Has the pandemic caused the liberal media to lose whatever vestigial grip on reality it ever had? The question arises in light of a surreal conversation on today's Morning Joe between Mika Brzezinski and Eugene Robinson.
The pair were discussing Robinson's latest Washington Post column, the gist of which is that Democrat campaign tactics are too nice, being based on "reason and fairness." Robinson urged Dems to instead "go straight for the jugular" by using tough Republican campaign tactics that employ "emotion, patriotism, and cultural affinity."
Democrats rely on "reason and fairness" in their campaigns? Has Robinson gone mad?
He's been around long enough to remember perhaps the most brutal, emotion-laden ad in American political history, the infamous "Daisy" ad of 1964 that LBJ ran against Republican Barry Goldwater. It displayed the explosion of an atom bomb, vaporizing little Daisy and suggesting nothing less than that Goldwater threatened the very end of civilization.
Jump ahead to the 2000 election, when Al Gore's allies at the NAACP ran an ad depicting the truck-dragging murder of James Byrd, Jr., with his daughter on voice-over accusing George W. Bush of killing her father "all over again" for not supporting a certain hate crime bill. Even the New York Times described the ad as an "emotional appeal."
Let's not forget good old fair-and-reasonable Joe Biden himself. During the 2012 campaign, Biden told a largely black audience that if elected, Mitt Romney would "put y'all back in chains!" Yup, no appeal to "emotion" or "cultural affinity" there!
Here's the full exchange:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Joining us now, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor of The Washington Post, and MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson. Gene, your latest opinion piece in the Washington Post is entitled, quote, Democrats need to use Republicans’ playbook to make sure Trump loses.
You write, in part, this: Democrats, learn from your former Republican foes. Pull heartstrings, wave the flag, and go straight for the jugular. Political warfare in this country has long been asymmetrical. Democrats tend to appeal to voters with arguments based on reason, fairness, and economic self-interest. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. But defeating President Trump and his GOP enablers is too important to leave any weapons on the shelf.
Democrats need to learn to use the tools that Republicans have long wielded with tremendous skill and success: emotion, patriotism, and cultural affinity. Democrats need to drive an emotional wedge of their own between the mourning Trump has given us and the new morning that will dawn when he is gone.
And, I just want you to clarify what you’re saying, Gene. Because there’s a lot of tactics being used by Republicans that I don’t think is good for anybody.
EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah. That’s true, like lying, for example.
ROBINSON: And voter suppression.
MIKA: Exactly. Defaming people, bullying them, being negligent, right.
ROBINSON: Exactly. That’s part of the point. Those need to be pointed out and, you know, denounced. But, but it is true, I believe, that Republicans have, over the years, been very much more proficient and successful at using emotion in politics. And emotion is important. And in my, the example that I use is the "Mourning in America" ad that the Lincoln Project came out with on Monday . . . I wish that Democrats would learn to use that, would learn that using emotion in that way is a good thing, and it helps to win elections. And they need to win this election.
Morning Joe adores that new ad by the Lincoln Project, an assemblage of "Republican" Trump haters including George Conway, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson. They have aired the ad during their show -- for free -- multiple times.
It's simply bizarre to think the Democrats -- who've compared Trump to Hitler, Stalin, Mao and plenty of current tyrants -- haven't trafficked in emotional appeals. They're now suggesting Trump doesn't care about massive American death, because the economy has to be restarted.
Robinson himself isn't very subtle. In 2019, he said that Republicans have "blood on their hands."