Even though Donald Trump is “dumb” and “racist,” he might constitute an upgrade in the Republican party’s leadership, suggests Rolling Stone’s Taibbi. That’s because before Trump turned into the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, the public faces of the party were “mean, traitorous scum.” Republicans, wrote Taibbi in the magazine’s June 2 issue, “dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters…Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to [Mitt] Romney and [Paul] Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates…the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.”
Mount Rushmore has become an ongoing reference to historical greatness. GQ editor Jim Nelson recently proclaimed Barack Obama was “Mount Rushmore great.” In 1991, as the Soviet Union collapsed, NBC reporter Jim Maceda gushed its last dictator Mikhail Gorbachev deserved a place on Mount Rushmore.
Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner reports that Washington Post bigwig Bob Woodward envisions Bill, Hillary, and even Chelsea Clinton on Mount Rushmore, at least in their minds.
Universities have generated countless breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine. Then there’s the product of higher education that Kevin Drum discussed in a Saturday post: “The first concrete movement toward gender-neutral bathrooms started at universities. Now it's becoming mainstream. Good work, idealistic college kids!"
Drum remarked that some current campus obsessions -- “safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings” -- might be considered “dumb,” but added, “I've always found it hard to get too exercised about this stuff. These kids are 19 years old. They want to change the world. They're idealistic and maybe too impatient with anyone who doesn't want to move as fast as they do. So were you and I at that age. Frankly, if they didn't go a little overboard about social justice, I'd be worried about them.”
A lot of big-time journalists believe they speak truth to power, but according to Esquire’s Charles Pierce, the attitude of the elite media toward presidents and certain presidential nominees is pretty much the opposite: “giddiness in the face of power.” Because of that longstanding state of affairs, suggested Pierce in a Tuesday post, “a fully armed and operational bullshit station” better known as Donald Trump might be the next POTUS.
Pierce conceded that Democrats John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton benefited from credulous and even reverent coverage, but he devoted much more space to how Republicans had been similarly advantaged. He claimed that “the real precedent for the helplessness of the elite political press” was its treatment of Ronald Reagan, stating that Reagan's "constant disengagement from the truth were chalked up to his lifetime as a 'storyteller,' his love for 'parables,' and, very late in his term, his advancing age...The elite political press simply was not prepared to call the man a liar. It would not have been sporting. It would have been against The Rules."
In a Tuesday post, New York magazine’s Chait suggested that conservatism is driven not by an elite but by its riff-raff. Chait asserted, “Whatever [the] abstract arguments for conservative policy…on the ground, Republican politics boils down to ethno-nationalistic passions ungoverned by reason,” and remarked that Donald Trump’s supporters “have revealed things about the nature of the party that many Republicans prefer to deny.”
During the GOP presidential contest, indicated Chait, the “lunatic theories professed by most Republicans: the theory of anthropogenic global warming is a conspiracy concocted by scientists worldwide; the Reagan and Bush tax cuts caused revenue to increase; George W. Bush kept us safe from terrorism,” have lost ground to Trump’s “entirely different set of crackpot beliefs that lie outside conservative ideology.”
Some on the left claim that Donald Trump is an ideological descendant of Ronald Reagan, never mind that Reagan was Mr. Conservative and Trump is Mr. Opportunist. Paul Campos, from the University of Colorado, makes a different Trump-as-heir-to-Reagan argument. In a Thursday Salon article, Campos opined that the Reagan revolution was less about right-wing views than “stupidity, celebrity, and plutocracy,” and that Trump is its “natural culmination.”
Campos sniped that “being famous for being famous is a sufficient basis for winning [the] presidential nomination [of] the party of Reagan, the know-nothing B-movie star” and stated that Trump’s electoral success “marks the triumph of plutocracy in its purest form. Ronald Reagan hated government, and loved business, to the point where he helped create our national infatuation with the idea of the heroic businessman…In a culture that worships both stupidity and celebrity, the self-serving lies of famous plutocrats are often swallowed whole.”
How left-wing is NPR? On Monday, it unspooled this opener: “It will be Indiana's turn tomorrow to vote in the presidential primaries, and that gives us the opportunity to remember one of the state's most famous politicians.”
Dan Quayle? Birch Bayh? President Benjamin Harrison? Nope. “Eugene V. Debs ran for president as a Socialist five times in the early 1900s, once in 1920 from prison.” The online headline was “Eugene V. Debs Museum Explores History Of American Socialism.”
During the upcoming presidential campaign, predicts David Roberts, the media will not acknowledge an inconvenient truth: that the difference in quality between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is comparable to the difference in potability between “Coca-Cola [and] sewer water.”
“The campaign media's self-image is built on not being partisan,” wrote Roberts in a Thursday article. “How does that even work if one side is offering up a flawed centrist and the other is offering up a vulgar xenophobic demagogue?...Going after Clinton will be journalists' default strategy for proving that they're not biased.”
Several decades ago, there were plenty of right-of-center Democrats and left-of-center Republicans. These days, however, almost everyone agrees that the Democrats have become a distinctly liberal party and the GOP a distinctly conservative party. One who disagrees in part is writer Conor Lynch, who in a Saturday article claimed that Republicans have transitioned out of true conservatism and now are “extreme nihilists” who have “embraced Bolshevism of the right.”
Lynch noted that pundits such as George Will and David Brooks “have widely condemned Donald Trump as a fake conservative, and they’re not wrong. Trump is clearly not conservative—but neither is the Republican Party...[which] has become an increasingly friendly place for…the kind of characters who used to make up the John Birch Society…For the sake of John Boehner’s mental well being, he is lucky he got out when he did.”
Last week, a long Vox essay by Emmett Rensin asserted that “contempt” for supposedly “stupid” blue-collar whites -- in response to the exodus of those voters from the Democratic party -- has become pervasive among liberals. The piece has gotten some pushback from lefty writers, including Slate’s Jamelle Bouie, who thinks that Rensin greatly overestimates the spread and influence of what Rensin called the “smug style in American liberalism.”
“The driving reason working-class whites abandoned the Democratic Party is race,” commented Bouie in a Friday piece. “The New Deal coalition Rensin describes was devoured by its own contradictions, chiefly, the racism needed to secure white allegiance even as the party tried to appeal to blacks…Pressed by those blacks, Democrats tried to make good on their commitments, and when they did, whites bolted.”
In a sure sign Obama is a lame duck, Sunday’s Washington Post carried a gushy article by assistant managing editor David Maraniss. The subhead was “Obama set out to be a leader of consequence; From the Affordable Care Act to the opening of relations with Cuba, Obama will leave behind a legacy of liberal achievement.”
In a 2,863-word article that's overblown in length and historical scope, Maraniss said Obama ambitiously sought to be an ideological counter-balance to Ronald Reagan in the greatest-president category, and “It is now becoming increasingly possible to argue he has neared his goal.”
As Bernie and Hillary continue try to outstrip one another in the Great Pander Off of 2016, it seems like an eternity ago that there was an actual grownup in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it was only in October that Jim Webb gave up his run.