though a Nietzschean philosopher doesn't need them. Every traditional concept comes with scare quotes built in, if you know what I mean, or even if you don't.

"Shall we ask are they all more Nietzschean than Christian?" Sure, why not. Makes short work of their political "philosophies." For all major US politicos of the past generation other than W and Mitt, the answer is yes. Dreams from My Father is a Nietzschean conceit, post-Prez sequel will be titled Also Sprach Moi, to be followed by Ecce Moi.

Birkel said...

Pure projection and unworthy of serious consideration.

Ann Althouse said...

""Shall we judge the "theology" of all the politicians we know?" Sure, why not. Love the scare quotes, though a Nietzschean philosopher doesn't need them. Every traditional concept comes with scare quotes built in, if you know what I mean, or even if you don't."

Good point, but I put it in quotes because it was the word the NYT put in the title, and I myself would not chose that word as the one to represent the ideas about religion that are under discussion. I'd only use "theology" for something more scholarly, not for the ordinary person's religious beliefs.

mjatherton said...

For every politician "Truth" is a evolving concept. Including Ms Clinton.

Alexander said...

Ah, we've been doing it wrong the whole time!

From now on, I shall simply say that "Obama embodies an Islamic morality rather than a Christian one."

Bill Peschel said...

"It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations)"

This has been the cry of every liberal who's been caught lying since Bush was elected. Does that make them Nietzschean as well?

Roughcoat said...

There ought to be a Godwin's Law-type term for bringing Nietzche into a conversation.

Bob Boyd said...

Trump is more like the Knights Who Say Nee than he is a Nietzschean.
But who gives a fuck? It's Trump vs. Hillary. What else do you need to know?

Laslo Spatula said...

"Whether or not he has read a word of Goebbels (I’m guessing he has), Mr. Wehner embodies a Goebbels-like morality rather than a Christian one."

I am Laslo.

MadisonMan said...

Whether or not Mr. Wehner beats his wife (I'm guessing he does not), his opinion article is a tedious hit piece.

traditionalguy said...

The film maker Ken Burns, who in all probability is an atheist, recently made a diatribe against Trump for not being more like Christ, or something.

He was really shaming evangelical Christians for accepting a good leader like Trump, when in Burns' opinion they should hold out for a leader that jumps ahead to be a second coming of Jesus Christ type. Interestingly, theologian Burns thinks Jesus will return in re-run of his poor suffering servant on the Cross type and not as a reigning Jewish Messiah type.

Gusty Winds said...

the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless

Really. To all the Americans who have lost jobs to outsourcing in the last 25 years, and the decimated communities don't represent any form of powerlessness?

This idiot and Pope Francis should start lecturing the Latin American Countries about their moral obligations to take care of their citizens.

damikesc said...

I wonder what he'd label Hillary...

The Clintons have a personal vendetta against truth.

boycat said...

Rush Limbaugh likes to point out how the Democrats are afraid of and hate Republicans far more than they do the terrorists, or ISIS, or anyone else. The corollary to that is Republican establishment types are afraid of and hate Trump far more than they do Obama, Hillary, or any other Democrat.

damikesc said...

This idiot and Pope Francis should start lecturing the Latin American Countries about their moral obligations to take care of their citizens.

Why does the Pope single out the immigration laws of the US (without much doubt, the most open on the planet) and NOBODY ELSE'S?

He doesn't criticize how Mexico treats ITS neighbors to the South...

Rush Limbaugh likes to point out how the Democrats are afraid of and hate Republicans far more than they do the terrorists, or ISIS, or anyone else. The corollary to that is Republican establishment types are afraid of and hate Trump far more than they do Obama, Hillary, or any other Democrat.

It's because most of them don't believe a word they're saying. I will give them this much: Democrats REALLY love the idea of big government because it gives them more power. Republicans HATE the idea of small government because they might have to find honest work.

Gusty Winds said...

Everyone is obsessed with the separation of church and state until we start pointing which political party Jesus would have joined. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and hope you get to heaven.

After this election the GOP in its past form is dead. Guys like Peter Wehner, Bill Kristol, and the rest of the holier than thou crowd are killing it. I don't even know if I'll vote for Scott Walker again, and I'm a fan.


