Careful readers will have noticed that these columns are not just weekly summaries of news and opinion, but also a handy chart of this once-great nation’s decline and fall. Last week, there was significant activity in this regard as the holder of the presidency of the United States — at one time, for reasons lost to history, an exalted and respected office — attacked via crude and belligerent remarks, tweets, and video some TV presenters and a cable network.
For many of us, these vulgar displays on the cusp of the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence were infuriating or depressing. But conservatives were excited by them, because the president was, in his own berserk way, promulgating the same kind of press hatred in which they had long specialized — only now people had to pay attention, because it came from the president.
Stage one was a creepy-weird presidential tweet series on how Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — two MSNBC hosts who used to praise The Leader but had recently, either for principled or marketing reasons, turned against him — once tried to ingratiate themselves at Mar-a-Lago while Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” Further witticisms ensued.
Some rightbloggers dealt with the contretemps like any other celebrity garbage tweet-feud with an enticing soupçon of politics: “Whoa! Melania SWATS Down Brzezinski’s Cheap Shot,” wrote Lawrence Richard at SarahPalin.com; “Trump Unloads on ‘Crazy Mika’ and ‘Psycho Joe,’ ” reported Susan Jones of CNSNews.com.
Others took it more seriously. When Brzezinski and Scarborough said they had “noticed a change in [Trump’s] behavior over the past few years,” National Review’s Tiana Lowe cried, “This is nothing short of historical revisionism.” Gasp, that’s worse than a false dialectic! Lowe argued Trump had in fact been offensive for years, yet Brzezinski and Scarborough had failed to criticize him until recently, and she knew why: Back in 2016, “the liberal Brzezinski already had her candidate, Hillary Clinton,” and “at the time, Trump’s misogynist, crass, xenophobic rhetoric may have seemed like an easy pill to swallow in return for the coronation of Queen Hillary, who looked a safe bet for the White House.” So Scarborough and Brzezinski were only being nice to Trump to promote their own agenda — their careers, and Hillary Clinton! Well, back in the day, conservatives frequently accused the media of promoting Trump for the same reason, so that shtick’s always worth another try.
Some true believers delivered more Soviet-style denunciations of the offending presenters. “The ever-execrable Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezenski [sic] are basking in the glory of mud of their own making,” intoned American Thinker’s Patricia McCarthy. She kept on like this — “They are cruel and vicious like the worst ten-year-old bully at a rough elementary school. They rarely discuss policy; they would not have a clue…nothing more than a couple of drones of the left…There is no question that the silly duo Joe and Mika deserved every hard-bitten word. They are the bullies…” — until her Two Minutes Hate had gone into triple overtime, and finished with this wonderful paragraph:
Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that “If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” The left learned nothing from their electoral loss. They have just become more obnoxious, more malicious, more despicable. That muddy boomerang is headed their way.
And that muddy boomerang will hit them in their raggy and bony heart, which will be foul!
More intellectual-type conservatives found ways to defend The Leader while also advancing their various mania. At National Review, ultra-reactionary Heather Mac Donald said the incidents proved the hypocrisy of feminists. While she admitted the president’s tweets “provide an abysmal example to boys of mature male comportment,” she nonetheless insisted “it is the height of hypocrisy for feminists to claim that females should be equal in all things and then erupt in outrage when they receive the same boorish treatment that Trump routinely doles out to males.” People got all exercised over Trump’s bleeding-from-wherever cracks, Mac Donald groused, but when he mocked non-females “there was no men’s-movement backlash claiming that ‘all men’ were being attacked.” So unfair!
The real message of the day, Mac Donald concluded, was that “it would be nice if Western feminists displayed comparable degrees of outrage at mass sexual assaults in Western Europe, honor killings in the Middle East, or cliterectomies in Africa,” political events in the United States being none of their business.
Then the president of the United States, apparently tired of attacking a specific set of TV presenters, went after CNN. The proximate cause appears to have been a defective CNN story about the Trump administration’s many Russian connections. When its deficiencies were revealed, three CNN reporters resigned, something you may wait forever to see happen at a prestigious right-wing media outlet, assuming such a thing exists.
Conservatives ululated “fake news” over this, as they do over any reporting, accurate or not, that embarrasses their cause, and received an unexpected assist from the president, who not only inserted denunciations of the press into an unrelated address, but also tweeted a bizarre video of himself body-slamming, Greg Gianforte style, a person with a CNN logo for a head.
Members of the press complained, but Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll scoffed that “the DNC-MSM” were only pretending to be outraged by this; what they were really “angry about is that those enjoying the president’s tweet the most are millions of those same voters whom they’ve trashed for years” by privately calling them “stupid as shit’ ” etc. — much, much more offensive, Driscoll seemed to think, than the “low-information voters” insults regularly and publicly applied to Obama voters by conservatives (such as Ed Driscoll), presumably because the targets were in this case white. (As if to amplify the point, Driscoll elsewhere complained that Obama had once called Kendrick Lamar “one of his favorite ‘artists,’ ” but aha, the cover of To Pimp a Butterfly “features a dead judge and his murderers posing in front of the White House.” Well, at least it’s an ethos.)
At the Washington Examiner, Byron York bade the opposition Kneel Before Zod, naming several GOP politicians who had fallen before the wrath of Trump and predicting CNN would likewise be struck down for their “network-wide air of snarkiness,” citing as evidence a tweet by Ben Shapiro. York further predicted Scarborough and Brzezinski would fall, too, for their “needling of Trump’s hand size” and other similar offenses.
In a fleeting moment of clarity or outside editorial judgment, York admitted that Trump was not blameless in these exchanges, but he had an excuse: “Trump is Trump. He does what he does, which is what he did during the campaign and before.” In case this tautology didn’t convince, York added that Trump’s “campaign against ‘fake news’…resonates with his core supporters.” Which is significant, since those core Trump supporters who don’t die of OxyContin overdoses or gun-handling injuries by 2020 may vote for him again.
Also last week, the Republican Party in Multnomah County, Oregon, voted to approve the use of “volunteers from the Oregon Three Percenters [and] Oath Keepers” — dangerous right-wing paramilitary water-the-tree-of-liberty types — to provide security at its events, which is rather like getting the Klan to bring over a cross to light your barbecue. And the National Rifle Association got a great deal of publicity for an ad about how Barack Obama along with “movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows” and of course the media all had conspired to besmirch The Leader and must be answered with the “clenched fist of truth,” whatever that might mean coming from a large group of rageaholic shooting enthusiasts. Looks like these guys have stopped pretending to be scared that Kathy Griffin and William Shakespeare are coming to kill them, and have mood-swung back to fantasies of vengeance. Given the degenerative stage we’re fast approaching, they may not swing back for a while.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2017