The New York Times has been quite dismissive of the right to free speech when the right wing is involved, calling it a “canard” abused by racists. Yet the Times can be quite protective when it comes to (imaginary) threats to its own free speech, as shown by two stories on Monday. Both stories reacted to a provocative tweet by Donald Trump -- a video repurposing an old clip of Trump doing a bit at WrestleMania, showing him clothes-lining another man, but with a CNN icon projected over the face of the “victim” of the “assault,” Vince McMahon (quotation marks provided, since the media doesn’t seem to realize that wrestling is fake). First off, Trump and his mean tweet have already ruined sensitive media columnist Jim Rutenberg’s Fourth of July holiday, according to his Monday piece for the front of Business Day, “Celebrating Independence As Free Press Is Besieged.”
To Esquire’s Pierce, the Clintons’ image as scandal-plagued is in large part attributable to the Times, which since the early ’90s has reported extensively on stories that “were, by and large, complete bullshit, inflated by Republicans and a willing and timid elite political press into a Questions Remain culture of faux-scandal that persisted through the entirety of the 2016 campaign. And it began long before the Times ran seven stories about [James] Comey's release of his 11th hour letter to Congress on its front page.”
Esquire’s Charles Pierce is accusing President Trump of adding to something he vowed to subtract from. In a Thursday post, Pierce called the White House’s proposed federal budget a “vast, noxious swamp into which all those tributaries of modern conservative thought have emptied themselves. People die in there, swallowed up in deep sinkholes of empowered bigotry and class anger.”
John McCain’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Country First,” does not describe the worldview of Republicans, suggested Pierce on Monday. For them, the Esquire blogger implied, it’s more like “GOP über alles.” The peg for the post was chit-chat in the political and media worlds about whether President Trump is of sound mind, or, as Pierce put it, about “the possibility that the presidential trolley has left whatever tracks it had in the first place.”
Esquire’s Pierce readily concedes that Ben Carson (“an elite neurosurgeon”) and Mike Pompeo (“graduated at the top of his class at West Point”) are smart guys. In a way, though, they’re also tragic figures, he suggests, since they’ve “had to tailor their politics and their public personae to cater to the anti-rational, theocratic, anti-intellectual Id of modern conservatism…This means that both Carson and Pompeo have long histories of saying and writing things that sound like transmissions coming through their molars from Planet X.”
The Hamilton electors, whatever their number, are being cheered on by Hamilton bloggers, one of whom is Esquire’s Pierce. In a Saturday post, Pierce argued that in the country the Founding Fathers envisioned, the Electoral College would vote down a Donald Trump presidency. Pierce wrote, “Let us assume for a moment that our constitutional institutions are as strong and functional as they are supposed to be, and let's assume for a moment that we, as a self-governing people, are as strong and as functional as we need to be. What would happen next is that the Electoral College would function as it was designed to function and as its function was explained by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68…The electors would look at the accumulated evidence and deny the president-elect his mandate.”
If you asked a hundred conservatives to name the de facto flagship publication of American liberalism, The New York Times probably would get more mentions than any other. Still, it hasn’t been hard to find lefties upset with the paper about matters such as its supposed longstanding hostility toward Bill and Hillary Clinton. How the Times, especially its coverage of the e-mail story, may have made Hillary’s defeat more likely has been a post-election buzz topic on the left. Liberal strategist Jamison Foser, whose affiliations have included the Democratic National Committee and, currently, the Tom Steyer-led NextGen Climate, crystallized the lefty disgruntlement with the Times in a tweetstorm in response to a fellow liberal who argued that “we have to support the NYTimes right now more than ever.”
In a Tuesday post, Esquire blogger Pierce complained that Ronald Reagan’s anti-government rhetoric discouraged many from voting, thereby benefiting Republicans, but Donald Trump’s anti-government rhetoric encouraged many to vote, thereby benefiting Republicans. Pierce noted that Reagan, in his first inaugural address, declared “that government was not a solution to the problem, that government was the problem.” The government-bashing, Pierce charged, was meant “not just to convert voters to conservative policies that were otherwise unpopular, it also was [meant] to frustrate people into apathy and non-participation.”
President Obama spent a fairly large chunk of his Thursday speech in Columbus, Ohio needling conservatives and Republicans, alleging, among other things, that GOPers have “been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years.” Esquire’s Pierce called it the speech he’d “been waiting for someone to give ever since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee” and gushed, “There were no words minced and no quarter given. By the time [Obama] left the stage, there was no ass he aimed for that went unkicked.” Republicans, Pierce charged, “have become a chronic danger to American democratic government and it's time for a serious intervention.”
Commentators on the right gave Mike Pence high marks for his showing in the vice-presidential debate, largely because he, unlike Donald Trump, articulates straight-no-chaser conservatism. To Pierce, however, the ideological divide between Pence and Trump is about as wide as a crack in the sidewalk. In a Wednesday post, Pierce predicted that even though Trump represents the “obvious culmination” of movement conservatism, Republicans will instead treat him as “an aberration,” and that in the VP debate, “Pence gave us a vivid peek at how” GOPers will reorient themselves after the election (“this is where the talk radio, Fox News base is going to go”).
Bill Clinton has told the truth. I repeat. Bill Clinton has told the truth. And it this case it was a truth about Obamacare which is sure to make liberals very uncomfortable. So how can they explain it away? Simple. By claiming that Bill Clinton has lost his political abilities.
Such was the argument of Esquire politics writer, Charles Pierce, who claims that Bill Clinton has lost his political chops much in the same way that Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass lost his ability to pitch:
To borrow the title of a Clint Eastwood movie, liberals are having trouble with the curve -- specifically, the curve which they claim the media are using to grade Donald Trump. President Obama and Paul Krugman are among those who’ve raised that objection. Esquire blogger Pierce agrees with them, but he also asserted in a Sunday post that the media’s supposedly lenient treatment of Trump is “nothing new…Hell, we've been grading Republicans on a curve for decades. We graded Reagan on a curve when he burbled about trees and air pollution…We graded [George W. Bush] on a curve for the whole 2000 campaign when he didn't know Utah from Uzbekistan, but Al Gore knew too much stuff and what fun was he, anyway? We graded Republicans on a curve when they attached themselves to the remnants of American apartheid.”