Unknown said...

"Shall we judge the "theology" of all the politicians we know?"

This is exactly what the right has done to Obama for the last 8 years. Did anyone here complain about it, or were they the perpetrators? How often now has Trump called into question his political opponents religious beliefs?

Brando said...

I'd like to see a candidate who can separate their Christianity from what needs to be done as president. Christianity doesn't always mesh well with the sort of things presidents have to do for the long run.

Clyde said...

Ironically, "indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless" sounds at least as Clintonian as it does Trumpian, if not more so.

khesanh0802 said...

Otto says: "Don't call me stupid!"

Laslo Spatula said...

Renfro Jeffries. Nazi And Proud Of It!

People, I'm getting VERY tired of New York-types (you know what I mean by that) calling everyone Nazis.

They are taking away all meaning from my Beliefs. I am a Nazi and Proud of It, and I do NOT like to be thrown into the same cattle-car with regular Politicians and the Like (you know what I mean by that).

I mean: do these 'Nazis' they talk about REALLY hate Jews? I mean, HATE Jews, like I hate Jews (you know what I mean by that). I won't even own an electric stove, People (you know what I mean by that).

Do they have Hitler's Birthday tattooed on their very own Flesh? Do they revere the Swastika more than the Rainbow Flag? These New York-types wouldn't know Nazi Conviction if it wore chaps and fucked them in the ass (you know what I mean by that).

Don't be tossing around the word 'Nazi' like it's just another bad thing, like 'Fag' used to be before the queers got people to stop saying THAT...

I'm Renfro Jeffries, Nazi And Proud Of It!

I am Laslo.

MisterBuddwing said...

Actually, my favorite Nietzsche quote is: "“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

Gusty Winds said...

damikesc said...

He [Pope Francis] doesn't criticize how Mexico treats ITS neighbors to the South...

I returned to the Catholic Church last year after 40 years being Lutheran. Mostly because of a move back to Wisconsin, and it's the same church my Grandmother took me to as a young boy. She's buried in the cemetery there. Went through the whole RCIA process and everything. It was a great experience.

But I can't drag myself to mass lately. There's a big cardboard cutout of Francis in the narthex wagging his finger about global warming. There is something over the top sinister about the guy.

Anybody notice the Francis sounds like Ladka Gravas from Taxi?

David said...

The assault continues. Expect this from every corner until election day (and after, even if Trump loses.) It's taking its toll on Trump and will continue to do so.

Matt said...

"The Theology of Donald Trump." Fascinating. I'm guessing the article is going to be some sort of overview of Presbyterian doctrine, maybe describing its evolution from John Calvin to the present day. I would hope the article would also include a discussion how Trump's upbringing and the tragedies in his life (e.g., death of his brother) affected his theological outlook. Maybe they'll talk to those close to him, like his family and friends, to get a feeling for the "real" Donald Trump.

No, wait. It's a rant comparing Donald Trump to Nietzche.

Unknown said...

I don't like the Pope's "politics" so I'll question his Christianity. Hmmm maybe the Pope's politics are a reflection of his deeply held religious beliefs, his Christianity. Everybody thinks they have the inside scoop on what Jesus meant. How dare the Pope.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Unknown said...

(Quoting someone else) "Shall we judge the "theology" of all the politicians we know?"

This is exactly what the right has done to Obama for the last 8 years

I don't think anyone here questions President Obama's Muslim faith.

Dr Weevil said...

MisterBuddwing:
Worth adding:
Ironically, though rare in individuals, insanity was eventually found in Nietzsche.

Boxty said...

It was Judas, not Jesus, that was always concerned with the poor. Jesus said "You will always have the poor with you." But just like Judas, liberals always advocate for the poor while they are stealing from the communal purse. Judas = Clinton Global Initiative.

Gusty Winds said...

Unknown said...

I don't like the Pope's "politics" so I'll question his Christianity.

I didn't question is Christianity. I did question his politics.

He's dick. Lot's of Pope's have been dicks. Lot's of Christians are dicks.

I like what he's done on divorce, and homosexuality. But the rest is staged.

As the first Latin American Pope, you'd think maybe he'd want to use his position to remove the log from the eye from the continent from where he came. Instead he uses his
international and liberal fawning to turn a blind eye to the failure of Latin American Socialism, and the rampant corruption the keeps his people in poverty.

And he lectures Europe and America, instead of telling the leaders of Middle East countries that they should be taking care of their people. God blessed them with oil.

Unknown said...

"who really cares" reminds me of Hillary's famous line "what difference does it make" from the Benghazi hearing. I just do not see how this will not make a very compelling commercial for trump when the time is right. I would re-create a firefight with a split screen of Hillary blaming a video, then another where she comes clean that it was not a video, then another with the ambassador emails requesting more security, then Hillary from hearing saying "what difference does it make"...

Laslo Spatula said...

Renfro Jeffries. Nazi And Proud Of It!

So we were having our Monthly Nazi Meeting when the subject of the Blacks came up. Except we didn't call them Blacks, of course (you know what I mean by that).

Henry questioned whether a Black could be a Nazi if he Hated Jews enough. I know: a stupid question, but sometimes you have to let people work themselves to the Truth.

That said, there are a lot of Gangsta rappers that ain't half-bad in who they Hate: we don't like Koreans, either (you know what I mean by that). So maybe we can accept some of them like the Nazis accepted the Wops and the Japs: it is something to think about...

I'm Renfro Jeffries, Nazi And Proud Of It!

I am Laslo.

gerry said...

More Big Lie crap that Trump is a Nazi.

Wehner jumped the shark.

Unknown said...

of course, she and ambassador were running guns through Benghazi to Syrian rebels fighting assad. I wonder how many of those guns were used to murder civilians...perhaps another good commercial for trump

crook and lacks judgment and trustworthy is a winning critique for trump

Fernandinande said...

Laslo Spatula said...
"Whether or not he has read a word of Goebbels (I’m guessing he has), Mr. Wehner embodies a Goebbels-like morality rather than a Christian one."


Whether of not these two people are Wehner's transsexual parents (I'm guessing they are), Wehner hasn't disavowed his Nazi name:

Bernhard Wehner ... German criminal inspector, Schutzstaffel (SS) officer, and journalist.

Josef Magnus Wehner ... criticized for the militarism displayed in his work and his allegiance to the Nazi Party.

Birkel said...

Unknown is sad.
Unknown is mailing it it.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Condensed version:

"He just isn't our sort."

Paul Snively said...

Gusty Winds, there's a simple solution, minus the graveyard: the Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod, i.e. Catholic in all but name. IIRC, they won't even share communion with the Missouri Synod, the usual poster child for conservative American Lutheranism!

rhhardin said...

Nietzsche was amused by feminism, so is called misogynist as well.

Yet he was pro-woman.

n.n said...

A deflection from the abortion and corruption of the weakest and unrepresented among us: the human baby.

Democrats have an irreconcilable religious/moral philosophical conflict that only a pro-choice doctrine can avoid/ignore.

Roughcoat said...

Gusty Winds --

Totally agree wit you re the RCC and the pope. Excellent comments. I can't drag myself to mass either. My parish church is too political, which is bad enough, and its politics are PC, which is worse. It shouldn't be political at all, to the left or the right. The homilies are boring and intellectually pedestrian, the kids are noisy and so are the adults, and there is an overall lack of holiness and sense of the sacred.

I'm completely on board with the theology, however.

As Wm. F. Buckley once said, "I'm not a devout Catholic, but I am a loyal Catholic." I'm also a believing Catholic. But I'm fed up with the politicized pc social-justice-warrior quasi-marxian mass.

Roughcoat said...

Paul Snively:

Lutheranism? Nuh-uh, no way. Lutherans are Bible/Scripture-centric Christians, and this homie doesn't play that game.

But to each his own. We'll all be one again at the end of time.

cubanbob said...

It's because most of them don't believe a word they're saying. I will give them this much: Democrats REALLY love the idea of big government because it gives them more power. Republicans HATE the idea of small government because they might have to find honest work."

Brilliant. Pithy and succinct.

Paddy O said...

Breaking news: Herod Antipas was not a Christian. Neither was Pilate.

Paddy O said...

"But I can't drag myself to mass lately... There is something over the top sinister about the guy."

That was Luther's problem too!

Gusty Winds said...

Paul Snively said...

the Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod, i.e. Catholic in all but name

I'm familiar with the closed door exclusivity of the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church.

I need two things from Church/Mass:

1) My sins forgiven
2) Holy Communion

I'm not looking for Conservative or Liberal Politics. I've got the internet for that.

Carol said...

Good thing the writer can assume his audience hasn't actually read any Nietzsche, but knows for sure Nietzsche/Nazi/Wagner/Hitler BAD because History.

blogstupidgirl said...

Also, Trump went to an all-boys school, just like Nietzsche!

Paul Snively said...

Gusty, Rough: Perhaps I should clarify that I was kidding (and trying to poke a little fun at both the Wisconsin and, for that matter, Missouri, Synods).

Rough: Amen to your last. When I was visiting Munich some years ago, our tour guide, a lovely Bavarian Catholic woman, noted a very 1970s postmodernist church near the cathedral, and jokingly told us it was referred to as "Luther's bathtub" or "Luther's rollercoaster." I got a chuckle out of it—then offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving that, some 500 years after the 30 Years War, the conflict between Bavarian Catholics and Bavarian Lutherans comes down to a bit of good-natured ribbing.

Char Char Binks said...

This is just a somewhat more fleshed out version of Brad Thor calling Trump a "caudillo" after learning a new word on Wikipedia.

William Chadwick said...

" . . .the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak . . . "

And I'm guessing by that the writer means, "forcing people to pay for my compassion."

So Trump is a libertarian, who would overturn the Welfare State (or as I call it "the Church of Coercive Compassion")? Good to know!
















Paddy O said...

The peace of Rome involved making others bear the burden for one's own peace.
The peace of Christ involves bearing the burden for the peace of others.

While I have a lot of politically progressive friends who are doing great work for the poor, I can't think of any Democrat who is truly concerned about helping the poor. There is no hatred of the poor worse than becoming wealth through claiming to be on the side of the poor. The Clintons despise the poor.

Tax collectors were grouped with sinners in the Gospels. What is the solution? Zacchaeus found it.

I don't like Trump at all, but there's no ethical question that Trump fares worse on than the Clintons. Trump is a piker compared with the Clintons anti-Christian behavior.

William Chadwick said...

"Trump is a piker compared with the Clintons anti-Christian behavior."

But the Clintons are so COMPASSIONATE! Don't you see the difference? In this view, being generous with other people's money covers a multitude of sins.

readering said...

the article is specifically addressing Trump's supposed appeal to self-professing evangelical leaders. If one is not an evangelical, the article is not of much relevance. I don't analyze issues like an evangelical. But if one is an evangelical, it seems to make some interesting points about the presumptive Republican nominee.

aritai said...

Strange that the passage that your ptb and the evangelical minister agreed to was paul's second letter when he finally understood that the only thing that mattered for salvation was individuals having a free will. doing good or evil, charity or not, had to be up to the individual, forcing an individual to be good means nothing, as done forcing someone to give to charity. Which is an argument for the smallest government possible and an extreme level of conscientious objection, meaning "don't make me pay taxes for something you don't believe in o believe is abhorrent to your god, like a particular war, a given charity or the infrastructure to support same, like abortion or socialized health care leading to death panels, the this second letter is the most libertarian passage in the bible, no evangelical will disagree save when the left has abused their power for generations, it's no surprise they want to get even. But your pTb is far more evangelical in the pure sense than any other candidate, as the preacher said when he endorsed him.

Jonathan Graehl said...

The Renfro conceit is that if there were actual Nazis, they wouldn't only exist furtively between the lines where they're so often found.

On the other hand, a "traditionalist workers party" stood in a shield wall (with a permit, but cops wouldn't dare protect them, right?) at the state capitol in CA. There are your Nazis, or close enough - though Renfro might not in their number. Mobs of excited do-gooders, sad that they were born too late to fight in WW2, attacked with knives and clubs.